Are you ready for SciVoxPops?

It is December, and I couldn’t think of a better time to start a new project.  New Year’s resolutions are for sissies (sp?), and not only have I started my Christmas diet preemptively, I have also decided to start some of my new projects early to give them a run up before the dreaded January swamp…

So let me introduce SciVoxPops – a chance for everyone to have a say about a hot science question.

The project will not only pose these questions and relay the doubtless fascinating answers, but use these voxpops in ways they are unaccustomed to.  I’m going to analyse them.

Gist: A scientific question or issue will be posed, comments and replies will be obtained, the results will be collated, presented, and analysed.  You will find out fascinating facts as well as some diverse opinions.

What I will do: Each week, I will pose a scientific question across various social media outlets, and also to real people in the real world.  I will collate the comments, present them, and try to tease out some sense or trend which, hopefully, will throw up some surprising results. These will be presented in a weekly blog. If this trial goes well, YouTube will be conquered.

What you will do: Watch out for the question each week.  On twitter, search for the hashtag #scivoxpop. Send an honest or witty reply, then wait to find out how you fit in or out in a blog here at the end of the week.  Tell everyone you know, and send me suggestions for future SciVoxPops.

First question tomorrow (Fri 9th Dec).  Hint: it will be a subject close to my heart to get the ball rolling.

VoxPops – literally Vox populi or ‘voice of the people’, is commonly used to describe the so-called man-on-the-street interviews carried out by TV and Radio journalists.  Whilst they often provide a light relief from the professional and often cutting reporting of journalists and people trained in public speaking, they are usually left at just that.

I would like to use a large volume of these to try and tease out trends in opinion, especially about scientific questions or issues. Sometimes it will be a matter of opinion, sometimes it will be a matter of communication.  Will we find the Higgs Boson?  What is the best source of energy? How old is the Earth? Which sci-fi movie taught you most? All of these questions can be addressed and gauged by YOU, the man (or woman or undecided) on the street (or in the lab or on the internet). I can’t wait to see the results.

In fact, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – what we use these days in croudsourcing the best kind of DVI cable to buy and other Very Important Issues – was a concept first postulated by Sir Francis Galton way back in 1907.  He published his research in the journal Nature entitled, coincidentally ‘Vox populi’.  So this is my hundred-year-old tribute to Sir Francis, in attempting to harness the ‘wisdom of crowds’, using the VoxPoppery of today.

UPDATE: This week’s SciVoxPop is ‘Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe?’ Answers here or on twitter, or if you’re shy email me…

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