Pharyngula

A better way

In my mail today, I received a copy of the Bell Museum’s quarterly, Imprint, which contained a fine article on the Bell’s strategy for addressing the creationists. After summarizing some of the museum’s efforts and recent national events, it concludes this way:

Bell Museum programs are one way that University of Minnesota scientists are reaching the public–not through spin, but through thoughtful presentations about science and research, such as the lively Café Scientifique discussion held recently on the subject of evolution. To support science educators, Borrello, Lanyon, and several other scientists have teamed up with local parents to found Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (www.mnscience.org), which provides resources for teachers, students, and parents. “As a society,” says Lanyon, “we can’t afford to let a religious argument dominate the critical subject of how we teach science in our schools. The fact is, life evolves. We ignore–or choose to deny–this scientific fact at our own peril.”

After all this discussion of “framing”, I find that so refreshing and reassuring. There is a slow change occurring in the scientific community, a growing recognition that stepping out of the lab and engaging the public in open and entertaining discussions about their research is an important activity. We don’t need to spin the story, we don’t need to dumb things down or hide the troubling implications — what we can do instead is meet with people and talk and explain. Not just lecture at them, but take questions on the spot and try to deal interactively with their concerns. That’s what Café Scientifique is about, for instance: informal discussions in a casual setting where people can just ask any question that pops into their head. Citizens for Science Education groups are also organizations that aren’t about dunning people with facts, but about outreach and providing resources to concerned teachers and parents.

We don’t need any new jargon or buzzwords to do that. Just talking. Informing. Educating. Being honest about our positions and letting people say what they think, too. That’s an approach that will feel natural to scientists, far better than artificially hedging our words and trying to say what other people want to hear, rather than stating what we actually think.

That’s what I want to do, and that’s what I will do. If others want to practice spinning and pandering, feel free. I doubt that you’ll find many scientists who want to join in that game, though.

Comments

  1. #1 JMO
    April 17, 2007

    Well put.

    That’s all.

  2. #2 David Wilford
    April 17, 2007

    PZ, there are two basic frames to choose from here – one is about science and the other about faith. Kudos to the Bell Museum for insisting that religious arguments have no place in a science classroom. That’s a frame that can’t be beat when it comes to science instruction, as we saw exemplified so well in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

    The other frame, where the subject is religion and not science, is more problematic. Dawkins is right in every objection he raises about the impossible miracles claimed by religions of all kinds, but that isn’t enough to convince those who, like Fox Mulder, want to believe. Dan Dennett I think has a better approach when he promotes different metaphors for talking about religion in his book Breaking the Spell (much as he did in his book Consciousness Explained, where Dennett baldly stated that one of his chief purposes in writing that book was to change the metaphors used to think about consciousness and stimulate new thinking on the subject) that would rest on a evolutionary POV for understanding religion as a natural phenomena. Not that Dennett pulls it off mind you, but I think his direction is right in terms of trying to come up with something that doesn’t throw the faithful’s feelings about religion out with the baptismal water.

  3. #3 Martin-V
    April 17, 2007


    The notion that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self assemble itself into a living, evolving organism is the most childish, the most idiotic, the most deranged interpretation of the tangible world ever proposed by the human imagination.

    You are right John.

    Inteligent people feel the same way I suppose. That’s why atheists need to flock together at Pharyngula where nobody can disturb them.

    Pharyngulists avoid open threads like this one. Instead of Myers brag of “veni, vidi, vici” we see only “I came, I made stench, I disappeared”.

    (One blog a day)

  4. #4 Stuart Coleman
    April 17, 2007

    Buzzwords and framing are for those whose message isn’t honest, those who don’t have the weight of hundreds of years of experiment, observation, and theory behind them. We don’t need the pundit’s sound bytes, we have the truth, and that is unstoppable.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    April 17, 2007

    PZ Myers wrote:

    There is a slow change occurring in the scientific community, a growing recognition that stepping out of the lab and engaging the public in open and entertaining discussions about their research is an important activity.

    I would like to see a guidebook to doing this in a practical way. What techniques have scientist-communicators found most successful? Is there an “acceptable” level of jargon, perhaps one which varies from venue to venue? What about including numbers and equations? On a slightly different tack, how do you balance public outreach with a research and teaching career? How do blogs and the Web change the landscape?

    These are practical questions, which a considerable number of science writers have had to address, and I’d like to get all their answers in one place.

