Civic Engagement

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Lance Bennett, PhD, Professor, Communications and Political Science

Transcript of Civic Engagement

  • 1.Center for Communication & Civic Engagement
    Lance Bennett, Director
    www.engagedcitizen.org
    Information ~ Technology ~ Community
    @

2. Manufacturing Doubts about Science
How Media Spin Undermines Engagement with Public Problems
(smoking, AIDS, global warming etc.)
3. 4. The Case of Climate Change
5. 19
% who believe what corporations say about climate change
6. 18
% who believe that climate change is real, human caused
and harmful (ie, who believe what most scientists say)
7. only 18 percent strongly believe that climate change is REAL, HUMAN CAUSED, and HARMFUL
Surveyby Nature Conservancy
& EcoAmerica (Oct 2008)
8. Why is science not winning the battle against climate change denial?
9. The News: What to Believe?
10. 11. typical US news report
12. the part of the story that gets buried
13. who is stirring up the controversy?
since publics are skeptical of direct corporate propaganda.
corporationshire PR firms
support think tanks (which support experts)
influence politicians and parties
all to create public doubt about science
(to support political inaction)
14. Round 1: (1980s - 1990s)use PR to turn climate change and its advocates into a joke
Western Fuels Assn, National Coal Assn & Edison Electric created front org Info Council on Environment (ICE) ~ hired PR firms and scientists to create misinformation campaigns
If the earth is getting warmer why is Minneapolis getting colder?
Some say the earth is warming. Some also said the earth is flat
but scientific consensus on human causes grew
and ICE was exposed as direct corporate front
15. Round 2: (1990s-now)broaden the interest coalition ~ create better front organizations (fund more think tanks) ~ attack the science
Broad industry coalition (energy, chemical, cigarette, auto, food processing, biotechnology) + bigger PR firms create:
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition
which created
Global Climate Science Communication Action Plan

  • attack inconvenient findings as unsound

16. brand political actions based on science (Kyoto-Copenhagen) as out of touch with reality