The Questionable Authority

The latest issue of the journal Science includes a policy forum piece written by Sciencebloggers Chris Mooney (The Intersection) and Matt Nisbet (Framing Science). In the article, they argue that scientists do not, for the most part, use effective communications strategies when trying to defend science. Both Chris and Matt anticipate that this view is likely to be somewhat controversial, and that it is likely to spark a vigorous debate. I think that they are probably right about this, and not just because their article includes at least one paragraph that is likely to set PZ off faster than a lit match dropped into a five-gallon can of kerosene.

As Chris and Matt point out, we scientists tend to act under the assumption that the public will “get it” if we can just get them to understand the science. Larry Moran agrees with that perspective, and points out that people like Gould, Dawkins, and Sagan were pretty good at communicating science just that way. Larry does have a point there, but I think it misses the main point that Nisbet and Mooney were making: it’s also important to communicate concepts to people who don’t give a damn about the science. They also point out that the opponents of good science are very good at framing their views on stem cell research, the environment, teaching evolution, and other areas that fall at the intersection of science and politics.

I think Matt and Chris are right. We do need to spend more time (and thought) on communicating our views effectively, particularly to people who do not care about science.

Let’s face it. Blogging is fun, and I enjoy talking about science, especially when it’s relevant to public debates. That said, I have a pretty good idea of who reads these blogs. When it comes to controversial issues, we’re preaching to the choir. There’s nothing wrong with preaching to the choir – that’s how you get them to sing – but we can’t just preach to the choir.

Many – most – of the cases where science has gotten caught up in partisan political debates are issues that are important beyond the scientific community. These are issues where people – individual people – need to know that the issue is important, and that it is going to be important to them personally. This is hard, because as Nisbet and Mooney point out:

In reality, citizens do not use the news media as scientists assume. Research shows that people are rarely well enough informed or motivated to weigh competing ideas and arguments. Faced with a daily torrent of news, citizens use their value predispositions (such as political or religious beliefs) as perceptual screens, selecting news outlets and Web sites whose outlooks match their own. Such screening reduces the choices of what to pay attention to and accept as valid. [citations omitted]

What’s a scientist to do?

Matt and Chris suggest that we use a technique that they call “framing.” This consists of emphasizing the parts of the message that relate to the things that the audience cares about. Larry says that “framing” looks a lot like “spin” to him, and I don’t think he’s wrong. On a visceral level, I don’t like the basic idea of framing. It just doesn’t feel right. Intellectually, though, I have to admit that it might be a necessary evil. The opponents of science are very, very good at framing issues their way, and the strategy has been working for them.

As much as I would like to live in a world where everyone was engaged, informed, and interested in public policy, I don’t. I want to get more people interested, and I want to see the soundbite culture replaced with substantive discourse. Right now, though, I don’t think we have the time. As long as the people we need to reach are uninterested in the science involved in the issue, we’re going to need to find other ways to get them interested in the issue itself. Framing the issue in a way that shows people why they should care is one way to do that, and I’m not sure that there is a better one.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Belyea
    April 5, 2007

    Framing the issue in a way that shows people why they should care is one way to do that, and I’m not sure that there is a better one.

    I think that this is the key sentence in your post. I also think that it has nothing specifically to do with science – rather, it’s what any good non-fiction writing does. And perhaps fiction as well …

  2. #2 gwangung
    April 5, 2007

    Making people care is what ANY good writing does. Trying to belittle this as “cheap marketing tricks” is just throwing away one of your communication tools.

  3. #3 gwangung
    April 5, 2007

    Matt and Chris suggest that we use a technique that they call “framing.” This consists of emphasizing the parts of the message that relate to the things that the audience cares about. Larry says that “framing” looks a lot like “spin” to him, and I don’t think he’s wrong. On a visceral level, I don’t like the basic idea of framing. It just doesn’t feel right. Intellectually, though, I have to admit that it might be a necessary evil. The opponents of science are very, very good at framing issues their way, and the strategy has been working for them.

    A bit more.

    This is not a “necessary evil”; this is pretty much a necessary survival strategy for an individual in modern society. There are so many issues that a person COULD connect to, so many things they COULD care about, they have to employ frames and strategies to cut down all the possible issues to pay attention to something they can manage. Figuring out those individuals’ different strategies for coping is what’s needed.