  6. #6 JohnJB
    April 17, 2007

    Martin-V #3,

    The notion that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self assemble itself into a living, evolving organism is the most [opinion], the most [opinion], the most [opinion] interpretation of the tangible world ever proposed by the human imagination.

    We, atheists and others, when coming here to read about biology, are interested in the evidence.

    And you say “atheist” as if that’s a bad thing.

    Oh, and I think you’re on the wrong thread.

    Oh, oh. And we all make typos. But when wading into what might be a somewhat hostile environment it behooves one to be vewy, vewy careful about spelling, lest one be mocked as an idiot.

  7. #7 Trinifar
    April 17, 2007

    … far better than artificially hedging our words and trying to say what other people want to hear, rather than stating what we actually think.

    But, PZ, here you are willfully spinning what Chris and Matt have said. They’ve been abundantly clear that in their writing that framing science has nothing to with telling people what they want to hear or being untruthful or spinning. They are also clear about having short-term goals to affect public policy in a positive way by getting scienctific results heard.

  8. #8 BlueIndependent
    April 17, 2007

    TOTALLY OFF TOPIC: Anyone catch the post-mortem hatchet job Fox News called an obituary for Kurt Vonnegut?

  9. #9 Zeno
    April 17, 2007

    No matter whether one calls it “spin” or “framing” or “contextualizing” or “slanting”, I can’t help but feel that I’m always doing it. That is, it seems to me that there is some process going on in my brain that tries to run an interpreter on everything I am about to say, like a ten-second delay at a live radio station, just so I can consciously recast my text if I think I am likely to offend or be misunderstood. Therefore I can regard the notion of “framing” (or its various synonyms) as merely a description of my search for the most effective phrasing (the search for le mot juste). It’s not, in this sense, a means for stringing a line of cant, but more an effort at clarity and diplomacy (not always natural allies).

    I fear that Mooney & Nisbet have been insufficiently successful at “framing” their own argument because it seems, in their hands, to be too much like dissimulation. (And, if it’s not, why do they say that want Dawkins to hide his light under a bushel basket? Are they thinking there’s a nicey-nice way for an atheist to defend his philosophy without riling the true believers?) As a result, “framing” has suddenly lost its usefulness as a word and taken on some unwelcome trappings. Now it’s raising hackles. Too bad. I suspect M&N are surprised at the noisy thud of their lead balloon.

  10. #10 blokeinjapan
    April 17, 2007

    Out here in Japan, we’ve been engaging the public by opening up our developmental biolog institute every year. Anyone with the will to come to Kobe can come in trapse around and this year we have a “talk to a scientist” session. It’s popular with about 1600 attendants last year. In addition, there are several interactive sites that have been designed to “demystify” research. Those interested can click here http://www.cdb.riken.go.jp/en/index.html?CDBdirect#05_development/0505_cadherins02.html (particularly cool are the game cards and the lab tour) and learn about what we do and how we do it.

    It is a way of affecting the public policy and asking the average person for their support. In one respect we are “framing” our work, but no more then a cafe scientifique. Undoubtedly engaging the average punter is important. How best to do it?

  11. #11 natural cynic
    April 17, 2007

    The notion that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self assemble itself into a living, evolving organism is the most childish, the most idiotic, the most deranged interpretation of the tangible world ever proposed by the human imagination.

    Like free-market capitalism.

    The point of framing seems not to be spinning and jiving, it is simply focusing on what’s important to the audience. Like it or not [and I definately do not], sound bites are the way the media works.

  12. #12 Jud
    April 17, 2007

    I very much encourage efforts like Cafe Scientifique and opening up scientific installations for events like “Talk to a Scientist” (see #11). Regardless of the effect on a wider public (though I think it can’t help but be beneficial), it’s wonderful for those of us hungry for all the science learnin’ we can get. :-)

    Speaking of educating the wider public, anyone remember those Bell-Tel-sponsored Frank Capra science films?

    (Looking forward to Nova on the evolution of flowers tonight.)

  13. #13 Stogoe
    April 17, 2007

    Sure, the media works on sound bytes now, but why not smash the frame of ‘we have to use sound bytes because they work’ and actually give people information? Tear the old guard down brick by bankrupt brick and fundamentally change the way people get news? You can’t change the machine by submitting completely to its every desire. You have to resist in any way you can.

    And sometimes, you have to throw your body on the gears.

  14. #14 TR Gregory
    April 17, 2007

    Blogging seems to be a useful way for scientists to communicate about science with the public. I am trying this as an experiment as we speak with Genomicron (http://genomicron.blogspot.com/). I appreciate those who are also giving this a try, and encourage others to test it as a means of wider outreach.

