More Complexity, Less Uncertainty Changing How We Talk (and Think) about Science

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Chris Mays


This article focuses on the phenomenon of complexity in scientific communication. The article argues that shifting frames in science communication and the rhetoric of science from uncertainty to complexity can benefit audience understanding of scientific issues, and can also prevent bad-faith uptake of these issues that can be used to stoke political divisions. Such detrimental uptake happened with several science communication issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rhetorical strategy detailed here balances the need to support mainstream science while also incorporating some critique of it. Such a balance can be beneficial for the ethos of scientists and science communicators, and can result in more robust public engagement.

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