[PREV - FREUDS_GARDNER] [TOP]
May 14, 2002
And the drumroll.
First, let me
question: See: GARDNER
*Every* case Gardner cites (in "Fads & Fallacies")
as crazy pseudo-science, I'm
completely convinced that he's
called it right, with *one*
exception: want to guess which
one? No, it isn't chiropractors.
(It would be nice to provide
a listing of every crazy fad
mentioned in Fads, to make
this a multiple choice
test... but that would be a
The one exception I have in mind:
And in fact, Gardner admits that
there may be something of
scientific value to General (At least he admits
Semantics: he knows it's not as this in my Dover
clear a case as the rest of his edition... it has
collection. the look of a patch
that he inserted
later after getting
While I have yet to read Korzybski's
"Science and Sanity" myself, I am
familiar with the S.I. Hayakawa text
"Language in Thought and
Action"... and while I don't agree
with all of the material, it clearly
doesn't deserve to be trashed along
with the flat-earthers.
It's probably wrong,
but it isn't insane.
I think there's something
funny going on with
academic credit here:
Hayakawa (and I presume
Korzybski) was pushing
what linguists like to Specifically: the medium
call "the Sapir-Whorf of thought is language and
hypothesis" thus there is no such
thing as a non-verbal,
My problem here is that non-linguistic thought.
Korzybski published his
stuff quite early: 1933. Or "Language is thought",
I would be very surprised as Mario Pei put it in
if Sapir or Whorf have a "The Story of Language"
publication that beats
that. So why isn't this There are lots of
notion called "the problems with this
Korzybski doctrine", notion.
rather than "the
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis"? Okay, so there's this
stream of words running
Though actually, it through my head right
seems that it's more now, but what chooses
common to call it "the what the next word is
strong form of the going to be? There's
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis"; some sort of pre-verbal
which strikes me as a mental process in action,
neat method of claiming what's the point of
credit but denying calling it something
responsibility. besides 'thought'?
(I gather they This principle is the idea
realized this behind a lot of the
idea had "politically correct"
problems arguments about the need to
pretty early come up with names without
on, and negative connotations.
started Notably the connotations
backing away tend to chase after the
from it.) words after they've been
Anyway, this is hardly the becomes "special",
scientific crime of the so "special"
century-- lifting the name of becomes an insult
a widely discredited idea--
but it does call things like STUBBORN_WORDS
this into question:
p. 286, Dover edition of "Fads":
Modern works of scientific philosophy
and psychiatry contain almost no Look for "Babel-17" in
references to the Count's theories. DELANY
The simple reason is that Korzybski
made no contributions of significance
to any of the fields about which he Does loglan/lojban count?
wrote with such seeming erudition.
Really? Well, maybe he didn't.
But is it his fault?
Here I'm thinking of
Korzybski as the outsider
and Whorf as the insider.
Bardini, in his book on
Englebart, seems to regard
Whorf as an outsider of
Guy Deutscher in the NYT August 26, 2010:
"Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science
magazine published a short article that set in
motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads
of the 20th century. At first glance, there
seemed little about the article to augur its
subsequent celebrity. Neither the title,
'Science and Linguistics,' nor the magazine,
M.I.T.'s Technology Review, was most people's
idea of glamour. And the author, a chemical
engineer who worked for an insurance company
and moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at
Yale University, was an unlikely candidate for
international superstardom. And yet Benjamin
Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about
language's power over the mind ... "
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