Categorie: Lezing

Ionica in Heidelberg: haardvuurgesprek over wetenschapsjournalistiek en -communicatie

Als begin van haar gasthoogleraarschap in Heidelberg was Ionica te gast bij een haardvuurgesprek. Hierin praat Ionica samen met Prof. Dr. Michael Boutros en Annika Elstermann over de onderwerpen wetenschapsjournalistiek en wetenschapscommunicatie. Het gesprek werd geleid door Prof. Dr. Matthias Weidemüller, vice-rector aan de Universiteit van Heidelberg.

The Gala of Science & Society – a NeFCA Report

Hieronder leest u het NeFCA verslag geschreven door Julie Schoorl over het Gala van de Wetenschap & Samenleving, wat plaatsvond op pi-dag (14 maart) 2022. Ionica was samen met Jim Jansen host van het Gala.

On pi-day, the 14th of March, the very first edition of the Gala of Science and Society took place in a sold-out Stadsgehoorzaal in Leiden, the City of Science of 2022. Hosted by University of Leiden’s science communication professor Ionica Smeets and chief editor of New Scientist Jim Jansen, this event was all about the conversation between -you might have guessed- science and society. Over 800 people were present and the audience consisted of a mix of scientists, journalists, policy makers and citizens. The invited speakers came from various (scientific) backgrounds and entertained the audience with various engaging talks. Virologist Marion Koopmans thanked everyone for being part of the largest epidemiological experiment in history, chemist and Nobel-prize winner Ben Feringa emphasized the importance of curiosity and physicist Ivo van Vulpen acknowledged complicated contradictions in theory coming from Einstein and Hawking and how this led us to connect the small with the large.

New Scientist chief editor Jim Jansen and professor Ionica Smeets hosted the evening with entertaining intermezzos and interviews. Picture by Bob Bronshoff

Apart from professors offering new scientific insights, there were various scientists invited to the stage who have been working in the field of (science) communication for a long time – representing NeFCA at this large event. Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Society Claes de Vreese from the University of Amsterdam discussed the worrisome yet simultaneously fascinating developments of AI and what (dangerous) implications this might have for society. As an example, he mentioned the deepfake videos that are now produced ever more rapidly and spread on the Internet. Such a development introduces risk, as it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what (or who) is real and what (or who) is not. This could possibly impact important societal phenomena like democratic voting polls, which is why De Vreese is very motivated to continue his research.

Professor Claes de Vreese emphasizes the thrilling opportunities and possible dangerous risks that Artificial Intelligence imposes on us as society. Picture by Bob Bronshoff

Following his talk, behavioural scientist Reint Jan Renes, lector at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, appeared on stage. He focused on the attempts to change behaviour in relation to climate change. Renes made the audience aware of the apparent disconnect between the thoughts and intention to change behaviour and the realization of genuinely changing that behaviour. He prompted the audience to formulate one simple and small resolution that they should share with their environment, such as making the promise to eat less meat, in order to make that small step forward towards a better climate.

Behavioural scientist Reint Jan Renes encourages the audience to participate in the ‘’Green Shift’’ to combat climate change. Picture by Bob Bronshoff

Apart from talks related to societal issues like democracy and climate change, there were also engaging battles and quizzes to entertain the audience. Margriet van der Heijden, physicist, science journalist and professor of Science Communication at Technical University Eindhoven, was able to show the misconceptions and underrepresentation of women in science. She had created an interactive Kahoot! Quiz that revealed that the audience surprisingly underestimated the representation of women in science, while it also revealed a lack of factual knowledge about women in science in the past. This activity was quickly followed by a dynamic battle between quantum physicist Julia Cramer and cognitive neuroscientist Barbara Braams, who were representing the natural sciences and the social sciences respectively. They both had to essentially ‘sell’ their field of science to the audience by describing world-changing ideas and most inspiring studies within their field. The audience seemed to slightly favour the natural sciences, as was proven by measuring the noise (read: applause and cheering) made by de crowd. However, both contestants managed to convey their enthusiasm and stress the importance of the discoveries and ongoing research in their respective fields.

