More Blogger Reaction to AAAS Religion Panel

A few more bloggers who were in attendance at the "Communicating Science in a Religious America" panel have weighed in.

-->The editor of Nature's blog network describes the panel as the most interesting session she attended at AAAS.

-->And if you read French, Agence Presse has this report.

In addition, following the panel, Ken Miller was interviewed by the Guardian and offers these audio remarks on his suggestion that scientists recapture the term "design" from creationists. Miller wowed the packed audience with a brilliant presentation, but I'm not sure this particular communication goal is attainable.

There's a golden rule in political communication backed up by a lot of research in psychology and it applies in this case. As Drew Westen puts it in The Political Brain: "Be First." Once you create a mental association in the public's mind, it's very difficult to break its hold. Think about it this way...recapturing the term and meaning of "design" from creationists would be akin to CNN trying to reclaim the tagline "fair and balanced" from Fox News or Hillary Clinton redefining herself as the true "change" candidate.

When a train of thought is set in motion in the public's mind, instead of trying to reverse the direction of that train, it's much easier to just switch the tracks. That's exactly what the National Academies does in its recent report, where it shifts the communication emphasis on evolutionary science from the ID movement's preferred mental box of "teach the controversy" to one of social progress, focusing on evolution as the modern building block for advances in medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Indeed, there are a lot of interesting potential strategies we can take when it comes to public communication, but ultimately choosing the most effective strategy remains an empirical question, subject to focus groups, survey work, and other methods of testing. I will have more to say about this probably this week or next. Stay tuned.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less