Lately I’ve been thinking about metaphors (nothing new about that in itself) and how the words chosen when talking/writing about science, ethics, and environmental issues might influence the reaction in people and their willingness to reflect and act. It’s a big field, from biblical wordings (and their translations) about dominion, usage, and stewardship of the earth to modern capitalistic conceptualisations of human beings as a resource. Words matter. Some are dark matter. To achieve the desired effects, careful wording is essential. Then again, words are easily employed to manipulate opinions and emotions. Where is the line between gently steering people via purposeful education into the direction with the most promising outlook for our species as a whole and the planet we keep changing, and blatantly misusing this tool to enforce a scientific world view on the brink of turning into an ideology to counter the ideologies deemed more harmful, to manipulate people into sacrificing the freedom of forming opinion and ruminating and coming to good conclusions based on knowledge, not fear and force? How can we use words to make people wonder again and delight in discoveries? How to break new ideas to our kind so often afraid of change and the vasteness of the cosmos? How to make people feel involved?
(Also, I hardly make any progress reading my books at the moment because my mind strays to all these side tracks of thought. Tonight’s rambling is presented to you by the introduction of “Earth in Human Hands” by David Grinspoon. You should see the crazy stuff Carl Sagan does to my brain … he did metaphors so well. Normally I’m a quick reader, by the way.)