37 ways choice of words can mislead scientists (UPDATED)

In a previous post, I said that Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations is one of the works that most influenced me, because of the attention Wittgenstein pays to the ways in which the very words we use can mislead us. I think this is a particularly important issue in ecology, because the things ecologists study are complex and variable, so that the appropriate descriptions are non-obvious.

The fine Less Wrong blog has made this point far better than I ever could have, by listing 37 ways in which our choice of words can mislead us. Every ecologist should read the whole thing (don’t worry, it’s not nearly as long as it sounds). A terrific example of practical philosophy, and the sort of thing I wish ecologists read more of.

UPDATE: I called Less Wrong “fine” having read only a couple of posts that were pretty good. I’ve since changed my mind as I’ve become more familiar with the site, much of which I find…odd.

5 thoughts on “37 ways choice of words can mislead scientists (UPDATED)

  1. Pingback: Zombie ideas in ecology: r and K selection « Oikos Blog

  2. Pingback: Must-read: on ordinary language vs. scientific understanding « Oikos Blog

  3. Pingback: We’ll never get rid of “salesmanship” in science (and wouldn’t want to) | Dynamic Ecology

  4. Pingback: Zombie ideas in ecology: the local-regional richness relationship | Dynamic Ecology

  5. Pingback: Why ecologists might want to read more philosophy of science | Dynamic Ecology

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