I watched the ‘Guess List’ for the first time this week. If you’ve not already seen it, it’s the TV show hosted by Rob Brydon which rehashes the old ‘Blankety Blank’ programme with a touch of Family Fortunes. Five celebrities help two contestants guess the answer to a range of survey-based questions e.g What do men say is a woman’s most annoying habit?’ Unsurprisingly, many of the celebrities’ guesses were way off the mark to the public’s actual answers – trying hard with innuendo or perhaps just too removed from reality ! But the contestants also struggled a fair bit too. All very tongue cheek and light-hearted – it’s a game show after all – but I couldn’t help thinking that it’s actually not that easy to second-guess what most people think. It’s hard because you’ve no particular age, gender, job, location etc from which to hazard a guess. In the end, you’re relying on your own hunches and beliefs on how ‘the public’ think.
In just under two weeks time, hundreds of academics across the UK will be talking about their research to this very same ‘public’ – trying to connect on a more serious note. It’s all part of Universities Week which runs from 9th – 14th June. So far, there are dozens of events planned across the country including an event about the science of cycling in Sheffield, a Scottish Gold exhibition in Glasgow, a University fun day in Leeds, to name just a few. The idea is ‘to inspire’ and increase public interest in and understanding of evidence based research. A chance for academics to raise their profile and their institution’s by leading events and also discussions on the web and social media. So what appeals to the public ? What are the challenges they want Universities to tackle ? To help researchers focus their engagement activities on the public’s curiosities and interests, there’s a poll breaking down key areas of interest – the things they think have a real impact on our every day life. It gives some interesting insight and dispels a few myths! For more information about how to take part in a national conversation click here