The science blogosphere has been buzzing* about Chris Mooney’s commentary in Science Magazine on Framing Science (unfortunately, access is for subscribers only) i.e. communicating environmental (and other) problems with a strong scientific component to the public. Although I have to say it makes me slightly uncomfortable to think about “spinning” science, I ran across this website by a PR firm that works with watershed groups to get across the water quality message to the public: Water Words that Work. The suggestions on this site are really quite helpful and not “spun” at all; just suggestions about words that the public better understands or that resonate with non-scientists as opposed to turning them off. It can be difficult for those of us steeped in environmental issues (particularly if you have a background in science, as I do) to change the language we use, but if we are going to win (and we have to win), it is essential to get the message across convincingly.
According to the Water Words website:
The title “Water Words That Work,” is a play on words and a bit of sincere flattery for message meister Dr. Frank Luntz, author of Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.
Most notably, he is the architect of the polluters’ strategy to question the science of global warming and thereby steer the conversation away from consequences and solutions. Every time you find yourself in a futile argument with some naysayer about the reality of global warming — instead of persusading a more open-minded person to do something about it — you are falling into a trap that Frank Luntz has laid for you. We may all pay a very high price for his success.