Biologists increasingly use marketing strategies to promote their results, obtain funding, and influence decisionmakers, but this development can compromise public perceptions of their objectivity and prevent the effective communication of reliable scientific knowledge. Responsible and effective communication is particularly important in this era of biotechnological innovation and global environmental change, when knowledge is often uncertain and rapidly evolving and can have huge consequences for society. Although scientists and science journalists carefully evaluate scientific results, they more freely choose rhetorical elements and, in particular, their metaphors, despite the value-laden judgments that often accompany these choices. We therefore argue that metaphors should be carefully chosen and evaluated alongside empirical evidence, because they shape data interpretation and how science influences society. Here, we propose guidelines for the responsible use of metaphors in science writing and communication.
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