Matt Nisbet – Framing Science

May 19, 2006

Matt Nisbet is assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University. He focuses on the intersections between science, media, and politics, tracking how political strategists, scientists, and the news media selectively define science in ways that shape policy decisions, public opinion, and political culture. His writing has appeared in a number of scholarly journals such as the Columbia Journalism Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, in addition to magazines such as The American Prospect. He also writes a regular web column for Skeptical Inquirer on science and the media.

In this interview with DJ Grothe, Matt discusses ways he says the scientific community should reframe discussions about controversial science and its implications for the public.

Also in this episode CFI summer intern Colin Koproske, from the University of Southern California, shares his views about the importance of scientific literacy.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

This is point of inquiry for Friday, May 19th, 2006. 

Welcome to Point of Inquiry, I’m DJ Grothe key point of inquiries, the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank collaborating with the State University of New York at Buffalo on the news, science and the public master’s degree. We also have branches in Manhattan, Tampa and Hollywood and 11 cities around the world. Every week on point of inquiry, we look at some of the central beliefs of our society and we mostly focus on three research areas. First, pseudoscience and the paranormal. Second, alternative and complementary medicine. Third, we look at secularism and religion. We look at these research areas by drawing on CFI, his relationship with the leading minds of the day, including Nobel Prize winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers and renowned entertainers. On today’s episode of Point of Inquiry, I’ll be talking with Matthew Nisbet. We’ll be exploring ways that he says the scientific community should better communicate itself to the public. But first, CFI summer intern Collin Ka Prosky has a word about scientific literacy. 

As a college student, I’m frequently surprised at how little many of my peers know about science, even in an educational environment where the nation’s foremost scientific thinkers conduct research and exchange ideas. Many seem to view science as an auxiliary body of knowledge separate from what one might call real life. Few of us deem fields such as astronomy, chemistry, biology or physics as necessary or even useful in our lives. What’s even more dangerous than general apathy in regard to science is the fact that so many of us formulate opinions, strong opinions at that about scientific matters, even when lacking basic knowledge of the relevant scientific principles. And these opinions in turn affect public policy. As with issues like stem cell research, environmental regulation, bioethics and of course, the ongoing evolution versus intelligent design debate, I can’t begin to tell you the number of intelligent people I’ve heard discuss evolution who were not even familiar with the basic details of the theory natural selection, differential, reproductive success, genetic variance. All of these terms were mostly unknown or misunderstood by the students I’ve spoken with, many of whom held strong opinions on the matter. Apparently, my experience is not an isolated one. Many recent Gallup polls indicate that large numbers of Americans are generally uninformed when it comes to science. Or do not please this area of knowledge very high on their list of priorities. Here are some interesting numbers gathered in the last few years. 20 percent of the respondents in one poll claimed that the sun, in fact, revolves around the earth. 42 percent in another poll indicated that they believed in demonic possession and felt that it is actually a regular occurrence when faced with an illness. Twice as many people said they use prayer as a means of healing than said they only relied on medical care. And in reference to the evolution debate. A September 2005 poll showed that 53 percent of the respondents felt that God created man exactly as the Bible describes it, and only 12 percent believed that man evolved without any help from the Almighty. Only 35 percent in another poll felt that Darwin’s theory of evolution was supported by evidence. In a poll on the relationship between science and religion, only 24 percent of the sample felt that the two sides were in general agreement. So if the vast majority of Americans are religious and yet only 24 percent think that science is compatible with religion, then one might conclude that Americans seem to be choosing religion over science. But two other polls give me hope. Seventy five percent of the respondents in one questionnaire felt that more science should be taught in schools, and 88 percent felt that high schoolers had the capacity to learn more science than they are currently taught. I can only hope that this enthusiasm for scientific education is not merely part of an effort to compete with China and India, or perhaps fueled by a desire for industry specific technical knowledge. Becoming an intelligent, successful human being are to involve more than job training and financial knowhow. Many Americans are right in saying that they don’t use scientific knowledge in their jobs or even in their everyday lives. But they’re missing the point. Science is not just a body of data and information. It’s an outlook, a way of approaching life’s complex questions and issues. And at the risk of overly romanticizing, I would argue that science as a method of seeking truth is also our savior from ignorance, oppression and deception. What today’s students need most is a general understanding of why things are the way they are. They need to know how plants grow. Why we see colors where we are in the solar system and how natural disasters happen. Some of us even think science answers the big questions like who we are and how we got here. And of course, science can provide plenty of relevant information that will directly impact our lives, such as what kinds of medicines work and why, or which foods are the most beneficial to our health. But the most important thing, I think a better public understanding of science will do is elevate the political and cultural dialog of this nation. Discussions that were previously based solely on value based presuppositions, religious convictions or political ideology might in the future be conducted with reason and an emphasis on evidence and results. When we ignore science and negate its importance in our lives, we are in a way turning from mankind’s greatest method of thinking, exploring and understanding. Only when we embrace science along with its methods and implications. Will we finally step out of the Dark Ages and begin to scratch the surface of our true potential. 

