Language is the vehicle we use to communicate within our communities. Unfortunately it provides also the tool for emotional and social segregation. Simple communication is made difficult by the habit professional people make of inventing terms, arguably to cover a basic absence of general education about language itself. The English language is especially powerful. Long established words have specific meanings with all manner of differentiation in tone that comes of deep human experience. Read a legal statement and you wonder how its authors find their way in the real world! Do medical professionals see whole personalities or a virtual assembly of spare parts from a bio-mechanical repair shop? Do physicists really believe that everything in creation spends its time crawling from black holes? And are economists taunted by images of things falling into those black holes?
The answers to those questions don’t matter until one such specialist attempts to communicate with real people about real things in the world of the living. Unfortunately, the real people get confused and angered by an apparent aloofness imparted by the absence of basic lingual skills . An often as not those specialists who have been sequestered away like monks are similarly frustrated. And they make the same basic errors using common language as they abhor when commoners try to employ their sub-domain of techno-speak. There is tremendous need for communicators, but they add their own mix of flavors too.
A context must be kept clear. Science is but a formal part of ‘natural philosophy’ – the study of natural things as they function, not as we grant them opportunity or right to be ordered. The specialist world does not and cannot define reality. We all need to remember that the purpose of scientific descriptions, models and theories is solely to allow more detailed analysis of the implications that various concepts might have. If there is real conflict, the data should prevail and the theory be revisited. Remember always that it was the data that allowed Copernicus and Galileo to prevail against theist dictates about the sun, the earth and all of the heavens! Why should today’s pinnacles of intellectual dictum be less fallible than those of old? To find out, we need to sift the evidence as it applies to our own circumstances.
To do that, we need to be sure about the intent of the words and language we choose to employ. That is servant to the whole process on which we depend. There are some relevant examples given in the subsidiary pages here. I have taken the opportunity also to introduce a few topics where the broadest meaning of a well-known term almost defines the techno-speak involved. That is, current specialist understanding is consistent with the wisdom embedded in the development of language itself.
This page has the following sub pages.