Language Theory


About two weeks ago an article came out about seven terms that drive scientists crazy when they’re misused by the public.

Theory. Hypothesis. Model. Skeptic. Significant. Nature v. Nurture. Natural. They seem very simple. We all know the basic definitions.

The problem is scientists have specific connotations they use for the specific terms when it comes to their respective fields. Lay people use them improperly, at least when referring to science and research, according to the scientists.

The article made a lot of sense. Scientists are peeved that terms they assign proper usage is being twisted by those who aren’t scientists. People like to enlist them in arguments twhen they want to pontificate on a subject that includes a scientific element, say climate change.

The most interesting tidbit of the article is the absolutely stupid comments listed below it on Yahoo. The ire? Well apparently people don’t like being told that they’re probably using a word wrong. It illustrates a major problem with the public— no one really wants to go through the effort to think about what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

I work in communications and I see every day the follies that unfold because people don’t know how to convey simple ideas to each other properly with proper usage. Why is it that terms are used mistakenly over and over again? Because people are too lazy to consider the terms of their language and how it affects their interaction.

The commenters pissed off that scientists have the nerve to point out the definition of scientific principles proves the point of the story: people are ignorant and they don’t realize that they’re ignorant.

The saddest part is they don’t care either.

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