    Ignore those facts of coping, and you’re just throwing away any chance of connecting or communicating with them.

  4. #4 SMgr
    April 5, 2007

    > we scientists tend to act under the assumption that the public will “get it” if we can just get them to understand the science

    Worse than that. When we are talking about trying to reach creationists, scientists cannot assume that their audience has some basic level of trust in what they are saying, or any interest in following a complicated argument. After all, we are supposed to be part of some vast conspiracy of liars. Trust and interest cannot be assumed in choices made to communicate to this audience. I think this is far more basic than the issue of “framing”.

    I grew up as a Young Earth Creationist. I spent years in their schools. I have read a number of “popular” books on the science of evolution, etc. and while good in their own way, they do not address this audience effectively because of this issue of trust.

    Common problems with such books:
    - A reliance on detailed textual arguments abstracted from the actual primary evidence
    - A reliance on drawings of fossils, artist conceptions, or small photos. If photos are provided, typically no easy comparison is provided to other fossils, no annotations to indicate what specific bone structures are being referred to, etc.

    If your audience doesn’t trust you, these things don’t help you very much and play into the “its all made up” meme. No amount of detail will convince everyone. That isn’t the point. The point is, from my perspective, we arn’t even trying very hard to reach this audience properly.

    We need widely available materials that are detailed enough and accessible enough that people can quickly connect the dots for themselves while minimizing the amount of knowledge and time they have to bring to it. Tough yeah. But it needs to be done.

    Example: where can I get a large hi-res poster of Archaeopteryx with reptilian and avian features subtly hilited (different colors) with close ups of each feature alongside of closeups of the same features in reptiles and birds for easy comparison? Small and medium sized pictures I can find. But not pictures that EXPLAIN themselves.

    We need to do a lot more “showing” and a lot less “telling” in my opinion.

    Finally, we need to pick our battles. In the USA, the #1 issue has to be the age of the earth. If someone doesn’t believe there was enough time for evolution to occur, you won’t even get to square one. I’ve heard the entire geologic column exists in some places. Where is the video that gradually walks people up that full column pointing out types of rocks/how they are formed, microfossils, etc.?

    Thanks for listening and sorry for the length of the post.

  5. #5 QA's Mom
    April 5, 2007

    ” Matt and Chris suggest that we use a technique that they call “framing.” This consists of emphasizing the parts of the message that relate to the things that the audience cares about. Larry says that “framing” looks a lot like “spin” to him, and I don’t think he’s wrong. On a visceral level, I don’t like the basic idea of framing. It just doesn’t feel right. Intellectually, though, I have to admit that it might be a necessary evil.”

    Organizers call it “cutting the issue” — If you want people to change how they think about something or even if they think about — you first have to get their attention — show them its in their interest –

    Nobody takes on tasks that are intimidating unless they have a good reason — and I hate to tell you folks — but science and scientific languages intimidates the hell out of well educated art history majors like me, let alone the average American — who stats shows reads at an 8th grade level.

    Once they understand the “need” to understand, they will be much more willing to learn more about the issues, and maybe even the science.

    I first saw this in the late 70′s when the Bronx was burning — one of the first things we needed to confront was the fact that banks were refusing to make mortgages in the community — although they had no problem taking deposits from the same community — so owners couldn’t make repairs — and they couldn’t get the rents in dilapidated housing — so buildings burned — (this is a very simplified version of what actually happened, of course – there are books written about it)

    We had to get ordinary working class folks to understand this problem in order to begin to stop the destruction. Most were renters and saw the owners as greedy – why should they care –

    So we identified the stakeholders – families with children just going out on their own — who wanted to buy a house in the the institutions (colleges and hospitals) who weren’t going anywhere and had a lot to lose —

    and we forced the first meetings with local banks by appealing to their self interest – we developed pledge cards whichthese stakeholders signed – cards which said that you were willing to withdraw all your funds from the bank on a specific day — the pile of card that we handed to the bankers made them realize it was in their interest to start negotiating

    It took months to win that battle, and its taken years to rebuild the Bronx — and Lord knows there is still a lot to do

    But there are no longer any boarded up buildings — and homes have been built in the vacant lots — the ones that weren’t turned into vacant lots. Crime is way down, and we’re now more worried about land speculation.

