Creating creationists: The influence of ‘issues framing’ on our understanding of public perceptions of clash narratives between evolutionary science and belief

Fern Elsdon-Baker

Clash narratives relating to evolutionary science and personal belief are a recurrent theme in media or public space discourse. However, a 2009 British Council poll undertaken in 10 countries worldwide shows that the perception of a necessary clash between evolutionary worldviews and belief in a God is a minority viewpoint. How then does the popular conception that there is an ongoing conflict between evolution and belief in God arise? One contributing factor is the framing and categorization of creationism and evolutionism within large-scale surveys for use within media campaigns. This article examines the issue framing within four polls conducted in the United Kingdom and internationally between 2008 and 2013. It argues that by ignoring the complexity and range of perspectives individuals hold, or by framing evolutionary science as atheistic, we are potentially creating ‘creationists’ − including ‘Islamic creationists’ − both figuratively and literally.



Dynamic framing in the communication of scientific research: Texts and interactions

Pryce R. Davis, and Rosemary S. Russ

The fields of science education and science communication share the overarching goal of helping non-experts and non-members of the professional science community develop knowledge of the content and processes of scientific research. However, the specific audiences, methods, and aims employed in the two fields have evolved quite differently and as a result, the two fields rarely share findings and theory. Despite this lack of crosstalk, one theoretical construct—framing—has shown substantial analytic power for researchers in both fields. Specifically, both fields have productively made use of the fact that when people approach situations or texts in the world, they do so with a sense of “what is going on here” that guides their actions and sense-making in that situation. In this article, we examine the dynamics of how interactions between scientists, reporters, members of the general public, and various texts give rise to in-the-moment frames that shape each actors interpretation of scientific research. In doing so we couple science communication literature’s focus on framings within and across texts with science education’s focus on dynamic framing in interactions. We present a case study that follows a single piece of scientific research from scientist to reporter to the general public. Through semi-structured clinical interviews, video-based observation, and qualitative content analysis, we demonstrate that changes in science knowledge as it moves along the pathways of science communication are the aggregate result of dynamic moment-to-moment framings dispersed over people and interactions. The complexity and nuance of the story presented here have implications for how each field—science communication and science education—conceptualizes the process by which the public comes to knowledge of science.


Education, communication, and science in the public sphere

Noah Weeth Feinstein

In the 1920s, John Dewey and Walter Lippmann both wrote important books examining whether the public was capable of playing a constructive role in policy, particularly when specialized knowledge was involved. This essay uses the Lippmann–Dewey debate to identify new challenges for science education and to explore the relationship between science education and science communication. It argues that science education can help foster democracy in ways that embody Habermas’ ideal of the public sphere, but only if we as a field pay more attention to (1) the non-scientific frames and narratives that people use to interpret news about science, (2) the “second shaping” of scientific facts by the media, and (3) emerging platforms for public engagement.


Informing Dissemination Research: A Content Analysis of U.S. Newspaper Coverage of Medical Nanotechnology News

Yulia A. Strekalova

This study examined nanomedicine coverage by the elite and regional U.S. newspapers. The study sought to study prevalent topics; examine time, risk and benefit, thematic and episodic, and societal and personal impact frames; and identify dominating overarching themes. Technology application and economic consequence were dominant topics, but contrary to the studies of other emerging technologies, regulations and moral issues were the least discussed topics for nanomedicine. A variety of data analytic techniques, including cluster analysis, were performed to analyze data. The analysis has identified three themes, Technology Prospects, High-Risk High-Reward, and Investment Costs, that dominated nanomedicine coverage.