Although vocabulary is a useful medium for communication, it does not always communicate knowledge effectively. A single word can have so many different meanings, yet no two different words are identical. Even synonyms differ in their secondary meanings and connotations. This characteristic of vocabulary causes confusion in both communicating and receiving information, and has the power to distort and shape what we can know. Consider the framing effect in psychology, in which people alter their decisions when the presentation of identical options is manipulated in different ways such as word choice. This phenomenon has been observed in many surveys. In a study on public opinion of synthetic biology, participants showed more opposition to the field when "create" was used to describe it compared to "construct" (Pearson). Words are symbols that represent ideas in reality, yet t...
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Butterworth, B. "Numerical Thought with and without Words: Evidence from Indigenous Australian Children." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.35 (2008): 13179-3184. Web. 2 Sept. 2011.
Matson, John. "The Origin of Zero." Scientific American. 21 Aug. 2009. Web. 1 Sept. 2009.
Pearson, Brianna, Sam Snell, Kyri Bye-Nagel, Scott Tonidandel, Laurie J. Heyer, and A. Malcolm Campbell. "Word Selection Affects Perceptions of Synthetic Biology."Journal of Biological Engineering 5.1 (2011): 9. Web.
Woolman, Michael. Ways of Knowing: an Introduction to Theory of Knowledge. Melton, Vic.: IBID, 2006. Print.
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