Rhetoric in Action-The UCS

Rhetoric, whether one likes it or not, is alive and well within the scientific community; it does not take much by today’s standards for science to become sensationalized and popularized to fit with the concepts and stimuli faced by the world at the time. But is that necessarily improper? To what extent is it the function of science and scientists in general to force a particular issue into question as opposed to simply reporting the facts? There are numerous outlets where these ideas can be tested and observed, but we will be focusing on the website for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the UCS, as an example focusing on how science and rhetoric are truly intertwined.

When first addressing rhetoric, one may find it most beneficial to address why the text in question exists. By doing so, one can clearly identify the express purpose of the text and fully understand the intention of the creators of the text. Should one visit the website for the Union of Concerned Scientists, it can be seen that the first and almost inescapable detail located on almost every page is a plea for donations and descriptions concerning how beneficial these donations are to the scientific community and the world at large. These requests certainly outline the fact that one of the primary purposes for the website is to act as a fundraiser and provide the necessary capital for operations within the organization. However, the collection of funds is not the only purpose of the website as seen through the “Stay Informed” widget and “Take Action” page which enforces the fact that part of the function of the website is to educate people and inspire them to take action.

As previously stated, it is evident that the Union of Concerned Scientists desires to inspire a sort of reaction out of their audience, but who is their audience? Naturally, the sections allowing viewers of the site to search for and find lab reports and network with other scientists suggests that the primary audience that this site was intended to reach included professionals in the scientific field. However, their pages regarding such items as legislature passed in California and how to create a recipe that aids in the creation of a fairer food system displays their willingness and desire to appeal to a larger audience of individuals who generally care for the world and want to see the planet thrive.

When considering the formation and distribution of a message, one should also note one of the most important features of rhetoric which is to consider the overall setting and culture of the environment where the particular idea is being showcased. The Union of Concerned Scientists seems to understand this concept very well as they presenting and distributing their findings in a time that is seeing controversy over climate change and a major shift towards trying to preserve the environment. This idea is one of the most important features of establishing rhetoric as it ensures that the topic the Union of Concerned Scientists is trying to present to the public remains relevant and is subject to gain attention from the general public.


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