Want to Communicate More Effectively? Buy Joe Romm's book Language Intelligence

If you are a blogger, a commenter, a tweeter, a public speaker or any type of communicator, you will benefit immensely from picking up a copy of Joe Romm’s fantastic new book, “Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga.”

DeSmog readers are likely familiar with Joe’s incredible work over at Climate Progress, where he and his team – including my new friend Stephen Lacey, another fantastic writer – expertly cover the politics and science of climate change and energy issues. A big part of the secret to the success of Climate Progress is Joe’s communications expertise.

Language Intelligence has garnered incredible reviews and praise from a who’s who of top communicators, from Van Jones to Bill McKibben, Representative Ed Markey to Michael Mann and John Cook.

DeSmog contributor Chris Mooney, who interviewed Romm about the book on his Point of Inquiry podcast, says of Language Intelligence:

Everybody who cares about why science doesn’t get through to the public should read it.”

Romm covers everything about effective communication, from the critical importance of metaphors (especially extended metaphors), language simplicity, repetition, using figures of speech, creating anticipation through foreshadowing, and other persuasive rhetorical techniques. As Romm explains so well, the key to effective writing is to engage the reader’s emotions, and work to inspire and activate your audience through honest and powerful communication.

Romm also reveals that he speaks his blogs using dictation software, rather than typing. He uses MacSpeech Dictate, a piece of software that I’ve owned for years but only used extensively during a bout with carpal tunnel when typing was too painful.  I think I’ll dust it off and try it again, although I find that I type much more lucidly than I speak when developing thoughts. But I do actively ‘speak’ the words as I type them, which is the real point.

As blog writers, we need to remember that we’re having a conversation with our readers, we’re not writing academic papers or textbooks. 

As the 18th Century novelist, Laurence Stone, said: “Writing is but a different name for conversation.”

This is also demonstrated in the story often conveyed to aspiring journalists about Boston Globe writing coach Don Murray walking into the newsroom and instantly declaring that he could identify the three best writers in the room. “How did you know?” asked the Globe’s editor. “Because their lips move when they write,” Murray responded.

I am thrilled that Joe finally slogged through to the finish line after decades of ruminating over the concepts and language tips found within the pages of Language Intelligence. From now on, this book will be required reading for all of DeSmog’s writing fellows, and it should be on your desk as well.

I sure wish I had a copy of this book when I first started writing professionally about threats to our environment and democracy 15 years ago. As Van Jones says of Language Intelligence, I concur that “this book changed my life.”  

So go forth, ye aspiring (and accomplished) communicators, and buy Language Intelligence faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Don’t feel as if you have to buy it today. Unless of course you’re wondering if it might change your life too?


Joe Romm should put some of the expertise in his shiny new book to use and go out and debate the issues. He is certianly capable of it:


I would like to see him debate fellow MIT alum, Peter Huber. They're both energy experts with diametrically opposed views on energy.

Since science won't be the matter under discussion it really won't do anything but entrench the scientifically illiterate.

Interesting… Huber isn't published in a journal…  So this would be a fictional debate then?


He works for a 'Think Tank' so this means by definition that, no technical work of merit occurs there.  Specifically he's paid not to do research or scientific work.  He's paid to generate specific predefined results.  (This is called engineering…  not science.)


Funded by Oil and Gas, including Koch, and Exxon.  Big surprise.


Now… I did read some of his articles, and they were very clear and concise, but work on exactly the same principles as all such articles.  I don't think I could dis the guy.  However, he believes pollution is free.  This is his fundamental disconnect to reality.


It is a well established fact that pollution isn't free.  Everyone knows this.  Its the reason we removed sulfur from coal power plant emissions.  It was harming the environment, destroying architecture, and had horrible health side effects.

Conman, he does debate the issue. Have you ever read his blog “Climate Progress” or is it too sciency for you?

Anyone can challenge him there but be prepared for strong rebuttals from people who actually do understand the issues.

I bet that most of you deniers will not get involved in a debate where Gish Gallop is easily shown to be happening and can be readily shown to be the nonsense that it is. You prefer the spotlight where the denier side of the debate can produce lie after lie and the science side does not get nearly enough time to repudiate the nonsense. That is not a science debate but is for the uneducated masses who vote for the side that says the most in the loudest fashion with no regard to the accuracy of the comments.