Where can you turn to find other people like you who appreciate critical thinking turned to skeptical inquiries? The magazine that separates fact from media myth, it’s published by Sankalp. Find out what science has to say about the extraordinary and the unexplained. You’ll be surprised. Subscribe the Skeptical Inquirer today. One year, six challenging issues for 1995. Call one 800 six three four one six one zero. Or visit us on the web at w w w dot. Skeptical Inquirer dot org. If you’d like a sample copy before you subscribe, mentioned the point of inquiry podcasts when you call and we’ll send you a free issue. Again, the number is one 800 six three four one six one zero. 

I’m pleased to be joined this week on Point of Inquiry by Matt Nisbet. He’s assistant professor in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University. His work focuses mainly on the intersections between science, media and politics and the role that media plays in shaping public attitudes about science. The connection between media, public attitudes, political decisions about science. His writings have appeared in a number of scholarly journals, and he also writes a regular Web column for Skeptical Inquirer magazine on science and the media. Matt welcomed a point of inquiry. 

Glad to be here. 

DJ Grothe met you recently organized a panel at the Triple S. the American Association for the Advancement of Science on communicating science to the public. It was called something like engaging the public on on controversial science. What was the gist of that panel, Matt? 

Well, that panel was joined by some colleagues, faculty at the U.S., Wisconsin and also Cornell University. And what we were looking at across issues including stem cell research, intelligent design, the debate over the genetic engineering of plants and animals, and also nanotechnology. We’re looking at how the what we call the mass public makes up its mind about these complex, often remote debates. And there is generally the assumption that what drives public opinion on these issues is scientific literacy. 

How well does the public understand the facts about science or how the process of how science is done? 

Yeah, people often argued the solution is just to teach people more about science. 


And often you’ll see comments that, you know, if the public was more scientifically literate, then they wouldn’t oppose these technologies. Are these areas of science? 

Well, science policy is important. 

And oftentimes, you know, that’s really kind of a generational outcome that you invest in science education, that you will improve science, Lucy. And when you look at survey data, there is a positive, slight correlation between science, Lucy, and more positive attitudes about science. 

But if you think about in the short term, what really moves public opinion, it’s not kind of a full understanding of the science or lack thereof, but rather most citizens are what we call cognitive misers. They look for information, shortcuts. They both lack either the motivation or the ability to be fully informed about an issue and therefore go on those types of images or symbols that are most readily available in the mass media in combination with things like ideology, religious values, sourest, and how to effectively communicate with the public on the short term on politically controversial topics like stem cell research. You have to think beyond just simply getting the facts out there and informing the public, but rather how to tell you your messages to specific segments of the public that resonate with where their values are at. 

So your specialty is not science education at science communication. And you’re saying that it isn’t enough to just have a wider understanding of the principles of science? You’re saying that it’s not enough to just increase scientific literacy. You’re proposing that the science community adopt new communication strategies? 

Well, yeah. I mean, I think it depends on what the goals of communication either will always be. The importance for scientific institutions to engage in kind of public understanding of science activities, which includes the popularization of research results, having press conferences, publicity for the release of a new article in science or nature. All those things are important. Those always will serve as kind of a baseline function of of informal public education. 

But when thinking about what really what really drives public opinion on these controversial matters in science, it’s important to kind of move toward the more scientific understanding of the public. And this includes drawing upon what a lot of public opinion research has found over several decades of research in political campaigns. What moves public opinion when making up their minds about who to vote for in terms of the president? The same functions or same mechanisms shape public opinion about stem cell research, intelligent design. There’s, I think. Essentially unique about science debates outside of political debate. 

Before we get into the subject a little more deeply, let me just ask you, what was the response among the audience to your panel at the triple A.? 

