At Book Slut, an Anthropologist on Framing Science

In her book Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion, William & Mary anthropology professor Barbara J. King argues that religion is not so much a cognitively-derived belief system but rather rooted in social/emotional connections and actions. She studies chimpanzees and gorillas as a way to observe clues as to how our earliest human ancestors, via rudimentary language and social interaction, set the foundations for what would later become religion. (See this Salon.com interview for more.)

As an expert in language and culture, and as a scientist-turned-popular author, it's not surprising that she agrees strongly with our Framing Science thesis. Here's what King wrote in her recent column for Book Slut:

So how should scientists try to get across to a broad audience their ideas on complex and sometimes controversial subjects like gender, evolution or religion? This question is hot right now, thanks to Matthew Nisbet and Chris Mooney via one essay in Science and another in the Washington Post (plus lots of blogging, see http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/). Their ideas about "framing," or how to convey hot-button science issues to a non-science-literate public, combine brilliance with the best knife-edge controversy I've read in a while. Their proposal, in part, is that scientists should cut back on the complexities they try to communicate. They're right on as far as I'm concerned, and they've inspired a debate with an unusually welcome light: heat ratio.






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