Steven Pinker, Cognitive scientist
One of the original Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus was that God’s name must not be taken in vain. The creation of hundreds of swear words can be traced back because of that commandment, according to an article tweeted by Harvard scientist Steven Pinker. The commandment was widely interpreted to forbid using religion-based profanity that invoked God (“My God”, “Good God”, etc) or Jesus (“Christ almighty!”). However, language experts feel that in order to work themselves around this rule, people started using a common linguistic phenomenon known as “taboo deformation” on it. Which meant that they came up with various deformed, but similar versions of these expressions. So instead of using Jesus’s name in vain, people came up with words like “Jeez”, “Sheesh”, “Gee”. Similarly, instead of “God”, new words like “Gosh” or “Golly” came up. Victorian-era novels even came up with the word “Egad” in order to show exclamation without using the word “God”. Even “Hell” was transformed into “Heck”.
Michael E Mann, Meteorologist
Are our schools doing a good job of teaching climate-related issues in the classroom? According to a recent survey, the results of which were tweeted by meteorologist Michael E Mann, middle and high schools across the US spend only one to two hours a year on the topic. In that hour or two, many schools, the survey showed, did not teach climate science, but the “controversy” concerning the existence of climate change. Mann, in an article for New Scientist magazine, further pointed out that 30 per cent of teachers didn’t believe that climate change is caused by human actions. The survey, he said, raised concerns about teachers self-censoring such an important issue, fearing push-back from parents and others in their community who are active and vocal climate change deniers. “Our children will bear the brunt of the climate crisis… We owe it to them to give them the facts,” Mann wrote.
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