The Intersection

It’s official: The “Speaking Science 2.0″ talk is now viewable in its entirety on YouTube:

The presentation above is the one that we gave at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Biological Sciences a few weeks back. Unfortunately, you can’t see the PowerPoint slides; you can only see us talking. So not everything will make absolutely perfect sense, especially in my parts of the talk, because I don’t always describe in words what I’m showing on the screen.

Still, this is a far fuller explication of our ideas than exists anywhere else; and I flatter myself in thinking that it’s even a bit entertaining at times. Moreover, it contains a preview of some of the contents of Storm World. And don’t be put off by the 71 minute run time; much of that is the Q & A after the talk.

At this point, I’d also like to issue something of a challenge. I would hope that those bloggers who criticized the “framing science” idea as originally published will now check out the talk as well, so to engage with us in more detail. After all, during that blogospheric controversy there were constant demands for Matt and me to flesh out our argument, provide a list of proposals, etc….and we always said we would deliver. Now we have done so, in our chosen format.

In addition, there were a lot of misunderstandings before, and seeing the talk should help to dispel many or most those.

Finally, Matt and I are giving the presentation again (with modifications) next Monday at the New York Academy of Sciences…details here. I hope New York readers will come on out….

P.S.: Have also added the talk to Chris Mooney TV, which Searchles has upgraded with a cool new feature allowing you to see all the different programs before you choose on–which you can do simply by running the cursor over it and clicking. There’s also a pop-up window that describes each program. Isn’t this a nifty widget?


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    May 30, 2007

    Is there a version of this that is not 71 minutes long and lacking the graphics? I mean, what happens if the talk gets to a really impotant point but since there is no graphic, I don’t get the point, etc… then what was the point of me spending over an hour meeting your challenge?

    If you were an ad firm and I hired you to convince me of something and you gave me this, I would want my money back!!! 🙂

    But seriously, I’ll try to have a look at it, but it is hard to get that much free time at th is particular moment…

  2. #2 Chris Mooney
    May 30, 2007

    Actually over at Nisbet’s site he reports: “In the next few weeks, AIBS will be posting on its Website synchronized footage of the PowerPoint slides that we allude to in the YouTube clip.”

    I guess if you want that level of detail, it’s better to wait for this.

    But seriously, we do the best we can with the technology available. I don’t think your concern is a big one, though; the essence of the talk is quite clear from the YouTube clip.

  3. #3 Tyson B.
    May 30, 2007

    Awesome speech. That really cleared up many questions that I personally had as to what you meant by framing. Originally, I had this kooky idea that as scientists we should hire advertising agencies and PR staff to better send out our messages and I inadvertently began constructing this future in my head of commercials with washed-out celebrities telling us which scientific studies we should follow and which we should not.

    My mind also drifted back to the OJ Simpson case where (in my mind, and I’m sure others) OJ was found innocent – not because of the facts – but because he had the money to hire a team of truthspinners. I worry about the creationist Ph.D students who earn all the credentials towards becoming a scientist (under false pretenses) and end up getting sponsored by Jerry Falwells. In a sense, they will end up using the science frame to spread a non-science message.

    What I really found interesting though was how you disarmed the weapons that non-science activists are fighting the war on communication: “Teaching the controversy” for intelligent design, a Pandora’s Box/Frankenstein Monster for stem cell research. Now that scientists can see how their dissenters are showing the argument, hopefully we – as scientists, communcators, or both – can turn the tides of miscommunication.

    Another point that I just wanted to mention was brought up in a question asking if scientists can do anything to influence the frames of the journalists interviewing them. It made me recall poor Carl Wunsch who was misled by the Channel 4 team who produced “The Global Warming Swindle”. Was he naive to believe that he would be given full ability to talk about global warming in a balanced manner? Is there anything he could have/should have done prior to contributing to the documentary? It’s these types of situations that frighten me the most – the egregious examples of deception that the other side of science use to portray their view.

  4. #4 Mark Powell
    May 31, 2007


    As a scientist turned conservation advocate, this stuff isn’t new to me. I’ve learned some of these lessons the hard way. In the last few years, framing has become part of my vocabulary and I’ve tried the principles recommended by you and others.

    You scientists who want to influence public policy need to learn these lessons. After learning, you can say and do whatever you want, but you’ll be doing it as an informed speaker. Would you try to do science without learning an important tool like statistics? No, of course not. Well you’re equally uneducated if you try to engage in public policy debates without learning framing.

    It’s not just spin and manipulation. It’s getting past ideological filters that might have people quit listening to you before they hear your message. It’s building some trust with your listeners so they actually take the time and energy to hear your message.

    Chris (and Matt), this is a tough job you’ve tackled, but it’s a dialogue that needs to happen. Now I’ll go back to my little corner of the public policy world (ocean conservation) and continue framing my message to achieve maximum policy change. Oh, BTW, it works. And it doesn’t make me feel dirty. In fact, it makes me feel good because no longer do I have to wonder how come people are so stupid that they fail to agree with me. My audiences have gotten a lot smarter in the last few years and more of them agree with me


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