Activity


  • By Jessica Hamzelou

    We can’t help but be more welcoming of information that confirms our biases than facts that challenge them. Now an experiment has shown that we do this even when it means losing out f […]

    • “We can’t help but be more welcoming of information that confirms our biases than facts that challenge them. Now an experiment has shown that we do this even when it means losing out financially.”

      The United States would seem to me a prime example of this. They now have a slash-and-burn president and the people that stand to lose most are his most dedicated supporters.

    • This is what makes Popper’s contribution to science (certainty is only got through disproving negatable hypotheses) profound.

      Learning from early on the genius of this reverse strategy, that in disproving it you have achieved something profoundly positive even if it was your own treasured hypothesis, then we’ll make real progress in our understanding and mastery of whatever is knowable. You get the motivating dopamine kick, win or lose (which you think is which).

      This is why I advocate mild anarchy in civil society. Break it and it was too easily broken, and with luck it may grow back stronger. Try and break it until you can’t.

      This is why I’m an anti-idealist, anti dogma even my beloved lefty stuff.

      This is why I pick fights with people I most agree with.

      This is like the idea that you take out all the science books and all the religion and theology books and burn them both, every one. A thousand years hence the same science will be back, but not a hint of the religion.

      Maybe Fahrenheit 451 was more prophetic than we understood.

    • From article: “Palminteri hopes that we can learn to be aware of our own biases, but says that will be hard – if a person believes they are not biased, it is difficult to shift this belief.”

      Obviously serious biases are unconscious; no one who is really biased knows he is biased.

      The experiment seemed flimsy and unscientific, the conclusion hasty. Twenty people playing a game whose outcomes had no impact on their real lives? In other words, maybe the volunteers didn’t give a shit about the experiment or about which symbols they selected.

      These pseudo-studies irritate me, although I agree that most people don’t change much.

      Phil,

      Burning books is never good. Never. But you were making a point, I think.

      certainty is only got through disproving negatable hypotheses

      An example?

    • Dan #3
      Sep 5, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      certainty is only got through disproving negatable hypotheses

      An example?

      This is referring to Popper falsification.

      You could have a hypothesis that the Earth is in a circular orbit around the Sun, or a moon orbits a planet in a circular orbit.

      Certainty of course comes in degrees of probability!

      However measurements certainly prove that hypothesis is wrong (but very approximately right) due to deviating forces!

      In fact, the Earth orbits the barycenter of the Solar System (which is inside the Sun but not at its centre), and the orbit is distorted from a geometric circle by the gravity of other planets, objects, and forces.
      (There is an animated digram of Pluto on the link.)

      The hypothesis is therefore capable of falsification or confirmation.

      The over simplified hypothesis is false in detail.

      Contrary to various theist claims, “perfection” is extremely rare in material nature – existing in principally theoretical mathematics.

    • Sounds logical. Thanks.

      Give me some time. I’ll disprove his falsifiability theory using his own theory. (kidding)

    • Dan,

      This is the idea in under 2 minutes

      The point is the hypothesis of “only white swans” can never actually be confirmed. You can only continually fail to refute it, increasing your confidence in the hypothesis. BUT find one black swan and the hypothesis is refuted forever!

      There is only certainty in negation!

    • And here is the detail from the man himself….

      The form of the hypothesis defines whether it is “scientific”. “Marxism” with the later tweak of people failing to understand whats going on, turns an scientific to an unscientific hypothesis, negatable to none negatable.

      We could make it scientific if we broke the thing up into two negatable hypotheses, somehow.

    • I struggle with the concept of disproof an, in fact, do not like it one bit. Negating every swan does develop certainty… however, i prefer approaching problems holding up the black swan and proving something, rather than having to negate every possibility.

      Don;t misunderstand, i see the validity, I just don’t find the approach applicable uniformly across the gamut of problems. Case in point: there is a murder. I’d prefer assembling evidence to prove one person did it than going across the planet disproving 7 billion other’s involvement.

      i know it’s case by case and the approach varies, but disproof has always been an intellectual sticking point for me.

    • Phil,

      Some honest feedback, or an impression:

      Marxism not scientific? I think I have gained a glimpse into a possible flaw in your approach to movements and even ideas. (We all have flaws.) You have also been, perhaps, critical of other thinkers, like Freud, for the same reason: it doesn’t pass the Popper test.

      It’s all from Popper! Marxism isn’t one thing; are you kidding me? Do you know how simplistic and limiting that is? how reductionistic? Marxism – and I am no expert either – is not something that has to be read as a pre-established set of canons that you have to conform to; there have been highly fertile and creative thinkers that have made contributions to the renewal of Marxism, and this make them pertinent. Are they wrong in their entirety and necessarily? They don’t pass the Popper test? Maybe that’s what gave rise to your quip about burning books.

      I could be wrong but something about that last comment of yours got my attention.

      (I read about the swan analogy.)

    • The key, crooked is to work with negatable hypotheses. “All swans are white”, requires a single non-white swan, not even a black swan to defeat it for evermore. Irreducible complexity however cannot be formed into a negatable hypothesis as we cannot know the evolutionary trajectories that produced different contributing components in response to different evolutionary pressures at different times. It stops much nonsense in its tracks.

      Murder cases start with a number of suspects to be eliminated. The requirement isn’t to be stupid. But it may well be advantageous to exclude whole classes of people, those more than twenty minutes away, say. The hypothesis is allowed to change as incidental facts inform the case.

      I think the brain’s manufacture of hallucination in response to a depletion of sensory input is an evolutionary counter to the overly draconian fact of energy, saving, use-it-or-lose it apoptosis neural cell death. The very first experiment I would perform is to disprove my hypothesis by showing loss of sensory input does not indeed lead to loss of visual processing abilities within the time frame of any credible sensory loss, e.g. from concussions or meningitis etc.etc.. This is more powerful and revealing than any other first test. It can save a lot of wasted effort. I would then seek to disprove it by showing that the hallucinations do not necessarily cover all sensory circuits because of how they are generated and where they are injected. Etc., etc..

      This destructive intellectual approach is far more demanding of a thorough analysis, like using bank robbers to test a bank’s security systems or like we product designers using Failure Modes and Effects Analysis to develop robust products. Trying to break them rather than imagine how to make them super reliable, actively breaks thinking habits that hide our DK ignorance. My argument is that it is as much an active thinking tool as a way to ever approach scientific certainty. It is also a reminder that no door is closed. Whilst Irreducible complexity can never be a scientific hypothesis we may yet discover rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.

