I recently found this comic strip on a website called phdcomics.com. I thought it effectively and humorously conveyed the often-problematic evolution of a science story as it filters through the news cycle.
When scientific translation goes wrong, data, conditions, and conclusions get truncated into news stories; news stories are reduced to headlines and talking points in the minds of readers; and then headlines and talking points get twisted and misinterpreted out in the public discourse. This comic is a good illustration of why FrameWorks conducts Persistence Trials when testing our communications strategies.
Persistence Trials are similar to the childhood game of “telephone.” In Persistence Trials, subjects are asked to think about a particular simplifying model (explanatory metaphor) and then asked to communicate with a third party about that issue. After three “generations” of group discussions, the final group is asked to teach the model back to the first group.
By testing our simplifying models in persistence trials, we try to anticipate and mitigate the deterioration of ideas as they filter through the news cycle!