Corruption of Language
#1
A common thing you can observe in all things irrational is the abuse of language. For quacks and religious apologists, language abuse looks a hammer and any logic defying argument looks like a nail. They happily hammer away absurd arguments by twisting meanings of well understood words like energy, evolution and quantum.

That is intentional corruption of language. But there is also unintentional corruption of language. There is a common feeling that using precise language is not important; getting across your point is. I feel that I am a victim of such an attitude. As a result, sometimes I find myself writing sentences which can be interpreted in multiple. That is because I only think of the point I'm trying to make and not of the sentence structure.

I think it is important that us free thinkers to stress the use of correct language. What do you guys think?
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#2
I hear ya... there's been many a times on debates in forums where religioids hijack my comments, twist it to fit the context of their liking. As with words like energy, evolution and quantum, I think its nothing more than a marketing strategy. As science leads through the 21st century with innovation after innovation, the mainstream religious folks realise that they have to tag along or they'll be left behind. The easiest way of doing it is to cover their story with scientific terms to attract a wider audience, with a silly smirk on the face that says "see!...we knew about it all along!". Also adding "The science of..." in front or "..ology" at the end, or both, helps.
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#3
@ Lije: Absolutely!

It's something Javed Akhtar said in a speech of his, paraphrasing Plato...

"Plato in his dialogues has said many a wise thing, and one of them is – before starting any discussion decide on the meanings of words. Let us try to decide on the meaning of this word spirituality."
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#4
(26-May-2010, 03:21 PM)bala Wrote: IAs with words like energy, evolution and quantum, I think its nothing more than a marketing strategy. As science leads through the 21st century with innovation after innovation, the mainstream religious folks realise that they have to tag along or they'll be left behind. The easiest way of doing it is to cover their story with scientific terms to attract a wider audience, with a silly smirk on the face that says "see!...we knew about it all along!". Also adding "The science of..." in front or "..ology" at the end, or both, helps.

Very True Bala,

Just watch any episode of Tele shopping network where in they sell 'Yanthras' which is said to bring prosperity. Notice the manner in which they explain the functioning of the Yanthra. A negetive enegrgy comes out of the source and is deflected by the Yanthra. LOL, the sad part of it is, these yanthras are being sold off like hot cakes.
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#5
(25-May-2010, 11:58 PM)Lije Wrote: A common thing you can observe in all things irrational is the abuse of language...................

I think it is important that us free thinkers to stress the use of correct language. What do you guys think?

In fact, this problem is more insidious that even we freethinkers realize. The evolution of our language processing abilities occurred in conditions that necessitated quick and practical solutions to complex problems. Superstitious/supernaturalist thinking was an unavoidable step in the evolution of the modern mind. The knowledge that was required to overcome superstitious thinking was not available when the tools for language were being developed by natural selection. So, nature took the only course available to it- magical thinking.

Semantics is very important in philosophy. It is something that great minds have discussed for centuries. One of my favorite philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein, has a really pithy quote that sums up the problem:

Quote:'If a lion could talk, we could not understand him'.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#6
(30-May-2010, 06:45 PM)Azad Wrote:
(26-May-2010, 03:21 PM)bala Wrote: IAs with words like energy, evolution and quantum, I think its nothing more than a marketing strategy. As science leads through the 21st century with innovation after innovation, the mainstream religious folks realise that they have to tag along or they'll be left behind. The easiest way of doing it is to cover their story with scientific terms to attract a wider audience, with a silly smirk on the face that says "see!...we knew about it all along!". Also adding "The science of..." in front or "..ology" at the end, or both, helps.

Very True Bala,

Just watch any episode of Tele shopping network where in they sell 'Yanthras' which is said to bring prosperity. Notice the manner in which they explain the functioning of the Yanthra. A negetive enegrgy comes out of the source and is deflected by the Yanthra. LOL, the sad part of it is, these yanthras are being sold off like hot cakes.

