Do you understand the gravity of the matter?

The other day I argued that there is no such thing as an objectively “true” language (at least not for feeble-minded humans). If you missed that, then please go ahead and check out “Science vs. Relativity” before venturing on. ;)

Today, I want to underscore how important this is for regular folks living everyday lives.

Let me first note that there is a huge sector of the education industry that has been busily working on creating such “true” and/or “scientific” languages for quite a long time already… — and the fanatical advocates of such “truthers” often carry flags with the letters “STEM” written on them (which are supposed to stand for “science”, “technology”, “engineering” and “mathematics”, respectively). Some invent abstract symbols like “2”, “4”, “+”, “=”, etc. (and then have fun creating tautological statements like “2 + 2 = 4″), others collect holy measuring sticks (and other physical objects) and use these to measure things, and newer breeds devise algorithms that are suppose to produce meaningful output, such as “standard deviation” or “gross national product”.

What most of these intellectual games have in common is — very broadly speaking — the notion that there is “one right answer”, and in order to figure out this correct answer you simply have to observe data in the real world and then plug it into a formula. In theory, there should be no ambiguity whatsoever — either something is, or it isn’t…. There is no “maybe” — definitely (note, however, that some scientists — for example Einstein — were very careful and repeatedly warned about how to interpret statistics… especially with regard to such ideas as certainty, uncertainty, “hard facts” and so on).

Ideally (for STEM fanatics), if the world followed the theoretical textbook (instead of the other way around), then it might even be possible for one theory to “match up” with another theory — in other words, that the data would “line up” and one theoretical equation might essentially entail another equation, too. The entire universe might work as one huge interconnected clockwork machinery-thing.

But alas, we are mere mortals… and so far we haven’t collected enough data yet. :|

The most fanatical of such data wizards would go forth with “punch cards” and remind you that your entire genome is nothing but a stream of ones and zeros… :| — but if asked what a “genome” is, they might have a somewhat glazed look in their eyes…. :|

In the real world, the first thing you do in the morning is to get up, maybe make some coffee, perhaps eat a bite of this or that, but most importantly: SMILE! :D

Ask any data wiz how “smile” can be translated into ones and zeros — they will without a doubt be dumbfounded. 8O

Smiles and clouds are extremely important in our daily lives, but they simply do not translate into simple “STEM” formulas.

The real world is wall-to-wall maybe. Uncertainty lurks around every corner. We do our best by making educated guesses (like: “has the day started yet?” might be answered with “the sun has been up for half an hour already!” [note though, that such statements are not completely "unscientific" either ;) ]).

Languages that have evolved over many millennia (rather than being “invented” more-or-less overnight) are streamlined by evolution in order to meet the needs of their “users”… and this often means they are adapted to working well in particular contexts (for example: if it is important for users to differentiate between “snow” and “ice”, then there may very well be easy ways to express such differences in the language the users choose to use [and such choices will also affect the development of the language -- again: as described by Piaget's concepts of "accommodation" and "assimilation"]).

The point is this: Since the world is (from our limited point of view) inherently uncertain, there is no reason to favor an unambiguous, quasi-“scientifically-correctcontrived “fly-by-night” language over a language that has gone through thousands of years of evolution. To do so would be on par with an attempt to re-invent the wheel. Why would anyone want to do that?

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