October 14, 2007
Matthew C. Nisbet has backed up his gracious nod to one of this years recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize entitled “Does Gore Contribute to the Communication Crisis?”, with a new post “Only 50% of Americans Have a Favorable View of Al Gore”.
Here he basically reinforces his previous point that Gore has only limited success communicating his message on Global Warming because lots of people don’t like him (be that due to partisan political view or whatever). In the first post, Matt suggested that his message should be “re-framed” to be promoted by “less partisan opinion leaders” if it is to be effective.
I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit.
Communication of science is not a popularity contest. “Re-framing” a particular science issue might well make it more palatable to a particular audience (although I am not willing to concede this as a given) but it only works for that specific case and audience. Each issue and each interest group requires a different “frame”. Not only does this constant re-framing weaken the scientific integrity of the message, but it fails to address the underlying issues that makes these groups intolerant of the message in the first place.
The science behind the Theory of Gravity for instance, does not change depending whether or not you like the haircut of the person who is describing it to you, or they way they are presenting it. Re-framing the Theory of Gravity to appeal to such people might convince them, but it also reinforces that they only need to listen to messages that they are comfortable with, told to them by people who they like.
Communication of science is not a popularity contest, and it shouldn’t have to be.