While the battle had shown that the audience was capable of making noise, professor Ionica Smeets managed to induce a striking silence during her monologue about the flaws that still linger in the field of science communication. She emphasized the need to listen to conversational partners, even if one does not agree with them, and the urgency to aim communication towards those people that are in need of information, not just the groups that are easiest to reach. The monologue was reinforced by the accompaniment of a soundscape by pianist Tom Dicke. This musical intermezzo managed to highlight both the importance as well as the exciting possibilities of science communication.

The first edition of the Gala of Science and Society, hosted in Leiden, City of Science 2022. NeFCA was one of the main partners. Picture by Bob Bronshoff

The variety of talks, the interactive elements and the enthusiasm of the two hosts resulted in a successful event. Many chats ensued, both formal and informal, between various audience members. Everyone left the Stadsgehoorzaal a little more informed and -hopefully- a little better equipped to communicate in informal and academic contexts.

Julie Schoorl

Kinderboekenweek 2021: Rekenen voor je leven met Edward van de Vendel en Ionica Smeets

Wat gebeurt er als een klas de saaie sommen mag vervangen door rekenvragen die met hun eigen leven te maken hebben?

Hoe win je alle spelletjes? Is plassen onder de douche echt goed voor het milieu? Zijn ijsjes overal en altijd even koud? Hoe word je rijk?

Je leest het in Rekenen voor je leven. Of kom, voor of tijdens, de Kinderboekenweek (van 6 t/m 17 oktober) naar een van de optredens van Edward van de Vendel en Ionica Smeets. Je kunt je boek dan ook laten signeren.

Boekhandel Blokker
Datum: 30 september
Tijd: 19.30 uur
Locatie: Boekhandel Blokker, Heemstede
Meer informatie

Boekhandel Groenendijk
Datum: 15 oktober
Tijd: 19.00 uur
Locatie: Theater De Meenthe, Steenwijk (ism Boekhandel Groenendijk)
Meer informatie

Rijnlandse Boekhandel
Datum: 16 oktober
Tijd: 13.30 uur
Locatie: Rijnlandse Boekhandel, Oegstgeest
Meer informatie

Boekhandel De Toverlantaarn
Datum: 17 oktober
Tijd: 14.00 uur
Locatie: Boekhandel De Toverlantaarn, Leeuwarden
Meer informatie

Ionica bij Exact Live 2019

Welke belangrijke patronen mis je als je op de verkeerde manier naar de cijfers kijkt? Hoe voorkom je dat je verbanden in data ziet die er helemaal niet zijn? En hoe ga je om met mensen die zeggen dat het allemaal leuk en aardig is met die cijfers van jou, maar dat zij liever kijken naar wat mensen voelen? Ionica Smeets laat met praktische voorbeelden en veel humor zien wat de cijfers niet zeggen.

Jan de Kroes -lezing

Op 30 maart 2017 gaf Ionica de Jan de Kroes-lezing op het NVVK Veiligheidscongres.

De lezing was getiteld ‘Gelijk hebben én krijgen’ en ging over het verschil tussen het presenteren van de juiste feiten en het daadwerkelijk overtuigen van je publiek. Aan de hand van een aantal voorbeelden legde Ionica uit hoe mensen aantallen die aan hen gepresenteerd werden opvatten, en hoe ver hun opvattingen soms van de werkelijkheid liggen.

De tekst is hier terug te lezen.


Op 8 april hield Ionica Smeets de zesde Kousbroeklezing in De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam. De Kousbroeklezing wordt sinds 2011 jaarlijks gehouden ter nagedachtenis van de in 2010 overleden schrijver Rudy Kousbroek.

De lezing is hier hier terug te lezen. Ook het filmpje dat in de tekst wordt genoemd is hieronder te zien.

Het artikel met de tekst van de Kousbroeklezing is op 2 juni 2016 verschenen in het Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde.