Framing Science

Re-cap on talks in Minneapolis


I’m back in DC after an all too short trip to Minneapolis. Chris Mooney and I flew in to speak at the annual meetings of the Association for Reproductive Health Professionals. Among the gathered physicians, nurses, and health advocates, there was definitely a lot of buzz about the potential to apply research on framing to issues ranging from contraception to abortion rights. As advisers to ARHP, Chris and I look forward to more collaboration over the next year.

Last night, we also spoke at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History, appearing on a panel with the bloggers PZ Myers and Greg Laden to discuss our framing science thesis. The auditorium was almost completely full and I peg attendance at about 150.

On hand were also several hundred free copies of the October issue of The Scientist featuring the cover article I co-authored with Dietram Scheufele on the future of public engagement. (It was the first time I had seen the issue in print. The cover art and layout looks amazing.)

The panel was more of a discussion and dialogue than a debate. (Though Chris claims victory, so does PZ Myers.) Afterwards, everyone gathered for food and drinks in Dinkytown and it was great to meet many of the attendees and discuss ideas about science communication. At some point, I am hoping the audio will be available as a podcast via the Point of Inquiry series. I will let readers know when it appears.


  1. #1 Brandon
    September 29, 2007

    Hmm, Chris and PZ Myers both say they “won”, but you don’t go either way. I have to wonder if it’s because you lost miserably and can’t defend a claim that you won the debate, or because you’re a mature individual who cares more about solving problems than “winning” things. The tricky thing is that if it’s the latter, you can’t possibly prove it, because if you say, “it wasn’t about winning or losing,” somebody else can just say, “you’re just bitter because you lost.” That’s what sucks about having a stance that isn’t based on, “I’m right you’re wrong.”

    Well, I’m glad the panel went well. Can’t wait to hear it.

  2. #2 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 30, 2007

    Nobody really won, Brandon, it was just an exchange of ideas. While Matt convinced at least Steve Kelley that the New Atheist Noise Machine was causing problems, the discussion didn’t come up until Q&A.

    I learned quite a bit from all four presenters, and am glad I went.

  3. #3 greg laden
    September 30, 2007

    Matt … my wife says 150, I’m saying 160, and we have money on this. I wonder if there is an official count…

    Brandon: That sounds a little like a warped form of Pascal’s Wager…

    Echoing Mike’s comment (he was there): The simple truth is that we are all willing to discuss and critique, sometimes with some heat turned up, each other’s ideas, but when you get a forum like the Bell gave us it is simply time to get to work. Scientists don’t really eat their own young, they just seem like it sometimes.

    Plus, even though we were all guests at the Bell, that museum is sort of home turf for PZ and me. So Matt and Chris were like our guests. And we’re Minnesotans. Minnesota nice: We can be aggressive, but our aggression tends to be passive.

    Matt, great meeting you, and frankly, I think the discussion was only starting. I think the most important thing you have said (in general terms, not to ignore specific important details) is that scientists have to be scientific about how science is presented and about meeting public policy related objectives.


  4. #4 Brandon
    October 1, 2007

    I just read PZ Myer’s post on the event. Are you sure he isn’t just two six-year-olds stacked on top of each other and wearing a trench coat? Or are you going to tell me he was being ironic? Seriously, how can anybody believe that attitude is going to do any good?

  5. #5 Geoff
    October 1, 2007

    PZ had more than a bit of a glint in his eye when he wrote his reaction. Also PZ’s inclination for not taking competition too seriously has a precedent.

  6. #6 Luna_the_cat
    October 3, 2007

    Geoff, the problem with that kind of thing is the same kind of problem with Scott Adams’s writings about evolution. Oh, yeah, of course he’s not taking it seriously. But these are the words in print, the words that other people read, quote, and the attitudes that people will, inevitably, pick up and run with. What hits print is what people see, that simple.

  7. #7 olunlar1
    December 4, 2007

    Askeri helikopterler, kuzey Irak topraklar? içinde silah ve mühimmat y???na?? yap?yor.

  8. #8 oyun
    March 22, 2008

    birzamanlar?n en iyisi yok böyle bi olay ve gezmehevesi.

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