CSotD: Ways of Knowing or Not Knowing

On the Fastrack (KFS) reminds me that the first course I took in my major was called “Ways of Knowing,” and I think it was intended to take a room full of first-semester sophomores down a peg or two.

It was that basic classic college metaphysics class where the professor holds out a pen and asks what will happen if he lets it go, the point being that, while you may think it will fall to the table, you don’t know actually know that it will. Maybe this time will be different.

None of us had the presence of mind to slap a five dollar bill on the table and turn it into a wager, but I think by senior year, we might have. I remember, in our final semester, a lively discussion of some philosopher — maybe Charles Peirce — who proposed that the fact that you’ve dealt a red card does not change the odds of the next card being black.

Our objection was that, while it would be true of the flip of a coin, it was only true of a deck of cards if you replaced the cards as you dealt them. What we’d learned in three years was to respect logic but to demand precision.

Yesterday I saw someone praising a university for having come up with some arcane footnoting procedure that allows students to use AI in writing papers without being accused of cheating, and it reminded me that, in addition to whatever papers we wrote over the year and whatever finals we may have taken, we also had to pass an oral exam each May.

This consisted of sitting down with three professors for a nice chat about a few things you had read over the past year. I never found it all that grueling, but, boy howdy, you’d better show up with a decent mastery of the curriculum, because you didn’t know who or what they’d ask you about.

By senior year, we’d learned the difference between thinking and knowing, and, having spent three years in seminar formats, we were able to pull things out of our heads without a need to look them up or, god knows, consult artificial intelligence.

As for the diploma, they did give me one, but I haven’t seen it in years, nor looked for it.

I’m willing to bet that Fi knows exactly where hers is, but I’d also be willing to bet on whether Dethany even owns one.

And here’s something I didn’t know until Sunday’s Pearls Before Swine (AMS) roused my curiosity.

Back in the days when I used to go into an office to work, I asked my son if he thought I was a workaholic.

“You mean, to the point where it interferes with your social life?” he responded, and then burst into laughter.

But now I know: It’s actually 15 feet from my bed to my computer.

I measured.

Juxtaposition of Holy Week

I’m presenting three variations of the same gag to avoid singling anyone out, but my favorite of these is Steve Kelley’s, because he makes the point, alluded to by Koterba, that women are still the grocery shoppers.

I was the grocery shopper through most of our 13 years of marriage, which was good practice for my second bachelorhood. But even now, though things have changed, I still see men shopping with, at best, a list in their hands, and, at worst, a phone at their ears.

They may have heard that eggs were expensive, but are perhaps unaware of what they actually cost or of the fact that prices have come down from the heights they hit some weeks ago.

So I’m hoping that Heller is making a joke about false economies, because a dozen eggs cost $3.99 at my local grocery store, or about 33 cents a piece. Which is better than it was.

Meanwhile, Cadbury Creme-Filled Eggs are $1.19 each at Target, or $14.28 a dozen.

On Amazon, the little chocolate eggs with the hard candy shells are $24.99 for a two-pound bag of approximately 140 mini-eggs, or roughly 18 cents an egg, which is half the price of a real egg but far less than half the volume.

The point is this: If you can get out of a major holiday for less than $3.99, good for you, though the dye kit is admittedly another three bucks.

Step up, Big Spender. Even Scrooge was willing to spring for a goose at Christmas.

Ben (MWAM) shouldn’t let himself be shamed into over-spending on a cup of coffee, if what he wants is a cup of coffee and not a hot milkshake.

I particularly admire him for not trying to order on their terms. “Barista” is a real word, but it’s been fancied up quite a bit. You shouldn’t take it all that seriously and allow yourself to be linguistically intimidated.

Some years ago, I was with a friend in Montreal who ordered an Americano. The girl behind the counter asked if he wanted cream and he said “oui,” and then she told him how much he owed and he paid her and said “merci.” As we walked to a table, I said, “I didn’t know you spoke French.”

He said, “I don’t, but I knew what she was asking me.”

He had literally hitchhiked around the world on that philosophy. Good man.

And language issues are everywhere, as Mike Baldwin points out in Cornered (AMS). We’ve gone from shaming people into resolving their issues all the way to flattering them in hopes they’ll do the same.

Back when Listerine came up with the term “halitosis” as a selling point, they weren’t shy about drumming it into the public mind. And 111 manicurists can’t be wrong!

Not only did they come up with “halitosis,” but Listerine is also credited with “Often a bridesmaid but never a bride” and “Even your closest friends won’t tell you.”

The latter of which appears to be more true than ever, especially with our more polite language.

Yes, it’s getting this bad: As Non Sequitur (AMS) notes, we’ve had to lower our expectations and settle for simply getting along. And why? Because our closest friends won’t tell us why we’re often bridesmaids but never brides and why we keep getting fired.

Though I think the real problem is that we suffer from aromatic insecurity.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Ways of Knowing or Not Knowing

  1. I think since the advent of masks, many folks have discovered bad breath all on their own. Whether they do anything about it is another matter.

  2. Regarding AI-generated papers: the fun begins when someone reads one of the papers and wants one of the references cited in it. My (teaching hospital) library got a request for four citations; three of them were fake. Real journal, but the article wasn’t there. Another problem is that some medical schools require students to publish a paper in a medical journal before they graduate. Now not only do we have to watch for mediocre papers published in predatory journals,* we have to consider that the papers might not even be their own work. When I told this to the director of our residency programs she looked very sad.

    *Such as the Journal of You Pay, We Print, No Peer-Review Necessary.

  3. Listerine was also promoted in print ads as a dandruff preventative. (And no, I’m not making that up.)

    1. And Lysol was billed as a product for feminine hygiene. Them was the days…

  4. Your comparison of eggs costs reminds me that my local gas station charges significantly more per gallon for Coke or Pepsi than for gasoline. And this seems to be true everywhere I have been in the U.S., at least since the early 1980s when I first compared them.

    Currently where I live the ratio is more than 4X.

Comments are closed.