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Rhetoric of Science

Rhetoric is defined as the art of identifying “the available means of persuasion” in a given situation, following Aristotle and consistent with its development as a foundation of the Western liberal arts educational tradition. The term rhetoric of science might seem paradoxical to those who strongly differentiate informative from persuasive communication. Science is expected to be strictly factual and objective, divorced from the uncertainty that characterizes persuasion and the purposes and goals that motivate humans to engage in persuasion. However, the frontiers of science are fraught with uncertainty and changing ideas, and the modern economic and political structure is so closely intertwined with science and technology that separating “pure information” becomes impossible in day-to-day practice. Thinking about science communication in terms of its persuasive capacities ...

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