    • Gimme a break! I spoke loosely. Popper got annoyed by the goalpost moving over a specific Marxian hypothesis about fomenting revolution. Of course the myriad of hypotheses and analytical modes associated with Marx are not connected or called into question. Only one negatable hypothesis made non negatable by adding caveats. Nor in fact is Popperian certainty in disproof much used outside of science simply because outside the lab, life is too complex and variegated to have real rigor any ways. His was an illustration of principle and rather more a biographical account of his thinking. Myself I would never have used it.

    • Freud proved nothing but he did some great metaphysics with circumstantial evidence. Popper argues that metaphysical discussion is the time for synthesis of ideas, concepts that then get tested by the scientific method. These are different modes of thinking. Both are essential.

      Nothing is proved 100%. Things are disproved. And repeated varied failures to disprove creates scientific “facts”. Repeatedly unfailed hypotheses are promoted to the status of Theories, the scientific Gold Standard.

    • I will give you a break. Okay. Well said. I was hoping (and half-suspected) I was wrong – and was.

      As for the topic, I know people – we all know people – that are not unintelligent and yet they will not change politically. Hard to explain. Exorbitant loyalty describes it (W) but doesn’t explain it. I don’t want descriptions; I want explanations. (Is that distinction simplistic and erroneous?)

    • All science is based on probabilities. E.g. String Theory isn’t even wrong – because the central hypothesis involving 10 dimensions cannot be tested. Perhaps one day it may be possible to test maybe not. But scientists are always doing as popper suggested – trying to break their beloved hypothesis!

    • I will give you a break. (#11) Okay. Well said. I was hoping (and half-suspected) I was wrong – and was.

      As for the topic, I know people – we all know people – that are not unintelligent and yet they will not change politically. Hard to explain. Exorbitant loyalty describes it (W) but doesn’t explain it. I don’t want descriptions; I want explanations. (Is that distinction simplistic and erroneous?)

      As for Freud (#12) I must have the same mistaken impression that I had about comment 11. Damn it, he said so much! You’re leveling him! And he was pretty damned scientific, methodical and precise.

      Maybe he knew far more about the meanings associated with pathologic states and behaviors than the neuropsychologists, but people are just afraid to admit it. Regardless of that possibility, he was a fascinating thinker and a mighty discoverer of secrets. Anyone who has an interest in the experiences of the mind should read him.

      You toss the word “metaphysical” around a lot.

      (We’re butting heads again. Better than scratching each other’s feet.)

    • This is like the idea that you take out all the science books and all the religion and theology books and burn them both, every one. A thousand years hence the same science will be back, but not a hint of the religion.

      –Phil, #2

      A bias that many of us of a certain vintage share.

      The love of books that informs many of us makes it seductively easy to visualize a dystopia where all the books are suddenly gone (fire is just one method, but has the most symbolic heft). Bang–in an instant all the repositories of human knowledge are gone, and the race must start over again with only the ideas in their brains. And those ideas vanish with each individual’s biological demise.

      I think, however, we may have inadvertently tipped the balance in the last 20 years. The fingertip availability of all human experience currently available (as long as you keep your phone bill current) can certainly be wiped out by any number of cataclysms, social or natural, but the information itself in many cases will be retrievable at some later date. I’m picturing the discovery of a cache of thumb drives with the Feynman Lectures 30 years after the fall of civilization and some determined anti-Luddite bringing them back to life.

      Of course someone else will discover a complete set of AIG propaganda as well…

      Peter

    • Correction

      that are not unintelligent… Makes no sense.

      That are intelligent…

      Gotta watch those typos; I hate correcting them, but I can’t just leave them either.

    • Dan,

      Ta!

      Doing the metaphysics, conceiving the new might-bes, is often and rightly seen as the very core, the most noble part of science. I level no-one by noting Freud produced new insights, only circumstantially evidenced. Metaphysician, Einstein, proved no more. Experimental science is often seen as the less sexy

      Metaphysics is not limited in subject matter and I want you to get used to most modern philosophers’ use of the term.

      Banging heads…yay!

      I’m going to argue (repeat an argument) that conscious deliberation always follows the form outlined by Popper, but it must wait until tomorrow. Four hours of driving have taken their toll.

    • Why do i see it at times as leveling? Who knows…

      Listen, I wonder how many of us, including myself, are blinded to the fact that we may indeed by heading towards fascism in this country,

      It is so dark and utterly appalling I can barely think about it. Is the bias of optimism bias or a defense mechanism – or both? I mean Trump is really awful, and for so many reasons. And the evidence of moving to a one-party system is mounting. The corruption is so… so dark.

      https://washingtonspectator.org/perlstein-dark-money/

    • Deliberation? It follows a form outlined by Popper? I’d like to discuss that – but maybe that would be better discussed on the Open Thread or an old Free Will thread. I am assuming I understand what you mean by “deliberation”. Deliberation is analogous to what is performed on an antique weighing scale. Take a look; and imagine that those dishes are holding two opposing motives…

      https://www.fatiguedfrenchfinds.com/ekmps/shops/fabulousfff/images/This-Item-is-Now-SOLD-Antique-French-Roberval-Weighing-Scales-from-the-Grand-Bazar-de-lHotel-de-Ville-Paris-133-p.jpg

    • There is only certainty in negation!

      Precisely why an unknowable thing-in-itself may be something we can be certain of. I have said many times that the thing-in-itself is negative knowledge. Critical philosophy establishes what we cannot ever know. It is a negation of positive knowledge as it seeks to grasp the inner nature of the existence of matter or, say, motion itself.

      Any explanation of phenomena derived from observation can never explain anything entirely. But one would have to read and grasp Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic and Schopenhauer’s chief work in order to understand this.

      That everything has an empirical origin can be negated. There can be no apprehension of an object or body except in space; therefore, space is a priori. I cannot prove that space is a priori; but I can negate the idea that objects can be said to exist in some way other than as extended in space.

      (Not sure if I got Popper’s theory yet.)

    • Part 1

      There is only certainty in negation!

      Precisely why an unknowable thing-in-itself may be something we can be certain of. I have said many times that the thing-in-itself is negative knowledge. Critical philosophy establishes what we cannot ever know. It is a negation of positive knowledge as it seeks to grasp the inner nature of the existence of matter or, say, motion itself.

      Any explanation of phenomena derived from observation can never explain anything entirely. But one would have to read and grasp Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic and Schopenhauer’s chief work in order to understand this.

      That everything has an empirical origin can be negated. There can be no apprehension of an object or body except in space; therefore, space is a priori. I cannot prove that space is a priori; but I can negate the idea that objects can be said to exist in some way other than as extended in space.

