Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus - NYTimes.com

Should we stop talking about "carbon dioxide" and start talking about "moving away from dirty fuels?" That's the premise of this linked article. Author John Broder says more of us would jump on the green bandwagon if we reframed the discussion into a language that spoke to us more convincingly. I think there's a lot of truth to his premise. Read it here: Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus - NYTimes.com

Having agreed with Broder, the idea of using carefully chosen words to manipulate the unsuspecting public brings to mind at one extreme Nixon-era euphamisms, or movies like "Wag the Dog." On the other hand, why is that any different than choosing your words carefully for a persuasive speech? Political types have long been "framing" discussions as a way of marketing ideas. My favorite book on this topic is George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant." This is an interesting ethical quandry, and a very good read. Lakoff's intriguing premise is laid out in the first chapter, which you can read for free at the publisher's website: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/dont_think_of_an_elephant:paperback/chapter_1

I do believe people hear a discussion more clearly when it is presented in terms of something they already care about. It's that or educate them to the importance of something they don't know they should care about. But on that score... getting our attention these days, amidst the many sources of media noise and input is, well, a difficult task.

Come to think of it, that you're even here, reading my modest blog, is a real compliment to my little noise! Thank you!

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