1887

On the Problem and Promise of Metaphor Use in Science and Science Communication

    Authors: Cynthia Taylor1,*, Bryan M. Dewsbury1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 25 November 2017 Accepted 11 December 2017 Published 30 March 2018
    • ©2018 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Woodward Hall, Room 136, Kingston, RI 02881. Phone: 401-874-2123. Fax: 401-874-2202. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1538
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    Abstract:

    The language of science is largely metaphorical. Scientists rely on metaphor and analogy to make sense of scientific phenomena and communicate their findings to each other and to the public. Yet, despite their utility, metaphors can also constrain scientific reasoning, contribute to public misunderstandings, and, at times, inadvertently reinforce stereotypes and messages that undermine the goals of inclusive science. This paper 1) examines the generative potential of metaphors to the advancement of scientific knowledge and science communication, 2) highlights the ways in which outdated metaphors may limit scientific inquiry and contribute to public misunderstandings, and 3) critically analyzes the implications of cryptic social and political messages embedded in common metaphors in the life sciences.

References & Citations

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1538
2018-03-30
2019-03-21

Abstract:

The language of science is largely metaphorical. Scientists rely on metaphor and analogy to make sense of scientific phenomena and communicate their findings to each other and to the public. Yet, despite their utility, metaphors can also constrain scientific reasoning, contribute to public misunderstandings, and, at times, inadvertently reinforce stereotypes and messages that undermine the goals of inclusive science. This paper 1) examines the generative potential of metaphors to the advancement of scientific knowledge and science communication, 2) highlights the ways in which outdated metaphors may limit scientific inquiry and contribute to public misunderstandings, and 3) critically analyzes the implications of cryptic social and political messages embedded in common metaphors in the life sciences.

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