Look beyond rhetoric

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Communication is the sending of a message with the intent of the target to receive and understand the message. However, no matter how the message is communicated, there can always be confusion or misinterpretation of the intended meaning.

That is especially a concern with environmental problems; the message can be misconstrued when it travels from the source to the receiver.

For example, there are politicians, when discussing certain environmental problems, who use the terms “sound science,” or, more recently, “valid science.”

What do these terms mean? Or, more importantly, what is the user of those terms trying to communicate?

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Science, in its basic form, is designed to be “valid.” Properly designed studies are valid. Of course science has limitations, conditions and uncertainties, but remains “sound” and “valid.”

Terms such as “valid science” and “sound science” are used only by political representatives who do not like the findings of a study. They choose to discredit the study by choosing to frame the research with those two phrases when, in reality, framing has nothing to do with the science.

What I suggest is to look beyond political rhetoric involving environmental problems and sift through the accompanying language used by politicians in discussing science. Instead, I suggest people first understand who the originator of the message is and their purpose in sending it.

Only then will people be able to investigate the statements politicians make and determine what the real message is and its impact on the public.

Jocelyn Lahey, Auburn

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