Table 2

Rhetorical taboos: highly divergent terms by frequency score (FS)

Plaintiffs’ attorneys will rarely say:Defence attorneys will rarely say:
had the ability to quit24120.01their product55270.99
(nothing the defendants) said or did22040.02nicotine is not addictive*24051.00
plaintiff has to prove17530.02they lied32620.99
(if you, the jury) get this far (in the verdict form)17610.01addictive drug22080.99
smoking decisions13720.01profits12041.00
her burden13210.01their customers31990.99
warnings from10810.01replacement smokers01731.00
chose to continue10310.01own documents01641.00
knew that smoking was dangerous9510.01would rely21370.99
decision to quit8910.01more likely right than wrong01241.00
  • P values <0.0001 for all FS.

  • This table contains expressions appearing at least 50 times more often in plaintiffs’ than in defence closings or vice versa, sorted by term frequencies. If scores for very similar expressions appeared in close proximity we selected the more expressive ones (eg, ‘had the ability to quit’ instead of ‘had the ability to’). Names of attorneys are excluded (‘Mr Bigger’, for example).

  • A score of 0.99 means that 99% of all instances of a given term will be in plaintiffs’ documents, with corpora normalised to have the same number of words.

  • * Plaintiffs’ attorneys often bring up the testimony of the seven cigarette CEOs in the 1994 Waxman hearings, where all seven maintained that ‘nicotine is not addictive’.