Framing Science

Bora continues to play a very important role in synthesizing and interpreting the whole strange chorus that seems to be going on in reaction to our Framing Science thesis. In his latest post, I couldn’t have stated it better myself. He definitely gets it. He captures pretty much everything that needs to be said at this point.

The next several weeks are going to be very busy. I’m finishing off the semester teaching, and I have a lot of deadlines coming up. So what I’m saying is that this is going to be a very slow couple of weeks for me blog wise.

PS: Bora offers more light on the matter in an even more recent post. Some money quotes I’ve pasted below the fold.

…in the long-term, through improvements of science education, through science popularization, a total reform of the media, and, yes, through critical analysis of religion (as well as critical analysis of the conservative ideology which feeds the religion), we may make our job of selling science-related political policies easier than they are today. That will take some years. And that will face fierce opposition.

But we need to start funding stem cell research today. We need to start stopping global warming today. We need to rethink our energy use and energy production today. We need to rethink about food production and use today. We need to rethink our economic system, our electoral system, our foreign policy – everything. And science can inform all of those areas. And to an audience that is not interested in (or is even hostile to) science, the policies have to be sold on other merits, on the economic, medical, emotional and esthetic interests of the voters, with the underlying science being brought up as needed and in small, palatable measures.

Framing science is not teaching science. Framing science is persuading voters that a policy (which, in this case is based on some underlying science) is good. It has little to do with science, and all to do with politics. But we have to win some political battles first (hello, see who is running all branches of the government these days!?) if we want to survive and if we want science to survive as an endeavor.

Over at Mooney’s Intersection I also post a comment in reply to a question from the mysterious Ponderingfool. ;-)
It’s a bit of a backgrounder on the literature relevant to coming up with a typology of science-related frames.

I found this one follow up comment especially interesting. There’s been a lot of men shouting at each other among the chorus of voices in reaction to our Framing Science thesis. Here’s a different perspective:

Just wanted to quickly comment and say I agree 100% with both your Science and WP pieces! Every single scientist should post copies on his/her bulletin board. I’m a professional writer who returned to school last year to study biology. After getting involved in the academic scientific community, I am amazed at how bad scientists are at communicating with the general public. I’m also quite amazed at how inflammatory many science blogs are (even though I enjoy them). It seems like many science bloggers revel in not just explaining science, but calling religious people idiots. Not a good way to draw in the public (which is, as you point out, overwhelmingly religious–but not necessarily “fundamentalist”). I’d like to say that I personally find Dawkins offensive for basically calling anyone with any kind of religious belief a moron. If his positions offend me (someone who is studying science), just think of the kind of reaction his commentary provokes in religious people without a prior love of science…

I hope your articles force scientist to seriously think about better ways to communicate with the public. Bravo, both of you! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Jennifer | April 16, 2007 04:49 PM

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    April 16, 2007

    And you know, in the blogworld, if you do not respond to a query within minutes you are [insert ad hominem attack of choice]. A very different time-frame than the rest of the planet…

  2. #2 Wes
    April 16, 2007

    I agree that Coturnix does a really good job of putting the issue in perspective. Maybe he’s the best framer here. :)

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