    So it can be done — But it all begins with “cutting or framing the issue”. Showing that it was in an individual’s interest to take part.

    It’s not easy – it is rewarding — and frankly can you (we) afford not to do it.

    Try reading Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. Take the pieces that will work for you. Discard what won’t and create new ones.

    As a very dear friend always says “Don’t agaonize, organize.

  6. #6 Laelaps
    April 5, 2007

    Nice analysis Mike. I also get the feeling that while blogging is fun and a step in the right direction, it easily becomes (as you aptly put it) “preaching to the choir.” Even among creationists online, chances are they did not show up for rigorous and respectful discourse to really get to the bottom of questions; it’s more like being visited by an e-missionary.

    An experience with some friends of mine last week drove the point home for me, however. I was visiting some friends and I brought up the topic of Ann Coulter’s horrendous book “Godless” with a friend of mine who’s very interested in liberal politics. Once I said the word “evolution” another one of my friends jokingly said “Hey guys, why are you talking about politics and evolution? Cut the shop talk.” While evoltuion may be my favorite subject, both in my studies and conversation, lots of people just aren’t interested. At the end of the day, it’s time to relax and catch whatever’s on TV, not to pick up a copy of Nature or a book on evolutionary theory. I would love it if people cared more, but the truth is, they don’t and likely will not, mostly because really understanding evolution, ecology, and science in general requires an amount of effort many people just don’t want to exert. Hell, I was the same way myself until this time last year; I had never even heard of creationism or intelligent design until I wasn’t allowed to teach evolution for fear of offending a 5th grade classes parents (I was a visiting marine biology teacher last year).

  7. #7 wolfwalker
    April 5, 2007

    Faced with a daily torrent of news, citizens use their value predispositions (such as political or religious beliefs) as perceptual screens, selecting news outlets and Web sites whose outlooks match their own. Such screening reduces the choices of what to pay attention to and accept as valid.

    What’s a scientist to do?

    Be sneaky. SMgr is right in that you need to put the information in a form that’s easily understood. But you also need to persuade the recipients to want to listen to it. So you need to gain access to the sources of information that the citizens do trust, and transmit your message using them. I’d be willing to bet that more conservatives have started wondering about ID after seeing National Review columnists bashing it than ever have done so as a result of SciBlogger posts, or Dawkins’s harangues, or even the Dover Panda Trial.

  8. #8 SMgr
    April 6, 2007

    > But you also need to persuade the recipients to want to listen to it.

    Agreed. Our information needs to be compelling and attention grabbing, and simultaneously as as credible as we can make it for an untrusting audience. If they have to work too hard you’ve lost ‘em. Before they will be interested in listening, you need to have made enough impact to cause doubt..even a little.

    Let me explain a little more about what I mean about the age of the earth being a priority. I consider this to be a “gateway” issue. Forget evolution for a moment. You cannot even talk about important issues like climate change, for example, without getting into ice core data.. which immediately gets into issues of an ancient earth.. etc. etc.

    Trust in many scientific fields is eroded by misunderstanding this one basic issue here in the USA. What are we doing to counter that?

  9. #9 Kristjan Wager
    April 6, 2007

    Trust in many scientific fields is eroded by misunderstanding this one basic issue here in the USA. What are we doing to counter that?

    I think basic scientific teaching in the US is to blame. Because teachers (and schools) are so affraid to upset religious people, they step carefully around such subjects, instead of teaching the basic scientific facts, and the evidence for it. If someone in Denmark claim that the Earth is only 6000 years old, they are rightfully considered a lunatic, since all evidence points to an old Earth. In the US, no one is willing to say this aloud, so it appears that such anti-scientific ideas have merit.

    Lack of scientific requirements for private schools (including home schooling) is also a proble,. Again, using Denmark as an example, a private Christian school was closed down for not teaching proper science – it used US school books, used in private Christian schools in the US.

    In other words, while Mooney and Nisbet might be right about the short term solution, I think their strategy is problematic for a long term solution. Instead scientists (and science teachers) need to go out and teach science at every educational level, and ignore the sensitivities of those opposed to science.

    Of course, given the US political climate, it will be hard to get this done.

  10. #10 Torbj�rn Larsson
    April 6, 2007

    their article includes at least one paragraph that is likely to set PZ off faster than a lit match dropped into a five-gallon can of kerosene.

