A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

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JSS
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A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by JSS » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:59 am

Normally to discover if the person with whom I am speaking has an analytical mind, I have to converse a while on analytical subjects. But I have discovered it to be actually much easier than that.

If you want to discover if someone has an analytical mind, merely discuss definitions. I am amazed how effectively the very concept of definitions has been eradicated from the minds of the masses. Ask anyone to define almost anything and if they can't quote a dictionary, they are completely lost. The average person, the non-thinker, non-analytic, non-critical thinker, cannot distinguish a definition from merely a comment.

Of course for you to use this method, you would have to learn what a definition is yourself, so maybe it isn't for you. But for those very few who can still remember or perhaps even figure out what a definition really is, there is this simple technique to discover the actual bright people from those who merely memorize great detail and regurgitate.

Well constructed definitions are a crucial part of language, yet such construction is stationed quite low on the totem pole of educational priorities. When one loses the language, one loses the society.

FlashDangerpants
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by FlashDangerpants » Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:38 pm

I haven't been on this forum long, and I have already seen many examples of incoherent drivel that is nonetheless peppered with accurate definitions. See for instance the doubly redundant definition of "Continuum" here. The ability to make a mere definition explicit doesn't do much on the whole. The art lies in recognising when the definition is relevantly in question.

It's also something of an honesty test. There is a tendency to misuse definitions of terms in order to provoke programmatic conclusions that sometimes amount to category mistakes. If we're honest, I think we are probably all guilty of that one from time to time. I personally suspect there's a lot of that in the P of Sc. board here, but it is beyond my talent to demonstrate that. The Politics board obviously contains little else, given that politics is [defined by some as] the art of abusing all meanings, that is perhaps to be expected. For instance, there are at least two competing and true definitions of "Exploitation" in this thread.

bergie15
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by bergie15 » Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:10 pm

"When one loses the language, one loses the society." -JSS, I think that this is very true. Once we lose the ability to communicate with one another through language, it will be difficult to live with one another. We use language to communicate and express ourselves. Without this, life would become different and much harder.

Dalek Prime
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Dalek Prime » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:33 am

Can you verify this test as accurate, and a part of standard psychological testing? Can a person fail the test by disagreeing with the definition as inadequate? What is the dictionary standard you use, and are willing to accept? Oxford? Which version? What year? Merriam Webster? Collins? Urban Dictionary? Wiktionary? Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary? Are narcotics only opioids, as pharmaceutically defined, or all drugs, as legally defined? What if a definition has changed over time, even from it's etymology? What if it's a new word, and is still in flux? What if you want snow to mean all snow, but the Inuit, who have around a hundred words to describe different types of snow, object to your narrow definition in translation? What if, like the Piraha, they have no past or future tense, only a present, and thus have no anxiety about the future, or sorrow for the past?

Yeah, sounds like a solid test to me. :shock:

Thankfully, I can rely on well defined formal languages with which to work; C, Lisp, Scheme Forth, Haskell, etc. Oh wait, there are pre-standard and defacto versions? Oh shoot, there are standard dialects of the same language? You must be kidding to say that Common Lisp and Scheme can't both define the empty list as nil. Arent they both lisps? And dotted pairs exist in them, but not in newLisp?... Is it okay if I alias my unix shell commands for convenience, without causing confusion? Well thank goodness mathematics can be agreed upon, though, come to think of it, Newton and Liebnitz used different notations for calculus. And even here on this forum, we can't seem to all agree on what zero divided by zero really is, besides undefined, though not everyone agrees on division by zero as undefined.... *Yawn*... pardon me....

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Greta
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Greta » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:21 pm

It looks like a test destined to become ever less relevant as people increasingly take on roles in society akin to that of dumb terminals in a network, delegating their analysis to specialist analysts and locating any needed definitions with Google.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:43 pm

JSS wrote: But for those very few who can still remember or perhaps even figure out what a definition really is, there is this simple technique to discover the actual bright people from those who merely memorize great detail and regurgitate.
.
You are living a Platonist fantasy. There is no such thing as a definition which "really is". The relationship between the signified and the signifier is arbitrary. And for each person that which is signified is related to their unique experience. Even a word as apparently uncontroversial as "dog" means different things to different people.

uwot
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by uwot » Tue Feb 16, 2016 4:10 pm

JSS wrote:Well constructed definitions are a crucial part of language, yet such construction is stationed quite low on the totem pole of educational priorities. When one loses the language, one loses the society.
You are speaking as a mathematician. Natural language, English for instance, is much more contextual. Attempts to analyse natural language, the project of much 20 th century philosophy in the English speaking world, have had very limited success, because people simply do not use fixed definitions in the way that mathematicians do.

JSS
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by JSS » Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:09 pm

uwot wrote:
JSS wrote:Well constructed definitions are a crucial part of language, yet such construction is stationed quite low on the totem pole of educational priorities. When one loses the language, one loses the society.
You are speaking as a mathematician. Natural language, English for instance, is much more contextual. Attempts to analyse natural language, the project of much 20 th century philosophy in the English speaking world, have had very limited success, because people simply do not use fixed definitions in the way that mathematicians do.
The entire house within which one lives is not made of peers or concrete. But the foundation had better be if you want it to last.

uwot
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by uwot » Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:16 pm

JSS wrote:The entire house within which one lives is not made of peers or concrete. But the foundation had better be if you want it to last.
Right, people use language metaphorically and contextually. QED.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:15 pm

JSS wrote:
uwot wrote:
JSS wrote:Well constructed definitions are a crucial part of language, yet such construction is stationed quite low on the totem pole of educational priorities. When one loses the language, one loses the society.
You are speaking as a mathematician. Natural language, English for instance, is much more contextual. Attempts to analyse natural language, the project of much 20 th century philosophy in the English speaking world, have had very limited success, because people simply do not use fixed definitions in the way that mathematicians do.
The entire house within which one lives is not made of peers or concrete. But the foundation had better be if you want it to last.
Our culture or society is not a static house with foundations, but an ever changing and evolving thing.
Pretending the a word means the same thing today as it did in the past, or the same as it ought to in the future is a complete misunderstanding of both words and culture.

JSS
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by JSS » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:23 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:Our culture or society is not a static house with foundations, but an ever changing and evolving thing.
Pretending the a word means the same thing today as it did in the past, or the same as it ought to in the future is a complete misunderstanding of both words and culture.
Continue to worship annihilation, and you just might accomplish it.

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Arising_uk
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Arising_uk » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:49 pm

uwot wrote:... Attempts to analyse natural language, the project of much 20 th century philosophy in the English speaking world, have had very limited success, because people simply do not use fixed definitions in the way that mathematicians do.
And yet natural language parsers are becoming pretty much commonplace now-a-days?

uwot
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by uwot » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:56 pm

Arising_uk wrote:And yet natural language parsers are becoming pretty much commonplace now-a-days?
You tell me, me old China.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:24 pm

JSS wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:Our culture or society is not a static house with foundations, but an ever changing and evolving thing.
Pretending the a word means the same thing today as it did in the past, or the same as it ought to in the future is a complete misunderstanding of both words and culture.
Continue to worship annihilation, and you just might accomplish it.
It's progress bitch.
Don't you like change?

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Arising_uk
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Re: A Simple Language Test for Analytical Thinkers

Post by Arising_uk » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:29 am

uwot wrote:
Arising_uk wrote:And yet natural language parsers are becoming pretty much commonplace now-a-days?
You tell me, me old China.
Well my phone for one and goggle for another and the iphone for a third. Oh! And loads of help desks.

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