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