Now if we could only get them to stop using the “D” word, they might actually communicate better

Global_warming_words

Failure to communicate? Common words used through time used to describe the “crisis”. The current hot button word is “extreme weather”. Graphic by A. Watts

From the University of Missouri:

Public Acceptance of Climate Change Affected by Word Usage, Says MU Anthropologist

Better science communication could lead to a more informed American public.

Public acceptance of climate change’s reality may have been influenced by the rate at which words moved from scientific journals into the mainstream, according to anthropologist Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. A recent study of word usage in popular literature by O’Brien and his colleagues documented how the usage of certain words related to climate change has risen and fallen over the past two centuries. Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.

“Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech. That can be a slow process. Several words related to climate change diffused into the popular vocabulary over a 30-50 year timeline.”

O’Brien’s study found that, by 2008, several important terms in the discussion of climate change had entered popular literature from technical obscurity in the early 1900s. These terms included:

  • Biodiversity – the degree of variation in life forms within a given area
  • Holocene – the current era of the Earth’s history, which started at the end of the last ice age
  • Paleoclimate –the prehistoric climate, often deduced from ice cores, tree rings and pollen trapped in sediments
  • Phenology – the study of how climate and other environmental factors influence the timing of events in organisms’ life cycles

Not every term was adopted at the same rate or achieved the same degree of popularity. Biodiversity, for example, came into popular use quickly in only a few years in the late 80s and early 90s. Other terms, like Holocene or phenology, have taken decades and are still relatively uncommon.

“The adoption of words into the popular vocabulary is like the evolution of species,” O’Brien said. “A complex process governs why certain terms are successful and adopted into everyday speech, while others fail. For example, the term ‘meme’ has entered the vernacular, as opposed to the term ‘culturgen,’ although both refer to a discrete unit of culture, such as a saying transferred from person to person.”

To observe the movement of words into popular literature, O’Brien and his colleagues searched the database of 7 million books created by Google. They used the “Ngram” feature of the database to track the number of appearances of climate change keywords in literature since 1800. The usage rate of those climate change terms was compared to the usage of “the,” which is the most common word in the English language. Statistical analysis of usage rates was calculated in part by co-author William Brock, a new member of MU’s Department of Economics and member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, “Word Diffusion and Climate Science” was published in the journal PLOS ONE and can be viewed here (in full): http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0047966. Co-authors also included R. Alexander Bentley of the University of Bristol Phillip Garnett of Durham University.

-30-

EDITOR’S NOTE: A portion of O’Brien’s experiment can be repeated using any computer with internet access.

  1. 1. Go to http://books.google.com/ngrams
  2. 2. Enter terms such as “climate change,” “global warming,” or “anthropogenic” and note how they have changed in usage over the past century.

Story Contact(s):
Timothy Wall, walltj@missouri.edu

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100 thoughts on “Now if we could only get them to stop using the “D” word, they might actually communicate better

  1. He should have added sustainable to that list.

    Look what happened at Rio+20 sustainable meant different things to clowns in the UN Circus, it was actually meant to of course to obfuscate the real objectives. To some sustainable meant taking and replacing sensibly to others a de-industrialization and a return to Agrarian society

  2. If they want to continue using the “den…” word, I suggest we fight back using the words CAGW “sympathiser.” It also has connotations.

  3. “Climate change” represents a rejection of rational thought. That is not exaggerating. It’s intended to imply that the effect is happening even though the posited mechanism– global warming– is not. It is magical thinking.

  4. All the Government has to do is tell the truth that if we don’t’ t start using alternative energy sources, convert to more efficient vehicles, home and businesses heat/ cooling devices the economy will come to a stand still and collapse when oil shortages start in 10 years time. They also should be straight with the public that the Global Warming Plot is the governments way to tax the hard working Americans more to pay for their BS out of control spending. F mars and all the $$$ they are spending on projects like that. We have poor families on earth that need more help the trying to figure out if life was ever on mars. Anywhere in the universe where water is present or was present life is there or was.

  5. “Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.”

    That’s a double edged sword.
    It can also lead to ever more effective use of emotive terminology by propagandists.

  6. One more thing if everyone changed over to an electric car the us highway system would collapse because they would not get any tax money from fuel sales to pay for repairs and maintain the highways and roads. They will tax people on electric cars by miles driven in the future in America.

  7. I can live with either..

    Use “collaborator” for the Karoly, Lewindowsky types etc

    And use “sympathisers” for the following lemmings.

  8. “Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.”

    Global Warming SCAM speak for: How to better hoodwink the general public into accepting continued funding of more worthless GW studies, projects, and modeling.

  9. MARKETING: Selling Horse Droppings as an exciting new health food!!!

    What they are talking about is how to better “market” their dogma.

  10. I’m waiting for that article headlined: “Why can we not communicate with Deniers?”

    That would nicely sum up the self-absorption and lack of self-awareness of the ‘sympathisers’.

  11. The problem is not the words used to discuss the extreme AGW paradigm, the problem is observations and analysis in peer reviewed journals does not support the extreme AGW paradigm. The planet will warm less than 1C from a doubling of atmospheric CO2. There is no extreme AGW crisis to address.

