• io9 Lists “10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing”

    The story is here. It’s about  ten words with precise meanings for scientists that have been borrowed into the popular culture and misused by the public. This is the list sans commentary:

    1. Proof
    2. Theory
    3. Quantum Uncertainty and Quantum Weirdness
    4. Learned vs. Innate
    5. Natural
    6. Gene
    7. Statistically Significant
    8. Survival of the Fittest
    9. Geologic Timescales
    10. Organic

    I try to be good about most of these myself. I never use the word “proof;” I say “evidence” instead. And I never say “theory” when I know what I mean is “hypothesis.”

    Hypothesis is a cooler word anyway, and you sound smarter when you say it. I often tap my chin just before I say it, which heightens the effect even more. To wit:

    “I hypothesize, Clem,” Vandy said, tapping her chin thoughtfully, “that you’ll need at least ten times as much helium if you hope to get airborne in that deckchair.”

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    Article by: Vandy Beth Glenn

    I'm a writer, editor, runner, and bon vivant in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
    • You’re messing with my stereotypes about people named Clem.

      Nice list!

      • Vandy Beth Glenn

        It’s unfortunate that io9 uses a still from Orphan Black in that story, since it’s my impression that Orphan Black is very, very good with its science.

        • Good list, though in general, io9 science coverage is quite poor.

    • Ammy Dilorentys

      Some of these words are definitely simply words that scientists use differently, that no one is “misusing.” If it’s in the dictionary, it’s fair use. People define words and the way they are used. Scientists, lawyers, etc, multiple groups that have different, specific uses for the same words. I don’t think that means we need to conform to scientific terms or lawyers’ terms. Hopefully scientists understand that.** I don’t mean to be a killjoy. No tomatoes, please!