What is the 'Science of Science Communication'?

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

February 8, 2015

Journal of Science Communication, 14(3), 1-10 (2015)
Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 539

This essay seeks to explain what the “science of science communication” is by doing it. Surveying studies of cultural cognition and related dynamics, it demonstrates how the form of disciplined observation, measurement, and inference distinctive of scientific inquiry can be used to test rival hypotheses on the nature of persistent public conflict over societal risks; indeed, it argues that satisfactory insight into this phenomenon can be achieved only by these means, as opposed to the ad hoc story-telling dominant in popular and even some forms of scholarly discourse. Synthesizing the evidence, the essay proposes that conflict over what is known by science arises from the very conditions of individual freedom and cultural pluralism that make liberal democratic societies distinctively congenial to science. This tension, however, is not an “inherent contradiction”; it is a problem to be solved — by the science of science communication understood as a “new political science” for perfecting enlightened self-government.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: science communication, risk, climate change, cultural cognition

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Date posted: February 10, 2015 ; Last revised: January 2, 2016

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M., What is the 'Science of Science Communication'? (February 8, 2015). Journal of Science Communication, 14(3), 1-10 (2015); Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 539. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2562025 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2562025

Contact Information

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan

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