      Part 2

      “All bachelors are unmarried men” is a positive statement and is irrefutable but doesn’t add to our knowledge. “All bodies are extended” is the same sort of statement, but has deep implications regarding the nature of knowledge.

      “All swans are white” is simply a lame supposition. “All water is H20”, however, is a synthetic statement, and does add to our knowledge and scientific understanding (of water). Has that passed the falsifiability test? I need some help with this. Thanks.

      (Thanks for introducing me to Popper; he is an important thinker; but I have no interest in his bias and shallow anti-Marxist critique. You should read Gramsci.)

    • M27

      String Theory isn’t even wrong

      A very nice point here. Working at scales beyond any chance of detection it is an ultimate, and possibly enduring, might-be that surely would have got Schopenhauer intellectually sprung.

      Its fascination though is that the mathematics so matches reality in its macro observables whilst appearing to offer more explanatory mechanism than say the Standard Model in integrating gravity. If it has any fruit it will be with an as yet unexpected and observable prediction. It may just be the ultimate and terminal metaphor of reality.

    • Peter #15

      The thing is Peter, even without the thumb drives all the stuff of science will be reconstructed because it is written in the fabric of reality, safely stored if rather heavily encoded.

      I have PDFs of Feynmans Lectures (on SD cards and spinny things). I also have the three huge red softback tomes that are the most important things I own. (I never stop learning from them even though volume three is thrillingly out of date where it leaves off. Volume two taught me more maths than a whole one year mathematics degree course.)

      The red backed Lectures are utterly blackened around their edges and though often wiped clean still smell of the soot from the building fire it survived. I love it as a reminder that science is safely stored until we are ready for it again.

    • Dan,

      Deliberation was deliberately chosen. Conscious experience is exactly a process of “measuring against” of the potentially then definitively salient, finally involving due cultural process in the assessment. Work demands attention but I will come back here to proceed. This is exactly the right place, because the assessment involves dismissing as incoherent or incompatible “hypotheses” offered by the subconscious triage team.

    • Very true, Alan.

      I said it just the other day and will say it again: Trump, everyone that works for and around him, and everyone he hires, is a liar and a brute, an agent of destruction, serving the interests of greed and white Christian values,(oppression, bigotry, greed, intolerance and white supremacy) and following orders like nice storm troopers. But they don’t dress like storm troopers (and our neo-Nazis, like the ones in Charlottesville, are now dressed like young urban professionals); the Trump employees look professional and know how to come across as professional.

      Trump is a racist. The evidence is there. It started with his discriminatory practices as a landlord in the 70s, his father was, I believe, a racist too. He hired sessions who is still trying to roll bak voting protections in black areas under the guise of voter fraud. Trump was the leading voice of the racist birther thing. He attacked a federal judge who was of mexican descent, etc.

      Now Ms. Sanders calls the remark “outrageous”. Maybe the lady should have made it clear that she doesn’t speak for ESPN, but what she said was not outrageous at all. That’s another lie, yet another lie.

    • Dan #24
      Sep 14, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Maybe the lady should have made it clear that she doesn’t speak for ESPN, but what she said was not outrageous at all.
      That’s another lie, yet another lie.

      Or maybe the management of ESPN should have had the guts to stand up to White House attempts a bullying, and have stood by its employee who was stating what is well known and in the public domain, – telling the opinionated lying little madam from the White House to get real, grow up, and stick her insolent demands for an apology!

    • Yes. That would have been even better.

      (I can barely look or listen to Ms Sanders. Makes me crazy. Truly odious.)

    • Guys, guys, just a gentle reminder that we should always be meticulous about gender neutrality when tossing ad hominems around. Nothing egregious there but just sayin…we don’t want our criticism to be dismissed on a technicality, do we? Ok, keep calm – carry on.

    • LaurieB #28
      Sep 15, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Guys, guys, just a gentle reminder that we should always be meticulous about gender neutrality when tossing ad hominems around.

      I’m not sure how to maintain “gender neutrality” when discussing an argument between two women!

    • Alan

      Why not?! Even women can maintain gender neutrality with each other – say, in business settings. The words “little”, “lady”, “madam” are archaic and too loaded for our use.

      Days ago, Trump’s advisor Steve Miller did the same thing. He launched into a faux horror insulted display. It’s the perfect opportunity to compare the language. Although many ad homs come to my mind when I think of him it wouldn’t occur to me to call him “little lying gentleman from the Whitehouse ” and not “Sir” either.

      Sanders is not little and this is obvious to anyone with adequate vision. So when the word little is used to describe an adult it is an attempt to diminish them.

      Lying is gender neutral of course.

      The “lady” word is seen as forcing females into a false dichotomy. We’re either a “lady” or else we must be a _____ fill in the blank with any number of insults usually having to do with the fact that she has a libido (through no fault of her own!) and doesn’t mind acting on it. If I go around referring to you as that gentleman Alan… don’t you feel like I’ve put you on a pedestal? Maybe you don’t want to be on that pedestal. Maybe you want to act toward me or some other woman in a way that is definitely not gentlemanly (but still within the boundaries of consent, 😉 ) Maybe you hit your thumb with a hammer and belt out a few four letter words. Who would blame you? But it’s definitely not gentlemanly. Won’t you think twice before you step off your high and mighty pedestal? Can you feel that I’m controlling your behavior slightly when I force you into that dichotomy? Granted, there is a big difference between insinuating that a male has an enjoyable active sex life or drops an F bomb and that a woman enjoys the same.

      “Madam” is just something out of the life and times of Shakespeare. That’s where it needs to stay. I’m aware that there could be the pond between us linguistically here but madam is so infrequently used here in the sense of a distinguished title that the only meaning some Americans will understand is that the woman who manages a whorehouse is known as the “madam”. Alan, surrender this word before you find yourself in an uncomfortable interaction.

      Second wave feminist – Happy to help ! 🙂

      Lucky for you there doesn’t appear to be any third wavers hanging about at the current time. heh.

    • LaurieB #30
      Sep 15, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Days ago, Trump’s advisor Steve Miller did the same thing. He launched into a faux horror insulted display. It’s the perfect opportunity to compare the language. Although many ad homs come to my mind when I think of him it wouldn’t occur to me to call him “little lying gentleman from the Whitehouse.

      When comparing language, it is important to compare the facts and evidence behind the language! – try swapping “small-minded” for “little” and it looks much clearer!

      A gratuitous false assertion of lying is an ad-hom!
      The calling out of a liar on the basis of evidence of his/her false statements, is valid criticism!

      Both Richard and myself commonly use the term “ignorant” in its true sense of describing “know-nothings”- posturing as experts on subjects about which they have no understanding whatever!

