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Lecture 1

CMNS 110 Lecture 1: CMNS 110 5/8/17

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Simon Fraser University
CMNS 110
Gary Mc Carron

CMNS 110 - Lecture 1 - Communication Studies in Context: Models, Methods, and Meanings Overview of Communication Studies ● What is studied in communications? ○ Diverse collection of subjects ■ r/s b/w media & democracy ■ Influence of new communication technologies on politics ■ Role of advertising in global society ■ Impact of cinema in shaping public opinion ■ Political economic structure of state media systems ■ Effect of mobile technologies on social r/s ■ Nature of propaganda in contemporary political world ● Communication research today deals mostly w/ ○ Problems of privacy in modern, highly technological world ○ Articulation of gender in practices of everyday talk ○ Rise of infotainment in contemporary television Defining Communication ● Means for studying interpersonal communication diff from techniques & methods used in study of ○ Email ○ Blogs ○ Online groups ● In case of interpersonal studies, researchers conduct studies by looking closely at how ppl act when in presence of other ppl ● Interpersonal communication researcher might analyze how someone’s style of communications changes ● For communication researcher specializing in study of internet & online communication, body language & vocal intonation fundamentally unimportant since forms of info invisible to ppl engaged in online communication ○ Things interesting to interpersonal communication scholar virtually unimportant to online communication researcher ● One form of communication not necessarily better than another Definition Refined ● Communication can be understood as process by which info transferred b/w 2/+ agents ○ Does not mean info ppl transfer only found in words/speech ● Talking about info transfer b/w agents central to any act of communications ○ But exactly how info transferred & what specific info gets transferred bit trickier to figure out ● Info never conveyed in “pure” form ● All info & communication subject to ○ Interpretation ○ Negotiation ○ Cultural filtering “Clever Hans” Phenomenon ● 1904 ● Retired schoolteacher from Berlin - Wilhelm von Osten ○ Decided to teach Hans, horse, how to do basic math ● Von Osten would present Hans w/ math problem ○ Hans would reply by tapping foot ● Von Osten taught Hans correct answers by giving reward whenever hoof tapping reached correct number ● Von Osten eventually decided to take learning further than numbers ● Taught Hans to recognize ppl by appearance ○ If familiar w/ person shown in photo, hoof tapped once for yes ● Developed alphabetic code for Hans to use to convey info ○ Hoof tapped once for “A” twice for “B” ● Hans also learned how to tell time The Word Spread ● Ppl from neighbouring areas flocked to watch Hans perform ● Many skeptics came to watch & try to unmask tricks being used to fool public to believing that horse mastered communication ○ None able to find explanation ● Panel of 13 scientists & experts from Prussian academy of Science & University of Berlin dispatched to examine horse & subject matter of communicating animal to proper scientific investigation ● Commission members tried all of obvious strategies to prove that deception was at heart of “powers” ○ Main suspicion - Von Osten somehow signalling correct answers Scientific Review ● Head of scientific panel - Carl Stumpf ○ Philosopher ○ Psychologist ○ Widely renowned throughout Europe ● Oskar Pfungst - also on commission ○ Graduate student working under Stumpf’s supervision ○ Insisted Hans incapable of intellectual activity advocates alleging ○ Greatly dismayed that members of Hans Commission failed to discover source of trickery ○ Returned to visit Von Osten & began to put hor
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