There have been a lot of oddities when it comes to the reception of our Science piece.
One is how many people can’t even correctly spell Nisbet’s name.
Another is the seemingly dismissive attitude towards much communication research. Perhaps the best comment on this phenomenon came from Chad Orzel:
…the people who are most adamant about Nisbet and Mooney being way off base are the people who are most outraged whenever somebody with an engineering degree dares to say something stupid about biology.
The irony here is that this framing business is exactly Nisbet’s area of expertise.
Now, thankfully, another expert in communication research has weighed in: Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin, who’s one of the most cited scholars on the topic in the field. He notes that “framing is a construct that has developed across disciplines and across levels of analysis.” Scheufele goes on to enumerate some of the different fields in which the concept has been discussed, and ends with this resonant point:
…[some responses] focus on terminological disagreements or disciplinary turf battles that are largely irrelevant to the point Nisbet and Mooney are making. And that is the trap that is so easy to fall into when communicating about scientific research. We are talking to each other, using words and distinctions that most of the public does not care about and that sometimes, unfortunately, miss the larger point altogether. And then we’re surprised if nobody pays attention.