  15. #15 Zuckerfrosch
    April 17, 2007

    One way to reach out the public that I’m really enjoying is as an intern at our science museum. It’s set up with a lab area for kids, but lots of parents come too, and on the rare occasion that it comes up, I’ve talked evolution with them. It’s really interesting to talk to intelligent, open-minded people who simply have confused thoughts. One man I talked to didn’t believe in evolution because he didn’t understand why there were so many varieties of fish with different colors in the same place when he went snorkling (he though that there would be one ideal color for all fishes for that environment, and they would have all reached it by natural selection). So I explained sexual selection to him, and he seemed really satisfied by the answer. This was not a hyper-religious guy, or an idiot, just one who had an incomplete understanding of evolution, and I think we both benifited by our conversation.
    A big advantage to volunteering at such museums, too, is that the people coming to talk to you are self-selecting in that they’re generally open-minded (otherwise it’s a lot of money to pay just to get into an argument). I would encourage everyone living near one to support it, your expertise will make it a better place.

  16. #16 Speedwell
    April 17, 2007

    Coturnix, in his blog “Blog around the Clock,” posted a great article about framing. It’s here: http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2007/04/everybody_must_get_framed.php?utm_source=sbhomepage&utm_medium=link&utm_content=toplink

    (sorry for being inept about linking)

    Anyway, I posted a comment there that I thought belonged here, too, in part. I don’t think any of us are objecting to the idea that facts should be organized and served in a clear and manageable way. I think there’s something about the word “framing” that is suspect. But here:

    “Framing” confuses me too. I can definitely see what you’re describing in this post, but I find the use of that particular word a little strange. In my training and documentation work, I’ve always referred to the same idea as “presentation.” I say, “The way in which the material is presented can determine how engaged the students are and how much of it they understand.” The word “framing” just has an unpleasant smell of a cynical marketing campaign, of propaganda, as if the size and placement of the “frame” is carefully and deliberately chosen to hide some of the facts from view.

  17. #17 Blake Stacey
    April 17, 2007

    Zeno wrote:

    No matter whether one calls it “spin” or “framing” or “contextualizing” or “slanting”, I can’t help but feel that I’m always doing it. That is, it seems to me that there is some process going on in my brain that tries to run an interpreter on everything I am about to say, like a ten-second delay at a live radio station, just so I can consciously recast my text if I think I am likely to offend or be misunderstood.

    Survey says, linguists agree with you.

  18. #18 dorid
    April 17, 2007

    It seems to me that the problem is that the two sides are speaking different languages. The language of religion is something people grow up with all their lives, from the moment someone splashes water on their few days old foreheads to the time they hit the grave. On the other hand people don’t start talking science to their kids until about third grade, and then it’s often the wishy washiest kind of science until they hit high school.

    A lot of kids don’t go to science centers, museums, zoos, aquariums and the like more than once a year on some school field trip, where they get very little chance to ask questions or take time to take any interest in specific animals or environments.

    Then science becomes a foreign language. You may call it “framing” but it comes down to speaking in a way people will understand. That doesn’t mean diluting the message or spinning it, just finding some sort of way to make yourself understood.

    as for the last comment from Zuckerfrosch: I’d like to think that’s true, that people actually come to museums to learn, but my son-in-law works in the MNH in LA and gets creationists through all the time. Sometimes in groups, sometimes in family units, they bring in the kids to “expose them to creationist lies” and identify my son-in-law as a lying minion of Satan. They sign up for the dino-tour then spend the whole time trying to pick a fight.

    My daughter is teaching biology lab for bio majors this year. You’d think SHE’D be in a position where she wouldn’t have to deal with them, but one of her students is a Bio- Geo double major, and asked my daughter if she felt that her belief in God and Creation would hamper her ability to complete her studies. Apparently, she is taking these courses in order to attempt to discredit them.

    I don’t think we should give up on the struggle to educate the ignorant, but I also think that arguing with the WILLFULLY ignorant is a waste of time. One thing we NEED to do is move for MORE science in the classrooms… and at an earlier age. The other thing we need to do is to be able to communicate in a way that we’re understood… to find some common schema to work from WITHOUT compromising the message.

  19. #19 Baratos
    April 17, 2007

    The notion that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self assemble itself into a living, evolving organism is the most childish, the most idiotic, the most deranged interpretation of the tangible world ever proposed by the human imagination.

    And yet, free markets work and babies are born. Because you are denying both of those, you are a very stupid communist. Now run back to your dacha, commie.