Well, this kind of runs a little bit counter to some of the prevailing assumptions, the two prevailing assumptions that science literacy matters. And then beyond that, science loses this idea of public engagement, where you engage with deeply interested, deeply motivated kind of activist groups in small settings, kind of public deliberation type setting. And our message was, well, those things are important. But if you’re dealing with the mass public, if you’re reaching the public to the mass media, talking about kind of a generalizable population, a diverse population of citizens who are both at the same time fairly unmotivated to pay attention to the issue and may only be relying on shortcuts or other available symbols, then you have to kind of rethink your strategy. 

So many people thought a very positive response in some cases was somewhat polarizing. Some people thought was too Machiavellian, too political. 

Some people said, wait, we’re scientists, we’re not PR people were scientists. We want to concentrate on the science. But you’re kind of implying, actually, you’re arguing that science just needs better PR. 


I mean, I don’t necessarily like the term PR that has kind of a negative connotation. But I think what science the scientific community needs to do is, is have a more scientific understanding of how the public makes up its mind about public policy. And that includes drawing on a lot of research from the social sciences that have been developed in terms of political decision making and applying it to these science policy debates. 

And so in order that, you know, it’s tough for scientific institutions because they’re often publicly funded and so they have to maintain an appearance of political neutrality. So to engage in advocacy campaigns, it’s difficult for them to do. So that’s why I think there needs to be kind of a division of labor on the topic. So you have the same kind of public understanding of science activities in terms of kind of the neutral conveyance of information, in terms of thinking about journal scholarship or popular book. 

But then you also have things like the American Association of Universities, which have a federal lobbying arm in coalition with advocacy groups like the Coalition for Advancement of Medical Research, which works on stem cell research or some other type of advocacy group that might be working in defense of evolution, like some of the activities of the Center for Inquiry does. So you can work kind of through this division of labor where you have traditional public education efforts and then kind of the more overtly political campaign style tactics in your research on communication of science. 

And you’re talking about this division of labor, teaching about science and then communicating science and getting the public riled up about the implications of science for certain issues. Well, you’re really talking about the culture war issues in society. You’re talking about stem cell research, climate change, cloning, intelligent design. Do these issues naturally develop as areas of focus for your research, or are you choosing these because you’re interested in these issues? 

Well, I mean, in one sense, there’s a lot of data on these issues. 

They’re just intrinsically interesting. But because there’s so much conflict, there’s also a lot of data in terms available survey data, then spikes in media attention to them. This is a lot of variance in both public opinion and also media coverage and policy outcomes. Take a look at if not the same old, same old kind of dry technical debates over science policy funding, for example. 

So that that makes it interesting. 

But I’ve always been fascinated by how ideology and religion shape people’s views, not only about science, but also about politics generally and the role that the media plays in interacting with those values. So these topics are especially good intelligent design. Global warming, stem cell research, thinking about various areas of genetic engineering. These are really good topics to try to look at that interaction. 

Man, you just said these culture war issues are interesting to you because of the data and because of what they suggest for the need for science communication. But are you personally interested in them, in other words? We often hear the charge leveled against scientists who get involved in advocacy, but they have an ax to grind. There’s this bunch of atheistic scientists out there who are in a cabal to stomp on religion and and other ways of looking at the world. Do you have an ax to grind? That’s the question. 

Well, I mean, I think it’s it is it is really important. 

I think one of the really big societal trends is the struggle for cultural authority in society. And, you know, increasingly what you find is the traditions of philosophical and mythological naturalism that have grown up over several centuries of kind of university tuition. 

Those ways of knowing are being challenged by conservative think tank. And also religious movements and the channels that they’re using to challenge the expertize of universities and their methods, is the mass media turning the channels of the popularization of science against itself. So you see things like the Discovery Institute, publishing books and op ed that use scientific sounding reasoning to attack the theory of evolution, or you see conservative think tanks producing their own science that counters the mainstream consensus view on global warming. And, you know, this really has an impact on public policy outcomes, or you see things like the religious right producing their own journals and their own in-house so-called bioethicists who produce writings that run counter to consensus thinking with among academic ethicists. And so, you know, there is a role for social scientists to be studying these trends to understand their impact on public opinion, their impact on media coverage, and then to take that understanding and apply in a way that defends the university tradition, this tradition of philosophical and that’s logical naturalism. 

So I don’t think. I don’t think you can go wrong in defending science as a as a world view. You know, you can cross the line and, you know, attacking people as a social group or an individual level. And that’s wrong. But organizing around public policy issues is part of the tradition of universities, I think. 

