Professor Nick Temple Debunks Climategate and Wins Top Paper Award


Nicholas Temple, PhD, Assistant Professor in FIU’s Department of Communication Arts, won a Top Paper Award at the annual meeting of the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) in New Orleans, LA. On April 4, 2014, he presented his paper titled “Science as ‘Other’: A Burkean Rhetorical Vision of Discussion Board Participants.” It was honored as the top paper submitted to the Kenneth Burke Society for presentation at the conference.

The paper reported Temple’s original analysis of online responses to the so-called “climategate” scandal in late 2009. His analysis used two Burkean concepts (consubstantiation and casuistic stretching) to demonstrate that non-scientists simply misunderstood how science worked. His paper reveals that citizens misunderstood the normal scientific dialogue of critique and replication. Reporters claimed and citizens believed that scientists had “falsified data” when in reality colleagues were simply critiquing a study’s research methodology. This paper is one in a series in which Temple is analyzing US environmental movements by examining how citizens use, understand, and misunderstand the scientific findings that undergird the need to preserve our natural environment.

Temple joined the FIU faculty in August 2012 after completing his PhD in Communication at the North Carolina State University. He teaches a slate of courses that includes Persuasion, Environmental Communication, Communication Ethics, and Rhetorical Theory.

SSCA’s purpose is to “promote the study, criticism, research, teaching, and application of communication.” Communication scholars from 15 southeastern states consider SSCA their primary regional association. At age 85, SSCA is among the oldest professional associations of communication scholars in the US and proud publisher of the highly ranked Southern Communication Journal.


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