Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate science: Trends in use of words in scientific studies may impact public perceptions

Date:
November 7, 2012
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The impact of climate science research on society is likely to depend on regular fashion cycles in the public's use of specific keywords relating to climate change, according to new research.

Professor Alexander Bentley and colleagues found that words commonly used by scientists when discussing climate science -- such as 'biodiversity', 'global', and 'isotopes' -- follow fashion cycles in public usage as the usage of such words by scientists diffuses into use by non-scientists. According to the authors, this effect may contribute to the impact of climate research on societal perceptions.

The researchers used Google's 'Ngram' database, which at present scans through over five million books published in seven languages since the 1500s, to represent public discourse (not scientific discourse) concerning climate science. Since the database was only unveiled a couple years ago, this research is among the very first studies of its kind.

They found that, while there is a continual output of climate science, there are pronounced fashion waves in public usage of the main keywords associated with this science. These waves vary in length, but the median duration is about a human generation (2-3 decades).

These fashion waves can be modelled in a very straightforward manner, so they ought to be predictable in some sense. Thus, a simple model of word-usage trends could be used to inform efforts for better communication, the researchers argue. Recognizing which words are spread by diffusion, along with the ideas they represent, could help campaigns improve social learning, rather than simply expecting an audience to adopt a message because it is scientifically sound.

Professor Bentley said: "Since the impact of climate science is so inherently linked to public acceptance -- or denial -- of the evidence for climate change, we suggest that our study provides a crucial first step toward gauging public response over the long term.

"Ideally, the methods we present -- applied to new sources of 'big data' like Google Ngrams -- can be used to prepare for changes in public opinion over the generations on matters of global importance."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Alexander Bentley, Philip Garnett, Michael J. O'Brien, William A. Brock. Word Diffusion and Climate Science. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e47966 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047966

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Climate science: Trends in use of words in scientific studies may impact public perceptions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107200152.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2012, November 7). Climate science: Trends in use of words in scientific studies may impact public perceptions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107200152.htm
University of Bristol. "Climate science: Trends in use of words in scientific studies may impact public perceptions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107200152.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Hurricane Gonzalo pounded Bermuda with wind and heavy surf on Friday, bearing down on the tiny British territory as a powerful Category 3 storm that could raise coastal seas as much as 10 feet. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Powerful hurricane could hit Bermuda this weekend, and even if it misses it will likely do some damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) One of the largest volcanic eruptions in centuries is occurring on Iceland. The volcano Bardarbunga is producing high levels of sulfur dioxide. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins