In the presentation, I explain why the dominant models of science communication--the science literacy and public engagement models--are incomplete, especially when thinking about how the public makes up its mind about contemporary controversies such as those over stem cell research or global warming.
In fact, when thinking about the 'mass public"--or how most Americans, most of the time make up their minds about these issues--there is nothing unique about science debates relative to ordinary political ones. The same rules and general patterns apply in understanding the interactions between strategic communication efforts, media coverage, and public opinion.
In the presentation, I explain the widely misunderstood concept of framing, and show how framing is being used to activate partisanship and religious identity as "perceptual screens" that guide interpretations of controversial topics such as stem cell research and global warming. I also discuss how framing can be used as an engagement tool that complements current efforts focused on formal science education, mass mediated popular science, and deliberative forum/town hall type meetings.