  20. #20 Josh
    April 17, 2007

    I see only one side in this Blog. (Atheistic Scientist) Can you think of anything good from the other? (Creationist) If not then why are there people on the other? Sometimes if you look at both sides evenly then it gives one a better ability to discern which is right.

    You spend all your time trying to discredit God. That’s why you don’t see God.
    God reveals himself to those who seek him not discredit him.
    No he can’t you say? If there is a God, yes he can …He’s smarter then you
    I know for a fact God is real. You will never see him until you start looking up.

    None of you here want there to be a God. Why? Because that means you won’t be God anymore and plus you have no desire to have a relationship with him if he is there.

    I could write many books on all the supernatural miracles I’ve witnessed from God… And you would just call me a liar or an idiot… or even more so of what I get is I hallucinate. Am I a liar? No. Repenting Christians don’t lie.

    Now let’s look at the facts. If a repenting Christian sees God act. Ex- God tells me something in a different language which was the answer to my thought right before I even thought it. Then this would show that God controls time. Is this evidence?
    Not for a scientist. A scientist needs to see and experience something for themselves in order for it to be real. Is there a way to see and experience God? Yes. All you have to do is repent and believe his word with 100 % surety. ….
    “A scientist read Gods word looking for nothing he found nothing”
    “A man looking for God read Gods word and he stumbled across a question” how is that possible he asked God because it was Gods.” God saw his heart and knew his motives and then answered him.

  21. #21 bybelknap
    April 17, 2007

    “I could write many books on all the supernatural miracles I’ve witnessed from God… And you would just call me a liar or an idiot…”

    Well, what are you doing slacking around here? Get to work! Write those books. Let us read em, and then decide if you are, in fact, as vapid and silly as you sound. Chop Chop! No sense hanging around here while you’ve got so many books to write.

  22. #22 stogoe
    April 17, 2007

    I know for a fact God is real. You will never see him until you start looking up.

    [looks up] Ooh! I found him! He was there all along! I had no idea God was a grid of fluorescent lights and fiberglass ceiling tiles…

    Seriously, though, we need some lotion down here stat, because if you’re not careful you’ll give yourself a painful rash with all that wankery.

  23. #23 Josh
    April 17, 2007

    -There are already books. I recommend Miracle of Miracles, I know the author personally.

    “Seriously, though, we need some lotion down here stat.” by sto

    -Clearly you are looking down. Your looking up is not evident. That same light that you’re looking at can be on the floor.

  24. #24 John
    April 17, 2007

    PZ wrote:
    “After all this discussion of “framing”, I find that so refreshing and reassuring.”

    This is about framing!

    “There is a slow change occurring in the scientific community, a growing recognition that stepping out of the lab and engaging the public in open and entertaining discussions about their research is an important activity.”

    And the requirement that they be entertaining is another aspect of good framing.

    “We don’t need to spin the story, we don’t need to dumb things down or hide the troubling implications — ”

    None of those are intrinsic to framing.

    “…what we can do instead is meet with people and talk and explain. Not just lecture at them, but take questions on the spot and try to deal interactively with their concerns.”

    Yes, and taking questions instead of lecturing is a great way to frame it.

    “That’s what Café Scientifique is about, for instance: informal discussions in a casual setting where people can just ask any question that pops into their head.”

    Yes, that’s a great frame. Now, what exactly do you have against framing, PZ?

  25. #25 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2007

    I have nothing against framing, as stated. What I see, though, is a lot of wobbling between the obvious and the vague, and that “framing” is bad framing, and has been badly framed.

    If you were to talk about tailoring your talks to your audience, fitting the scale of what you are talking about to their expectations, getting feedback, etc., we’d say “Great! Yes! That’s what we think is important, too!”

    Where I get lost is when we’re told we don’t do “framing” or do it badly, and need to adjust our attitudes, and then when we say “here’s what we’ve been doing,” we’re told that we’ve been using frames all along. It’s very strange and confusing.

    And then there’s the other problem, where framing is used as an excuse to tell us that certain difficult subjects are not to be mentioned.

    “Frames” have a lot of awkward baggage now. I suggest everyone drop the term and try…reframing it.

  26. #26 Blake Stacey
    April 17, 2007

    A while ago, “Revere” said the following at Effect Measure:

    Nisbet and Mooney argue that just presenting the facts in favor of evolution or climate change isn’t sufficient. As a university teacher for 40 years I couldn’t agree more. It’s a matter of good pedagogy, which isn’t just displaying facts. If it were, we wouldn’t need teachers. But the implication that good teaching is “packaging” — aka, “spinning,” although they prefer to think of it as “framing” — doesn’t follow, unless all good teaching is called “framing,” in which case all we have done is substitute one word for another.

