What should citizens understand about science to participate in democratic life? Against the prevailing approach, we argue that “what” a public understanding of science is about strongly depends on the specific epistemological nature of the science related issues considered in different contexts and circumstances. We identify three specific categories of such issues and show how, equally, specific models of public understanding are required to address them. Only by endorsing such an alternative approach will citizens arguably be able to form sound opinions about those very issues, as well as to discuss and deliberate rationally about them.
What is noise? Common sense tells us it is a disturbance, an invasion of our perceptual space, a nuisance. But this is only part of a more complex story that the sciences and modern technologies might help us unravel. ‘Noise’ has a contextual meaning, but it also points at something ‘in nature’ (or in society)—and something that might also have a function and/or beneficial effects. In this article I show that what is categorized as ‘noise’ is there not necessarily to be removed or to be dispensed with, but to be used and taken advantage of. 1