in reply to Re^4: [OT] On Validating Email Addresses
in thread On Validating Email Addresses

Sturgeon's Law
Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud.

Sound's like a variation on Ratner's Gaff

Neither version is a particularly convincing argument.

That doesn't mean that every pervasive meme is correct, however.

Let's see, if I do a quantatative study of the people who claim "the earth is flat", or that "evolution never happened", or that "the earth is no more than 15,000 years old", they would all three likely come out with a single digit percentage for and a ninety something percent against.

Which should I believe?

On the other hand, when I hear and read a phrase that is used in

Do I:

  1. Fall in line and use the phrase in that manner that is widely used, accepted and understood by the many, at the risk of being sneared at by the few?
  2. Concern myself with the hypersensitivities of those few that choose to be offended by that "new usage", and cling tooth and nail to an archaic, idiomatic, and illogical interpretation, that is only 'understood' by some small percentage of the population, that claim their interpretation is "the one true meaning"?

Snear on. No contest.

Examine what is said, not who speaks.
Silence betokens consent.
Love the truth but pardon error.
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Re^6: [OT] On Validating Email Addresses
by macrobat (Beadle) on Jan 05, 2005 at 04:57 UTC
    I'm sorry, I really don't mean to be rude, but I've got to agree with the other fellow. Yes, he came off a little snippy, but your counterattack is even more pedantic and confrontational.

    Your list of people who misuse "beg the question" starts with the British Parliament and continues through the US Congress and the US House of Representatives. These are people who, in general, fit the description "pompous gas bags," people who use words to manipulate and mislead, with little regard for proper usage. That the NYT, the TLS, and the Guardian are on there is a little distressing, but I'm sure there are factions within those groups who still hold out for the proper meaning of the phrase.

    Moreover, the rules should be a little stricter, perhaps a bit more conservative, for writing than for spoken words. Writing gives you the chance to stop and think, and to revise, so it's not unreasonable that the standards should be a little higher. It should resist casual change, if only because it lasts longer. So the "language evolves" argument (which sidesteps the realization that evolution often leads to dead ends), doesn't hold so well there.

    Besides, most people don't even say "beg the question"; more than once, when I've used it in casual conversation, I have had to explain it to someone, so it's not like a split infinitive (which was never wrong, anyhow) or a who/whom confusion. To claim popular support for the phrase is to beg the question, "what constitutes colloquial usage?"

    So in short, yes, it's bad to get uptight about the wrong usage; but it's even worse to get uptight about the right usage.

      You know, this whole argument "begs the question".


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.