And more of it needs to be done. So you’re saying that scientists and those people who are persuaded by, call it the scientific outlook, need to get more involved, more active in advancing that point of view? But earlier you mentioned the Discovery Institute. They use these methods of organizing and communicating these mass communication methods to mobilize their base. And as they’re doing it, they’re getting their message out in the media. Do you think there’s a problem with the media when a lot of people in the media aren’t trained in science? They’re treating the claims of the Discovery Institute as scientific because they’re not steeped in science themselves? I guess what I’m asking, what does balance and objectivity mean when you’re covering these controversial issues in science? A lot of people in media, when they’re treating science, don’t have a background in science itself. 

Objectivity and expertize are probably the two biggest challenges facing journalism that in economic pressures, the two are closely connected. One of the issues is you have to think what is objectivity mean within this struggle for cultural authority in society? Who is an expert and how do you determine who is an expert? Do you define objectivity as just getting both sides and reporting it in a style? He said she said with no interpretation for the reader? Or do you allow journalists to develop an area of expertize, say, in in areas of science? It could be economics, it could be political reporting and history. And then within that reporting, use that expertize in the selection of sources and in the background of the story for the reader. It’s interesting that in the American tradition of objectivity in journalism, objectivity means getting both sides. But in the European tradition of objectivity in journalism, it means vetting the claims of both sides. Meaning, if a claimant comes and makes a claim about public policy or about science, then that claim comes under scrutiny. And objectivity means putting that claim to the test and kind of researching it and backgrounding and vetting it. It doesn’t mean to simply quoting someone from the other side and leaving the reader to make up their minds. And I think we need to move more towards that in American journalism. And it’s a delicate balance to maintain because there’s never enough time is ever enough space to do it. And oftentimes journalists themselves don’t have the specialization to do it. 

And I think in our elite media outlets, there needs to be an even increased emphasis on specialization because it’s through specialization and credentials and expertize that a journalist can protect themselves from claims of bias and they can say, look, you know, I have a advanced training in science or advanced training in economics. I know who the credible sources are. I can turn to these people to that acclaim, whether it’s about intelligent design or it’s about supply side economics or deficit financing. 

And this is this is why I was hired. And it helped through journalist journalism education, but also through editors realizing that they need to have a roster of specialists in the newsroom that will help journalists better that these claims and also stave off the bias. Clint. 

You were talking earlier about the division of labor when it comes to getting the message of the sciences, not just about the methods, but the implications of the science is out to the public. But is it really the role of the scientific community to do this? To put this positive PR face on on these scientific issues? 

Well, I think the interests of the scientific community are definitely at stake. One of the issues that’s going on is that they’re part of this struggle of cultural authority is to pay universities as these incredible places of liberalism, not only just in the humanities, but also in the social sciences and scientists. If all professors are liberal, then when they produce a scientific study about global warming or they produce a public policy study about, say, gun control, you know, you can just dismiss that study even though it’s gone through peer review because, of course, you know, it has a liberal bias. So increasingly, the legitimacy and the authority of scientists are under attack and it has real consequences for how the research is received. But it also has real consequences for things like public financing of universities. It has consequences for how much money is available for things like research and salaries to attract the top professors. If suddenly researchers are delegitimation in the public eye because they’re not standing up for themselves, the integrity of the research, they’re not engaging in this struggle over cultural authority in the mass media. Then there’ll be a real loss of resources on university campuses and a real loss of prestige and authority. 

So you’ve made these recommendations at the Triple J elsewhere on your blog. And I’d like to mention that there’s a link to your blog on these issues on our Web site. Point of inquiry, dawg. Well, Matt, you’ve made these recommendations. What’s been the response? It must be okay since you were invited to this panel, but has there been any resistance? 

Some people their initial reaction is that it’s just turning everything into a PR campaign and operating very in a very Machiavellian style. And, you know, my response would be actually, no, it’s moving towards more of a scientific understanding of how the public makes up its mind about this topic. And based on that understanding, then it kind of engaging in this division of labor around communication strategies with the public. So, yeah, it hasn’t. You know, I think it’s been mostly positively received. I’ve been invited to give talks at a lot of different types of interdisciplinary and policy forums. Next week, I’m going out to DC to talk to the American Institute for Biological Sciences about some of these issues. 

So I think overall there’s been a positive reception. 

And again, you know, the best thing for me to do is just show how this is backed up by data based on research. And, you know, that’s what my peer reviewed research is about. And when I give these presentations, I show a lot of data to show that this is how the public reasons about these issues and this is how messages have an effect on public opinion. And this is how public opinion can change, given a change in the message and a change in the strategy. 

