The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Frames and Frames

[Factored out of the previous posting for clarity.]

There are two meanings of the word "frame" that are getting confused here; one is the Overton Window stuff (the limits of what society tolerates as acceptable opinion can shift, and a good way to influence history in the long run is to move the perceived frame).

Climate science has suffered from a very sneaky placement of that frame, where the IPCC (which is a deliberate and careful attempt to explain the center of scientific opinion) is cast as the extreme of a debate, while one of the two actual extremes (Lovelock's position, I suppose) simply isn't in the public eye at all.

For clarity, perhaps we should call this the "window" and not the "frame".

What Nisbet and Mooney are talking about, in their discussion of framing that has gotten so much attention, is how to present your information to one or another audience: it refers to a given communication effort, not to the whole context.

Even in this case, despite the knee-jerk reactions of some, the word "framing" isn't about "lying". You say different things to different audiences because they have different needs and interests. That doesn't mean the things you say are inconsistent with each other or with truth as you understand it.

3 comments:

fergus brown said...

This idea might work well enough when you are considering the context of a speech or presentation, but how does it map into the blogosphere? Who is our audience here? Do we define them by our position, or do they define our position by their response? In other words, how does the idea of a frame work when the sudience is (in principle) arbitrary?
Regards,

Anonymous said...

Here's another frame. Apparently, Roger Pielke Jr. is now an expert on international travel.

http://www.nysun.com/article/52232?page_no=2

Roger is just in *love* with media attention.

Michael Tobis said...

I reply to Fergus in a top level article here.

Regarding Pielke, he seems to have been contacted on the relationship between politics and science, which is exactly his bailiwick. I see no reason to begrudge him a comment on the matter of whether a tax on air travel is an effective response to GHG accumulation.

This isn't to say I like everything he says, it is just to say that I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

For myself, while I think an escalating tax (nonlinearly increasing with the number of miles one travels) makes some sense, there are some equity and privacy issues that might not make this worth it. I agree with Roger that it shouldn't be on top of the queue of policy actions.

Interesting how the tropical islands lose either way on this one, isn't it?