Framing Science

Over at the NY Times’ Dot Earth blog, Andrew Revkin has launched a conversation with his readers on the challenge of navigating the many emerging arguments and claims about climate policy, with Revkin emphasizing the need to engage with a range of ideas and perspectives about what should be done. As I wrote about a few weeks back, if as a society we only engage with narrowly like-minded opinions and perspectives, we will lose the ability to build consensus and achieve effective policy actions.

Unfortunately, as Revkin alludes to, the dominant style among several prominent progressive bloggers is to continue to paint climate policy debates in terms of battles, wars, good guys and bad guys, pro-science versus anti-science, and deniers versus champions.

You either agree with the blogger on a narrow course of action or you are among the enemy. Indeed, it seems the Bush administration has radicalized an entire generation of thinkers on the self-described progressive side who now apply their “war” mentality to anyone who might disagree with them, even though they share the same ultimate goals and values. It makes you wonder, as Roger Pielke points out, if these bloggers have lost sight of the meaning of “progressive.”

It also reminds me of the reaction from several bloggers to the 2007 Science article on framing and science communication. When Chris Mooney and I suggested that it might be a good idea that scientists reach out to religious publics on evolution instead of going around calling them ignorant, stupid, child abusers, and a range of other insults, atheist hardliners and their flock outrageously insinuated that we might be stealth creationists. Radicalized and emboldened by the so-called Intelligent Design wars, these atheist scientists were now willing to cannibalize their allies in the world of science communication for simply daring to stray from their established party line.

Comments

  1. #1 Pierce R. Butler
    May 27, 2009

    … the self-described progressive side who now apply their “war” mentality to anyone who might disagree with them … atheist hardliners and their flock … Radicalized … atheist scientists … willing to cannibalize their allies … for simply daring to stray from their established party line.

    Er, now who’s framing whom as “good guys and bad guys”?

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