“Framing” Science

March 1, 2010

One of the major problems with public understanding of science is exactly the ridiculous idea that somehow science as a human enterprise is supposed to be immune from the aspects of human nature that permeate all other human enterprises. If people understood that–like all human enterprises–science involves people and their messy motivations, things like ZOMFG!!CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX!!111!!ELEVENTY!11!! would have no legs. What science has going for it as a means of making sense of objective reality is that it has intrinsic mechanisms that render it relatively robust over time in the face of perturbations that derive from the less desirable aspects of human nature.

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6 Responses to ““Framing” Science”

  1. anonymous Says:

    School subjects are so compartmentalized, and the devolution of (the sometimes not obvious) connectivity of different disciplines only seems to have gotten worse with time. While I remember historical and socio-economical references being brought up daily in literature classes, very rarely did any come up in a science class (one case that stands out is Galileo).

    I wish you would show your gentler side more often (I’m referring to the posting of the cardinal in the snow), unless you’re afraid of losing your street cred or something, dawg.

  2. westwood Says:

    The trouble is, the type of people that can understand the word ‘perturbations’ already know this. And those that don’t either a) can’t get it or b) prefer to stick their fingers in their ears while shouting “LA LA LA!”


  3. True.
    But the media doesn’t help at all, and that is a serious problem with ‘public understanding’.
    Juan Cole has a great piece related to this…
    http://www.juancole.com/2010/02/advice-to-climate-scientists-on-how-to.html
    Thanks to Mike the Mad Biologist:
    http://scienceblogs.com/mikethemadbiologist/2010/03/juan_cole_to_climatologists_it.php

  4. skeptifem Says:

    The education that the majority of people will get (public schooling) is designed to discourage critical thought, and encourages order taking and obedience. Caring enough to figure out how anything works is beyond the grasp of many people; a stream of constant propaganda from various sources (mostly school and marketing) is very difficult to overcome. An enormous effort goes into making sure that things go on that way. Massive industries would be unable to trample on everything without compliance. I don’t think framing science in any specific way will fix the problem of people who are not really interested in the truth. The majority of people who think that the global warming email scandal has any bearing on the reality of AGW are more concerned about who is saying something rather than what is said anyway.

  5. Katharine Says:

    “The education that the majority of people will get (public schooling) is designed to discourage critical thought, and encourages order taking and obedience. Caring enough to figure out how anything works is beyond the grasp of many people; a stream of constant propaganda from various sources (mostly school and marketing) is very difficult to overcome. An enormous effort goes into making sure that things go on that way. Massive industries would be unable to trample on everything without compliance. I don’t think framing science in any specific way will fix the problem of people who are not really interested in the truth. The majority of people who think that the global warming email scandal has any bearing on the reality of AGW are more concerned about who is saying something rather than what is said anyway.”

    QFFT.

    This is a huge part of why I hate uneducated people.

  6. jif Says:

    Primary and secondary education are no more “designed to discourage critical thought” than they are designed to make people taller. Yes, it can happen but it is secondary effect not a design principle. Yes, it is difficult to figure out how things work — such as why there is so little critical thought in the US — that instead people ascribe things to malicious bogeymen.


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