Friday, May 05, 2006

Framing Science

I said it before, but Matt Nisbett's blog is what my blog was supposed to be but never was. Yesterday, he posted some comments on and excerpts from an Adweek article about the neccessity to frame the science wars correctly in order to sell it to the public and the elected officials.

As Lakoff says, just telling the truth is not enough - the truth has to be said in a right way in order to penetrate the biases and frames of the audience. Thus, scientists should take a good look at congitive science and linguistics - heck, use their own tools of the trade! - to communicate more effectively to the non-scientific audience.

If the official spokesmen for science had some training in framing, or at least been given the ready-made packaging of instructions built by others (a PR firm, for example) on how to talk about science to lay audiences, then we would not be seeing ugly scenes like this one, of inept and ineffective defense of science.

The opposition has figured this out a long time ago. Both DarkSyde and Chris Mooney comment on a recent article about the use of the phrase "sound science" - a phrase coined probably by the same devious minds at conservative "think"-tanks as "teach the controversy" and "it is just a theory". "Sound science" means whatever the politico wants it to mean at that moment, and it may change the next moment, and has nothing to do with data or the consensus of the scientific community.

We have to be aware of the power of language to convey the message. The Truth alone, clumsuly told, will not set us free.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:11 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink