dwashbur at nyx.net
Sun Apr 14 20:16:22 EDT 2002
> Moon, may I answer you here as one also trained originally in science
> and who then worked as an engineer. In most branches of science, if a
> hypothesis has a 96% or 97% fit with the observed facts (as here), the
> general truth of that hypothesis is considered rather strongly
> indicated. Of course one then needs to look at the remaining results.
> They may be spurious or corrupted (cf. here the text may be corrupt);
> but one would need to look into whether that is reasonable. Or one might
> find that this small residue of results can be accounted for by making
> adjustments to the hypothesis. Sometimes it might be necessary to leave
> the hypothesis as incomplete and uncertain because a residue of results
> has not been accounted for. But I am sure no scientist would reject a
> hypothesis completely because of a 3-4% discrepancy.
> Peter Kirk
This should be especially true in language, where "rules" are
constantly bent, broken and altered by social convention. It may be
"improper grammar" to construct a clause like "So I says to him, I
says..." but Americans do it all the time. Language, as a science, is
hardly in the same class with, say, physics, where the same action
predictably produces the same results (throw the ball up, it comes
down again). One moment a person might say "He called me a so-
and-so, so I went across the street to punch him in the nose" and
the next time the story is related he might say "He calls me a so-
and-so and I go across the street to punch him in the schnozz."
Because of the mystery factor of the human mind, language always
has a certain element of unpredictability. In my own work I call this
unpredictability "social convention" and IMO it usually accounts for
that 3-4% discrepancy.
This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do
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