    The words uses to discuss facts does not change the facts (i.e. There is truth and there is analysis and research to find the truth.). Words can confuse the discussion and delay the realization of what is or is not correct. Words do not change what is or is not truth.

    The fact that observations show global warming has stalled for 16 years and the ocean is now cooling provides support for the assertion that there is no extreme AGW crisis to address. The extreme AGW paradigm pushers are only now starting to acknowledge that the planet has not warmed in 16 years.

    The second unaddressed issue, is what to do if there was an extreme AGW problem, which there is not.

    Even if there was an extreme AGW problem the solution would not be to implement a scam. The “green” energy schemes that have been proposed and that are being funded are scams. A scam is economically and engineering not viable.

    The opportunity for executing the scam exists as the extreme warming paradigm pushers have removed logic and responsibility from the discussion and there are always unscrupulous, honor-less people how will take advantage of a weakness.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html

    The Clean Energy Scam
    But the basic problem with most biofuels is amazingly simple, given that researchers have ignored it until now: using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands that store enormous amounts of carbon…. …Backed by billions in investment capital, this alarming phenomenon is replicating itself around the world. Indonesia has bulldozed and burned so much wilderness to grow palm oil trees for biodiesel that its ranking among the world’s top carbon emitters has surged from 21st to third according to a report by Wetlands International. Malaysia is converting forests into palm oil farms so rapidly that it’s running out of uncultivated land. But most of the damage created by biofuels will be less direct and less obvious. In Brazil, for instance, only a tiny portion of the Amazon is being torn down to grow the sugarcane that fuels most Brazilian cars. More deforestation results from a chain reaction so vast it’s subtle: U.S. farmers are selling one-fifth of their corn to ethanol production, so U.S. soybean farmers are switching to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures, so Brazilian cattlemen are displaced to the Amazon. It’s the remorseless economics of commodities markets. “The price of soybeans goes up,” laments Sandro Menezes, a biologist with Conservation International in Brazil, “and the forest comes down.”

    Deforestation accounts for 20% of all current carbon emissions. So unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources–cars, power plants, factories, even flatulent cows–it needs to reduce deforestation or risk an environmental catastrophe. That means limiting the expansion of agriculture, a daunting task as the world’s population keeps expanding. And saving forests is probably an impossibility so long as vast expanses of cropland are used to grow modest amounts of fuel. The biofuels boom, in short, is one that could haunt the planet for generations–and it’s only getting started.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-14/biofuel-production-a-crime-against-humanity/2403402

    Biofuel production ‘a crime against humanity’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7969102/The-Clean-Development-Mechanism-delivers-the-greatest-green-scam-of-all.html

    It is now six months since I reported on what even environmentalists are calling “the biggest environmental scandal in history”. Indeed this is a scam so glaringly bizarre that even the UN and the EU have belatedly announced that they are thinking of taking steps to stop it. The essence of the scam is that a handful of Chinese and Indian firms are deliberately producing large quantities of an incredibly powerful “greenhouse gas” which we in the West – including UK taxpayers – then pay them billions of dollars to destroy.

    The extreme AGW issue is a mania, the madness of crowds.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/09/understanding-the-global-warming-debate/

    “The problem for global warming supporters is they actually need for past warming from CO2 to be higher than 0.7C. If the IPCC is correct that based on their high-feedback models we should expect to see 3C of warming per doubling of CO2, looking backwards this means we should already have seen about 1.5C of CO2-driven warming based on past CO2 increases. But no matter how uncertain our measurements, it’s clear we have seen nothing like this kind of temperature rise. Past warming has in fact been more consistent with low or even negative feedback assumptions.”

  12. In science, theory and terms around theory become more precise as knowledge is gained. With regard to AGW, that is not the case. Is has become “climate change” then “climate disruption” actually losing precision in the process. That is how we know that the theory is not very good in the first place.

    That said, I don’t think “Hoax” is correct.

  13. The powers that be are all “awareness raisers” who used to be called “propogandists”.

    From the EPA’s Klimate Kids guide for elementary school teachers glossary:
    ” Carbon dioxide: A colorless, odorless greenhouse gas. It is produced naturally when dead animals (think puppies or polar bears) or plants decay..”

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/

    Suzuki “the dirty blood is pumped to the lungs to have the carbon removed”

    Climate writers style sheet: “Avoid using “positive feedback” rather “exagerates dangerous effects”.

  14. It doesn’t help that an anthropologist just simply assumes that the science is correct. Why do these loons think that finding other ways to communicate would convince the general public. The majority of the public a dozen years ago used to accept global warming before all this recent agonizing over proper communications. They have fallen away in droves. The clear problem to even a laymen anthropologist is: A) the behaviour and dirty tricks that came to light with climategate and more recent revelations of dishonesty and fiddling. B) the changing of goal posts and the spouting of nonsense about cold and snow is due to global warming C) the failure of all the forecasts of doom that were already to be upon us and D) the weather itself – 16 years of no statistically significant warming; no acceleration in sea level rise, a bitter cold Canada, Europe and Asia at present, etc.

