Rhetoric of Science - Home | Science Communication Institute

Rhetoric of Science - Home | Science Communication Institute

Reaching the Public: Taking Science Directly to the Public through Books, Op-eds, and Public Appearances Leah Ceccarelli nSCI Conference, Journals and Science November 14, 2013 Rhetoric of Science

The application of concepts developed in the humanities to analyze and evaluate the persuasive communication of scientists Preview Terms of art to be introduced: hedges, hyperbole, metaphor, litotes, metastasis Cautionary Tales

Exemplary Cases Lauren Archer, Harms of Hedging in Scientific Discourse: Andrew Wakefield and the Origins of the Autism Vaccine Controversy, Technical Communication Quarterly, in press.

hedge: a word or arrangement of words that limits or qualifies a statement E.g., may possible some (Wakefield et al., The Lancet, 1992) Wakefield Press Conference It is our suspicion that there may well be [a genuine causal association between MMR and

this syndrome] but that is far from being a causal association that is proven beyond doubt as yet we dont know but there is no doubt that if you give three viruses together, three live viruses, then you potentially increase the risk of an adverse event occurring Miles Coleman, Darwinius Hyperbolicus: The

Unconscious Disconnects between Scientific Consensus and Exaggerations of Scientific Significance (and Validity) Amidst the Ida Controversy, National Communication Association, Washington DC, Nov. 2013. hyperbole: intentional exaggeration for emphasis or effect

Franzen et al, Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology, PLoS ONE, May 19, 2009. Chapter 3: The Dangers of Bioprospecting on the Frontier: The Rhetoric of Edward O. Wilsons Biodiversity Appeals

Chapter 4: Biocolonialism and Human Genomics Research: The Frontier Mapping Expedition of Francis Collins Ron Von Burg, Decades Away or The Day After Tomorrow?: Rhetoric, Film, and the

Global Warming Debate, Critical Studies in Media Communication 29.1 (2012), 7-26. litotes: a figure of speech that works as an understatement, usually by affirming the negation of its opposite E.g., not bad, not unwelcome,

not untrue, or not scientifically invalid Leah Ceccarelli, Manufactured Scientific Controversy: Science, Rhetoric, and Public Debate, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14.2 (2011), 195-228. metastasis: denying and turning back on your

opponents the charges that have been directed against you E.g., countering manufactroversy with fairness claims Summary Be careful about the use of hedges in public discourse. Resist the urge to offer hyperbolic significance

claims in public reports. Think carefully about the metaphors you use in public communication. When responding to critics, use rhetorical strategies like litotes and metastasis.

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