Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Communication at American University. His research tracks scientific and environmental controversies, examining the interactions between experts, journalists, and various publics. In this area, Nisbet has published numerous peer-reviewed studies, has written for several leading popular outlets including the Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, and The Scientist, and has been frequently called upon as a commentator by major news organizations. He also contributes the semi-regular “Science and the Media” column for Skeptical Inquirer online, and he tracks current events related to strategic communication at his popular blog Framing Science.
In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Nisbet highlights the recent AAAS panel he organized titled “Communicating Science in a Religious America.” He details his ideas for the most effective strategies to engage the public about science issues, and debates whether the warfare metaphor of science versus religion undermines science education, and contrasts the approaches of leading scientists like Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson. Nisbet also explores why it might be advantageous for secularist activists to re-prioritize when it comes to working in coalition with the religious around certain issues of concern to the science-education community.