  15. Interesting to compare the tragectories of the words “nature” verses “environment.” Nature has fallen out of fashion and “environment” is replacing it. Not a good sign.

  16. They, the faithful, act so miffed that everyone is not riding bicycles instead of driving cars, roughing it instead of heating their homes, living in the dark instead of using electricity, they are so baffled that the people have not taken up their pet cause and sacrificed in order to save the climate! Yet they are not willing to give up luxuries, let us see them go without, let us see their example first.

  17. ‘denier’ is nowhere near as far as they can go, though.
    when they say ‘climate molester’, run for the hills.

  18. Chris@NJ, look at the first Table at the EIR essay on oil production and reserves here. Between 1971 and 2007, global demand for oil increased by 1.7x, while proven reserves increased by 2.5x. Chart 3 shows the gigantic volume of recoverable oil from shale, just in the US. It seems clear we’ll never run out of oil. Not in 10 years, not in 100 years (when we’ll almost certainly be generating most of our power using some sort of fission or fusion).

  19. “Public acceptance of climate change’s reality may have been influenced by the rate at which words moved from scientific journals into the mainstream….”

    Nah, the reality of climate change has been in dispute only because of things like mainstream Climate Scientists’ own propaganda – trying to change the meaning of “climate change” to mean that “the climate doesn’t change unless the cause is human-produced CO2″ – and the 100% failure rate of their predictions about their newly minted “climate change”.

  20. What about the words,raw data, honesty, integrity, documentation, replication,observation,measurement, false precision,extraordinary claims,evidence and scientific method?
    And the most important words?? Defund useless anthropologists.

  21. “Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech.

    Well that won’t happen unless we have a whole whack of journalists who actually understand the science (else they wouldn’t be able to explain it). Of course if they did understand it, they’d be forced either to lie to maintain the culturgen or else explain that the culturgen is a lie….

  22. IMHO that they continue to use the “denier” term is repulsive, and show their despicable character. My Real Science comment:
    Members of the Chicken Little Brigade, like Schmidt and Mann et al, are little more than professional bullshitters, paid by govt dole.
    My liberal warmist brother, a biochemist, has said that there is nothing wrong with the political objectives of the scare mongers. So, my brother explicitly agrees with ex-Senator Tim Wirth who said: “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing.” Moreover, when I suggested that, with there being two scientific camps on AGW, and with the issue unresolved, it would up to the people to decide the issue, he scoffed, implying that the people are too stupid, and saying that it would be best if society was “run by the top 5%, or even 1%” [of scientific or other technocrats]. Amazing. We can assume he would be counting on that 1% totally agreeing with him. The main thing about my warmist brother is that he discounts the contrary evidence. I think he fully subscribes to the idea that the de-industrialization goal of the warmists is good, and that the “science” could just as well be a propaganda veneer, and he is prepared to be a foot soldier in furthering that propaganda. They key point that my brother has not been able to dispute is that there is no causal correlation between CO2 & temperatures, as pointed out in this must see and share 3 minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_WyvfcJyg&info=GGWarmingSwindle_CO2Lag
    Recently my brother was attempting to mock me for not believing in global warming. Now I had to stand up for myself in just a few words because it was a quick passing conversation. So, and I had previously showed him the video I link to above (he had no rebuttal), so anyway I say “I don’t know how you continue to push global warming when there is no evidence of a causal correlation between CO2 & temperature. ” My brother just kind of nods his head, he can’t rebut my point. So I think if we have to be extremely to the point, let every other point in the AGW debate go, and concentrate solely on the key point that there is no causal correlation between CO2 & temperature. And, the point about CO2 is contrary to the earlier (and now retracted) IPCC claims. The theory was built fully on this posited causal correlation. But that correlation, as in my linked video, is shown to be non-causal.
    NON-causal. Do you know what that means?
    Temperature drives CO2, CO2 does not drive temperature. Another point, if temperature drives CO2 (not disputed now by the doomsayers) and CO2 drives temperatures, it would be a self-reinforcing loop and we would have long ago entered a runaway greenhouse scenario where the oceans would have boiled away. That hasn’t happened.

  23. Pamela Gray says:
    January 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I wonder what the data would show for “nuts”?

    For ‘nuts’ there are two peaks: around WW1 and WW2.

    ‘Pamela Gray’ hit a notable peak in the early TwentyOughties.

  24. If you do not read a daily newspaper published in London, you should. Even better, read British blogs such as bishophill.squarespace.com which is owned by Andrew Montford. Especially read the comments. Their language contains the salt and vinegar that Americans lost sometime over the last fifty years. Read James Delingpole at Telegraph.co.uk.

    Why do I bring this up? Well, without the salt and vinegar of days gone by, American english gives us scarce resources for responding in kind to “denier.” Why did American lose their salt and vinegar? Political correctness. Respect is required, you know. Very un-American actually.

