Falsehoods II

Category archives for Falsehoods II

Today’s falsehood1 is the idea of “The Missing Link.” You’ve heard about The Missing Link. You’ll hear that some palaeontologist has discovered something and they tell us it is “The Missing Link.” Often, it is a supposed “link” between some ancestor of humans (a fossil ape, a monkey, whatever) and us humans. And often, you’ll…

Falsehood: Humans evolved from apes

Is it a Falsehood that Humans Evolve from Apes? How about this one: Is it a Falsehood that Humans did NOT evolve from Apes???? Yes and no. Humans descend from a population of primates from which other apes also descended (minimally the two species of living chimps) and which was part of the panoply of…

I’m very please that my discussion of the “we can’t ever know what a word is” Internet meme has elicited a response from Mark Liberman at Language Log. (here) Mark was very systematic in his comments, so I will be very systematic in my responses.

I am looking at the question: How many words are there in a language? I’d like to know for languages in general, comparatively, and for pedagogical reasons, in some well known western language which may as well be English. What I found quite incidentally is a hornets nest of curmudgeonistic pedanticmaniacal jibberishosity. (There. Whatever the…

I previously noted that to survive as a Westerner, you can get away with participating in a culture that asks of you little more than to understand the “one minute” button on the microwave, while to survive in a foraging society you needed much much more. Moreover, I suggested that the level of complexity in…

In the first part of this discussion, I reminded you that we are talking about “falsehoods.” “Falsehood” is a term I and others have co-opted and have used for well over a decade in anthropology and biology courses across the land. The idea is to identify a statement that, when uttered in some particular demographic…

A “falsehood” is a belief held by a number of people that is in some way incorrect. That incorrectness may be blatant, it may be subtle, it may be conditional, it may be simple, it may be complex. But, the unraveling of the belief, even if much of that belief is in fact true, can…

False Pearls before Real Swine

“In today’s lecture, I will be casting false pearls before real swine” … I won’t tell you who said that, but when he did say it, he was in front of a classroom of several hundred Harvard freshmen, and he was referring to the idea of telling little white lies to the unwashed masses in…