Language Matters

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).

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The Achilles’ Heel Of An Inconvenient Truth

Once every one or two months I do a little Google search to see where I, or anything I’m associated with, is mentioned on the internet. It’s a good way to find anything you haven’t noticed or wasn’t sent to you.

This time I stumbled on the slightly disjointed blog post “Science is not a Political Debate, The Science” where my video “Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckton” is mentioned. What drew my attention was the following passage:

When initially investigating the climate change debate I found myself extremely disappointed and unconvinced by the most touted popular work on the subject, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I felt his repeated use of emotional pleas (pathos) severely undermined his argument. Instead of sticking to the science he generally referenced it in passing between anecdotes. This blog post will be a review and analysis of the first part of the video Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckato (YouTube link) by Collin Maessen. I found it to be extremely compelling because in contrast to An Inconvenient Truth, Mr. Maessen immediately supports all his assertions with demonstrated evidence from scientific studies (and references those studies with quotations from them.) [sic]

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Scientists And Public Discourse

As I’m a software developer I follow several big names of the trade, one of them being Robert Martin.

Yesterday one of his tweets caught my attention:

@badastronomer @absolutspacegrl @rationalists Snide political innuendo is unworthy of scientists. Honor your profession by speaking plainly

Which was a response to the following tweet by Phil Plait:

Via @absolutspacegrl: MT @rationalists: Santorum won 11 states. Remember that when you wonder why America ranks 27th in math and science.

Essentially a slap down of Santorum, his supporters, and the social/political environment it creates. I have no problem with a scientist commenting on politicians and issues that impact what they do. Which I tweeted to Robert Martin:

.@unclebobmartin Strange how scientists aren’t allowed a shot at a science denier. But Santorum is allowed to smear their professions/work.

This led to a small exchange of ideas on the subject between Martin and me. He even wrote an article which gives a good insight in his position and why he has a problem with scientists responding in such a way.

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Communicating Climate Change To The Masses

The VlogBrothers is one of the channels I’ve been subbed to for a long time now, finding them not long after I became active on YouTube. John writes books teenagers and Hank maintains the website EcoGeek and writes very interesting songs:

This celebration of silly nerdiness is what makes me enjoy their videos so much. And often they manage to put some interesting factoids in their videos.

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