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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Your Door is a Jar

There's a survey posted over at Math Teacher Mambo (incidentally as I'm writing this my lovely girlfriend is attempting her rendition of the Math Teacher Mambo) about the difference between a jar and a bottle. For such a simple question, it's garnered a lot of high-minded debate. While the topic is fairly innocuous, it has struck a chord with me. I have been wondering a lot lately about the words I hear bandied about, both in traditional media and on the blogosphere. Words like liberal, conservative, constructivist, reform, tracking, accountability, to name only a few. They are used frequently at the sites I visit, yet I often wonder if the author means what I think is meant by those common words. If we can't agree on the difference between a bottle and a jar, how can we be sure any of us really understand anyone else?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"... how can we be sure any of us really understand anyone else?"

only by doing mathematics,
as far as i can see.

this is actually a serious comment
to some extent ... in particular,
i've often been annoyed (when presenting
symbolic logic) with textbook examples
of "statements".

as you've just observed,
"this is a bottle", e.g., isn't
necessarily true or false
in the same way that, say,
"10^3 + 9^3 = 12^3 + 1^3" is.

vlorbik

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