Joe Romm - Language Intelligence

August 13, 2012

Host: Chris Mooney

This week's guest is Joe Romm. You may know him as a top blogger on global warming and energy—but that's not why we're having him on.

In an impressive show of versatility, Romm the scientist has written a book about how to persuade people. It's entitled Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga. In essence, it's a treatise on the neglected art of rhetoric, the technique mastered by Shakespeare and the writers of the King James Bible.

In it, Romm delves deeply into figures of speech, and how they make orators persuasive by allowing them to activate people's emotions. Indeed, as Romm writes, modern neuroscience now confirms what the poets always knew about getting to people's heads through their hearts (that's a metaphor, by the way—one of the chief techniques that Romm discusses).

If you ever want to understand why scientists—and people devoted to reason and critical thinking—fare so poorly getting their message across, you are going to want to listen to this show.

Joe Romm is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and oversees the blog ClimateProgress.org, which was named one of Time Magazine's Fifteen Favorite Websites for the Environment in 2007. He is also the author of several books, including Hell and High Water: Global Warming—The Solution and The Politics. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, and served as acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during 1997 and principal deputy assistant secretary from 1995 through 1998.

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