Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Pathetic Fallacy Needs Your Understanding

Wikipedia says:

When Xerxes was crossing the Hellespont in the midst of the first Greco-Persian War, he built two bridges that were quickly destroyed. Feeling personally offended, his paranoia led him to believe that the sea was consciously acting against him as though it were an enemy. As such Herodotus quotes him as saying "You salt and bitter stream, your master lays his punishment upon you for injuring him, who never injured you. Xerxes will cross you, with or without your permission."[2] He subsequently threw chains into the river, gave it three hundred lashes and "branded it with red-hot irons".[3]

The Pathetic Fallacy: Animism masquerading as science in education
The pathetic fallacy is the name given the specious attribution of emotions --- which is to say, pathos --- to the inanimate. Thus, when NASA tells children that, “the moving object, due to its mass, wants to keep going,” it misleads them with the pathetic fallacy. For, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, an inanimate mass doesn’t have any wants. Well, there is a belief system which posits that everything contains a spirit which motivates and directs its actions, and that system is called animism. But, animism is not science. So, apparently we have NASA promoting animism among our children under the guise of promoting science. This is scary. (One then wonders if NASA thinks this way, or it only wants children to do so).

Emphasis mine. Hilarious!
More literarity:

Symphony in Slang

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