Reader Poll: The Next Big Framing Controversies?

Over at the Intersection, Chris generated a discussion of what issues might be the next big science policy debates. I'd like to turn the question in a slightly different direction and solicit reader opinion:

In the coming decades, what are the next great framing controversies?

In my research and at this blog, I have tracked how strategists selectively define stem cell research, intelligent design, and climate change to suit their policy goals, and how media coverage combines with citizen values to shape public concern and policy preferences.

As I have also argued, given certain conditions, food biotechnology and nanotechnology are potentially the next big issues to go political in the U.S., erupting into major frame contests.

Within these new communication contexts, scientists have a duty to engage in effective public engagement efforts. If they don't, they cede the communication ground to others, in many cases the opponents of science.

But in coming years, what are the other public engagement flashpoints to anticipate? On what issues can we apply a scientific understanding of the public and the media system to avoid communication failures?

These potential communication breakdowns might be specific to a particular issue but might also be more meta-topics. Here are a just a few possibilities. Let me know your own thoughts:

With increased investment in biomedical research, will animal experimentation become a major debate?

With genomics research, will the patenting of novel or synthetic lifeforms be an issue?

Perhaps the ethical and economic implications of life extension research?

Genetic enhancement for athletic performance and other human traits?

In the face of climate change, a renewed debate over nuclear energy?

The impact of the New Atheism movement on the public's trust and image of science?

What about sources of authority when it comes to bioethics? Who is a bioethicist and what does expertise and expert consensus mean in the field of bioethics? How will bioethics be communicated to the public? How should it be covered by journalists?

Is there a realistic future for science journalism, the traditional vehicle for science communication?

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
  • This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Keep reading Show less