Volume 11 • Issue 01 • 2012


Feb 15, 2012 Article
Ad hominem arguments in the service of boundary work among climate scientists

by Lawrence Souder and Furrah Qureshi

Most accounts of an ideal scientific discourse proscribe ad hominem appeals as one way to distinguish it from public discourse. Because of their frequent use of ad hominem attacks, the Climategate email messages provoked strong criticisms of climate scientists and climate science. This study asks whether the distinction between public and scientific discourse holds in this case and thus whether the exclusion of ad hominem arguments from scientific discourse is valid. The method of analysis comes from the field of informal logic in which argument fallacies like the ad hominem are classified and assessed. The approach in this study focuses on a functional analysis of ad hominem—their uses rather than their classification. The analysis suggests three distinct functional uses of ad hominem remarks among the Climategate emails: (1) indirect, (2) tactical, and (3) meta-. Consistent with previous research on ad hominem arguments in both public and scientific discourse, these results reinforce the common opinion of their fallacious character. Only the remarks of the last type, the meta- ad hominem, seemed to be non-fallacious in that they might help to preempt the very use of ad hominem attacks in scientific discourse.

Volume 11 • Issue 01 • 2012

Mar 01, 2012 Article
A conceptualisation of the post-museum as pedagogical space

by Richard Watermeyer

This paper explores the idea of the post-museum as an immersive knowledge experience facilitating conceptual and strategic directions in public engagement with science and technology. It considers the extent to which the museum has evolved from repository of cultural artefacts to experience-based process of knowledge acquisition and production. The post-museum is invoked as a model of participatory pedagogy that moves beyond traditional forms of learning, knowledge acquisition and knowledge interface, and conceptualisations of the learner in science. It is presented as an educational and recreational experience, which locates and translates knowledge to the novice or non-traditional patron using rich social narratives that ground scientific expertise in the practice of everyday life. The experience of science is thus made familiar and relevant and concurrently regulated and owned by the visitor. The learner is consequently recast from passive recipient of information-bites to choreographer, translator and innovator within a scientific knowledge continuum.

Volume 11 • Issue 01 • 2012

Mar 16, 2012 Article
Trends in scientific publications in physical education: a multifaceted field?

by Jacqueline Leta and Suely Rosa

The paper investigates diversity in terms of interest and goals in international research in Physical Education (PE). This investigation is based on publications in PE indexed in three major international databases, namely Medline, Scopus and Web of Science (WoS). To identify these publications in Medline, we searched for “physical education and training”. As for the WoS and Scopus, we searched for “physical education” in the title, abstract or key-word. We also searched for “physical education” in the affiliation address only in the Scopus database, which we describe as Scopus-Afill. Using these strategies, we found 2,257 documents in Medline, 6,107 in WoS, 8,807 in Scopus and 5,838 in Scopus – Affil. for the 1991-2005 period. Our findings offer evidence that PE research is mostly associated with biological and medical sciences. However, our results show that the field is multifaceted when it comes to the nature of PE contributions to knowledge.

Volume 11 • Issue 01 • 2012


Mar 16, 2012 Commentary
Insights on the future of science journalism

by Alessandro Delfanti

With this commentary JCOM continues its analysis of the transformations of science journalism in the new media ecology. The purpose of the papers we present here is enriching the discussion raised in past issues and giving the Science communication community new insights on the role of digital media in shaping the way science is communicated, distributed and discussed by new actors and with new publics. What is the future of science journalism in the new ecosystem? In “Has blogging changed science writing?” Alice Bell discusses blogs' impact on science journalism, arguing that in some areas the changes related to the emergence of the web are overstated. Rather than crystal ball gazing into the future, we should realize it is up for debate. In “Web 2.0: netizen empowerment vs. unpaid labor” Carlo Formenti goes further, casting doubts on the utopian fantasies of knowledge democratization and urging us to focus on the new forms of power concentration and exploitation that are emerging within the system of science communication. Finally, in “The future of science journalism in Ghana” Bernard Appiah and colleagues argue in favour of the potential of the web as a tool to increase the quality and quantity of African science journalism. Yet they warn us: issues of access to both information and resources are still in place and threaten the promises of digital media.

Volume 11 • Issue 01 • 2012