Word diffusion and climate science.

R. Alexander Bentley, Philip Garnett, Michael J. O'Brien, William A. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As public and political debates often demonstrate, a substantial disjoint can exist between the findings of science and the impact it has on the public. Using climate-change science as a case example, we reconsider the role of scientists in the information-dissemination process, our hypothesis being that important keywords used in climate science follow “boom and bust” fashion cycles in public usage. Representing this public usage through extraordinary new data on word frequencies in books published up to the year 2008, we show that a classic two-parameter social-diffusion model closely fits the comings and goings of many keywords over generational or longer time scales. We suggest that the fashions of word usage contributes an empirical, possibly regular, correlate to the impact of climate science on society.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47966
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2012

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