Aggregating Skeptical Thought

Are we being framed?

First I have to apologize for not posting, I’ve been incommudicado with training and then ended up with strep throat, headaches, body aches, really miserable.

 Anyway, there has been quite a bit of discussion over at ScienceBlogs regarding the topic of Framing.  You can sum up the topic in this little quotemine from the original article

“pare down complex issues by giving some aspects greater emphasis. They allow citizens to rapidly identify why an issue matters, who might be responsible, and what should be done …scientists must realize that facts will be repeatedly misapplied and twisted in direct proportion to their relevance to the political debate and decision-making. In short, as unnatural as it might feel, in many cases, scientists should strategically avoid emphasizing the technical details of science when trying to defend it “

The issue was kicked off by a recent article (gated) by Chris Mooney and Matt Nisbet in Science magazine. Here is a smattering of the posts that have taken place, Framing Science – A Dialog of the Deaf, Framing Science or Dumbing it down, Framing Science sparks a seismic blog debate (some cool comments here), What if the right role for science is to shatter the frame?, Scientists Armed With Frames, Scientists talking to the public, A Tale of Three Interviews (from Real Climate, puts the topic of framing in the context of some recent media interviews on global climate change), Framing and the Invisible College, Fear of the frame (perhaps the longest but does a great job of discussing the pros and cons and has some great comments).

As a side, here is a good article, subtitled “Advances in theory and technology are fueling a new era in the science of persuasion”, in the APS Observer about Framing Science as well.

Technorati Skeptic


Filed under: Politics, Science

2 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    I believe that Mooney and Nisbet are spot on that the scientific community needs to invest more effort communicating to the public at large.

    But, by latching on to the “framing” buzzword, they are associating themselves with some unfortunate precedents. George Lakoff gave liberal politicians a tongue lashing in 2004, told them to “frame” their message instead of spewing facts, and then disappeared without making a single practical recommendation on how they could do that.

    Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shallenberger did the same thing in 2005, scorching the environmental movement with “Death of Environmentalism” in 2005 for bad communications and calling on them to “frame” their message for wider consumption. Like Lakoff before them, they disappeared without putting forward any actionable advice.

    So now Mooney and Nisbet have jumped on the “framing” bandwagon. This time, it’s scientists getting the harsh critique. As with Lakoff, Nordhaus, and Shallenberger, it’s not really clear what they think the scientific community ought to do, only that they are disappointed with what the community is doing now.

    If Mooney and Nisbet have a better plan, they should stay of the press circuit until they’re ready to roll it out. Right now, they’re enjoying their 15 minutes of fame finding fault with others, without an actionable prescription of what the scientific community should do better or differently.

    Not impressive.

  2. […] ultimate problem is “Framing”, uh oh, another blog about Framing. The whole discussion is framed in the following […]

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