Monday, February 19, 2007

A Note on Terminology

We at the Thought Foundry would just like to clear up a few points about the terminology used on this web site, in order to avoid confusion or the giving or taking of offence. In the days where political correctness is a heated topic for discussion, we do not wish to step on anyone’s toes in any way, shape or form.

Labels are not pleasant, but it is the nature of humans to assign tags to things, and sometimes regrettably even to people, in order to understand and/or predict that entity’s behaviour. This trait can be both reassuring, yet sometimes restrictive or insulting.

For example, let us look at a recent comment including the term ‘religious freaks’. As it happens this is one of my favourite expressions. To me it is a colourful phrase that seems to both show the speaker’s acceptance that overtly religious people do and must for whatever reason exist in the modern world, however grudgingly, while also adding a somewhat disagreeable but interesting or amusing flavour to the group of people in question.

As to the term’s accuracy, one feels a few words should be said.

There are religious people in the world, and there are freaks in the world. Now, not all religious people are freaks, and not all freaks are religious. Surely this alone can be agreed upon by all. Some religious people are warm, friendly, caring, eg Mother Theresa and Gandhi. Whereas some freaks are from secular backgrounds, eg. the bearded lady, the Phantom of the Opera. However, in saying that, the two sets do overlap, a perfect example of which being, Dracula.

Speaking personally, I don’t mind people who believe strongly in religion, but it’s when the behaviour turns antisocial that problems occur. People, ie the general public, have different thresholds for what is acceptable and what isn’t. Some feel that they shouldn’t have to have members of religions coming round to their house to press their beliefs on them. Others are of the opinion that giving out tracts in public places shouldn’t be tolerated.

I draw the line at murder.

“Thou shalt not kill.” One of the more well-known of God’s commandments in the Old Testament, a sacred text revered by both Christianity and Islam. What completely confounds me is that if two religions evolved from the same faith, like two limbs from the same trunk of a tree, why is one of the most fundamental laws so disagreed upon?

It seems that now more than ever we need to get a leading Christian theologian in a room with a well-known and respected Islamic scholar, together with an unbiased person to type out the transcript. No video - words and arguments only. Have them confirm what they can both agree on, and in a manner of thinking similar to Occam’s Razor, disregard everything else. All or part of the conversation can then be made available to the public.

And I’m sure it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think a book and a movie might spring from the discussion, possibly starring Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman.


Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

Down with the freaks...sorry I was meant to be poltically correct wasn't I?

9:28 am  
Blogger Boo! said...

Freaks are flavourful.

Mmmmm.... freaks.

8:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I draw the line at murder."

i love it. buddhism anyone?

12:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me using the term 'religious freaks'...Let me clarify, that as DrEamer put it, I don't consider all religious people religious freaks (in fact I think they're a small, yet highly annoying, minority).

About the non-religious freaks, heck, I could be one of them! But I am a completely non-violent one (Buddhism comes close to my set of beliefs - but my beliefs keep changing).

On a more serious note, I am sorry if I have offended anyone with my 'religious freaks' phrase. I did not mean it (although to be honest I do have a bias against religions, but try to keep it in check).

10:17 am  
Blogger David said...

Thought you might enjoy this morsel from The least complicated solution happens a lot during a kitchen table conversation and a hot cup of coffee.

Occam's razor: from

William of Ockham

Occam's razor (also spelled Ockham's razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham (Guilhelmi Ockam and Guillermi de Ockam in Latin [1]). Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristic maxim that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity in scientific theories.

Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off," those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. In short, when given two equally valid explanations for a phenomenon, one should embrace the less complicated formulation. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (law of succinctness):

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem,
Source: Ockham's razor: Definition and Much More from

1:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that David! Or as put in the novel "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time" (recommended) :

"No more should be assumed to exist than is absolutely necessary"

Thanks for the comments everyone! I don't think anyone was offended, Peter, so rest-assured. I just liked your turn of phrase and felt like running with it. People around here seem to be open-minded and not-so-easily-offended which is great.

Not a big fan of political correctness, myself, Shadowfalcon :) Or people who like to thinkthemselves 'Politically correcter than thou'. But I like to poke fun at it, hence the tone of the post... I am a fan of sensitivity to other's feelings, though, and always try (but often fail) to keep it in mind.

Actually, boo!, in the jungles of Peru some indian tribes are known to dip their freaks into melted chocolate before parading them up and down the settlement and then devouring them during full-moon rites. Pretty interesting! (though not recommended)

Buddhism is a fascinating way of thinking and I wish I could spend more time studying it. What are other people's views on it?

warning : some of the above may contain creative embellishment, especially anything to do with chocolate dips

11:04 am  

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