  25. The study misses the main point – language changes much more by changed meaning of existing words than by introduction of new words or by existing words being used more with their existing meaning. Some obvious examples are “gay”, “cool” and “like”. “Climate” used to represent the general mix of weather features (temperature, wind, humidity, precipitation etc) over long periods (eg. a lifetime plus) in a region, and were often identified by a representative region. So climates were arctic, siberian, arid, temperate, mediterranean, sub-tropical, tropical, etc. Now “climate” is most often used to mean global temperature. “Climate change” used to mean changes in climate, now it means man-made global warming. Looking at how often words like “biodiversity” or “holocene” are used is just playing around the edges.

  26. Better communication by scientists would quickly put an end to this AGW nonsense. If the general public really understood the science, they would not allow another penny to be spent on another useless climate change model. The head of the IPCC would have to do his best Emily Litella…”Never-mind.”

  27. Pamela Gray says: January 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm
    I wonder what the data would show for “nuts”?

    I’ll take what We the People say to those demanding our surrender for $1000, Alex!
    Also an acceptable answer to the main question, “What is a Quisling” for our so called leaders.

  28. Climate Ace;
    Naturally, the BAU boosters who value our current way of doing things, and the current distribution of resources,
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It remains beyond the grasp of some that BAU is all about changing the current distribution of resources, not maintaining it.

  29. davidmhoffer says:
    January 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Climate Ace;
    Naturally, the BAU boosters who value our current way of doing things, and the current distribution of resources,
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It remains beyond the grasp of some that BAU is all about changing the current distribution of resources, not maintaining it.

    I was trying to be even-handed and polite and now you have gone and ruined it all.

    The distribution of wealth in the US in recent years, for example, has resulted in an ever greater disparity between the top one percent and the bottom twenty per cent. So, I am agreeing with your point completely. While we are talking about predictions, I believe that that particular wealth gap will grow.

    That huge and growing wealth disparity is BAU. It is neither necessarily wrong nor evil in and of itself. It is just descriptive of what has happened before, during and after the GFC.

    In particular, the US middle class appears to be under some sort of threat. Being a boring old middle classer myself, and being acutely conscious of the role of the middle class in helping stabilize political systems through history, it does worry me a tad that the US middle class is apparently in some strife.

    Were I a middle classer in the US I would be very, very angry at what has been going on there for the last 15 years or so. Fortunately, I am in Australia where our middle class has been bolstered by a huge influx of tradies and mining industry workers.

    As they say around here, the tradies get the ladies.

  30. @Pat Frank
    Proved Reserves means reserves reasonably certain of recorvery with the technology and prices of the time in question. The world will never run out of oil, but that does not mean that supply will always be sufficient to meet demand at desirable prices. The issue is capacity for production. Without confusing the issue with natural gas liquids, which are not transportation fuel, world crude production has been stuck near 74 million barrels per day for 7 years, despite a tripling of prices. Don’t expect sympathy if you do something stupid like buy a real gas guzzler to enjoy all that new tight formations crude oil coming into the U.S. market.

  31. From the report;

    “Better science communication could lead to a more informed American public.”

    Well, I’m quite well “informed” and I can smell “BS” from quite a distance away.

    You can still make a very good living as an engineer here in the USA with a finely tuned “BS” detector. They are worth at least 6 figures in most markets.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  32. bones;
    world crude production has been stuck near 74 million barrels per day for 7 years, despite a tripling of prices. Don’t expect sympathy if you do something stupid like buy a real gas guzzler
    >>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yeah…sounds awful. Until you think through the price in more relevant terms. At $100 per barrel, crude oil is about 15 cents a cup. So 7 years ago maybe it was 5 cents a cup. The fact is that three times almost nothing is just a smidge more than almost nothing. Most of the cost of fuel is refining and taxes, the feedstock is so cheap that the cost of a cup of crude oil wouldn’t cover the tip on a cup of coffee.

  33. In other words, calling us oldthinkers who unbellyfeel climscare “deniers” by the minitrue has failed to make us think we are committing a doubleplusungood thoughtcrime. The proles antithink it too, so the minitrue need to develop more plusgood newspeak the duckspeakers at the prolefeed can use.

  34. Perhaps these anthropologists should add a linguist to their team. He or she could tell them that the meaning of text resides in and between sentences. If you hear or read text in a foreign language (which is English to me) it takes time to extract meaning although you know most words. Yesterday I’ve read the climate paragraph of Obama’s speech, translated in Dutch. It took me one second to realize that his sentences conveyed pathetic nonsense from the beginning to the end. This has to do with the second layer of language, determining whether or not you will buy a used car from your spokesman.

  35. Climate Cabal. Cabalists conspire to concoct climate crises. They want to poison the language? Bring it on.

  36. We are creatures of metaphor. Language is metaphor. We grasp at words that encapsulate big ideas that simplify our existence, but if they taste like…after you say them chances are they will not enjoy long tenure in the lexicon. “Meme” is a beautiful word. “Culturegen”? Well, the scientistists on this list are among the most literate on the planet…

    Denier? It is used in the sense of “infidel”, or those who would sabotage salvation for economic gain. Whether they can make that leverage stick remains to be seen. The longer atmospheric temperature fails to rise, the more ocean enthalpy appears to have peaked, the more righteous denial will become.

