Well, frick

Instead of “frack,” which seems to upset people:

It was hypothesized by the Public Policy Research Lab [at LSU] that the actual word “Fracking” may have a negative connotation that is separate from the environmental concerns that often accompany discussions of the process. Due to the harsh consonant sounds in the word itself, and an undeniable similarity to a certain other four letter word starting with the letter “F”, it seemed plausible that some of the negative public sentiment about “Fracking” may result from how unpleasant the word itself sounds.

In order to test this hypothesis the Public Policy Research Lab placed two randomly assigned blocks of questions into the 2012 Louisiana Survey. Half of the respondents got one block, half got the other. One block contained questions about “Fracking” and used the word “Fracking” while the other block of near-identical questions … used a description of the “Fracking” process without actually using the words “Fracking” or “Fracturing.”

Apparently using that particular F-word reduces support for the process:

Comparison of responses to the 2012 Louisiana Survey

Still, I can see myself adapting this research to the vernacular: “What the hell kind of fracking response (or, for that matter, non-fracking response) was that?”

(Via Language Log.)


  1. McGehee »

    29 June 2012 · 2:42 pm

    I blame Glen Larson.

  2. Ric Locke »

    29 June 2012 · 2:54 pm

    “Fracking” is fracturing the rock structures using water pressure, so as to release the oil or gas. One of the good things about it is that it doesn’t use explosives, as other methods of rendering the rock more porous do.

    I therefore propose an alternative: Non-Explosive Recovery Fracturing. The acronym is much nicer, don’t you think?

  3. McGehee »

    29 June 2012 · 4:46 pm


  4. Donna B. »

    29 June 2012 · 7:41 pm

    I vote for Ric’s idea. Twice.

  5. Nicole »

    30 June 2012 · 3:24 pm

    N.E.R.F. indeed. I agree. People are apparently dense enough that that might be just enough to solve the PR problem fracking has. :)

  6. Opining Online ยป Linkables »

    30 June 2012 · 5:15 pm

    […] Just frickin’ frack it […]

  7. Lynn »

    1 July 2012 · 11:23 am

    I wonder if any of the test subjects were Battlestar Galactica fans. Could skew the results.

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