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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?


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.


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