Heroic Politics and the Framing of Public Opinion

Introduction

My main purpose of this talk will be to look at the current climate of the political debate, and compare it to some efforts in improving science communication and scientific governance. I will argue that the political climate is characterized by an increasing emphasis on group-enforced emotions instead of rational analysis and that this creates huge problems for science. In particular I will make a diagnosis of the "heroic" politics in America and Denmark and show some examples of how it has seriously challenged the scientific community. Then I will move on to talk about the effects of framing as a tool for shaping public opinion in times of emotionalized politics. Framing is currently heavily discussed in a number of research articles and internet fora. It has come up as an issue because there is a general feeling that scientific reasoning is loosing the battle of popular opinion. Several well-organized ideological groups of reactionary and/or religious bend have been able to shape the political landscapes in recent years, and it looks as if these groups have used some nasty tricks which need to be countered, if we not are to become dominated by them. I will talk a bit about what framing is, how it works, and why it would be a huge mistake to copy such primitive techniques - as some people advocate - and use them for science communication and scientific governance...

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(Talk given at the conference Dissensus - Research, Politics, Money and Journalis, 1. June 2007, Copenhagen)

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