    To which I would add, if you really want to use a jargon word, you should pick one which doesn’t have an everyday meaning: picking a word which everybody thinks they understand even though they actually need a background in the subject is setting yourself up for confusion. Call it “Lakoff framing” or “Goffman framing” or something of the sort.

    PZ Myers said,

    Where I get lost is when we’re told we don’t do “framing” or do it badly, and need to adjust our attitudes, and then when we say “here’s what we’ve been doing,” we’re told that we’ve been using frames all along. It’s very strange and confusing.

    And then there’s the other problem, where framing is used as an excuse to tell us that certain difficult subjects are not to be mentioned.

    Hear hear.

  27. #27 Peter
    April 17, 2007

    An example of framing used by Dawkins is when he says (paraphrasing) “You’re an athesit just like me, with respect to non-Christian gods. I’ve just added one more god.” This technique of promoting empathy, of identiying common ground, can improve receptivity to argument.

  28. #28 Josh Rosenau
    April 17, 2007

    I also don’t see the difference between what the Bell museum is describing and what Nisbet and Mooney (and Bora and I) have been talking about.

    Is the beef really just in how Nisbet and Mooney have framed framing?

    Yes, we all frame all the time, as Zeno said earlier. The issue is that the data suggest we are framing science badly. If we want to increase public understanding of science, we need to get a better sense of what approaches work for presenting information and engaging nonscientific audiences. I don’t see where that’s controversial.

    I understand that you don’t like it when people point out that linking science and atheism is an ineffective strategic frame. Like it or not, framing science around atheism and framing atheism around science are not good approaches. Atheists are misunderstood and unpopular, science is misunderstood and unpopular. How would combining two misunderstood and unpopular things make a popular and well understood union?

    One effective framing strategy is to link new information to something that is familiar and well-liked (e.g., science to practical technological applications, quantum dynamics to tossing a coin, natural selection to artificial selection). Linking something that is unfamiliar and disliked to another unfamiliar and disliked thing just seems like a losing strategy. As someone with a lot invested in the fight for science education and religious freedom, I point this out in a spirit of helpful criticism, not negativity or coercion. I think the same goes for Nisbet, Mooney, Bora, etc.

  29. #29 stogoe
    April 17, 2007

    But science is linked with godlessness. Irrevocably so. Hiding our light under a bushel is against the point.

    M&N would have had better luck with their lead balloon had they not framed it within their mantra of “that meanie Dawkins kicked open our closet door! Oh Noes!”

  30. #30 Matthew C. Nisbet
    April 17, 2007

    I’ve recently wrote a Skeptical Inquirer Online column essentially advocating this, connecting a coordinated media campaign with an on-the-ground interactive buzz campaign. The two need to go hand in hand, otherwise if its only the small scale scientific cafe’s you still only reach a small audience of science enthusiasts. Moreover, scientists need to go beyond scientific cafe’s, specifically into America’s most popular volunteer group: churches.

    Not sure though how you get an audience for your scientific message if you are also attacking religion.

    Just a thought…

  31. #31 Josh Rosenau
    April 17, 2007

    “But science is linked with godlessness.”

    For you, stogoe, not for me. Except in the trivial sense that it doesn’t involve any gods. But by that argument, history and literature also are linked with godlessness, since the books were written by humans and the historical events are explained by natural phenomena. I don’t think that’s the sense you meant, though. Dawkins is intellectually fulfilled, and so is Ken Miller. One is godless, the other isn’t, both are good scientists and good science communicators.

  32. #32 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2007

    I’m not sure how I’ll be able to persuade people that scientific thought is a better guide to living than superstition and myth if I go around validating religious foolishness, so we’re even.

  33. #33 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2007

    Yes, Josh, but Dawkins is a good scientist when he examines religion, and Miller is not.

  34. #34 Josh Rosenau
    April 17, 2007

    But why does talking about science require talking about religion at all? Our assessments of the scientific status of Dawkins’s god-talk differ (I think he’s wrong to claim that the God hypothesis is scientifically testable in any nontrivial sense, for instance), but that isn’t the point here. I don’t understand why science ought to be a guide to life – it’s not a normative standard in and of itself. I don’t see it as a general argument, and I don’t see it as a useful frame.

