It’s a podcast that can be downloaded from the New York Academy of Sciences website HERE ... it’s the August 17th podcast. It’s about an hour long.
Mooney and Nisbet discuss how to frame scientific debates like evolution, stem cell research and global warming to the public. This is a version of teaching scientists how to be more rhetorically effective in debates where the audience is largely made up of non-science-enthusiasts.
They suggest scientists avoid getting into the nitty gritty of evidence and data, as those tend to devolve into shouting matches with people who bring “alternative data”. Since the public isn’t enthusiastic or knowledgeable about the actual science, they don’t have the wherewithal to know or care how to distinguish good data from junk, and the whole thing sounds to them like an intra-scientific dispute. (E.g., among creationists and evolutionists, or among those who agree or disagree about global warming).
Instead they suggest scientists learn how to “frame” the debate around certain rhetorically powerful concepts, like economic development, better disease treatment, etc. They also suggest engaging with religious people, in the vein of E.O. Wilson’s recent book about the environment.
It’s obviously a tack that’s diametrically opposed to Dawkins’s; but I also think their audiences are different. Dawkins is really talking to the science enthusiasts. Mooney and Nisbet don’t want to. They want to talk across the aisle, and make political change. To do so requires making some compromises.