    These flames are yet to be seen. PZ commented on Moran’s blog:

    I’m willing to listen when these guys offer constructive suggestions on how to better communicate to the public, but I think they crossed the line in a few places where they try to tell us what to communicate (yes, thebrummel, my buttons were pushed). When they suggest that scientists are communicating poorly when we offend the public, they’re missing the point: sometimes we want to offend. In particular, I think what they are requesting is a passive, socially conformist science.

    ( http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/04/strategically_c.html )

    Quite reasoned reaction, I think.

    Larry says that “framing” looks a lot like “spin” to him, and I don’t think he’s wrong.

    I’m not used to the meta-debate on how to do debates. But isn’t there a difference here?

    Framing seems to mean to offer a context, often implicitly taken to mean social, that suits certain reader groups. The message is presented within the frame. Spin would seem to imply to distort the message to suit the purpose, for example by leaving out existing data.

    And I note that a “scientific frame” is a frame too. The original post is somewhat suggesting conflating social issues frames with other uses, which is confusing.

    It could be beneficial for scientists to suggest or even help construct frames in areas where it is a political debate or social issue. As Pielke says on Cosmic Log “This is exactly how humans filter information”.

    But I don’t think scientists must necessarily use these social frames except when they want to contribute directly to such debates within the chosen frame. Of course, it should be important for scientists to influence how science is discussed and used.

    Blogging and other new media will diversify both debates and how they are done. Frames are important here, as is scientist participation, in the ways they feel they can do it best. Take PZ, he sometimes wants to offend. :-)

  11. #11 Torbjörn Larsson
    April 6, 2007
  12. #12 Paul Sunstone
    April 6, 2007

    As someone who once worked in marketing, it interests me anyone would think that offending people will somehow further their cause.

    The notion you build market share that way sounds like an adolescent fantasy to me. Does anyone know of a popular brand that gained its market through campaigns designed to offend the consumers targeted by the campaigns?

    Of course, if someone enjoys offending people, they should go right ahead: It’s a free country. But I suspect they cannot legitimately justify offending people as a rational attempt to win them over to their cause.

  13. #13 Paul Jupp
    April 6, 2007

    Just a brief question – who really believes that any amount of “framing” or “spin” is going to help scientists engage with creationists and the like so long as they cling to the attitude that anyone who rejects evolution is a fool, a liar, an ignoramous or an evil trouble-maker?

    To engage with another person you must start by respecting them as a person, no matter how misguided you may think their ideas are.
    Unfortunately for the evolutionists’ case you have people in your midst who propose that NO “intelligent” person can ignore the obvious correctness of the case for evolution.
    Yet I’m willing to bet most lay people, intelligent and educated or otherwise, don’t even know the up-to-date definition of “evolution.”

    These people, no matter how well educated and expert they may be in their own fields, are sadly lacking in the basic skills of communication outside the realm of preaching to the converted.

    Maybe those, of whatever discipline, who are convinced of the importance of the evolutionary concept, should take a break and start learning to communicate with people outside their own specialities. Not just in terms of writing in a comprehensible fashion (many science writers already have that well in hand), but also in the crucial art of creating rapport.
    Starting with learning to listen.

    After all, if A won’t listen to B, why should B listen to A?

  14. #14 Paul Jupp
    April 6, 2007

    And to Mr. (?) Larsson – if causing offence is really a good idea, why (if I’ve understood correctly) do IDers now regard Richard “God Delusion” Dawkins as one of their most valuable (if unintentional) allies?

  15. #15 wolfwalker
    April 6, 2007

    Paul Sunstone asked: Does anyone know of a popular brand that gained its market through campaigns designed to offend the consumers targeted by the campaigns?

    How about the “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series of books?

    SMgr wrote: Let me explain a little more about what I mean about the age of the earth being a priority. I consider this to be a “gateway” issue.

    I agree, this one is a real bedrock (if you’ll pardon the pun) topic. However, I’d start even further back up the chain of reasoning. Scientific conclusions about the age of the earth are just that: conclusions drawn from a variety of evidence. Teach people to understand the evidence, and the conclusion of an old Earth becomes self-evident. IMO people doubt the old Earth because they distrust the evidence for an old Earth, and they distrust the evidence because they don’t understand the evidence. So, show them that evidence in a way that’s easily understood, and they’ll find the right answer to the age-of-the-Earth question themselves.

