With this, I will stop adding new links to blogospheric discussion at the bottom of this post (my first – and uber-long one – on the topic) and will start with a clean slate. But you go and check them, as discussions in the comments are still going on at some of those linked blogs.
Devo of White Souse blog explains the difference between rhetoric and framing.
Oh, Matt’s brother also has a blog!
It appears that Larry still does not understand the difference between long-term and short-term aspects of framing.
In the distinction between short-term and long-term aspects of framing (the topic of my first post on the topic), Dawkins is the best there is in the long-term effort of moving the Overton window over the time-frame of years and decades so the reality comes back and all kinds of superstition (including religious) and pseudoscience are in total retreat. Online, PZ and Larry and many others (myself included) do that part and do it wonderfully. The Window is already visibly moving.
The denial of reality, which may have started with the Great Generation while enjoying the high and free love in the 1960s, has been decaying into oblivion on the Left, but has been fully embraced by the Right. The Right fully embraced relativism and wishful thinking and framed everything that has to do with rational thought-processes as elitist (I usually deplore Bill Maher, but that article is spot on).
The current reaction to this, induced by the obviously catastrophic consequences of trying to govern by denying reality (“from the gut”), makes the present moment the right moment for people like Dawkins to be loud as the audience for his message is growing and getting more receptive. Nobody, and certainly not Matt and Chris, ever wants Dawkins or PZ or Larry to shut up.
But, Dawkins (and the rest of us on that team) sucks in short-term aspects of framing: persuading the uninterested, uneducated and more-or-less-religious folks to get on the right side of science-related political issues of the day. Other people are good at short-term, though, and we need more of those. We may not agree with Ken Miller or Francis Collins on everything, but they can do what we cannot: get the religious audiences to listen and to embrace reality, be it on evolution, or global warming or whatever science-related political issue of the day.
In other words, we need people who can make the busy, short-attention-span, uninterested people, as well as people with a knee-jerk negative response to Dawkins, mentally prepared to even start listening to Dawkins. Such communicators need to be gentle to the fragile, fearful egos of the audience and to gradually prepare them for the harsh truths delivered by Dawkins. This takes skill and time.
Here, let me try to make a tabular summary of distinctions betwen short-term and long-term aspects:
Short-term is about politics. Long-term is about science.
Short-term is about persuasion. Long-term is about education.
Short-term has nothing to do with religion (and mentioning it backfires). Long-term is about combating religion/superstition.
We are pretty good at the long-term strategy. Dawkins is great. So are Larry and PZ.
We suck at short-term. We are unable to persuade people who are not already inclined to agree with everything we say anyway.
We need to learn how to persuade the people who hate us, don’t give a damn about science (or reality for that matter) and are easily swayed by the Rightwing/Creationist/Dominionist rhetoric. Why? Because some science-related policy issues (especially global warming) cannot wait for the next generation – hopefully properly educated in science – to grow up and vote. We have to persuade their fearful, indoctrinated, religious parents right now. You don’t do it by teaching – they won’t listen. You need to find alternative methods to put them at ease and get them to push the right lever when it is important. Nothing to do with science. Science comes later – when we teach their kids.
PZ responded to the WaPo article without reading my response to Larry first, and it shows.
Chris Mooney: Round II begins!
Framing Science – the Dialogue of the Deaf
Did I frame that wrong?
Framing and Truth
Just a quick update on ‘framing science’
Joshua Bell and Framing Science
Framers are NOT appeasers!
Framing Politics (based on science, of course)
Everybody Must Get Framed