The Source in Cogency
Scientific writings are usually not thought of as being intentionally persuasive. Usually they are considered to be vehicles for the presentation of data in a rather rigid format. However, we argued in chapter 14 that most scientists want to influence opinion and action by their presentations, and would be disappointed if they did not. Most papers are unread by those who should read them, and only a few directly influence decision makers. Solving reading overload will allow the conclusions and essential data of many more papers to be read, integrated, and remembered, but even then, many papers and surrogates will not influence action. What are some of the things that affect the cogency of messages? This chapter attempts to identify the variables that intervene along the way from reading to doing.
It must be pointed out that chapters 15 through 17 deal more with political, popular, and social than with scientific communication. The authors believe that the lack of cogency is most serious in the popularization and interpretation of scientific discoveries to the Jay public and decision makers. Popularization and interpretation lend themselves most clearly to the persuasion process described in chapter 14, because there is a greater opportunity to vary the form and content of the communication so as to enhance cogency. By and large, this is the thrust of chapters 15 through 17, to examine the credibility