    Of course science should inform our moral judgments (learning about the ozone hole turns Freon from a good thing to a bad thing because of a prior normative belief that protecting the environment is good, and because the ozone layer is protective). Science is a useful epistemological tool, but I don’t see the need for it to be the exclusive epistemological tool.

    As a matter of framing, a speaker saying he’s got a superior way of living makes him sound arch, arrogant and like he looks down on his audience. Whether or not you really do look down on theists, acting like you do is a bad way to change minds. Connecting to common, familiar, friendly experiences works better than posing an exclusive choice between something people know and like (religion, for better or for worse) and something they don’t really know and tend not to trust (science, unfortunately).

    I don’t see the merit of framing this as either religion or science. You may see it that way, and may want to move the discussion to that ground, but you and I both know how most audiences will choose at this point. And once they’ve chosen, they’ll stick to those choices against a lot of evidence. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force.

    Luckily, my sense is that the public hasn’t dug in their heels on these issues yet, and the right messaging strategy can shift opinions. Polls show that a majority of the public wants to think God was involved somehow, but the persistent opposition to creationism as public policy suggests that they don’t need it to be a replacement for evolution.

    Would it be dishonest of you to say “I’m an atheist, I don’t think religion contributes to society or morality, but I respect the scientific work of my theist colleagues, and regardless of our disagreements over religion, science is a powerful source of unity and knowledge”? I haven’t watered down what I understand your views on science or religion to be, but I think that putting it in less oppositional terms makes it a message that draws in people inside and outside the scientific community rather than pushing people away.

    Just a thought.

  35. #35 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2007

    As a matter of framing, a speaker saying he’s got a superior way of living makes him sound arch, arrogant and like he looks down on his audience.

    So the proponents of framing are not arguing that they have a superior way of communicating?

    This is a peculiar strategem. If one isn’t arguing for something better than the other guy is offering, why argue at all?

    As for your rephrasing, it misses the point. I’m not arguing for everyone to be a scientist, I’m arguing against the corrupting influence of religion. Do you also think the best way to oppose crime is to be nice and avoid saying unkind things about criminals?

  36. #36 guthrie
    April 17, 2007

    Baratos, since when has calling someone a communist for denying evolution been an insult?

  37. #37 Josh Rosenau
    April 18, 2007

    I question the analogy between religion and crime, so I’ll beg off from that question.

    “So the proponents of framing are not arguing that they have a superior way of communicating?”

    I don’t remember which comment thread it was on, but I remember Matt Nisbet writing that he doesn’t yet know what the right way to frame these various issues is. I take him to be saying that the current way doesn’t work and we should be working together towards a better way, based on empirical research into how arguments affect audiences. Unless you don’t think empirical research generally produces superior knowledge than adherence to tradition, I don’t think this proposal is intended to set himself apart from you.

    You write:

    I’m not arguing for everyone to be a scientist, I’m arguing against the corrupting influence of religion.

    To which I say: “Wow.” I understood your goals to be more nuanced. I thought you were trying to at least balance those two, and that you saw religion as a stumbling block in the effort to promote science among other things. I’d personally rather have a scientifically literate populace (is that the same as “for everyone to be a scientist”?) and thought the argument was – at least in part – how to get there and that our differences were matters of emphasis within that effort. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

  38. #38 Whitey Blogger
    April 27, 2007

    “Do you also think the best way to oppose crime is to be nice and avoid saying unkind things about criminals?”

    Society creates criminals, primarily by demonizing malesness from birth; attributing bad behavior to boys and overlooking the bad behavior of girls.Whereas science can, and has, proven that these behaviors are manufactured, other science denies it for political reasons, and today, many in society ignore it for monetary gain, i.e. the prison industrial complex, and its direct relation to poverty and the negative imprinting that mothers and then perhaps, fathers, endow upon ‘males’.
    In the case of actual criminals today, the steady growth of the prisons can attest to that labelling you are referencing–just ask a criminal what he was called growing up. Or might that take you too far away from your blogging, and assistant professorship?
    I’m outie he’ah pimp chile, gots to roll G-style,
    ;-)

  39. #39 RalphinLex
    May 28, 2007

    Blake Stacey (at 5)
    Yes, practical questions but the wrong ones, I think. Instead, ask: what skills are needed to do this well? Must speak well; take a class or two (or three). Must have narrative skills, be able to carry a story with your voice; good inflection, pacing skill. Must have some limited group dynamics/management experience. Must have excellent listening skills and experience responding to questions.
    Not exactly your standard science electives.

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