The Power of the Right Word

While most scientists struggle to find words that mean exactly what they want to say (and that’s not easy), we still have politicians struggling to find words that do not say what they mean.

I guess political people think they gain some kind of power by being deceptive? Or maybe it’s the difference between short-term power and “maybe we should think what we want written on our tombstone” kind of power.

When I’m trying to explain a scientific topic, I do not use metaphores. The minute you use a metaphor to explain anything, you are not talking science any more, because science is about facts. Yes, that is limiting, but the reality is that science is limited — limited to facts. Yes I know all the freshman biology textbooks thrive on metaphor, cutsey cartoons of objects unrelated to the topic under discussion, and ANYTHING to make us think it’s all a game. I know this because I remember when freshman science texts were about science; I have one yet on my bookshelf. I know it is possible to write about science, and be understood the better for it, without using metaphores — but of course not if the book is edited by people trained in the liberal arts, where metaphor is a valid tool of expression. Valid for their purposes.

I think it’s time we used our tools to aximum advantage.

Science is about facts — not about emotions or metaphores.
Facts and opinions are two different things.

When we get that sorted out in our minds, we will have the mental tools to solve most of our problems, without inventing words that don’t mean what we are saying to convince people that we aren’t doing what we are doing.


“When you look into a flower you see . . . everything.” Thich Nhat Hanh

090402bluebonnet_dsc0137ssI see pistils and stamens, reproduction and commensalism and the reality of energy flowing through the ecosystem.

I think he sees compassion and the beauty of ongoing life.