      Many Trump appointees belong to the class of ignoramus, who have no research capabilities, and recklessly neither know nor care, about the truth of the “alternative facts”, that they blindly repeat from dubious pseudo-authoritative sources!

    • Alan

      I absolutely agree with your sentiments entirely! However,

      My use however was in a sarcastic sense,

      Err, nope. That’s no excuse. I know very well that you are capable of sarcasm in a gender neutral way. Very capable. 100% confidence here.

      You may have recognised, that I have utter contempt for small minded, immature, dishonest, posers like her!

      Ya! Awesome!

      (Nothing to do with gender!)

      Good! So proceed forth with consistency then, right?

    • Garrick

      In my own defense I did say in #30

      I’m aware that there could be the pond between us linguistically here but…

      So I do have a sense that there are differences in our language in the different locations where it is spoken, however, just because something passes as acceptable in Australia, New Zealand and England doesn’t mean that it’s above criticism. English came from England. So what? Even English in England now would hardly be recognizable to Shakespeare himself! I’d like to see the guy navigate University life nowadays with his bawdy comments. He’d be summarily expelled. (I do hold his work in the highest esteem.)

      American English has infected the English of all other locations. It’s nothing to brag about. It’s just interesting as a ho-hum fact of culture. There are reasons for why this has happened, that’s it. When words and phrases insinuate themselves into languages they also carry ideas right along with them. Of course, every rights revolution seeks to alter the language that supports discrimination. For women, we have tried to suppress a number of words and the ideas that go with them. Ideas that are now, in the current day – unacceptable.

      I know feminists consider themselves to be the proprietors of the English language,

      Ummm, I think this is a strawman. Is it not? Feminists are concerned with aspects of language that hold us in our place. The rest of the language is of no concern to us. (As feminists).

      it is especially inappropriate for an American to tell an Englishman to give up the use of a word because the Americans have ceased to use it in the sense in which he has just used it! What is this, Laurie? Reverse imperialism? Madam, I do protest!

      Ahh, poor Garrick. I see that I’ve ruffled your very proper English (Aussi, Kiwi, whatever the F) feathers. :-‘( You would no doubt like to absorb my contrition and remorse over causing that said ruffling, however…instead, you are now in the presence of the supreme essence of what is truly American…Dude! Drag yourself out of the Renaissance, throw away your codpiece and get with the program! I’ve had enough of your pip pip cherio bullshit. Madam! Lady! Sir! Gentleman! Our with the old and in with the new! Deal with it!

      Seriously Garrick, the “it is especially inappropriate…” You had it coming to you. 😀

    • Alan

      A gratuitous false assertion of lying is an ad-hom!
      The calling out of a liar on the basis of evidence of his/her false statements, is valid criticism!

      Both Richard and myself commonly use the term “ignorant” in its true sense of describing “know-nothings”- posturing as experts on subjects about which they have no understanding whatever!

      Many Trump appointees belong to the class of ignoramus, who have no research capabilities, and recklessly neither know nor care, about the truth of the “alternative facts”, that they blindly repeat from dubious pseudo-authoritative sources!

      Yes, yes, I know, I know. You’re preaching to the choir! We have no disagreement there.

      When comparing language, it is important to compare the facts and evidence behind the language! – try swapping “small-minded” for “little” and it looks much clearer!

      Do you mean that in your original sentence in comment 25 that we could substitute “small minded” for “little” and it has the same meaning?

      telling the opinionated lying little madam from the White House to get real, grow up, and stick her insolent demands for an apology!

      So it would read: telling the opinionated lying *small-minded” madam from the White House to get real, …”

      No way. Little and small-minded are not the same thing. Yes! you should’ve used “small-minded” in the first place. No problem with that. You’re on the hook for using “little”.

    • This language thing is a doozy, chaps.

      For me “little madam” is pitch perfect, getting both the unpleasant arrogance and the unwarranted-ness because a child.

      English is rich and I love it. My natural speech is a hundred years out of date, though I love new terms. It thrives because it is cavernously huge, metaphorical, and deep in historical nuance. It has a myriad of modes, all useable from the appropriate stance.

      Second wave feminist… yay!

      Laurie, I so agonised over my “Atta girl!” comment, it took several cups of coffee and pacing up and down. Will the mode I’m adopting be sufficiently manifest?

      But we are “second wave” siblings, and we can have these kinds of discussion.

      Reason is so comforting.

      (“Chaps” is always gender neutral for me. A little statement about camaraderie and its once sexist implications.)

    • Alan

      Lord Muck.

      That’s interesting because I think it may be related to our usage of “Mucky-mucks”. This has a low frequency of usage here now. My mom and her friends used to say this when gossiping about someone who was wealthy and haughty. Example: I have better things to do on a Saturday than sit around listening to those mucky-mucks complain about their lazy gardeners.

      I can’t relate to “little madam” whatsoever. I imagine hearing someone calling a little girl by that and I feel only confusion.

    • Phil

      Laurie, I so agonised over my “Atta girl!” comment, it took several cups of coffee and pacing up and down.

      Ha! That’s funny. Well, it seems you’ve already punished yourself and so spared me the effort. You know, punitive yanks and all that.

      “Chaps” is perhaps the equivalent of our use of “guys”, a word that must have meant “group of males” at some point but is now used for a mixed group and I have used the word for an all female group which is of course, somewhat ridiculous. “Hey you guys! Look at this!” You guys being pronounced as if it’s all one word. “Hey youguys!” I hate the southern US alternative, “You all” but that is my Boston yankee prejudice speaking. Why don’t we have a second person pleural!!! Why! Why! Why not?

      Where this awareness of certain words and the implications that are attached to them really matters is in debate or discussion when we need get our point across on heated subjects. That’s when I want us to take the high road and eliminate all logical fallacies and other rhetorical mistakes as far as that is possible. When I brought these words to those guys’ attention it’s not that I’m sitting here steaming over a few misplaced words, it’s that I want them to get used to presenting a case without including those words in the case! The only way to accomplish this is to reprogram the vocabulary so that these words move into low frequency usage and then disappear. Consciousness raising served the second wave feminists well and it’s been wonderful in the past years to apply it to Atheism here as well.

      After a million corrections, my own dad called me and every female in the family “girl” until the day he died. Sigh. Let it go….

    • Olgun

      Yes, right, but adding the “girls” on to that seems more problematic than just including the females in with the “guys”.

    • LaurieB #41
      Sep 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

      I can’t relate to “little madam” whatsoever. I imagine hearing someone calling a little girl by that and I feel only confusion.