  37. Mike Jonas says:
    January 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    The study misses the main point – language changes much more by changed meaning of existing words than by introduction of new words or by existing words being used more with their existing meaning.

    A great example is the change of the meaning of “sea level” to mean “ocean volume” by the U. of Colo. a year or two ago, so that a declining rate of sea level rise due to sinking ocean basins could be restored to its previous trajectory.

    An equally bad one is the misuse of “extreme event” by NOAA and/or the NCDC, as described in this recent thread: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/21/2012-ranks-54th-in-extreme-weather-events/

    One definition of “extreme” is “far from average.” But the connotation of the word—i.e., its suggestive overtone—is “far from average in a bad way.” Strictly speaking, a mild winter and a mild summer may be called extreme, in that they are unusual. But in ordinary discourse, those terms would not be used—rather “mild” or “cozy” or comfortable.” NOAA or the NCDC, by counting mild seasons as “extreme” has given the public an exaggerated impression of how extreme 2012 was. Even if this wasn’t its intent when it set up its guidelines for computing extremeness, the unintended misleading consequence should now be apparent, and a separate table should be set up solely for “negative” extreme events. That should be the one the media is alerted to in official press releases.

    Hmm, now that I check my (Cassell’s) dictionary, I find that the denotations are in line with the connotation I described above, making the NOAA/NCDC behavior more reprehensible. Here they are:

    1. of the highest degree, most intense. 2. Beyond what is reasonable, immoderate. [That would rule out the characterization of “moderate” summer and winter temps as being “extreme”.] 3. Outermost, farthest. [Ditto.]

    But the next definition allows NOAA/NCDC to play a deceptive word game—it’s technically defensible, but it’s deceptive to employ it: 4. At the utmost limit, at either end.

  38. Pat Frank says:
    January 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm
    “. . . when we’ll almost certainly be . . .

    . . . doing something with something we never thought about before. I won’t even try to guess. The Stone Age did not end for a lack of stone. The Bronze Age did not, etc. I was raised in a town with a factory specializing in the making of glass milk bottles. We haven’t run out of sand. I’m just supplying a little more ammunition for when you next respond to a troll.

  39. bones, oil is a manipulated market. OPEC pumps at a rate that most benefits their income. Russia, Norway, and Mexico play along.

    The graphic here shows that oil production has been increasing steadily, apart from OPEC’s managed slowdown in the 1980′s, and is not “stuck” anywhere.

    When fracked oil enters the market, OPEC will lose its quasi monopoly and the pumping rate could become subject to open competition (one hopes).

    Inexpensive natural gas will free up some oil, but what we’re really waiting for is an economical method to convert natural gas into methanol. Lots of folks are working on it. A break-through there combined with abundant low-cost natural gas could mean a very cheap energy future, as methanol replaces gasoline.

  40. I started reading the full article, but didn’t get very far. When I saw that the first reference in the intro was to Naomi Oreske’s invention of the 97 percent figure, I figured I knew where this was all headed. So this 3-percenter decided to have a beer and go to bed.
    Maybe I’ll read it in the morning.

  41. Hmmm. Nice tool. Will have to play a bit more with that.

    Interesting correlation between “bullshit” and “global warming”.

    Now, did the global warming cause the bullshit? Or did the bullshit cause the global warming.

    Hmmm. Another tough ‘un.

    Chicken:egg. Egg:chicken. Hmmm.

  42. RoHa says:
    January 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm
    “Climate crazies?”

    Crazy is the New Normal.

    Chris @NJ_Snow_Fan says:
    January 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm
    “One more thing if everyone changed over to an electric car the us highway system would collapse because they would not get any tax money from fuel sales to pay for repairs and maintain the highways and roads. They will tax people on electric cars by miles driven in the future in America.”

    That would have the added advantage of knowing exactly where which comrade is at any given time.

  43. Some of the public may have difficulty understanding some scientific words and climatic terms, but they still have a good grasp of the meaning of such words as “fraud, deception, manipulation, payola, corruption, stupidity, hiding, criminality, irrelevance and wild speculation”. These are all terms that they will come across frequently as they investigate the theory of Global Warming, Climate Change, Climate disprution, and Extreme Weather. The same words will be useful for future developments of the Theory too.

  44. Alarmists want to simplify an otherwise highly complex concoction of relationships beginning with the Sun, the orbits of the planets, all the way down to cosmic rays, water vapour, ocean currents and geochemistry and turn it into something the uneducated public can understand and follow like the Kardashians – Carbon.

    They did the same with CFC’s. Turn any number of bad guys and natural forces into one single meme, even if untrue. CO2 is even too scientific and therefore difficult for most to comprehend, hence “carbon”.

    Ask anyone 20 years ago what the word “carbon” means and you’d be met with a myriad of responses. The first thing that springs to anyone’s mind these days when “carbon” is mentioned, is a myriad number of things that all point to mankind being destructive. Hence, “climate change” and “carbon” are now interlinked to form one inescapable meaning.

