Epigenetics and the Public Sphere

Epigenetics has sometimes been described as a “buzzword” or a “fashion.” A quick look on the web suggests that epigenetics is, indeed, very popular. What uses does the public make of epigenetics? Are these uses true to the science or are they complete science-fiction? These are the questions that we tackle in this shared project between US and French scientists. The project has two sides of resource-building and analysis. We built a 5-years database of media entries referring to epigenetics (in English-speaking web and paper media). In our analysis, we show that the level of accuracy in representing the state of science is more complex than what might be expected, ranging from poor to quite good. The research not only confirms the strong interest of the public for the field of epigenetics but also highlights areas where science communication is needed.

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