      I think in the US this sort of arrogant overindulged teenager from a (n inspiring to be?) rich family, is often referred to as “a spoiled brat”, but “Little Madam”, better encapsulates the unreasonable presumed arrogant expectation of compliance with demands!

    • Laurie #41

      You wouldn’t call a kid that to her face. A mother might complain of her child to another mother “She can be a proper little madam sometimes. Thinks she’s too good for us, she does”.

      Maybe, stush little brat?

    • Olgun

      The holding doors thing is indeed still confusing. Now when a guy holds a door for me I go through it and say “thank you” and then I proceed posthaste to the next set of doors and hold it open for him. (My) problem solved!

    • The effortlessly easy part of PC is just to call people what they most want to be called. Why on earth would you not? That’s why the first wave of PC, posited on courtesy, worked brilliantly.

      Requiring epithets etc. on behalf of third parties, where there is no such courteous clarity is where it gets “PC” in its latest “coercive” incarnation.

      Detecting the sheer, blithe affection in a term like “Silly Bugger” must be tough for some cultures.

    • youguys,

      Want to hear a silly ridiculous story? So we had guests a couple of weeks ago. A couple from Manchester, England that we’ve known for years. She’s a native Manchestrian, no, (google) Mancunian and he’s of Algerian origin and so speaks English with a Brit accent overlay. Ok, then there’s me, Boston native and my husband, Algerian who speaks English with American accent overlay. Let the linguistic hijinks begin!

      At some point after they arrived we advised them that if it should happen that the cops pull us over while we’re out driving around that they should remain silent and keep their hands folded on their laps where they can be seen by the cop. Never reach for purse or backpack and plunge hands into it or start searching under the seat, etc. This could be a disaster. Answer only what is asked. Don’t volunteer anything else. When interacting with strangers always keep in mind that they could have a gun concealed in their clothing. Right. Just another day in America.

      While trudging along on the usual tourist route, our native Mancunian said to my husband, “I think I’ll have a gander…” Him – blank stare. ” What are you going to have?” She comes over to me – “When I say ‘I’m going to have a gander’, what do you understand?” Me- “Umm, I think you are going to give something a try. Yes! that’s just something you are going to try!” Both guests snickering. She says – No. It means I’m going to look at something there. Errr. Ok. My husband – “Actually, what I thought you said is “I’ll have a gun there.” Now it’s us snickering.

      The next night we had a dinner party at our house. Another couple spent some time presenting the fact that one of their nephews is a gun nut who shows up to family events with a minor arsenal in his car trunk (boot) and pants. Also, a half mile down the street from their house in New Hampshire is a public shooting range that is driving them somewhat nuts. The Brit guests listened quietly with concerned expressions.

      The next day was a driving tour of the White Mountains of New Hampshire (gun capital of US). and we stopped at a cute park for picnic lunch. There was a country store for sale across the street and our Mancunian announced that she would take a gander over there. She wanted to see what it looked like inside. At the very moment she approached the store a NH redneck pulled up in a pickup truck, got out and said, “Can I help you with something?” Meaning – what the hell are you doing over there! She said, “I’ll just have a gander if you don’t mind”. Oh shit. Red alert. What that redneck probably heard through the Brit accent “I have a gun there..garbled Brit English…”

      Anne! I told you not to say gander!! Are you trying to get us killed or something?!!

    • LaurieB #51
      Sep 16, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      with a minor arsenal in his car trunk (boot) and pants.

      There can also be miscommunications about people turning up wearing vests and pants!

    • Olgun

      Maybe we’ll have another installment the next time they come over. I told them that that’s enough of the Northeast. Next time we’ll all tour the deep South together. That will add the accent of that place and a whole other cultural factor too. Honestly, some of the old folks from the rural south are unintelligible to me. Mrs Mancunian will get fifty percent and the Algerians will be totally baffled.

    • Alan

      Right! She kept advising my husband to wear a “jumper” which is to us, a woman’s dress without sleeves worn over a blouse. Don’t even get me started about knickers.

      http://www.prana.com/bliss-knicker-1.html?color=Black&source=googleshopping&locale=en-US&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6Kr04b2q1gIVj1mGCh0JnAbOEAQYAiABEgIrXfD_BwE

    • Laurie (28), others

      How are you, buddy?

      I skimmed through some of the recent comments on this thread and came across a discussion of “gender neutrality”.

      Would woman have been better? Or perhaps person? If it was a man I’d have said guy or man. Nope. Nothing wrong with that. Here is where we part ways. I understand your concern, given the pervasive problem of sexism, but I think we should be able to get to a point where we can identify the sex of a speaker without implying or expressing any bias or unfairness. This insistence upon gender neutrality is not the answer, in my opinion. But it’s about context! And I will say this: if I were to introduce someone as a lady writer or a woman senator that would be bad; but I am not going to say “it” instead of “she”.

      Come on, laurie, don’t go there. You’re better than that. (One of the very first things I ever said to you? I think it was my first comment.)

      (I do think we could use a neuter pronoun; “he or she” is wearisome. But that would be used when you are referring to what could be either a male or a female.)

      By the way, a lady is a woman. Nothing less.

      “A lady does everything a woman does but she does it with a little more style.” – Mailer

      I am a feminist. One has to be one. If you’re not a feminist then you’re a jackass, period. But I will never be a Darling of the Feminists. And “Atta girl” is just fine. Just like “Atta boy”. Phil, you agonized over nothing. Life is short; agonize over something worth agonizing over.

    • Laurie (28), others

      How are you, buddy?

      I skimmed through some of the recent comments on this thread and came across a discussion of “gender neutrality”.

      “Maybe the lady should have made it clear that she doesn’t speak for ESPN.” – Moi

      Would woman have been better? Or perhaps person? If it was a man I’d have said guy or man. Nope. Nothing wrong with that. Here is where we part ways. I understand your concern, given the pervasive problem of sexism, but I think we should be able to get to a point where we can identify the sex of a speaker without implying or expressing any bias or unfairness and without anyone inferring any bias or unfairness. This insistence upon gender neutrality is not the answer, in my opinion. But it’s about context! And I will say this: if I were to introduce someone as a lady writer or a woman senator that would be bad; but I am not going to say “it” instead of “she”.

      Come on, laurie, don’t go there. You’re better than that. (One of the very first things I ever said to you. Remember? I think it was my first comment on this site. I didn’t know you, had only read a few comments of yours, and yet somehow I sensed that you were “better than that”.) Please let me know why (or if) you still think I am wrong about this gender-neutrality thing. I could be wrong.

