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pitfall anecdotes

Mike Jones's picture

Here are two famous-but-false language anecdotes that we Esperantists might easily succumb to, because they are supportive of our position about the perniciousness and pervasiveness of the language barrier which, as Lee Miller has recently pointed out, is still our default publicity posture (as opposed to the person-to-person outreach posture that he suggests). These two anecdotes are well-known, because they are widely cited as international marketing mistakes, and any language-related mistakes in the international realm are immediately scarfed for Esperanto propaganda purposes, right? Almost certainly you have heard them. One is the “bite the wax tadpole” anecdote, and the other is the “no va” anecdote. They are both debunked at Snopes.com. Here is the link to the debunking of the “bite the wax tadpole” one, which itself contains a link to the “no va” one. Since both anecdotes are false, I’m not going to repeat (and thereby reinforce) them here.

http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/tadpole.asp

The importance of not using false examples to support a correct position consists of the effect that they have on morons. Scholars splitting some hair (or atom) among themselves need not be concerned about this, but as soon as you go public with something, you have to take morons into account, not simply because of their numbers (they are legion), but also because of the devastating impact that a single moron can have (examples leap to mind, but will not be cited here). So, the problem with the falseness of anything attached to a given object is that when morons finally find out the falseness, they are very likely to dismiss the given object as false also. This phenomenon is well-known, and when implemented against a rival’s position is called “the kiss of death”. (That is, I can marginalize you if I can persuade/trick some reviled individual or group to publicly endorse you.)

http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/tadpole.asp

I suggest that we overload the expression “bite the wax tadpole” with the meaning “to uncritically accept a proffered anecdote because it is confirmatory of your position”. Here I am using the expression “overload” in the computer programming sense, that is, “to give additional meaning to, the appropriate meaning being resolved by context”. I further suggest that we also immediately implement what in lexicography is called the “back formation” of the expression “wax tadpole”, with the meaning of “a false anecdote, whose falseness is not obvious, that is supportive of your position”.

In regard to the kiss of death, it is highly relevant to remember that in formal logic a false statement implies anything. This is called “material implication”, and is usually the first real difficulty students have when studying formal logic (within a course of Philosophy, in college, for example). A common example given is something along the lines of “If 2 plus 2 is 5, then the moon is made of green cheese.” Students have difficulty in accepting that this is a true statement, because they are confuse implication with entailment. In ordinary language implication and entailment are taken as synonymous, but there comes a point (i.e., in symbolic logic) where it is useful (and customary) to consider a binary relationship between two propositions such that the binary relationship is false if, and only if, the first is true and the second is false. This binary relationship is called “implication”. fyi.

Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
27.Jan.2011

by Mike Jones

Comments

Eric M. Francis

Mike Jones's picture

By the way, some discussion, in English, of the two-body problem, on the part of an Esperantist – Eric M. Francis – is available on the web. Here is the link:

www.alcyone.com/max

Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
17.Feb.2011

February 16, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 9 weeks ago

Besides pitfall ANECDOTES,

Mike Jones's picture

Besides pitfall ANECDOTES, there are also pitfall ACRONYMS to watch out for, such as Police Information-Gathering System: PIGS.
Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
29.Jan.2011

January 29, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Hm....

russ's picture

Actually it's not utterly moronic to view a cause with skepticism if one notices that its proponents have a propensity to misrepresent the facts. Yes, the cause may be valid in any case, but given that people don't have infinite time and energy and patience to explore things fully, it is a reasonable practical filtering mechanism to dismiss causes which have clearly bogus arguments supporting them. All else being equal, if I have 2 causes competing for my attention, and one of them is making false claims, it's not a priori unreasonable to give more attention to the other.

