By now we’ve all seen the John McCain ad that juxtaposes Paris Hilton and Britney Spears with Barack Obama. Most of us probably recognize it as disingenuous use of imagery to make a flawed argument. Sadly, the same technique is being used by one of our own here on ScienceBlogs. The culprit is Matt “Framing Science” Nisbet. Take a look.
Matt is off on yet another crusade against the “new atheists” as represented by fellow SciBlogger PZ Myers. His post is full of nonsense, and I don’t say that lightly. But what really annoyed me is his choice of photographs to illustrate his point. At the top we have an out-of-focus, poorly-lit amateur, candid shot of PZ in a casual, party atmosphere. To illustrate what Matt says is the “other image of atheism,” one of tolerance and open-minded inquiry, Matt gives us a sharp, posed, professionally lit and framed shot by Angie McQuaig for National Public Radio’s web version of recent feature on a camp for secular humanist teens.
I have long disagreed with Matt on the subject of framing, but until now I have mostly valued his contributions to the conversation on how best to communicate science. He draws our attention to the uncomfortable polling results that make it clear whatever we’re doing now isn’t working when it comes to climate change, for example.
But this kind of juvenile attack on PZ —;;;; who can defend himself quite ably, so there’s no need for me to get into that —;;;; is beyond what should be the pale in this corner of the blogosphere. I call on him to apologize to the ScienceBlog community at large and promise to stick to honest debating tactics from now on.