VU-University Medical Center, Department of Metamedica/Medical Humanities, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Dialogue has become a buzzword in science communication. Many governmental initiatives involving information transfer use dialogue as a selling point. We have, for example, a dialogue on genetic manipulation, a dialogue on the scientific future of Europe, a dialogue on food safety. Dialogue has almost become a communication target on its own, beside such things as public understanding or awareness of science. Dialogue is, however, just a technique, a method that can be used in any modality of science communication to serve any of its goals. New developments in the growing use of dialogue should therefore be considered as part of science communication as a whole. In this essay we discuss the various operationalizations of dialogue for different science communication modalities and goals, based on different notions of science. Dialogue offers various possibilities for science communication. There is an important difference between dialogue with a functional goal and dialogue with a conceptual goal. This distinction and its implications are based on our recent study on effective biomedical science communication on predictive DNA diagnostics.