The Intersection

That’s right, I said it.

Dare I broach the topic sans Chris? Is it fair to discuss Framing when he’s not here at The Intersection to reply? I think YES. Just be aware everything that follows is ‘according to Sheril’ and none of this necessarily reflects the opinions of our two favorite Framers. That said, I’ll forge on..

Unless you’ve fallen off the blogosphere since April, you’re likely familiar with the concept of Framing Science which Mooney and Nisbet recently published an article about in the journal Science. My perspective, although similar in many respects, has been influenced tremendously by experience. A reasonable amount of time in the Senate, years working with commercial fishermen, and a long stint on radio – all while continuing to maintain permanent residence in academia – have taught me a few things. Most notably:

1) It’s easy to take for granted that not everyone speaks the same language. Cultural and social norms change dramatically across landscapes. Concepts like climate change are NOT universally accepted and many critical science topics at the forefront of my world do not register as personally relevant to the majority.

2) It better be possible to explain complex concepts bullet-style in a one page memo. Decisions makers (and folks with jobs in general) have a lot to squeeze into their day. Brevity and clarity win every time.

3) Humor and fun in the right context (i.e. sporting a Thanksgiving turkey costume as a radio stunt) will often reach and influence scores more people to act (donate food in this case) than a well written essay on the subject. [Note: There are exceptions.]

i-7d107a2d78895c880bdaffa88f78286e-snl101.myers.richman.010704_small1.jpgThroughout day I will explain how these experiences have shaped my take on Framing Science. Later, I’ll use a tangible example from the world I know best – Marine Conservation.

For now, ‘I’m a little verklempt (okay, really I need to bike to work). Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. Framing Science is neither solely about the Frame nor the Science. Discuss. Post a comment, we’ll talk, no big whoop.’

posted by Sheril R. Kirshenbaum


  1. #1 coturnix
    May 23, 2007

    OK, I am here and all ears. Looking forward to your next installment on the topic.

  2. #2 Wes
    May 23, 2007

    I did not really pay any attention to your favorite topic, fish, until I had to try and unravel Richard Pombo / Don Young rewrite of the Magnusson / Stevens Act to find further rationale for why voters should dump Pombo. We succeeded in the latter, but I am not sure that we succeeded in general.

    As I write this, the attention of all of the media in California is on two humpback whales that made it through the California Delta and up a deep water canal to the Port of Sacramento, some 90 miles upstream. At the same time, the population of delta smelt has crashed nearly to the point of extinction. This is the same delta and the water there is changing drastically toward salinity due to exports supporting the growing population of S. California.

    My point is that I fully agree. It is damned hard to find a way to make all of this relevant to the majority. Who cares about some little fish whose major use is to be eaten by bigger fish? It isn’t making it into the conversation at the water cooler.

  3. #3 VancouverBrit
    May 23, 2007

    I’m sorry, I’m confused… wearing a costume? On the radio? A minor point I know, but I’d love to learn how that kind of framing works…

  4. #4 Kassandra
    May 23, 2007

    Maybe dealing with this lack of communication ability in curriculum. Why is it that most universities can pump out scientists that haven’t taken a tech writing course? why can you graduate with an advanced degree in science and engineering never taking a single policy course? How is it that policy programs never step into the lab?

    My $.02

  5. #5 The Neurocritic
    May 23, 2007

    Coffee Talk!

  6. #6 Jen
    May 23, 2007

    Thank you for breaking it down in your brilliant, witty, anti-elitist way. After all if you can’t reach the masses, you can’t change the world…


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