Tial ĝenegas min kiam tro entuziasmaj fervoraj e-istoj asertas, ke milionoj da homo parolas Esperanton, aŭ ke oni povas ellerni la lingvon flue en 3 monatoj, aŭ ke oni bezonas lerni nur 16 gramatikajn regulojn, ke Tolstojo kaj Einstein flue parolis Esperanton, ktp ktp ktp. Devas esti ia leĝo, ke homoj ne legintaj la libron "Esperanto sen mitoj" ne rajtas varbi aŭ propagandi. :)

January 27, 2011 by russ, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Unless you’re up to speed in

Mike Jones's picture

Unless you’re up to speed in both Esperanto and Calculus, it’s utterly moronic to be looking at any other demands on your spare time.
Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
29.Jan.2011

January 29, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Bona ekzemplo...

russ's picture

Bona ekzemplo de tia absurda ekstreme insista aserto, kia forpuŝas homojn. "Nia afero estas unu el la 2 plej gravaj lernindaj aferoj, kiuj ekzistas. Lerni ion ajn alian antaŭ ol lerni tiujn du estus tute idiote!" :)

January 29, 2011 by russ, 3 years 11 weeks ago

This quote may give some

Mike Jones's picture

This quote may give some perspective:
“In the latter half of the seventeenth century, Isaac Newton solved the two-body problem and explained the motion of objects in the sky, solving a mystery that had haunted mankind from the beginning. How important was this? In the history of the intellectual development of the human race the first big step was when we came down out of the trees. The second was Newton's solution to the two-body problem. We're still waiting for the third.”
Read the rest here:

http://www.berkeleyscience.com/pm.htm

Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
30.Jan.2011

January 29, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 11 weeks ago

That's simply extreme

russ's picture

That's simply extreme marketing puffery! For all kinds of inventions, discoveries, techniques, etc, one can find people willing to assert or argue that it is the most important thing in the history of mankind. :)

I'd argue that language itself is at least as important as Newton's model of planetary motion, for example. It sure wouldn't have done Newton much good to develop his mathematics if he couldn't communicate it to anyone else. :)

January 29, 2011 by russ, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Hmmm.

Mike Jones's picture

And how high would you rank the invention of marriage?
Regards,
Mike Jones (married, with 2 children)
Beijing
30.Jan.2011

January 30, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Marriage

russ's picture

Certainly marriage seems another solution to the "Two-Body Problem" which is more important in many people's real lives than Newton's solution. :)

January 30, 2011 by russ, 3 years 11 weeks ago

Nice dodge. And, just for the

Mike Jones's picture

Nice dodge.

And, just for the sake of completeness, let me point out another situation also known (half-jokingly) as “the two-body problem”, namely when a married couple are both academics, and so are looking for a school where they can both teach:)

Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
31.Jan.2011

February 18, 2011 by Mike Jones, 3 years 8 weeks ago

NASK * 2014 jun 29 - jul 8 * Summer Courses

EO Esperanto: La bonega kursaro NASK - Nord-Amerika Somera Kursaro okazos de la 29-a de Junio ĝis la 8-a de Julio ĉe Viktorio, BC, Kanado, ĉe la Universitato de Viktorio.

EN English: The excellent North American Esperanto Summer Courses (NASK), will be happening from June 29 to July 8, at The University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

UEA Seminario Por Aktivula Maturigo * 2014 jul 9 - 10 * Strategy

EO Esperanto: Ĉu plaĉas al vi varbi? La UEA-seminario pri Aktivula Maturigo (AMO) – N-ro 2, okazos je 2014 julio 9-10 ĉe Sidneo, Brita Kolumbio, Kanado.

EN English: Want to get the word out? The Seminar about Strategy and Practice for Informing North America Aktivula Maturigo (AMO) - number 2, will be happening 2014 July 9-10 en Sidney, British Columbia, Canada.

Komuna Kongreso * 2014 Jul 11 - 14 * Communal Congress

EO Esperanto: La Landa Kongreso okazos ĉe Sidneo, BC, Kanado, 2014 julio 11-14, kune kun la Tut-Kanada konferenco de la Kanada Esperanto-Asocio (KEA).

EN English: The Annual US Esperanto Congress will be in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada, 11 - 14 July, 2014, along with the Canadian Annual Congress of the Canadian Esperanto Association (KEA).

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