Frankenbug Meets the Conch Republic: Engagement, Expertise, and “Strategic Irrationality” in Public Scientific Controversies
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The Science Communication Project @ISU was founded in 2010 with the goal of enhancing collaborative research on, education for, and the practice of public science communication, broadly conceived. Our biennial symposia- which include public presentations of multidisciplinary research and interactive workshops- bring together a network of scholars who share interests in public engagement of science, environmental communication, natural resource management, and agriscience. Conference proceedings showcase research, evaluations, and critiques of science communication-related practices and phenomena.
This paper develops a case study of the controversy surrounding release of genetically modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys to explore escalated conflicts between stakeholders who perceive themselves to be equally empowered and, therefore, justified in dominating public deliberations and policy decisions. The antagonistic discourse that characterizes the Keys controversy may be understood as a power struggle in which both the citizen-scientists and scientist-citizens wrestle for the same intellectual and jurisdictional turf. A description of this dynamic extends the discussion of asymmetrical institutional and social power relations to explicate the concept of “strategic irrationality” as a means of disrupting productive deliberations