CSBC researchers show rise and fall of rationality in language (PNAS)

This new paper is the result of a long-standing collaboration between CSBC director Johan Bollen and Marten Scheffer, Ingrid van de Leemput, and Els Weinans of Wageningen University: “The rise and fall of rationality in language”

Summary:

“The post-truth era has taken many by surprise. Here, we use massive language analysis to demonstrate that the rise of fact-free argumentation may perhaps be understood as part of a deeper change. After the year 1850, the use of sentiment-laden words in Google Books declined systematically, while the use of words associated with fact-based argumentation rose steadily. This pattern reversed in the 1980s, and this change accelerated around 2007, when across languages, the frequency of fact-related words dropped while emotion-laden language surged, a trend paralleled by a shift from collectivistic to individualistic language.”