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Why do scientists and the general public view science differently?

Aug 11, 2020

In a paper posted by the Jandoli Institute Tuesday, a St. Bonaventure University biology professor explores the difference in the way scientists and the general public view science.

xiao-ning-zhang_w“The very same phenomenon may be viewed very differently, sometimes opposite ways, between these two populations,” Xiao-Ning Zhang, director of the university’s biochemistry program, wrote in a paper titled “Bring Out the Scientist Within.”

Zhang, who uses examples from the COVID-19 pandemic in the paper, explains that scientists work in an unbiased and systemic manner.

“When they switch their scientist minds on, the expectation is that they would make unbiased decisions based on evidence being presented with little bias,” she wrote.

Zhang will present her paper on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, in a format modeled after academic conference presentations. She will summarize the paper and then take part in panel discussion. The session is open to the public and may be accessed at

Since June 23, the institute has posted a new Media Studies Across Disciplines essay on its website every Tuesday. The series will continue through Aug. 18.

The essays were authored by St. Bonaventure faculty members who used their knowledge and expertise to provide insight and analysis from their own individual perspectives. Faculty from the biology, history, nursing, philosophy and sociology departments contributed to the project, which was funded by the Leo E. Keenan Jr. Faculty Development Endowment and the Jandoli School of Communication. The essays were selected through a blind peer-review process.

The Jandoli Institute serves as a forum for academic research, creative ideas and discussion on the intersection between media and democracy. The institute, accessible at, is part of the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.