  45. It all started with Agenda 21 doublespeak “Sustainable Development”, “Smart Growth”, etc. First you dumb down the population through public school indoctrination and teach them to be prolific in the usage of ad hominem attacks against anyone who challenges their imbecilic mind set.

    Agenda 21 For Dummies

  46. Hi Climate Ace

    You assert that “they” (meaning ‘we’ i.e. climate skeptics or the majority of WUWT readers) …

    … do a lot of projecting. It never ceases to amaze me what other posters will ‘guess’ about me, my lifestyle, my source of income, or my positions about lots of things. Equally, it never ceases to amaze me how often posters are completely and utterly wrong at ‘predicting’ who and what I am and what I hold to be true.

    Yet in the paragraph immediately before that you do a lot of “completely and utterly wrong … predicting” and probably quite a bit of “projecting”.

    Naturally, the BAU boosters who value our current way of doing things, and the current distribution of resources, feel somewhat compelled to doubt and diss AGW climate science, AGW climate data and those people who support it. It is, after all, profoundly threatening to BAU booster wealth, to their way of interpreting the world, to their political power, often to their religious views and most of all, to their sense of self.

    You do not even suggest that you are “guessing” about us. You prefix your assumptions with “Naturally”, so in your ‘construct’ our views are part of our ‘nature’. Consequently, like dumb animals, we are “compelled to doubt and diss”. We are, according to you, not motivated by anything so noble as ‘saving the planet’. It is fear that drives us: fear of ‘profound threats’ to our “wealth”; our “power”; our “religious views” and our “way of interpreting the world”.

    I am neither wealthy or powerful, and I am an atheist. But (in a move that many regulars here may think is dumb) I do feel compelled to respond.

    The essential aspect (I’ll avoid the word ‘nature’ for the avoidance of ambiguity) of a good scientist, or someone with a scientific outlook, is to question and doubt. The essence of people with “religious views” is certainty. Although, the more formal term is “faith”. Faith, to the “faithful” is a good thing. They can’t get enough of it.

    The faithful put their faith in the “truth” of their religion. To them, this “truth” is unquestionable. It is undeniable. Anyone who does do so is a “denier” (the old term “blasphemer” has gone out of fashion).

    To influence people’s perceptions about the future the high priests must control their beliefs about the past. A man ‘walked on water’/’split the moon’ because the Bible/Koran says so. The Medieval Warm Period didn’t happen because the shaft of the hockey stick says so. Thermogeddon is nigh because the blade of the hockey stick says so.

    Every religion has its articles of faith. For Global Warming they are:
    there is a greenhouse effect;
    CO2 is a greenhouse gas;
    atmospheric CO2 levels are rising;
    man is mostly responsible;
    the globe has warmed;
    the warming is unprecedented;
    man is mostly responsible;
    the warming will continue;
    there are no significant benefits;
    it will be catastrophic;
    curbing CO2 emissions is more effective than any other counter-measure.
    They are a house of cards. Take any one of these pillars away and the alarmists’ agenda collapses. However, some pillars are more solid than others (some are based on sound empirical observation and reproducible experiment, others not so much).

    To protect their temple, the alarmists do what the priesthoods of other religions often do -misrepresent the beliefs of the unbelievers. It does not matter to them that I accept the first five of those pillars and that I have varying degrees of doubt about the remainder. To them everything is conflated in the term “denier”.

    They have used the weakness of their house (reliance on multiple pillars) to their advantage. An accurate description of my belief would be that I am skeptical about catastrophic man-made global warming. It cannot be reduced to a single word or slick acronym. CAGW-skeptic doesn’t roll off the tongue. And I doubt that most CAGW believers even know what it stands for.

    Particular religious beliefs are not in our ‘nature’. They are inculcated. Language is part of that process.

  47. How confused can they get? Which word(s) in “The world is doomed and it’s man’s fault!” do they think people misunderstand? Certainly people do not fail to understand the “Give us all your money; shut off your use of stable electrical grid power, junk your vehicles and combustion engines and be prepared to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer”. Don’t forget you’ve got to walk everywhere too.

    A) What is published far and wide by the befuddled main media are bad translations from a paper abstract coupled with extremist desire to frame ‘it for the cause’!

    B) People are not allowed to see the actual published peer collusion research articles without paying a fee. Expensive if one wants to review the related and quoted research papers at the same time.

    C) Even with buying the danged research article, data is withheld along with relevant meta-data from the poor misguided and certainly misinformed misled populations at large.

    Though it does sound like a fun computer experiment searching for changes over time for the ‘meanings’ given to “climate change”. Which properly should be termed “climate alarmism, the new global quack religion; coolaid available on request”. WUWT should place high in the search lists as WUWT readers are quick to notice the sleazy word changes used by alarmists.