Your blog is called Framing Science. Can you give me a couple examples of issues that you would argue should be framed in a different way? I know you’ve talked about global warming, for instance. Can you give me some examples and tease out the way that you would frame it versus the way that scientists generally frame the issue? 

Yeah, I think jumbly on an intelligent design. A lot of the response from scientists is to argue around the lack of scientific evidence for intelligent design, and that’s important to get that information out there. But for the most part, that’s not the most persuasive information for the public. In some ways, it’s technical and it’s dry. It’s not going to capture a lot of attention at the same time. Not a lot of the public, actually. 

But the key thing for them is not whether there is a scientific basis for intelligent design, but rather some of the other arguments around it about this idea that we shouldn’t be teaching evolution in school, that we should offer an alternative because an alternative be better in line with the underlying value system. 

So it actually when you look at survey data, actually, you’ll find among strongly religious individuals that even among those individuals that accept the overwhelming scientific consensus in support of evolution, they still favor teaching alternatives to evolution in school. Why? Because the issue for them is not a scientific one, but it’s actually a value values one because they see this see schools as kind of cultural transmission points for values in society. 

The key then is to try to reframe the intelligent design debate in ways other than just the scientific context. So how can you do that? One is the interpretation that arose out of the Dover decision. It reframe the issue is really a matter of public accountability, meaning what happened? The Dover case was that a small interest group of religious conservative. Gain control of the school board and then pushed their religious interpretations on the rest of the school district. That was essentially the conclusion of the judge. And that was the interpretation that then came out in the news coverage. And the consequence was, well, why should the rest of the community, in terms of a lawsuit and chaos and distraction, have to deal with the agenda of a small interest group? Why should they have to do that? Who’s going to hold these people accountable? And then in Ohio, when the state school board in Ohio voted to reverse its decision from a couple of years ago, that allowed the teaching of intelligent design in schools. This was the reasoning that swung the vote. There was this public accountability reasoning. This idea that, well, you know, there are some members of the board that would prefer the teaching of intelligent design in schools. Right. But why should we risk a likely lawsuit and a loss on that lawsuit in our political careers? Right. In order to service this small interest group, though, powerful interest group in the state. 

And this seemed to be the interpretive device that drove ultimately the school board to change its mind. 

The other interpretive device that moved the public is what are the economic consequences of teaching intelligent design in schools right outside of the scientific debate and outside of whether this is fair in terms of allowing an interest group, a small interest group, to take control of school policy. What does this do to the reputation of our state or a school district? For example, if we’re looked down upon by other states and other school districts that were the only place in the country that allows the teaching of Intel’s design, will our students be able to get into the top colleges? Will corporations and industry view our state or our area or our city as a good place to invest? If it’s considered anti science? Well, the United States fall behind other countries in the world. If we’re the only country in the world that offers an alternative to evolution in schools and when it comes to science education. All right. So it’s these this reframing the issue around the economic consequences, economic competitiveness. And also this idea of public accountability. 

Why should a special interest group be able to push their values and everyone else? 

These are two persuasive ways to reinterpret the issue outside of just this technical debate about is there standing, is there scientific standing for the intelligent design argument? 

Now, what are a couple other of these scientific hot button issues that could be reframed? 

Historically, global warming has always been framed around this idea of scientific uncertainty and economic consequences. Right. So the opponents to global warming have really dampened down public concern about the issue and any type of policy mobilization by saying, well, that the science is still uncertain. And because the science is uncertain, why should we take this precautionary approach that will lead to dramatic economic consequences? Instead, we need to do more research on whether global warming is really happening. My friend Chris Mooney calls this paralysis by analysis. 

So what’s the way that you would reframe it? 

Well, you can reframe it in two ways. And this is the one the way that it’s trying to be reframed now is this idea of what are the moral consequences of not doing anything? 

And the moral consequences of not do a thing is that we’re passing the buck on to future generations for passing the buck onto our kids and our grandkids who are going to have to deal with the consequences of our consumption and our lifestyles today and our refusal to take responsibility for it. Right. So the ad campaign, which is a not for profit, federally sponsored advertising campaign around public issues, has a series of ads that are running on TV now. And all the ads, they frame it around this idea of moral responsibility for future generations. And they feature kids. And the dominant theme is we’re passing the buck on to these kids. 

So it’s not an ad campaign talking about the science and why the science supports the claims that global warming is real. 