    Fortunately, that’s an easy thing to do. The Three Laws of basic geology — superposition, original horizontality, crosscutting — are so simple a grade-school kid can grasp them. The principles of radiometric dating are middle-school stuff. And I have it on good authority that those simple points have converted more ex-creationists to science than any long complicated argument about evolution or genetics has. Apparently the simpler a subject is, the harder it is for the average creationist’s anti-science shields to hold against it.

  16. #16 Metro
    April 6, 2007

    I often find myself thinking I’m the fringe audience on scienceblogs. I have no training, and tend to need more explanation than perhaps much the rest of the audience might. But I know quite a bit about communications.

    There is a vital difference between what we think of as “spin” and what constitutes framing.

    I was very uncomfortable learning PR until the teacher pointed out that the best policy in PR is always to be as honest as possible. Always.

    Spin’s a slow wedge that drives us away from the truth by degrees. Every time you choose to emphasize one aspect of the truth while diminishing another you pare away the material you have to work with. Eventually you end up with nothing left, and you wind up having to weave something.

    Framing is simply like anchoring a bridge. You’re saying to your audience “I need you to take a leap of faith with me from point A to point B. There’s a bridge between them, but I can’t show you the whole bridge. Instead, I can show you the foundations of that bridge, show that we can agree on point A, and demonstrate that those foundations are fully and securely anchored to point A. Then I’ll walk over to point B and you can follow me.”

    The question is: will your audience accept the validity of your point A, and can they believe in your bridge?

    A good argument will support all the traffic it gets–even from those who want to blow up that bridge (see: climate change). A bad one will support only those rhetorical engineers daft enough to trust their honour to a rickety structure of cardboard and spit, anchored in a house of cards (see: young Earth).

  17. #17 Paul Sunstone
    April 6, 2007

    Wolfwalker:

    “How about the “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series of books?”

    I think those brands have more humorous names than offensive names. But you raise a good point, and it would be interesting to see if the titles actually offend buyers.

  18. #18 Bunjo
    April 6, 2007

    When I worked in IT in a big company I went on a course about how to build relationships with key executives of ther parts of the company. The theory was that psychologically IT people tended to deal in figures and facts (i.e.scince type of thought), and other workers in the company tended to deal with persuasion and vision. So when a chief marketing executive said “Your damn systems are no good, they are always failing” it was no good responding “The system has been available 99.8% of the time as agreed”. His/her view was formed by the frustrations of trying to do his/her job, which he/she saw marketing as vital to the success of the company. Being told that the systems (which were vital to the success of the company too) worked as designed just did not align with his/her world view.

    Extending this relationship stuff to the current debate… it is no good repeating facts and scientific theories to people when their interests focus on other areas. You can win over the undecided with good edutainment about the geological column, global warming etc., but if we are to take the debate into the heartland on the apparently religious people, we should be asking “why is it important to you that the earth is only 6,000 years old?”. “Why does the idea of sharing a commom ancestor with other primates upset you?”. When you discuss their feelings and worldviews you will be talking in ways they understand and appreciate. This is where the best of the popular science writers score – they frame the science in (mostly) everyday meaningful language.

    I believe the robust pro-science, pro-athiest line of Richard Dawkins and PZ etc. is unlikely to win people over to the rational frame of mind (however heartening I find it personally).

    I know Charles Darwin was writing against the background of a different society, but his ‘one long argument’ was very even handed in discussing the pros and cons of his theory of evolution. It seems to me that he understood the contrary arguments very well and wrote a much more persauasive book because of it. Perhaps we should should try some of the same methodology ourselves?

  19. #19 hoary puccoon
    April 6, 2007

    Most of the people in America who claim they don’t believe in evolution are undoubtedly sincere. But ‘scientific’ creationism itself– from Duane Gish to Dr. Egnor– is a bunko scheme with no other purpose than picking the pockets of the faithful. Those guys will say ANYTHING, tell any lie, slander any legitimate scientist, to keep the money rolling in. As long as scientists are about naive what they’re up against, the creationists are going to win. I’m not sure what the best approach is, but assuming the Disco Institute, etc., are sincere is conceding the battle from the get-go.

  20. #20 Torbjörn Larsson
    April 6, 2007

    The notion you build market share that way sounds like an adolescent fantasy to me.

