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It seems to me that the only times I hear the term Methodical in journalism/press are to describe negative people such as killers or psychopaths. I don't believe methodical inherently has a negative connotation but it seems society over time through its use in the media has given it one.

Does Methodical in fact have a negative connotation? Is it viewed negatively in literature or is this only in news outlets?

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I think this is Not Constructive. Does banker, for example, have "negative connotations"? Where is this question going? –  FumbleFingers Jan 3 '13 at 18:25
    
I wasn't sure but there are quite a number of questions on here asking "Does X have a negative connotation". If you want to discuss in Meta if this type of question should be allowed that's fine but right now it seems to be allowed: english.stackexchange.com/search?q=negative+connotation –  Ryan Jan 3 '13 at 18:31
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It may well be "allowed" by some people's lights - but seriously, what kind of "useful/correct" answer could you possibly hope to get? –  FumbleFingers Jan 3 '13 at 18:44
    
I suppose it would be good to have a methodical neurosurgeon, mechanic, or network troubleshooter. And there are certainly negative connotations to being pursued by a methodical hit-man, serial killer, or criminal. The word refers to the systematic nature of the individual. Journalists read the essays of other journalists and may reinforce a word, but I do not think this indicates a trend. –  rajah9 Jan 3 '13 at 19:15
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closed as not constructive by FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, tchrist, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kris Jan 4 '13 at 6:34

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2 Answers

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It's not explicitly negative. It's just that most things that are done methodically are not really newsworthy. When an accountant has a methodical way of tracking his incoming receipts or the night watchman walks methodically through his building route, it's neither unusual nor negative.

When murder is methodical it's unusual and using the term helps sensationalize it a bit. It's trying to portray that the killer isn't just acting out of emotion or going crazy, but rather acting in a way that seems preplanned and/or unaffected.

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The possible negative connotations of methodical are expressed, more strongly, by plodding. So one might contrast (negatively) a methodical painter (poet, film director) with an inspired, creative one. But one might also contrast (positively) a methodical mechanic (software engineer, etc.) with one who is careless or slapdash.

In the case of the serial killers, I take methodical as a journalistic extrapolation of their mental state, not as a negative reference. We would certainly not admire a serial killer who was less methodical, shooting at random, not administering coups de grace.

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