When science goes public: From technical arguments to appeals to authority

Posted on 14 July 12


Goodwin, Jean, and Lee Honeycutt. “When Science Goes Public:  From Technical Arguments to Appeals to Authority.” Studies in Communication Sciences 9, no. 2 (2009): 19-30.

Recent calls for increased public participation in technical decision-making have brought to the fore argumentation between scientists and citizens. In this paper, we examine what happens as arguments travel from the technical to the public sphere. Based on a case study of a U.S. debate over the net energy balance of corn-based ethanol, we show how the evidence-based technical arguments are transformed into appeals to expert authority.

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