The Intersection

Framing V: The Point!

posted by Sheril R. Kirshenbaum

Anticlimactic perhaps, but then you knew my last post on Framing wouldn’t provide closure on the topic. Hubris would be an understatement if I claimed to have a panacea of answers. Instead, what follows are a few musings to wrap up ideas from Thursday based on my adventures across the science, policy, and pop culture worlds..

i-b143b8ba72f8340da3af284968b343fc-pointposter.jpgFraming’s not a one-size-fits-all concept. Furthermore, not everything ‘science’ need necessarily be ‘Framed’ – it’s entirely case specific. Big, immediate global concerns traversing disciplines and stakeholders are where we should seek a cross cultural strategy that appeals to the widest possible demographic. We must utilize a variety of different approaches that highlight our research and concerns – always shrouded in a broad scientific consensus.

Never underestimate the importance of interpersonal relationships. Trust is arguably the single most important factor. Don’t speak ‘down’ to your audience because Average Joe is a heck of a lot smarter than many scientists give him credit for. Along those lines, there’s no reason to over complicate an issue. If you’re clear and succinct, the right questions will follow.

What really matters is that we as a global society continue to care. I think that’s mainly what ‘Framing Science’ is about. It’s an interesting and important consideration of the way we tell our science stories to the broader world. That said, framing is a concept, not dogma. We debate it’s relevance mainly because as scientists we’re accustomed to dissecting ideas. Viva la discourse! No need to prove right or wrong.

And with little time left at The Intersection, a new direction next, but I do hope I’ve managed to level the Frame just a bit.


  1. #1 Ryan Chisholm
    May 27, 2007

    Good points. I think it’s critical to appreciate the language differences between scientists, politicians and the general public. Words that are common and familiar to scientists may appear only as obfuscative jargon to a general audience. I was just talking about carbon sequestration to some friends who are non-science graduate students. They said they’d never heard the words “carbon” and “sequestration” used in the same sentence. So I started talking about “carbon capture and storage” and suddenly everything as OK.
    Never underestimate the power of language to work for or against you: the power of language to engage or alienate your audience.

  2. #2 Sam Boyarsky
    May 28, 2007

    I think your third paragraph about not speaking down to a general audience is incredibly important. People don’t appreciate being talked down to, all it serves to do is alienate the audience.

  3. #3 Stefan Jones
    May 29, 2007

    All I can think of when I see this post is . . .

    Me and my arrowwwwww . . .

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