Sci-ənce (pronounced “science”) is a comic about science, technology, skepticism, geekery, video games, and more. The plan is to make you laugh and make you think. Enjoy!
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Reminds me of a story my dad told me from his seafaring days. Back in the 70s, before the internet and phones-that-weren’t-landlines, the only contact sailors had with home was the mail which, due to being in the middle of the ocean most of the time, could be sporadic.
One evening just after sunset someone on the bridge sent out word that the mail helicopter was approaching. It was only after about half an hour in which the helicopter didn’t appear to get any closer, that the captain informed the young officer that “that, son, is what we in the business call Venus”.
Needless to say he wasn’t the most popular guy on the ship that evening
HA! I can only imagine the frustration. You can’t even get mad at anyone ^_^
Strictly speaking, something being a UFO doesn’t necessarily imply aliens; it’s just something that you see in the sky and you don’t know what it is.
I’d argue that popular usage implies that UFO now means aliens.
Does that mean that because of popular usage theory now means hypothesis?
It already does mean hypothesis. It just has an additional scientific meaning (fact/law). So when phrases like ‘just a theory’ are thrown around people confuse, or are made to be confused intentionally, between the two meanings. I guess if theory stopped being used scientifically and was only used popularly to mean hypothesis, the scientific meaning would just be considered archaic rather than the word changing meaning.
a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.
a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate…
Call me crazy if you want, but I prefer theory and hypothesis to have distinct meanings. Just as UFO does not mean aliens. I used to work on a base that at one point in time was the source of many UFO reports. It was a testing area for UAVs.
Personally I also use UFO as its designated acronym and then clarify by stating that it does not necessarily mean it is a flying saucer—just an unidentified object. The same as when the “its just a theory” gets thrown around.
Then again, I’m a linguistic old man who insists that “decimation” only be used when something is reduced by 10%.
I think it’s a tell-tale sign that the original meaning of a word is slipping away if you have to clarify what you mean after using it. To me this is different from the word theory in that theory has 2 different (and seemingly at odds) definitions, UFO does not.
Was “CDCs” supposed to say “CFCs”?
oop, of course. thanks.
What?!? No mention of USOs (sorry, no wiki for this one)?
That is the awesomest spacemobile I have ever seen. I do believe it deserves its own web comic. Oh, wait …
Does popular usage actually change the definition of a word? Does “irony” now mean “seems a little odd” instead of “an inversion of the expected results”?
I’ve certainly seen an unidentified flying object. It was a weird banana-shaped silhouette against the sky. No one who saw it could come up with a likely identification. None of us suggested it was an alien spacecraft, except in jest, we just couldn’t figure out wtf it was…
A good 98-99% of UFO “evidence” can be readily identified by aviation experts or astronomers (professional or amateur). I understand people being incredibly curious what the other 1-2% really are. I don’t understand ignoring Occam’s Razor when trying to come up with ideas for what it could be. I also don’t understand dismissing 100% of UFO reports because only a few of them are not completely explicable.
Oh, and I also point out the correct definition of decimation when it’s used incorrectly. When a group is wiped out completely, I suggest eradication or destruction, instead. I think linguists frequently become pedants, though.
As for President Carter, he went to the CIA and demanded all the UFO knowledge to be had. The man in charge over there told him no. That man was George Herbert Walker Bush, who became vice president at the end of Carter’s term in office.
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