      (I do think we could use a neuter pronoun; “he or she” is wearisome. But that would be used when you are referring to what could be either a male or a female.)

      By the way, a lady is a woman. Nothing less.

      “A lady does everything a woman does but she does it with a little more style.” – Mailer

      I am a feminist. One has to be one. If you’re not a feminist then you’re a jackass, period. But I will never be a Darling of the Feminists. And “Atta girl” is just fine. Just like “Atta boy”. Phil, you agonized over nothing. Life is short; agonize over something worth agonizing over – like my my most recent comment on the Open Discussion thread.

    • Dan

      Get rid of “lady”. Retire the word. It’s useless and will be the undoing of you rhetorically. Why bother with it?

      By the way, a lady is a woman. Nothing less.

      The two words are not equivalent. One carries negative historical baggage and the other is our preferred word.

      “A lady does everything a woman does but she does it with a little more style.” – Mailer

      Fuck Mailer. His writing aside, he’s no authority on feminism. Germain Greer should’ve kicked his ass.

      Come on, laurie, don’t go there. You’re better than that.

      What if I’m not? In all fairness I think we need to entertain the idea that I’m just not better than that. I reserve the right to “go there” 😉

    • Dan,

      Many of my women friends (generally actors and musos) in the seventies deeply resented the epithet “girl”, finding it diminishing. I saw their point. Fashions (for words change their significance) change. My daughter and her friends use many ironic modes of talking. She’d use the epithet for many different reasons… to send up her mother’s generation (girl’s night out), cod black to black friends (what you doin,’ girl?) She’d automatically assume my use would be jokey in some way.

      Few people today calling themselves feminist would call me (us) one.

    • Yes! you should’ve used “small-minded” in the first place. No problem with that. You’re on the hook for using “little”. [Laurie to Alan]

      That’s absurd, Laurie. Get a grip. (I know you well enough to say that.)

      That guy Kushner is a little schmuck.

      Now that literally means little penis. Does that offend you? I doubt it. Well it shouldn’t; it’s got nothing to do with his damned gender, and you know it. Come on. What should I say, small minded buffoon? That doesn’t do it for me. Are you that politically correct? Ms Sanders: Little madam, little jerk, little creep, little freak, little liar….Come on! What’s the difference?

      Germain Greer[e] should have…

      You’re taking me back a few years. Used to have arguments with my mother about this. Greer was verbose that night. He was good. Love that film. (Town Bloody Hall) Mailer’s late wife Norris Church Mailer lived with the guy for over twenty-five years and said that he was not at all the sexist that people thought he was. (I was there at her last public appearance.) That’s all reputation. I think she should know.

      Phil, Do you mean women in their seventies, or women you knew in the 1970s ?? I think calling a woman in her sixties or seventies or eighties “girl” is a little inappropriate. My mother wouldn’t like that, although it depends on context. I wouldn’t want to be called “boy” even if I were still a boy. But that depends too. “Baby” is fine. ~yawn~ I happen to like “asshole” very much.

      I think we need to entertain the idea that I’m just not better than that.

      Laurie, that was the very first thing you said to me three or so years ago. Well all I can say is that since I’d like for us to maintain our nice rapport, please let me know when I’ve used a word you don’t like. (I’m serious.) And I’ll try not to use it.

    • Laurie

      (Cont.)

      “We” prefer the word “woman”? No, you don’t speak for all women or even most feminists, necessarily. I usually say woman, but sometimes I say lady. If a lady/woman were to say “don’t refer to me as a lady”, of course I wouldn’t. Why would I? But this kind of thing really is not… Whatever. Let’s move on, shall we?

      I don’t think retaining such words as lady (or gentleman) will hinder the progress of women in any way (and we/they have a long, long way to go). In fact, over-concern with this relatively trivial stuff – isn’t it kind of trivial? – could cause people to lose sight of the larger picture. Plus, people don’t like being told what to say. Again, if someone tells me they don’t like a word I won’t use it (If I can see some logic behind the objection). But if people are going to be ordered about every day they will start to resent it. People don’t like being told what is correct, especially since these words and terms change every ten or twenty years or so. I think “African-American” is kind of stupid. So is “people of color”. We all have color. And some blacks have never been to Africa, have been here longer than many whites, and have no interest in Africa, or traveling to Africa, etc.! The phrase “Italian American” means your parents were born in Italy. Pretty soon we’ll be back to “negro” which just means black. And pretty soon we’ll be back to “lady” and men will be reproached for saying “woman”.

      A (“native”) American Indian I heard speak about this shit once put it best: “I don’t give a rat’s ass if you call me Native American or not as long as you treat me with respect.”

      Now some words ARE offensive. We all know what they are. So let’s just be sensible.

    • Laurie

      (Cont.)

      “We” prefer the word “woman”? No, you don’t speak for all women or even most feminists, necessarily. I usually say woman, but sometimes I say lady. If a lady/woman were to say “don’t refer to me as a lady”, of course I wouldn’t. Why would I? But this kind of thing really is not… Whatever. Let’s move on, shall we?

      I don’t think retaining such words as lady (or gentleman) will hinder the progress of women in any way (and we/they have a long, long way to go). In fact, over-concern with this relatively trivial stuff – isn’t it kind of trivial? – could cause people to lose sight of the larger picture. Plus, people don’t like being told what to say. Again, if someone tells me they don’t like a word I won’t use it (If I can see some logic behind the objection). But if people are going to be ordered about every day they will start to resent it. People don’t like being told what is correct, especially since these words and terms change every ten or twenty years or so. I think “African-American” is kind of stupid. So is “people of color”. We all have color. And some blacks have never been to Africa, have been here longer than many whites, and have no interest in Africa, or traveling to Africa, etc.! The phrase “Italian American” means your parents were born in Italy. Pretty soon we’ll be back to “negro” which just means black. And pretty soon we’ll be back to “lady” and men will be reproached for saying “woman”.

      A (“native”) American Indian I heard speak about this shit once put it best: “I don’t give a rat’s ass if you call me Native American or not as long as you treat me with respect.”

      Now some words ARE offensive. We all know what they are. So let’s just be sensible.

      Germain Greer[e] should have…

      Got it backwards; it’s GermainE Greer. Sorry.

    • Dan #59
      Sep 17, 2017 at 3:35 am

      I think calling a woman in her sixties or seventies or eighties “girl” is a little inappropriate. My mother wouldn’t like that, although it depends on context.

      My wife and some of her retired female university colleagues, have “girls’ nights out”, for a meal together, and are quite happy to announce it as such.

