0008 - Work Will Set You Free

Read the show notes and see the sources at https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/work-will-set-you-free . This episode Sqeaky rants about words and Socialism. The he joins Mako to cover a few corrections, discuss recent technical issues and how they related to the chip shortage, the have an in depth discussion on worker motivation, minimum wage, UBI, and unemployment insurance.
Summary

Read the show notes and see the sources at https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/work-will-set-you-free . This episode Sqeaky rants about words and Socialism. The he joins Mako to cover a few corrections, discuss recent technical issues and how they related to the chip shortage, the have an in depth discussion on worker motivation, minimum wage, UBI, and unemployment insurance.

The Full Rant Text [1:53] -

Words have meaning, sometimes. Words are really just tools. They are tools to move an idea from one person's head to another.

This means that sometimes words are fuzzy because the idea is fuzzy. Most Of The time this is fine because we are dealing with people we know, or least with people sympathetic to us, and when we are vague they can help fill in the gaps.

At work you might discuss “the printer” and know we are talking about the one on floor 5 that always jams, or talk in terms of filling “the shift” because no one wants to work saturday nights.

At home we might talk about “dinner” and know we are talking about that special mac and cheese recipe, or we might talk about “the other day” and know the exact event.

Words can be imprecise and still move the idea most the time.

This can break down when we are talking to unsympathetic people. Like some sleezy salesman might sell you a “warranty” knowing that warranty gives you the impression of protection, when in actuality it gives you a bunch of red tape and extra headache when the thing you bought breaks.

This is not the only way that words can break down. In the past few weeks I have seen two words break down for different reasons.

When I talk with people about evolution. A common argument is that it is just a “theory”. In common parlance a theory is an idea that isn’t fully formed, a conjecture, a guess, a thing that might be. We could be playing cards and I might have a “theory” about what cards are in your hand.

When a scientist is discussing a “theory” they have a different idea. What us lay people call a theory they call a “conjecture” and those don’t have much evidence but haven’t been ruled out yet. Notice all that extra specificity? 

To build on that specificity a scientific “theory” has a body of evidence supporting it and none disproving it. Gravity is a theory, Evolution is a theory, how germs work is a theory, and we can look at germs with our fucking eyes with a toy microscope and germ theory is still just a “theory”.

So communication breaks down when people are trying to disprove evolution and don’t know about the evidence then try to play semantic games. They often pullout the phrase “just a theory”, because that word copied an idea in my head and pasted the wrong one in theirs. It also doesn’t help that people saying this are usually dishonest or at best misguided.

The other word that failed me is “socialism”. When liberals say they mean some form of government with at least some centralized aspect. It is fuzzy some mean fully centralized, some mean the United States because we have social roads and thatis a broad gap. It often takes more words to clarify but this is like discussing if submarines swim, it is awkward but it can be worked through to get the ideas across.

When conservatives use this word they are all over the place. Some mean something like a government, but many mean “enemy”. I had one tell me earlier today that every democrat goal was socialism. I have seen plenty claim that cancelling medicare, getting rid of a social medical program was, socialist. The guys over on the Cognitive Dissonance podcast relayed a story where a conservative said “socialist is what we call that guy because we can’t say the N-word”; End Quote. 
 
When used externally this appears dishonest, but most don’t seem to know what their words mean, so it is hard to call them liars. Many of them lived through McCarthyism and the red scare or were raised by parents who took that seriously. I will link to some reading on that in the show notes. 

The short version is that “socialism” is a universal label for the enemy because of this period of intense propaganda in American history. So they see the word as a loyalty test or a way to vote to decide on who the enemy is. If you agree the bad thing is socialism you pass the loyalty test. Or if a thousand people all call it socialism at once then it must be bad, no need to actually evaluate it on its merit or look at any evidence.

Even those contortions are words doing the job of moving ideas from head to head. Just not in the direction all people expect. If a conservative calls a thing socialist they might be checking if you are conservative, not telling about the status of workers rights with regards to that thing.

We can try to be more careful with words. When I am discussing my hunches with people I call them “hunches”, “guesses”, or “conjectures”. When I am discussing evolution, I leave out the word “theory” and stick to evidence and facts as to avoid useless semantics. When I am discussing democratic principles, I say “electoral principles” or “rights of the republic”, or something equivalent.
But we also need to be careful with the ideas others are giving us. When someone says “god say hoesexuality is sin” are they really just testing your response to their bigotry? When they say “chiropractors are doctors”, do they not know about pseudo-science or do they distrust  science based medicine? When someone says goofy q-shit do they just mean to share their ignorance?
 
I wish there were some deep moral or witty quip, but I don’t have one. I just think we need to be careful with the words give and get, because there is no way to simply be more precise and or otherwise guarantee clarity. We just have to muddle through each situation knowing that our words dynamically impact our communication and what we say or hear might not be moving the ideas intended.

Just found this site, I like it so far: https://alphahistory.com/coldwar/mccarthyism/ 


Prove or disprove Germ Theory on your Own: https://amzn.to/2Sq03Kg 

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