Monday, July 11, 2011

Distinctions

I came across two things today that have challenged my mental shortcuts and made me think about what people are really saying.

At work, a vice president gave a presentation about listening to other people's perspectives. He gave the example of someone arguing that a given model won't work. This could mean that they don't think our systems can handle the amount of data, bandwidth, and storage required to the run model. Or it could mean that while the model would be technically feasible, it would be statistically invalid or misleading. Or it could mean something else entirely. Finding out what this person is really saying will help you convince them of your point of view, or convince yourself of theirs.

Just now, the heralded literature that is "South Park and Philosophy" pointed out to me that there's two ways to interpret the phrase "child abduction is not funny." One could be that it "fails as humor," in the same way that Cartman believes Family Guy's endless cutaways do. Another is that it's morally apprehensible to laugh at the subject.

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