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Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination

How Virtual Evidence Shapes Science in the Making and in the News

Aimee Kendall Roundtree

Hardback
Paperback
eBook
Computer simulations help advance climatology, astrophysics, and other scientific disciplines. They are also at the crux of several high-profile cases of science in the news. How do simulation scientists, with little or no direct observations, make decisions about what to represent? What is the nature of simulated evidence, and how do we evaluate its strength? Aimee Kendall Roundtree suggests answers in Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination. She interprets simulations in the sciences by uncovering the argumentative strategies that underpin the production and dissemination of simulated findings. She also explains how subjective and social influences do not diminish simulations’ virtue or power to represent the real thing. Along the way, Roundtree situates computer simulations within the scientific imagination alongside paradoxes, thought experiments, and metaphors. A cogent rhetorical analysis, Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination engages scholars of the rhetoric of science, technology, and new and digital media, but it is also accessible to the general public interested in debates over hurricane preparedness and climate change. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 144Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-7556-9 • Hardback • December 2013 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-5718-4 • Paperback • March 2017 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-7557-6 • eBook • December 2013 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
Aimee Kendall Roundtree is associate professor of Professional Writing and Technical Communication at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Chapter 1: Why Computer Simulations Need Rhetorical Intervention
Chapter 2: The Rhetorical Situation of Simulations
Chapter 3: Simulations and the Scientific Imagination
Chapter 4: Rhetorical Strategies of Simulated Evidence
Chapter 5: Social Dimensions of Simulated Meaning
Chapter 6: The Rhetoric of Simulations in the News
Chapter 7: Conclusion
Aimee Kendall Roundtree’s Computer Simulation, Rhetoric, and the Scientific Imagination: How Virtual Evidence Shapes Science in the Making and in the News is an important foray into the rhetoric of leading edge science that stands to benefit students, teachers, and professionals. The theoretical concepts Roundtree introduces are useful in themselves for researchers who are interested in the complex nexus of technology and argumentation in diverse professional settings. The text provides excellent case studies of how effective communicators translate discipline-specific knowledge to audiences outside their realms of expertise. Roundtree’s thorough research methodology and data analysis make her book an excellent teaching tool for academic study as well as a model for professional practice. The book’s timely subject matter makes it a fascinating read as well as a clear example of how technology and professional communication drive each other.
Business and Professional Communication Quarterly


[This book] is a timely exploration of computer simulation in scientific argument. The book is a needed foundation for future investigations into simulations and their construction and function in professional, scientific discourse as well as how simulations are used and discussed in public debates about climate change and other contentious scientific and technical debates. . . .Roundtree makes a well-argued and -supported exploration of a topic important to technical writers and science communication specialists. . . .Technical writing instructors would do well to consider ways to situate the writing about and inclusion of simulated evidence into students’ writing education, and she suggests that we can think about how to help simulation scientists understand the rhetorical choices they make to improve their work as well . . . Roundtree’s research supports these efforts and offers a framework for more scholarship on the construction, presentation, and reception of simulations.
Technical Communication Quarterly


In her stimulating book . . . Aimee Kendall Roundtree shows how computer simulations provide an alternate way of conducting science. . . .Roundtree’s thought-provoking analysis is recommended as a sourcebook for technical communicators seeking to understand how rhetoric works in scientific documentation, especially that involving computer simulations of procedures, usability interfaces, and other dynamic online content.
Technical Communication Quarterly


Roundtree’s book [is] most timely for readers in PTC and rhetoric and writing because, as Roundtree demonstrates, computer simulations are thoroughly rhetorical. . . .In summary, Roundtree offers an important and detailed glimpse into the rhetoric of computer simulations. . . .Roundtree’s study presents a thorough analysis based on a rich data set. As such, it should be widely read in the field.
Present Tense


Roundtree assembles an impressive archive to teach us about the rhetoric of simulations and to argue that we must start paying attention to them. Simulations matter to rhetoric not merely because of their mighty impact on how we make law and policy, but also because they bring us back to the heart of rhetoric itself, which has always been dedicated to building possible worlds and imagining how we might live with each other in them. Even scholars who do not work on computer simulations will find Roundtree's discussions on abductive reasoning and virtual evidence to be powerful lenses on argumentation in the post-modern public square.
Lynda Walsh, University of Nevada, Reno


This timely contribution from Aimee Roundtree helps us understand simulations as rhetorical acts and products. It will be required reading for those who want to understand how simulations are used to convince and persuade.
Eric Winsberg, University of South Florida


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