It’s a campaign based of around more responsibility. And the ads show parents with their kids. And one of the ads is very graphic. It’s called The Train, the ad. And it shows a man in his 30s talking about why should I care about global warming? It’s not going to affect me. And as a speeding onrushing train about to hit him and he steps out in front of the train at the last second. And right behind him, though, is standing a a young boy and then the ad. 

And what about stem cell research? What’s a way that that’s being reframed that you would argue it should be reframed away from just talking about the scientific arguments about the issue, but more concerned with some of these other social aspects? 

Well, what happened in the Proposition 71 campaign in California? 

This was the proposition that was passed that that funded billions of dollars in embryonic stem cell research in California. 

Was that when they ran that campaign three months out from Election Day in November? The proposition only had about 40 percent support. And the political consultants on that campaign said, look. This campaign can’t be about the science. No, we’ll pay attention to and it won’t be persuasive. Instead, it needs to be about social progress, meaning that the research believe the cure is and will make our lives better. And it also has to be about economic development, that this will be a boon for California. And that will attract jobs from other states. And currently, we’re losing jobs to places like Singapore because we don’t fund embryonic stem cell research at the national level. So they ran a 20 million dollar ad campaign around those two central themes and they pushed public support from the low 40s to up to 60 percent by Election Day. But after the election happened. Right. The opponents to the proposition, instead of continuing to argue against embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds, that this is morally wrong, that it violates biblical doctrine, etc., they reinterpreted the issue now to oppose it as really a public accountability issue. And this is that they filed lawsuits against the Proposition campaign saying, look, we need to have more transparency and how this money is being handled. And can we trust scientists in universities and other scientific institutions to handle this money? Right. So they locked up the proposition for several months before this lawsuit. And this was also an angle that played to journalistic instincts as well. You know, can we hold government officials accountable for any type of possible corruption? So you saw editorials in The L.A. Times, you know, basically saying, you know, yeah, we have to think about public accountability when thinking about this proposition campaign, how we handle the money. Right. So that was a interesting example of neither one of those frames was a debate about the science. It was about social progress. It was about economic development and winning the campaign. And then it was locked up in the courts. It became reinterpreted is really a public accountability issue. 

Man, I feel like we’ve only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to discussing framing public attitudes about science. But I appreciate the beginning. Thanks for being on the show. 

Well, thank you, D.J., for the opportunity. 

You’ve seen the headlines, Bill seeks to protect students from liberal bias. The right time for an Islamic reformation. Kansas School Board redefined science. These stories sum up the immense challenge facing those of us who defend rational thinking, science and secular values. What one adviser to the Bush administration dismissed as the reality based community. Who could have imagined that reality would need defenders? The educational and advocacy work of the Center for Inquiry is more essential than ever. And your support is more essential than ever. Show your commitment to science, reason and secular values. By becoming a friend of the center today, whether you are interested in the work of psychology and skeptical Inquirer magazine, the Council for Secular Humanism and Free Inquiry magazine, the Commission for Scientific Medicine, or a Center for Inquiry on campus. By becoming a friend of the center, you’ll help strengthen our impact. If you’re just learning about CFI, take a look at our Web site. W w w dot center for inquiry dot net. We hosted regional and international conferences, college courses and nationwide campus outreach. You’ll also find out about our new representation at the United Nations, an important national media appearances. We cannot pursue these projects without your help. Please become a friend of the center today by calling one 800 eight one eight seven zero seven one or visiting w w w dot center for inquiry dot net. We look forward to working with you to enlarge the reality based community. 

Thanks for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry. Join us next week for a discussion with our old friend Joe Niccolò, the world’s leading paranormal investigator. We’re going to be talking about psychic sleuths, psychic detectives to get involved with an online conversation about the topic in today’s episode, the communication of scientific ideas to the public. Go to W w w dot CFI dash forums, dot org. Views expressed on point of inquiry don’t necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry. Dot org. Or by visiting our Web site. Point of inquiry. Dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Thomas Donnelly and recorded at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. Executive producer is Paul Kurtz. Pointed inquiry’s music is written and composed for us by Emmy Award winning Michael Whalid. Contributors to today’s show include Lauren Becker calling Prosky. Sara Jordan. And I’m your host DJ Grothe. 

DJ Grothe

D.J. Grothe is on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Science and Human Values, and is a speaker on various topics that touch on the intersection of education, science and belief. He was once the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation and was former Director of Outreach Programs for the Center for Inquiry and associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine. He previously hosted the weekly radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry, exploring the implications of the scientific outlook with leading thinkers.