Undisciplined: The Devil's Jargon

Apr 10, 2020

Credit Kevin Spencer, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

This week on Undisciplined, we’re talking about jargon — specialized words or expressions that are used by people in a particular profession and which are difficult for other to understand. The sciences are particularly replete with these words, and that’s not a small problem. Our guest this week is a communications professor who says that insider language tells people that they don’t belong.  

Communications researcher Hillary Shulman says that insider language tells people that they don’t belong. And at a time in which we need good science more than ever before, that’s not a good thing.

Her recent research, published in Public Understanding of Science, suggests that jargon is a significant barrier to effective science communication. Another recent study looks at jargon in politics — it had similar conclusions and we’ll talk about that, too.