Or at least learn to use it correctly. This article reminded me of one of my least favorite words:
It’s rarely used appropriately — it’s more of a weasel word applied to dignify positions that ought to be laughed off the page. For example, here are phrases that the press might qualify with the modifier “controversial”:
- The earth is roughly spherical.
- The earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
- Dinosaurs did not live at the same time as humans.
- The planet did not experience a Great Flood any time in human history.
- The Civil War was fought over the institution of slavery.
- The United States has been and is a fundamentally racist nation.
- Global warming is real, and anthropogenic.
- Vaccines work and save lives.
- Black people are human.
- Women are people.
Every one of those claims is actually true, and is well-supported by the evidence. The existence of people who disagree with each of them is also a fact, but that fact is not sufficient to render the ideas “controversial”. We share a world with Alex Jones and David Icke, people who state the most absurd, insane, ridiculous propositions as facts, and their intrusion into any and every argument does not suddenly make every established idea that they disagree with “controversial”. I’ve had to deal with people for years who think evolution is a “controversial” theory, and the press just parrots the C-word right back for them.
So, just a suggestion for 2017: before you label something “controversial”, ask yourself whether it is actually something about which there is serious doubt and a substantial body of realistic argument on both sides…or even whether it is at all appropriate to fit it into this cartoonish two-sides model of everything. Because I guarantee you that the evidence-less, weak, minority side is going to love it when you elevate their lunacy to the status of a “controversy”.