Exploring the interactions that swirl around scientific uncertainty and its coverage by the mass media, this volume breaks new ground by looking at these issues from three different perspectives: that of communication scholars who have studied uncertainty in a number of ways; that of science journalists who have covered these issues; and that of scientists who have been actively involved in researching uncertain science and talking to reporters about it. In particular, Communicating Uncertainty examines how well the mass media convey to the public the complexities, ambiguities, and controversies that are part of scientific uncertainty.
In addition to its new approach to scientific uncertainty and mass media interactions, this book distinguishes itself in the quality of work it assembles by some of the best known science communication scholars in the world. This volume continues the exploration of interactions between scientists and journalists that the three coeditors first documented in their highly successful volume, Scientists and Journalists: Reporting Science as News, which was used for many years as a text in science journalism courses around the world.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. Introduction. Part I: Interpreting Uncertainty. S.C. Zehr, Scientists' Representations of Uncertainty. S.H. Stocking, How Journalists Deal With Scientific Uncertainty. E. Einsiedel, B. Thorne, Public Responses to Uncertainty. S. Dunwoody, Scientists, Journalists, and the Meaning of Uncertainty. P.M. Boffey, J.E. Rodgers, S.H. Schneider, Interpreting Uncertainty: A Panel Discussion. Part II: Science in the Public Arena. S.H. Priest, Popular Beliefs, Media, and Biotechnology. S.M. Friedman, The Never-Ending Story of Dioxin. D.E. Chubin, An Uncertain Social Contract: The Case of Human Resources for Science. D. Blum, Reporting on the Changing Science of Human Behavior. D. Dumanoski, W.H. Farland, S. Krimsky, Science in the Public Arena: A Panel Discussion. Part III: Beyond the Basics. C.L. Rogers, The Importance of Understanding Audiences. K.E. Rowan, Effective Explanation of Uncertain and Complex Science. R.J. Griffin, Using Systematic Thinking to Choose and Evaluate Evidence. R.R. Colwell, P. Girshman, C.B. Marrett, P. Raeburn, F.S. Rowland, T. Siegfried, Beyond the Basics: A Roundtable Discussion.
"...this is a lively, stimulating, and well-written book....those coming to these topics for the first time will find a great deal of useful information and much to think about."
—Public Opinion Quarterly
"The volume should be an excellent point of departure for further explorations of science in the public eye. In producing this book, Friedman, Dunwoody, and Rogers have cut to the heart of the challenge of how society can transcend the shallow 'he said, she said' type of reporting when conflicting scientific claims hit the news."
"This mix of academics, journalists, and scientists adds breadth to the book. Hence Communicating Uncertainty could serve as supplementary reading for advanced courses in science journalism, public journalism, or public policymaking. Communication scholars will find it useful as well; chapter contributors usually offer in-depth reviews of the academic literature on their topic."
—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
"The book addresses the roles, practices, and perspectives of scientists, reporters, and lay audiences. Rich insights and arguments are provided by a distinguished body of scholars and professional writers who discuss scientific policy and politics as well as techniques for increasing the quality of science journalism."
—Journal of Communication
"Indeed, the book is a veritable smorgasbord of uncertainty topics, giving readers much to choose from....the editors did a fine job in providing intellectually nourishing offerings."
—Journalism & Mass Communication Educator
"The editors intended to provide a broad-reaching analysis of this narrowly focused aspect of scientific discourse, and they did so effectively by bringing in diverse voices to present various analyses....the book provides an effective introduction to the less frequently examined aspects of scientific discourse to help shape our available knowledge."
—Risk: Health, Safety & Environment 263
"The articles in this book lay out areas of uncertainty, identify the problem, and call for greater research on the meaning of uncertainty. By raising questions of trust, avoiding the media-bashing syndrome, and defining risk not as a technical construct but as a social and political one, this book contributes important perspectives to the debate on risk."