Mnookin and Me Reminder

Hey, all:

This is just a reminder of tonight’s internet radio and/or Second Life* farrago, me and Panic Virus author Seth Mnookin in conversation.  Here’s Seth’s take on what we’ll be doing.

For my part, the first goal is to get some distance into why it’s so hard to get scientific thinking — and not just results — into the civic conversation.  Seth’s work on autism/vaccine tribulations is a path into that question that starts us off outside of politics, which I think is important.  That is: it’s not just overt malign interest that makes people reject settled conclusions and resist arguments that would seem (to folks already inside the tent) to be persuasive to anyone who just doesn’t know the details of this or that yet.

As commenter Linnaeus on the last thread I posted on tonight’s conversation pointed out, the Science Studies gang has in fact developed a name for the problem: agnotology.  We live in a culture that has taken the genuine scientific value of skepticism, and has turned it into a rhetorical tool to frame public attitudes towards and constrain access to knowledge about science.

It’s my view that as the weapons used are those of rhetoric, the counter will have to come from some understanding of what it takes to persuade (and move) people, given our current media landscape.

A big job and question, and one to which I doubt either Seth or I will have any conclusive answers — but worth thinking about.  Come along, shoot some questions at us, and have a good time.  Plus, we’ll probably say some stuff about Jenny McCarthy.  I mean, how not?

*Second Live venue: http://slurl.com/secondlife/StellaNova/67/212/31

Image: Jan Steen, The Crowned Orator, before 1675.

8 replies
  1. 1
    kerFuFFler says:

    “Doesn’t agnotogeny just recapitulate foologeny?” Just something goofy I read in a thread a while back…

  2. 2
    Joel says:

    I’ll be tuning in, hopefully.

  3. 3
    TBogg says:

    That headline should be “Mnookin and Mne Remninder”

  4. 4
    Origuy says:

    Well, people listen to dentists for opinions on evolution and lawyers for climate change, why shouldn’t they listen to actresses on immunology?

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    @TBogg: Booked for future abuse.

  6. 6
    bystander says:

    Gah! Only caught the last 25 minutes “live.” But, those last 25 minutes were sufficiently compelling that I’ll go back tomorrow to listen to the whole thing…

    That last thought about the assumptions some professionals make about their ability to compel – because they are who they are… and, maybe because it’s what they’re accustomed to… That kind of sticks with me.

    Just gonna have to listen to the whole thing with your and Seth’s final exchange tumbling in the back of my mind.

    Thanks again for doing these segments. They are soooo worth listening to.

  7. 7
    Tom Levenson says:

    @bystander: Many thanks for these kind words…

    t

  8. 8
    Caroline Abbott says:

    Nice interview. I just finished Panic Virus, and now wish to read more of Mnookin’s work. Thanks so much the heads-up as well as the reminder to look up again.

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