Visual communication, popular science journals and the rhetoric of evidence

part of Science and South Park, Reddit and Facebook, Leonardo da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man, and modern fairy tales about emerging technologies: science communication and popular culture

While the use of scientific visualisations (such as brain scans) in popular science communication has been extensively studied, we argue for the importance of popular images (as demonstrated in various talks at #POPSCI2015), including pictures of everyday scenes of social life or references to pictures widely circulating in popular cultural contexts. We suggest that these images can be characterised in terms of a rhetorical theory of argumentation as working towards the production of evidentiality on the one hand, and as aiming to link science to familiar visualities on the other; our example is da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man".