Context, pedantry and appropriate response.by BrowserUk (Pope)
|on Jan 02, 2016 at 10:51 UTC||Need Help??|
Nit-picking pedantry is the bane of productive discourse.
A not uncommon question in life is: "How much do you weigh"? To which we generally respond with something like: "nn pounds" or "nn kilos".
Of course, if we last weighed ourselves naked having just stepped out of the shower, and we are currently wearing a full set of skiing gear; or if a holiday weekend or half a year has intervened, then our responses may be slightly or even wildly inaccurate. Which may or may not be okay depending on who is asking and why; but we generally know how much thought we should give to the accuracy and qualification of our responses from the context of the question.
Of course, we don't really "weigh" what we weigh. We have a mass of a certain number of Newtons that only becomes a weight in the presence of a particular value of gravity.
Ie. we 'weigh' differently on the surface of the Earth than we would on the Moon or in the ISS. And we would 'weigh' differently again if we were bridge of the Enterprise at Warp factor 10 and the inertial stabilizers failed.
But no one ever responds to the target question with "nn Newtons"; or qualifies their "nn pounds/kilos" with "whilst naked, at a distance of nn miles/meters from the center of the Earth, whilst traveling at sub-relativistic speeds, and after a week or more of nominally average calorific intake and expenditure".
And thank Dog they don't! Without we tailor and truncate our answers to the contexts in which the questions are asked, life would become quagmired in a treacle of inferable verbiage. And intolerable.
With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.