Words matter: shaping the way you look at experience


Words are just words, and yet they are very, very powerful, because they shape the way you look at the world.

I contend that much of the challenge we face with health care in the United States results from a basic misapprehension that most of us never stop to think about: We keep talking about “health insurance.” Whatever it is, it isn’t insurance, at least not in any sense that most of us would recognize. Continue reading “Words matter: shaping the way you look at experience”

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Just the facts? The way you say it matters

Detail of Aaron's Tree assignment
Creative Commons License photo credit: goldberg

“Just the facts” is a phrase not only a part of American culture, but part of a values system–as if the facts can be separated from the expression of facts. Here’s the reality: there is no such thing as facts apart from the expression of those facts, and the expression of facts inevitably changes the perception. The mere selection¬†of facts, of which facts to focus on, changes perception.

For instance, Scott Shane notes a very important dichotomy in the way people talk about tax increases on businesses (as if a tax increase on business doesn’t just get passed on to the rest of us anyway–but that’s a different point). In his article¬†Less than a Tenth or More than Four Fifths? he says, “The share of small businesses and the fraction of small business income hit by tax increases are usually very different numbers.” Both are simply facts, and yet the choice of which to focus on in a talk or a paper yield very different impressions.

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