In Wisconsin, An Offline Discussion About Expelled Strategy
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
You don't have to be a social scientist to recognize that the distribution of opinion among people who comment at Scienceblogs is very different from the perspective found among the wider science community and even among leaders in the atheist movement. The reality of this perceptual gap was reinforced for me over the last two days as I gave the latest round of Framing Science talks at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. At the two campus presentations, roughly 150 faculty and students turned out to share in a very thoughtful and inspiring discussion about new directions in science communication. In each lecture, I ended by discussing Expelled along with last week's debate over how to effectively counter the film's PR campaign. The science faculty I spoke with, many of them atheists, appeared to be in strong agreement that continuing to feed the conflict frame only helps market the film.
Lesson: Don't Be a Dodo
I had a wonderful time visiting the university and I need to especially thank Professor Paul Thomas and the Physics, Geology, Geography, and English faculty for their hospitality. I also had breakfast and several great conversations with UW professor Ruth Cronje, who just two weeks ago published a letter at Science elaborating on the arguments we presented in last year's Policy Forum essay.
I am down in Madison until tomorrow, catching up with several friends and colleagues (blogging right now from Espresso Royale on State Street). On Monday, I will be at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School to give a lunchtime talk, where again Expelled strategy is sure to be part of the discussion. Meanwhile, PZ has generated another cheerleading moment for his blog readers. A mysterious viral video has also appeared. Sadly, the Expelled producers must be very pleased with the massive amount of online buzz about their film. I will likely have more to say about these events at the talk at Princeton and in blog posts next week.
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