Calling it a 'war on science' has consequences

(originally printed January 11, 2019 in MSU Today)

What happens when a cover boils a measured article down to this provocative headline?

National Geographic’s March 2015 cover story provided a thoughtful discussion around the question of “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” The actual cover, however, simply said “The War on Science.”

There are books to tell readers “who’s waging it,” “why it matters,” and “what we can do about it” and many opinion articles and editorials in reputable publications describing its battles. Communication experts have long expressed concerns that framing an issue as a conflict might make finding a reasonable path forward harder by suggesting that people need to choose sides and vanquish their opponents in order to succeed.

Read the entire article here.

MSU's John C. Besley, Ellis N. Brandt Professor of Public Relations; Bruce W. Hardy, assistant professor of communication and social influence, Temple UniversityMeghnaa Tallapragada, assistant professor of strategic communication, Clemson University; and Shupei Yuan, assistant professor of public relations, Northern Illinois University, wrote this piece for The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public. See the entire list of articles written by MSU faculty for The Conversation.

 Cover photo from Natural Geographic