Shaping the genohype: A cautionary tale of overpromise

Date created: 
2015-12-03
Identifier: 
etd9379
Keywords: 
Genohype
Genomics
Hype
Hyperbole
Overpromise
Science communication
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the mechanisms at play in the hype of genomic science. While media are the primary conduit for scientific information, scientists and scholars claim that a variety of social forces shape this genohype. This in turn is driving unrealistic expectations about the potential application of genomic discoveries. This study will add qualitative empirical evidence about these social forces by examining the scientific process itself, as well as the role of the media and the public opinion. I conducted 12 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with genomic researchers, scientists and clinicians in British Columbia, Canada and used thematic analysis to explore how various social forces are shaping scientific work and the genohype. This study discovered evidence of a third-person effect and highlights how PR departments of universities and research facilities play an important role in ‘pitching’ genomic science to the media. Understanding these mechanisms at play can help manage expectations about the potential application of genomic discoveries. This research will ultimately benefit the media, scientists, decision makers, and members of the public by increasing knowledge and decreasing communicative barriers.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Chow-White
Andrew Feenberg
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
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