For the blog WottsUpWithThat I wrote a guest blog post on why the language you use matters:
How we say things, the words we use, how we say it, and even our perceptions on the meaning of words do matter. It at the same time makes languages extremely powerful and the cause of a lot of strife.
Anyone participating in any exchanges around the environment, particularly in the context of global warming, will have noticed how heated these exchanges often are. These exchanges have a tendency to completely derail leaving both parties angry and/or frustrated with each other.
This can of course not always be prevented, but in my experience there are a few things that you can do that help. Considering I’ve participated in online dialogue on global warming, and many other environmental subjects, for about 5 years now I’ve noticed a few things; things that might help with keeping any exchange productive.
The post gives a good explanation on the words I use during exchanges on for example global warming and what I mean by them. It also makes very clear why I’m always so patient and polite in my exchanges (there’s actually a reason for this supported by research).
Sure, I speak my mind, but it’s always about the arguments and the evidence used for those arguments. But I make a very big point out of not going after the person who makes those arguments. As someone who’s goal is to correct misconceptions, creating an environment where you can discuss ideas without them turning into shouting matches is very important:
PS – SMBC Comics is one of the web comics I recommend reading. It manages to make funny and thought-provoking comics, albeit a bit more unsubtle than XKCD. But it’s still well worth a read.