What We Call Things and Why It Matters

Listen 48:19

How we talk about an issue has ramifications that go far beyond the words. Names, descriptions, and terms lay the foundation for how we think about an issue, how we deal with a problem — or whether we see something as a problem at all. Why do we call addiction a “brain disease,” and how does that impact treatment and policy? Is stuttering a “disorder,” or merely a different way of speaking? Plus, the debate over who gets called “Dr.” and the respect that comes with that title.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Historian Sverker Sörlin explains the origins of “the environment” as a concept, and why it spawned a global movement to protect nature.
  • Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX has called the word nano “100 percent synonymous with bs.” But what does the term actually mean?
  • Scientists kvetch about the scientific terms that the public uses incorrectly.

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