Monday, February 20, 2006

How to communicate about science ... from a journalist's perspective

Coming from a more journalistic perspective, Chris Mooney (author of The Republican War on Science), recently lamented the poor communication skills of most scientists in an article in Seed Magazine.

"[S]cientists in the US have little practice when it comes to crafting a message or winning a political debate, and their inexperience sometimes leads to ill-advised actions that have the tendency to backfire."

His also reiterated the importance of framing messages and playing toward predispositional interpretive lenses. His recommendations are completely in line with many of our findings (for example, Lee, Scheufele, & Lewenstein, 2005) about how people process scientific information:

"To be sure, most scientists have figured out how to communicate to their classes or to explain their work at dinner parties. But the American public doesn’t have the same level of background knowledge, or the same attention span. It learns in sound bites; in brief snippets at best."

(Read the complete article here.)

4 comments:

Clyde Soles said...

While I agree that Chris Mooney is guilty of the same sins as the Republicans he accuses (strong bias and cherry-picked data to support a dubious position), it's a bit harsh to call him a "ho."

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Chris Mooney is guilty of the same sins as the Republicans he accuses (strong bias and cherry-picked data to support a dubious position), it's a bit harsh to call him a "ho."

Dietram A. Scheufele said...

bad typo in the headline ... my apologies. fixed now.

Anonymous said...

anony/soles:
Who are you agreeing with? Have you actually read the book? Are you trying to carry out your own issue reframing? This is both an inappropriate and awkward forum to extend a debate, but:
I. While it's easy to say such things, can you support your 'strong bias' and 'cherry-picked' data claims?
II. Isn't there a bit of a difference between calling out folks with power (e.g. Republicans) and hating on the journalists who are pointing such stuff out?

-b grubbs