    If a public arena was a meritocracy like a capitalistic market or science, this would be true.

    But it doesn’t seem to be that way. One way to engage a wider debate (perhaps in your eyes widen the brand awareness) seems to be to push one extreme. This will help some people to see that their positions isn’t as uncommon as they thought. For example, it seems Dawkins has succeeded with this.

    you have people in your midst who propose that NO “intelligent” person can ignore the obvious correctness of the case for evolution.

    No, what they are saying is that no educated person can ignore that it is accepted science. A theory originating more than 150 year since, resulting in publications of hundreds of thousands (low count) supporting evidences.

    It is not a matter of accepting a debate ‘case’, it is a matter of accepting what is science here (biology) and what that science main observation is (evolution) and theory is (evolution theory). If a person doesn’t know what science is or how to find out what is accepted science (for example by contacting her national science board) she can’t be helped of course. This is where education comes in.

    And to Mr. (?) Larsson – if causing offence is really a good idea

    Sometimes, see my discussion above.

    You can drop the titles, since I’m from a nation where we prefer to not use such.

    why (if I’ve understood correctly) do IDers now regard Richard “God Delusion” Dawkins as one of their most valuable (if unintentional) allies?

    Do they now? An IIUC doesn’t lend support, please provide references.

    Metro:

    Nice definitions, observation on respectively rigidity, and analogies. (Seems you do indeed know quite a bit about communication. ;-)

  21. #21 df
    April 7, 2007

    ElDorado in Voltaire’s Candide is described thusly: it is a contented, peaceful land. It is a religious country, whose only religious ritual is thanking God. It is a land that prizes science and in which the useful and the beautiful are united (quote from Horace).

    Science needs to unite the useful and the beautiful – there needs to be a constant connection made between the things that people prize (electronic gadgets, good medical care, clean air, etc) and the basic science that produced it. This would need some sort of systemic effort and political motivation but scientists could start to preach this message at every opportunity. Too many people love iPods and don’t understand that it is basic science that made them possible. It is unbelievable that in a world addicted to high tech gadgets so much anti-science abounds – and by those who worship material goods (as in Bush’s exortation to “go shop” post 9/11).

  22. #22 Mike Haubrich
    April 7, 2007

    I actually don’t think that scientists are doing a bad job at communicating science to the public, but I do think that there are far too many more visceral distractions that grab the attention of most people.

    I have a co-worker that brings stacks and stacks of People and similar magazines to work for us to share and read on our breaks. While I appreciate her generous attitude, I get discouraged that the Breakdown of Britney is getting more attention than the dispute over the role of Dark Energy in the expanding universe (now that some astronomers suspect that locally intense gravity wells may be a stronger factor.) And so I read the books that I bring, and offer to share them, but no one takes me up on the offer.

    So, while Carl Zimmer writes fantastic pieces, he is not up against ignorance but against the issue of whether or not Brangelica might face courtrooom battles and possibly lose one of their adopted children. Heart-Rending, I tell ya, and far more eye-catching than a cladogram.

    One thing that I do is add PZ’s Friday Cephalopod pictures to my screensaver each week; and when co-workers ask what they are I tell them, but then they move on to something else.

    In our society, science just has to provide the technology to make cool stuff to carry our diversions. We shouldn’t be “burdened” with understanding evolution cause it won’t fix Lindsey Lohan.

  23. #23 Paul Sunstone
    April 8, 2007

    I think scientists need the equivalent of a Discovery Institute on their side. That is, an adequately funded institute dedicated to performing public relations on the behalf of science, and also to taking polical action on behalf of science.

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    April 11, 2007

    I would argue that the way in which scientists communicate among themselves could use fixing. I believe it was on Pharyngula that someone posted two versions of an abstract they had for a paper being submitted. The first was technical and jargonistic … it was the abstract for the actual paper. The second was an attempt to show that one could “frame” this technical research in an understandable manner. The second abstract was quite well written.

    What is important here is that the second abstract did all of the work the first abstract did except for the inclusion of a few keywords, which could have been added in parentheses. The two abstracts were roughly the same length.

    So, my question is, why don’t we use, among our selves, the version that is better written? If our starting point, our own communications within science, was clearer, less jargonistic, yet still accurate and true to the science, we would have much less work to do in communicating with the public (and each other!)

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