Here's what you think

Here's what you think More than 250 readers completed our online survey about framing science. The Readers and Editors of The Scientist ARTICLE EXTRAS The Future of Public Engagement Results of Our Online Survey A Typology of Frames Specific to Science-Related Issues How To Start? Our Reader's Thoughts On average, most of the practicing, former, and non-scientists who completed our online poll about framing agree with the principle t

The Readers and Editors of The Scientist
Oct 1, 2007

Here's what you think

More than 250 readers completed our online survey about framing science.

The Readers and Editors of The Scientist

On average, most of the practicing, former, and non-scientists who completed our online poll about framing agree with the principle that scientists should accommodate their message to suit their audience.

The majority of all groups also believed that scientists should publicly discuss the ethical and policy aspects of their work, and technical accuracy is not the most important part of public communication. Currently, scientists are not getting their messages across, they said: Roughly 60% of readers disagreed with the statement that "scientists do a good job of communicating complex technical issues to the public." This is a problem organizations should help solve,...

But the media doesn't do a good job of communicating science, either, you said - around half of survey respondents said they don't believe the media is doing enough to inform the public about science.

In response to an article we posted online in August, 66 readers told us what they think about framing. The responses covered many points of view. Here are two examples:

"I've spent the last 35 years or so translating science for the news media and the public. In all that time, I felt the onus was on the scientist to do the best research possible and the translation was, in large part, the responsibility of those of us who communicate science. Expecting great scientists to be great communicators is too much to ask, since both the science and the translation are substantive challenges. Advice to tailor the scientist's message to what an audience wants to hear flies in the face of the historic trust and respect the public has for science and scientists."--Earle M. Holland, Ohio State University, Columbus.

"I left active science to work as an environmental advocate. I learned quickly that values trump facts -for instance, people in a logging town had a hard time believing that logging could cause harm, because their value structure was threatened by such a claim. If I started my communications with "logging can harm forest ecosystems" I mostly got denial and dismissal. Instead, if I started with "do you care about deer and salmon?" then people would say yes and engage in conversation. Later, I could get to my science about logging effects on salmon. Is it lying? No, it's framing and it's smart." --Mark Powell, The Ocean Conservancy, Bainbridge Island, Wa.