Devil in the Details

Energy efficiency can mean lower taxes

This headline illustrates the important concepts of primacy and recency. The leading words announce energy efficiency and the final words shout out lower taxes. These two catch-phrases pack a powerful punch.

Green policies have taken center stage in both the public and private sectors. I will even go out on a limb and suggest the prospect of reducing one's tax bill has never been unstlyish.

It cannot be seriously doubted, therefore, that the author intentionally placed these four words to encourage readers to read on. For these reasons it is no accident a tiny, three-letter word, the most crucial word of the message, is buried in the middle - "can." The author intentionally chose the word "can," like the other words in the headline. The title does not say "may," nor does it say "might." Time will tell whether the most accurate word choice would have been "might not."