    • Phil,

      Okay, you meant women back in the 1970s. (Kind of funny that that confused me for a moment.) Yeah, this woman vs lady business is the worst of 70s style feminism. It was a phase. (Sorry, Laurie; you wouldn’t want me or anyone to agree with you all the time, would you?) Is it coming back? Hope not. You know, I don’t think that real sexists or misogynists (and there are a lot of them) would be inclined to call, say, Hillary Clinton a lady; they would use much worse epithets, like AntiChrist – and they wouldn’t vote for her either. That’s more important.

      I think Carl Bernstein might have a little sexism in him. He’s always paying her compliments and then always follows it up by saying what a terrible candidate she was and about all the mistakes she made. A little animus there, I think.

    • In 1970 the age of majority dropped in the UK from 21 to 18. My “girl” friends had majority rush towards them and delighted, when the time came, in being properly called women especially as it was common to use the diminutive. My “boy” friends were less interested but less often so “reduced”. It was utterly clear to all of us that often the use of the female diminutive was part of a sexual power play.

      Thinking back feminism was so astonishingly effective in the seventies because we all had a common enemy. We all wanted to stick it to “the Man”, the 1950s bowler hatted plutocrats in the UK, in the US the faceless, male government. (We would though have to wait ’til the end of the eighties, when the plutocrats became free-market, for the whole phrase to be invented.)

    • Phil,

      Okay, you meant women back in the 1970s. (Kind of funny that that confused me for a moment.) Yeah, this woman vs lady business is the worst of 70s style feminism. It was a phase. (Sorry, Laurie; you wouldn’t want me or anyone to agree with you all the time, would you?) Is it coming back? Hope not. You know, I don’t think that real sexists or misogynists (and there are a lot of them) would be inclined to call, say, Hillary Clinton a lady; they would use much worse epithets, like AntiChrist – and they wouldn’t vote for her either. That’s more important.

      I think Carl Bernstein might have a little sexism in him. He’s always paying her compliments and then always follows it up by saying what a terrible candidate she was and about all the mistakes she made. A little animus there, I think.

      Alan (61),

      Of course. You’re right; although I did say that context plays a role. To tell you the truth I was trying to see both sides. Maybe I tried too hard. I generally don’t worry too much about people using the word Girl. I worry about people being cruel. This is just silly nonsense. (Not entirely! Words do matter, obviously.)

    • Phil,

      Okay, you meant women back in the 1970s. Yeah, this woman vs lady business is 70s style feminism. It was a phase. Is it coming back? Hope not. I had a different experience. I was a kid in the seventies, and the whole thing came on so suddenly and with such ferocity. I hated feminists back then, was terribly threatened by it. I mean I was a teenager with zero sense of myself as a young person on his way to becoming a man. What did that even mean? (Still struggling with that). And my mother was into that big time and knew some of the leading feminists too. I wanted no part of it, would have verbal fights with her and others and alienated a lot of people. I was a little, insecure prick, I guess. (Maybe that’s too harsh.) But then as I grew older I grew to not only understand this struggle but really care about it. But it took a long time. I don’t like to be taken back to the 70s too much, so maybe I have my own baggage. And maybe they were just a little obnoxious too. Anyway, enough about me…

      You know, I don’t think that real sexists or misogynists (and there are a lot of them) would be inclined to call, say, Hillary Clinton a lady; they would use much worse epithets, like AntiChrist – and they wouldn’t vote for her either. That’s more important.

      I think Carl Bernstein might have a little sexism in him. He’s always paying her compliments and then always follows it up by saying what a terrible candidate she was and about all the mistakes she made. A little animus there, I think.

      Alan (61),

      Of course. You’re right; although I did say that context plays a role. To tell you the truth I was trying to see both sides. Maybe I tried too hard. I generally don’t worry too much about people using the word Girl. I worry about people being cruel. This is just silly nonsense. (Not entirely! Words do matter, obviously.)

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Laurie. The male use of ‘ladies’ and ‘girls’ to refer to adult women in ordinary conversation needs to stop. Intentionally or not, both reinforce the very attitudes that feminists are still having to fight against, even after all this time.

      Any dictionary will show you that ‘woman’ is a neutral term that carries little or no normative baggage, whereas ‘lady’ is steeped in traditional assumptions about how women should behave and be treated. Consider the expectations conveyed in the word ‘ladylike’: ‘graceful, polite, and behaving in a way that is thought to be socially acceptable for a woman’ (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ladylike).

      There you have it. There are things a woman can do, say or want that would not be compatible with being a ‘lady’. The word positively reeks of the bars that have been put around women’s behaviours and aspirations since time immemorial.

      Likewise ‘girl’. A girl is the term for a female child. The language of patriarchy is steeped in paternalism (the very word derives from the Latin for ‘father’). The traditional expectation of a father is that he will be the provider, the protector, the teacher and if necessary the punisher. The expectation of a child is that he or she will be provided for, protected, taught and on occasion punished. Still today, in socially conservative circles, the attitude prevails that the relationship between adult men and women should run along precisely the same lines. The use of patronising (ha – there we have that Latin root again) terms such as ‘girl’ just perpetuates and reinforces unspoken, unacknowledged, often unconscious assumptions about what is ‘appropriate’ when it comes to women’s lives and behaviour.

      As for the apparently perennial problem of whether or not to hold doors open … what the hell? If you’re going through a door and there’s someone close behind you, hold it open for them. If you see someone approaching a door who is clearly going to struggle to manage it – if they’ve got their hands full, for instance – go and open it for them. Likewise with giving up seats in public places. If you see someone who needs your seat more than you do, let them have it. It’s just common courtesy and consideration. No need to bring gender into it at all – yours or theirs.

      For goodness’ sake, people. If you’re treating women in a particular way just because they’re women, you’re doing it wrong. Likewise if you’re using language about women that reinforces the very stereotypical attitudes and gender expectations that most women are trying to escape from.

      (The term “girls’ night out” has quite different connotations: it’s used as an identity tag between friends. In other words, it’s a term that can be used by members of a particular group. Likewise, when a woman summons other women with the phrase, “Come on, girls”. This is in-group language. If you’re not in the group, don’t be surprised if using the same language causes irritation or offence.)

    • Alan

      If the Tory party falls, how would that affect Brexit?

    • Alan

      Yes, I see. Huge insecurity about what the economic deal will look like. A second “clear picture” vote seems so valuable from the outside. I can’t help but wonder how it would go. What kind of clear picture would it take for the Brexit voters to change their minds and overcome certain biases that made Brexit so attractive to them? How much economic punishment would they accept just to keep their borders closed or restricted and to throw off the rules of the EU in other categories as well?