  48. 1 The general public do not understand simple scientific terms.
    2 People who don’t understand simple scientific terms are stupid.
    3 The general public are stupid.
    So we’ll make things simpler for them ?
    From Aristotle to Newton to Einstein et al the public have not only understood the scientific discoveries but have embraced them.
    The paper above is palpably meaningless and of course the one word most of us stupid people understand is propaganda?

  49. I think it’s a bit rich for someone doing an examination of the words used to help scientists to better “communicate” when they themselves mean “convince”. And in any event Lord Rutherford spelled this out clearly in the literature in the early 20th century when he said:

    “If you can’t explain your theory to a barmaid, it probably isn’t very good physics.”

  50. bones says:
    January 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm
    @Pat Frank
    Proved Reserves means reserves reasonably certain of recovery with the technology and prices of the time in question. The world will never run out of oil, but that does not mean that supply will always be sufficient to meet demand at desirable prices. The issue is capacity for production. Without confusing the issue with natural gas liquids, which are not transportation fuel, world crude production has been stuck near 74 million barrels per day for 7 years, despite a tripling of prices. Don’t expect sympathy if you do something stupid like buy a real gas guzzler to enjoy all that new tight formations crude oil coming into the U.S. market.

    Gasoline can be synthesized from coal + natural gas. Diesel can be synthesized from coal + ammonia.

  51. The problems the same they think using better BS will help them sell ‘the cause ‘
    They still not worked out its the selling of BS in the first place which is the problem .

    Has for
    “Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,”

    Well the irony is here is often the exact opposite is the problem , people are more than smart enough to understand what is being claimed and they can see the hypocrisy of those saying it , the lies they use to support and and the reality that the facts don’t even support the claims in the first place .

  52. Richard Keen says:
    January 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I started reading the full article, but didn’t get very far. When I saw that the first reference in the intro was to Naomi Oreske’s invention of the 97 percent figure, I figured I knew where this was all headed. So this 3-percenter decided to have a beer and go to bed. Maybe I’ll read it in the morning.

    “3-percenter”! The perfect term for us guys. It’s fewer words to type than “contrarian.” (Although, in Word, I’ve set up Autocorrect to change “crn” to “contrarian.”)

  53. Let’s see.
    “Global Warming”
    Ah, that stopped in 1998, so we can’t use that Bogeyman!
    “Climate Change”
    Yep, climate changes, ah, climate’s always changed hasn’t it. Hmm, what else can we use?
    “Climate Disruption”
    Errr, what does that mean exactly?
    “Extreme Weather”
    Ooooh, that’s a goody! Hot, cold, drought, flooding, snow, windy lovely, that’ll do!

  54. Heed the words of F Luntz….?!

    “Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.

    “Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

    The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favour of “climate change”, Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as “conservationist” instead of “environmentalist”, because “most people” think environmentalists are “extremists” who indulge in “some pretty bizarre behaviour… that turns off many voters”.

  55. From the published paper: (my bold)

    “A substantial fraction of these 1-grams are not words, and we therefore removed all 1-grams consisting of commonly used symbols or numbers, as well as any 1-gram that contained the same consonant three or more times consecutively.”

    They try to investigate word diffusion from scientic publishing to the mainstream, yet they apply a filter that will discriminate against literature containing scientific terms?

    Also, according to Wikipedia, Google books includes magazines such as New York Magazine and Ebony-not exactly technical publications.

  56. ‘Funding: This research was partially supported by the Leverhulme Trust “Tipping Points” program.’

  57. What we have here is failure to communicate. Funny how tough it can be to cram an ideology down people’s throats. They just don’t get it. It isn’t the words themselves. They can dumb it down as much as they like, and it won’t matter. You don’t have to be a science whiz to know when you are being sold a load of horsepoo being labeled as “science”.

  58. The never ending marketing efforts to find a way to “communicate” AGW hysteria is a great way to know it is a marketing effort looking for suckers.

  59. Perhaps the term “democrat voter” should be abandoned in favor of the more descriptive term “sheeple”

  60. Why was this study even done? Are they now using scientific studies are marketing research to sell more climate change snake oil to the masses?

  61. There is more.
    Reference 36:

    “Kolbert E (2008) The island in the wind: A Danish community’s victory over carbon emissions. New Yorker (July 7): 68–77.”

  62. I guess what confuses me the most, is the intelligent people in places of power don’t think for themselves. Things like wind power and solar that we know are just not economically feesable at this time, are still being pushed. Our esteemed governor (MOM) here in Maryland is pushing for off shore wind power that will have to be subsidized to the tune of $1.50 a month per customer. Now you say $1.50 isn’t much, until you realize that there are over 2 million residental units in Maryland which would account for over $3.5 Million dollars a month. This doesn’t even take into account the businesses. I don’t know I guess I just look at things in to a practical matter using common sense.

    Also as a side note, back in December when it was unseasonable warm, it was “climate” now that it’s 20 degrees at 9:24 AM, it’s weather! How convienent!

  63. I am a stoopit member of the general public. I guess these anthropologists are studying my(the general public’s) lexicon. They’re trying to help me. They are so smart.
    I know what a tautology is. I also know prevarication and propaganda.
    Them are big words.

