Miles Coleman

Miles Coleman

Miles Coleman
Assistant Professor of Communication

Miles Coleman

Contact Info

Biography

Ph.D. University of Washington

Dr. Coleman’s research locates the values that exist in otherwise “objective” phenomena. As a rhetorician—a scholar of persuasion—he studies the ways in which persons accept or reject claims of science, technology, and medicine. His work outlines frameworks and methodologies for approaching problems of science denialism (e.g., HIV/AIDS denialism or vaccine denialism), while also carving space for considering the ethical implications of new media technologies. 

Increasingly, Dr. Coleman is fascinated with the idea of "hidden" persuasion. For example, the “nudges” embedded in software interfaces or the subtle ways that musical and non-musical sounds can encourage people to reconsider their feelings about health and science issues. 

For Dr. Coleman, teaching and learning are energizing. He has been teaching at the university level for over a decade. He is a success-centered instructor who cares very much about helping students discover and cultivate their interests, their talents, and their futures. 

Born and raised in sunny Northern California, Dr. Coleman most recently lived in Seattle, WA, before moving to New Jersey with his spouse, basset hound, and orange cat. 

Courses

HSC 08100 - Introduction to Health and Science Communication

CMS 04393 - Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine

HSC 08350 - Special Topics: Comprehending COVID-19

 

Research

Dr. Coleman’s research agenda consists of two areas of focus: Science denialism and responsible communication technology.

Science Denialism

Science denialism is the rejection of claims to truth, despite overwhelming scientific consensus in support of those claims. HIV/AIDS denialists, for example, congregate in online networked publics, rejecting scientific consensus on HIV/AIDS science, arguing instead that persons should ignore their HIV test results or stop taking their antiretroviral medicines. Vaccine denialists, trade “science” on the adverse effects of vaccination, convincing one another that to reject vaccines is to reject “big pharma.” Needless exposure to illness and premature death attend the claims that circulate within these publics, illustrating the obvious need for intervention. But, intervening into science denialist publics is not a matter of re-explaining the facts. HIV/AIDS denialism is entangled just as much with legitimate social anxieties as it is with the conspiratorial narratives of quacks. Vaccine denialism involves philosophical commitments about justice and autonomy as much as it does immunology or virology. By building out methods and theoretical frameworks that account not only the facts under debate, but also the values relevant to particular publics, Dr. Coleman's work supports science advocacy, informing better (and more responsible) public interventions into science denialism.

Responsible Communication Technology

Examining how technology “speaks” to us, either as robots, voice-based interfaces, simple dynamic web applications, or chatbots is a powerful way to bring into view the ambient assumptions of culture that exist in what famed science and technology scholar, Bruno Latour, articulates as “society made durable.” To do so is to unpack assumptions about technology, including who is included in, or excluded from, the discourses of our technologies so that we can offset, and revise the artifacts and techniques of our technologies to be more inclusive. For example, examining where blame falls when machine learning systems commit communicative acts of racism or misogyny can help to support better policies and codes of ethics so as to offset the structural oppression and privilege entangled with, and perpetuated by modern communication technologies. By pursuing the “hidden” assumptions that undergird software, Dr. Coleman's work helps to support the inclusive, responsible design and application of technology.

 

Recent Publications

“The Digital Rhetorics of AIDS Denialist Networked Publics.” First Monday (Forthcoming). First author, with Joy M. Cypher.

“Comparative Rhetorics of Technology and the Energies of Ancient Indian Robots.” For Handbook on Comparative Rhetorics ed. Keith Lloyd (Routledge, 2020).

 

Recent Awards

Top Scholar Paper Award, Communication Ethics Division, National Communication Association, 2019, for a paper entitled, “Moral Luck and the Communicative Wrongdoing of Machines.” 

 

Current Projects

“Adventures on #FlatEarth: Using Automation to Engage Misperceptions of Science on Twitter.” First author with John Feaster (Communication Studies, Rowan University). In pilot stage.

“Emergent Sonification: Byrd Bot and Using Computational Media to Communicate the Anthropocene,” First author with Charles Schutte (Environmental Science, Rowan University). In development.