    • LaurieB #68
      Sep 17, 2017 at 10:23 am

      What kind of clear picture would it take for the Brexit voters to change their minds and overcome certain biases that made Brexit so attractive to them?

      It does not need the uneducated ignorant brexit voters to change their minds. It only needs 4% or 5% of marginal voters to work out who lied to them, how they were conned, what the brexiteers are now claiming they voted for, and how much worse off they will be if brexit goes ahead!

    • Olgun #70
      Sep 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Unfortunately this is Corbynite double talk, because he imposed a three line whip and threatened MPs who reasonably expected a credible plan outlining brexit benefits, BEFORE triggering article 50!

      Corbyn is not into protecting workers’ or citizens’ rights.
      He is into cluelessly fighting a failing rearguard action POSING as the perceived left-wing champion of workers’ rights, while surrendering up-front before the battles on the key issues, (respect the referendum con! – THE UK IS leaving the EU regardless), thus opting to win a few skirmishes, but be the martyred champion who lost the war! ! – and like the Tories – when it all goes pear-shaped, it will be the fault of those “nasty Europeans” who are pathologically hated by the muppet voters of UKIP and Co.!
      He is fence-sitting and playing politics, looking for votes from the gullible readers of tabloid trash, with absolutely no concept of the dangerous consequences he is playing with!

    • Olgun #72
      Sep 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I agree Alan and its disappointing. My biases are taking a battering but that’s alright, better to know.

      I have been trying to get some sense out of some of Corbyn’s supporters and MPs who I have known for years, but they are still full of the “respect the view of the people” referendum con- crap! – and “we can’t insult the people by telling them they didn’t know what they were voting for”!
      None of them have a clue where this is leading us, and those (left and right) who cannot even negotiate an agreement or policy within their own parties, are still full all the wonderful deals they are going to negotiate with 27 other European states and the rest of the world, AFTER the UK has left the EU and is probably up the WTO creek with no paddle!

    • Laurie, others

      Let me just finish up.

      Nowhere does it say Girl’s Room unless you’re in a school for girls.

      But in ordinary everyday conversation I think it’s okay to say lady sometimes, okay? No? And if some individual objects I will stop using it, because I am cilvil. And if another person says she likes it I will keep using it when I am with that person, because I try to be gentleman. I see no inherent moral issue. A person’s desire (which is often a whim) to discourage the use of certain words that are innocuous and that may or not be old-fashioned is often a way to exert control and maybe gain the gratification of seeing a few men (anxious to please; I call them Darlings) fall into line.

      In the Nineties I said “man” once in a social situation. A young woman/ person/ human/ who didn’t even know me and had hate in her eyes asked me why I use that word. Should I have apologized? If she had made sense I would have. But she owed me an apology for cutting me off.

      In life we grown-ups listen to people and we stop using certain words but not because someone orders us, but because we agree to. No automatic agreement. Others could be wrong.

      So I’m wrong and those who differ are right because they are oppressed? Not so fast.

      Denying someone the use of a water fountain or the right to vote or paying them less, etc., is wrong – in itself.

      Words are a highly significant part of a culture. Some have even used the words Language and Culture synonymously. But let’s try to have this conversation on the highest level possible.

      Let’s have some sense of proportion and be smart(er) about this. I see no one (as far as I can see) liked my comments; and they won’t “like” this one, I’ll bet. Big surprise! Groupism show itself here at times.

    • Laurie (others)

      Uh…hi,

      Let me just finish up.

      Nowhere does it say Girl’s Room unless you’re in a school for girls.

      But in ordinary everyday conversation I think it’s okay to say lady sometimes, okay? No? And if some individual objects I will stop using it, because I am cilvil. And if another person says she likes it I will keep using it when I am with that person, because I try to be gentleman. I see no inherent moral issue. A person’s desire (which is often a whim) to discourage the use of certain words that are innocuous and that may or not be old-fashioned is often a way to exert control – and no, I’m not talking about you – and maybe gain the gratification of seeing a few men (anxious to please; I call them Darlings) fall into line.

      In the Nineties I said “man” once in a social situation. A young woman/ person/ human/ who didn’t even know me and had hate in her eyes asked me why I use that word. Should I have apologized? If she had made sense I would have. But she owed me an apology for cutting me off.

      In life we grown-ups listen to people and we stop using certain words but not because someone orders us, but because we agree to. No automatic agreement. Others could be wrong.

      So I’m wrong and those who differ are right because they are oppressed? Not so fast.

      Denying someone the use of a water fountain or the right to vote or paying them less, etc., is wrong – in itself.

      Words are a highly significant part of a culture. Some have even used the words Language and Culture synonymously. But let’s try to have this conversation on the highest level possible.

      Let’s have some sense of proportion and be smart(er) about this.

      Still e-friends?

    • Laurie (others)

      Uh…hi,

      Let me just finish up.

      Nowhere does it say Girl’s Room unless you’re in a school for girls.

      But in ordinary everyday conversation I think it’s okay to say lady sometimes, okay? No? And if some individual objects I will stop using it, because I am civil. And if another person says she likes it I will keep using it when I am with that person, because I am polite by nature, a gentleman, if you will. I see no inherent moral issue. A person’s desire (which is often a whim) to discourage the use of certain words that are innocuous and that may or not be old-fashioned is often a way to exert control – and no, I’m not talking about you – and maybe gain the gratification of seeing a few men (anxious to please; I call them Darlings) fall into line.

      In the Nineties I said “man” once in a social situation. A young woman/ person/ human/ who didn’t even know me and had hate in her eyes asked me why I use that word. Should I have apologized? If she had made sense I would have. But she owed me an apology for cutting me off.

      In life we grown-ups listen to people and we stop using certain words but not because someone orders us, but because we agree to. No automatic agreement. Others could be wrong.

      So I’m wrong and those who differ are right because they are oppressed? Not so fast.

      Denying someone the use of a water fountain or the right to vote or paying them less, etc., is wrong – in itself.

      Words are a highly significant part of a culture. Some have even used the words Language and Culture synonymously. But let’s try to have this conversation on the highest level possible.

      Let’s have some sense of proportion and be smart(er) about this.

      Still e-friends?

    • Dan

      Of course still e-friends. I’m not perturbed at all. I apologize for the F Mailer line. I know you admire him. These discussions never ruffle me – but then…I’m no lady.

    • Laurie

      You can say F Mailer. I don’t mind when you say it.

      I can see now how the word “lady” can be very annoying, hurtful and even destructive in many, many cases. Sorry. I shouldn’t have made such a big case for myself.

      (Nothing ruffles me – except just about everything.)