  64. In lieu of, “Word Diffusion and Climate Science,” I’d go with, “Modeling the Success of Propaganda at Sustaining our Progress Toward the Utopia of a Governance Structure Controlled by the More Knowledgeable “

  65. “From the EPA’s Klimate Kids guide for elementary school teachers glossary”

    I had to double-check that the official government site really said such, as, even after all I’m used to seeing by now, that was an amazingly blatant attempt at emotional manipulation against the dominant fertilizer of plant life on earth. Well, checking http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/glossary.html , while they didn’t have a puppies reference, they do present its natural sources as if just from decay of dead animals and plants (a small fraction of the total but misleadingly emphasized to emotionally associate with death) rather than mentioning greater natural sources including respiration while living. The full quote:

    Carbon dioxide: A colorless, odorless greenhouse gas. It is produced naturally when dead animals or plants decay, and it is used by plants during photosynthesis. People are adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, mostly by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. This extra carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate change.

    The EPA is the kind of institution that activists flock to join, but how they can poorly even pretend to be other than biased propagandists is illustrative of how far it is from what it should be, an unbiased scientific body. Close to unbiased regulation might only occur if the people in charge of making the environmental regulations were pulled not from those regularly seeking that power but from elsewhere. What could really be best on average would be to have engineers at the top (and not the ones who would ordinarily want the position or those who were focused on environmentalism in prior resume background but rather individuals pulled in by offers of high pay almost alone instead of ideology), then consulting scientists underneath them. Engineers are more reliably mathematical literate than ecologists and most others, including better able to understand quantitative cost versus benefit analysis, on average likely to be more neutral (or relatively pro-technology as is well justified) than to have anti-producer, anti-industry, and/or anti-human biases. Engineering also encourages being true scientists and appliers of honest science, by a need to ensure analysis matches reality and actually works; climatologists don’t have to have what they make (model predictions) actually work in contrast. It is too bad that won’t happen.

  66. You can dress up a duck as a peacock and it’s still a duck. Qwack, qwack. Or is that a dead parrot? :-)

  67. “extreme weather” is unfortunately a better catch-all. At any given time on the planet there is something going on that someone can claim subjectively is “extreme”. Too little rain, too much rain, too cold, too hot, too windy, too calm. Take Philadelphia temps last night for example,. After several weeks of very moderate temperatures we went down into single digit Farenheit last night. I’d say that’s a very extreme swing in temperatures. Who cares if it’s in the wrong direction of global warming, it’s EXTREME!!!!!

  68. SSDD…… they can’t dress up the crap science in any manner they wish, it’s still going to be crap…… and then there’s this….

    “Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech. That can be a slow process. Several words related to climate change diffused into the popular vocabulary over a 30-50 year timeline.”

    It irks me to no end when I see this. For one, us poor dumb laymen have been reading through and understanding their idiocy for years. And, for two, our journalists have to know something about science before they can explain anything, they don’t. The journalists’ idiocy and sophistry renders them incapable of doing anything other than parroting hyperbole.

  69. Let’s get a study funded so we can learn to better communicate the fact that computer models don’t output data and consensus isn’t part of the scientific method to social scientists, journalists and politicians.

    A second study along the same lines could instead target climate scientists and climatologists. In addition to the above, this study would add how to communicate “what is the scientific method?”

    Anybody have a template for creating a grant proposal?

  70. On the line of never wrestle with a pig, there is a certain level of stupidity that can not be safely coexisted with.
    The merely dumb, one can explain the error of their ways to.
    The truly stupid must be driven away before they cause you extreme harm.
    Every one reading here, can think of their own experience with the dangerously stupid.

    The in-house stupidity of academia and government is a natural consequence of allowing the dangerously stupid to gather together and retain the delusion that they be wise.

    But our stupidity, in allowing these loons to hold the reins of power, will not go unpunished.
    The beatings will continue until moral improves.
    I can’t fix stupid, but I will not give him the keys to my truck. No matter what authority he claims.

  71. In defense of the “D” word, the more they cry “denialist”, the harder the sky will fall on their heads when global warming is shown wrong by the upcoming cooler trend. The lesson of faux science must be seen by all — don’t let them hide it like they did with margarine (as Chiefio so aptly recounted).

  72. Henry Clark says: at 6:51 am:
    “What could really be best on average would be to have engineers at the top…….then consulting scientists underneath them.”

    As the son of an engineer, I had the same inclination. When things fall down, you blame the engineer. Alas, a look at the top of the EPA and we find: Lisa P. Jackson, with an (earned) MSc in Chemical Engineering, inspired by Rachel Carson, who advises paying school fees with the savings from Chinese $40 light bulbs:

    “Buying school supplies every year can get expensive. A good way to save money is to conserve energy use around the house. Energy Star products – from lightbulbs and laptops to televisions and air conditioners – are more energy efficient, which means you’ll pay less in utility bills every month. In 2011, the use of Energy Star products helped Americans save $23 billion on their utility bills, and prevented more than 210 million metric tons of green house gas emissions”

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