April 23-24, 2012

Madison, WI

“Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.” -Thomas Huxley

Conference Session Summaries by Students at UW-Madison

Answering the questions, questioning the answers: Panel discussion - The panel assembled on Tuesday morning, consisting of Trudy Lieberman of the Columbia Journalism Review, Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chris Mooney, freelance writer and host of the Point of Inquiry podcast, and Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press.
Communicating science in politicized environments: Arthur Lupia - Arthur Lupia, political science professor at the University of Michigan, kicked off the Science Writing in the Age of Denial conference with a presentation about understanding how people try to avoid conflict with diverse audiences.
Persuasive writing in a world of denial: Panel discussion - This session was designed to help writers communicate effectively with readers who question scientific consensus. Panelists Steve Silberman, Christie Aschwanden, Dietram Scheufele and Wilson da Silva spoke about the need to understand their audience’s existing mental models, and to write stories that take those models into account.
Cheerleading, shibboleths and uncertainty - Consumer healthcare news may leave you wondering—where is my ticking time bomb? In a lump in my breast, colon or lung? And if you haven’t found anything yet, you may conclude it’s just a matter of not looking hard enough. Gary Schwitzer likens our fixation on cancer screening to a search for weapons of mass destruction, a fixation he diagnoses as a symptom of poor consumer healthcare coverage.
Working within the psychologies of belief and learning: Panel discussion - On the Panel: Bill Blakemore of ABC News, psychologist Peter Ditto of the University of California, Irvine, historian Ronald Numbers of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and John Rennie, former editor-in-chief at Scientific American and instructor at New York University. A theme of the discussion was belief as support for psychological, social and historical opposition to evolution and climate change science.
Journalistic ethics in the Age of Denial: Panel discussion - The workshops kicked off Tuesday morning with coffee and a conversation on Journalistic Ethics in the Age of Denial. This panel featured Deborah Blum, journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; George Johnson, freelance science journalist; Dennis Meredith, research communication; and Dan Fagin, professor at New York University.
The denial of evolution, and the evolution of denial: Sean Carroll - Sean Carroll, a UW-Madison geneticist and vice president for science education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, presented six categories of argument that make up what he called “A general manual of denialism.”
Welcome! - Us conference bloggers are students from the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and we'll be covering and posting about as many sessions as we're able.