Friday, May 31, 2013

#151 / A List Of Five

When I am writing, or speaking, and I do lists, I greatly prefer a list of five. A list of three is OK, of course, but often comes across as a little skimpy. The "old standard" lists of ten and twelve are tried and true, but are usually a bit too long; at least that's my feeling. 

A list of two isn't actually a "list," the way I see it, and there is something about a list of four, or six, or eight, or nine (or most certainly eleven), that just doesn't do it for me. 

So, when I am citing examples and evidence, and when I am preparing my "bullets" for a presentation, in either written or oral form, I prefer a list of five. That's just my rhetorical preference, and I think that a list of five is the just right length to motivate an audience. Such a list is long enough to show you're serious, and short enough to be understood and absorbed.

The San Francisco Chronicle for Friday, May 24, 2013, had an article titled (in the print edition), "Scientists push urgent action to save planet." Here is the list of five from that article, a list of the problems we must confront, a list of the challenges to which we must immediately respond: 

1. Climate Disruption
2. Extinction
3. Ecosystems
4. Pollution 
5. Population Growth

There  is a common denominator to the items in this list. In every case, we need to change our actions within the world we create, to respect the limits of the World of Nature, upon which all our human activities and creations depend. 

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