UNK hosts presentation on importance of science communication

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 11:05 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The University of Kearney hosted a Zoom presentation on Monday by David Crouse, the President of Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. Crouse talked about the importance of science communication, especially during a pandemic.

He said the language scientists use can be confusing for people who are not familiar with it and can lead to misinformation in many ways. He called on medical experts everywhere to help clear up the confusion.

“It is important for scientists, for clinicians, even for students in their undergraduate years to pay attention to what’s been said in the public,” he said to the roughly two dozen people in the chat. “If you know something, don’t be afraid to speak up and say ‘well you know, this paper I saw in American Scientists or Nature or wherever says this about that, would you like to read it?’”

Pointing the public to a credible source can be beneficial in a time where many get their information solely from social media.

“Social media can be very misleading because people jump on bandwagons and all kinds of things get clouded and forwarded to everybody under the sun and it may or may not be true,” Crouse said. "There’s so much misinformation out there about the coronavirus that I caution you to be very weary of what you read on social media and what you see portrayed by some personalities, not a scientist. Just because they’re a movie star or a rock star doesn’t mean they know anything about the virus.'

When comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to past pandemics, such as the flu in the early 1900′s, Crouse said this is much more contagious.

“It’s very infective and easily transmitted,” he said. “Probably more so by aerosol than was originally thought and the aerosol probably has a greater range than that six feet, which makes it even more frightening.”

Another difference between the two, according to Crouse, is that the flu pandemic hit mostly younger people whereas COVID-19 has been harder for the older generations.

He also said that this virus has acted differently than others had being that it has not mutated yet.

“It’s very stable,” he said. “Some viruses that end up in a pandemic situation mutate themselves into a less infective form and they naturally burn out. This one is not doing that.”

To wrap up the presentation, Crouse said the health recommendations of social distance and heavy santizing will help prevent catching COVID-19. Also that the science and evidence proves “masks do work”.

“Even though you may still be exposed to the virus, you won’t be as exposed as you would’ve been if you had not been wearing a mask,” he said. “Therefore you’re more likely to be immunized than infected. There’s some line in there where a small amount will lead to immunization, but a large amount will lead to a full infection. That could happen.”

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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