I TOTALLY WATCH THOSE THINGS! Mostly for the lulz. They are so much fun to watch. And I love how these tele-shop ad's have actors who come in to pretend to be the doctor, or the scientist or some figure that people actually trust in real life. It's amazing how religion has made people so gullible.
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#7
Reminds me of that video where Leonard Mlodinow comments to Deepak Chopra that he understands what each of the terms Deepak uses means but has no idea what they all mean together. This one :


and if you have the time, do watch the entire debate sometime and see how Sam Harris and Michael Shermer pwn Deepak and that lady
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

http://dsriharsha.blogspot.com
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#8
"I know what each one of those words means.." ROTFL
Sriharsha, I'm a peaceful guy, but this video makes me want to punch Chopra in the face if I see him. He oozes so much arrogance in his ignorance that it's hard not to want to deck him.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#9
We are all aliens.
Infinite beings pretending to be.

Tell me, doesn't scientology talk of the same thing?
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#10
(05-Jun-2010, 01:09 PM)dsriharsha Wrote: Reminds me of that video where Leonard Mlodinow comments to Deepak Chopra that he understands what each of the terms Deepak uses means but has no idea what they all mean together. This one :


and if you have the time, do watch the entire debate sometime and see how Sam Harris and Michael Shermer pwn Deepak and that lady

I really tried to understand what he was talking about. He sounds like he is stoned out of his mind or tripping on acid or something. Nothing wrong with that, but to make a shit ton of money by feeding people that kind of crap boggles my mind.
I tried to read "The Secret" once when I was feeling kind of shitty about my life, and I just couldn't get through it because of how stupid it sounded.
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#11
(25-May-2010, 11:58 PM)Lije Wrote: A common thing you can observe in all things irrational is the abuse of language. For quacks and religious apologists, language abuse looks a hammer and any logic defying argument looks like a nail. They happily hammer away absurd arguments by twisting meanings of well understood words like energy, evolution and quantum.

That is intentional corruption of language. But there is also unintentional corruption of language. There is a common feeling that using precise language is not important; getting across your point is. I feel that I am a victim of such an attitude. As a result, sometimes I find myself writing sentences which can be interpreted in multiple. That is because I only think of the point I'm trying to make and not of the sentence structure.

I think it is important that us free thinkers to stress the use of correct language. What do you guys think?

Some insidious instances of the corruption of language can be found in how mental abilities and mental health conditions are described in everyday conversation. Anyone who can handle pivot-tables in a jiffy is a 'genius', any stickler insisting on standard-operating-procedures has 'OCD' and anything remotely upsetting makes one 'go into depression'. Casually bandying about such terminology, which deserve the computer-programming discipline of 'reserved keywords', ends up trivializing real contemporary risks and diminishing the sensitivity that is called for in such cases. The following BBC Horizon Documentaries, one of the most constructive uses of 'Reality TV', can serve to disabuse one of such received and residual misconceptions.
BBC Horizon Battle of the Brains
BBC Horizon 'How Mad Are You?' Part 1 Part 2

The corruption of language has almost been elevated to a science in corporate circles where hardsell using buzzwords has become a survival necessity. Here is a satirical take on the same, that is not too off the mark in describing reality.




The truism about sunshine being the best disinfectant is perhaps what needs to be borne in mind while seeking remedies for the corruption of language. George Orwell, in his classic essay 'Politics and the English Language', suggests rules for writers so that obfuscation can be dealt with it at its very source before such usages gain popular currency. Eliezer Yudkowsky provides commonsense rules like 'Replace the Symbol with the Substance' in the series 'A Human's Guide to Words', which help guard against the corruption of language, and, consequently thought processes. One of the most evocative examples of the 'Replace the symbol with the substance' rule is provided by Feynman in this snippet about the 'brown-throated thrush'.

Edit (20/06/2014): Replaced broken links.
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