Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Critical Evaluation of some "Old Sayings"

 "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

This may have some validity in the short run, but in the long run, absence tends to quell (but not necessarily eliminate) emotional connections. Otherwise, the grief one feels at the death of a loved one or the termination of a romantic relationship would increase in intensity over time, rather than the gradual tempering of the grief response we have all experienced.

"You can’t teach an old dog new tricks."

This is simply a false statement. Old dogs and old people have the capacity to learn throughout the lifespan (in the absence of brain disorders).

"Lightning never strikes twice in the same place."

Another false statement

"Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach."

Aside from my own personal objection to this sentiment, this saying doesn't make sense. Teaching, like all jobs, requires a specific skill set (i.e. good communication skills, charisma, ability to inspire others, passion, knowledge of subject matter, etc.). The world’s greatest biologist could be a terrible biology teacher. The world’s greatest auto mechanic might be completely incompetent in the instruction of car repair.

"Faith can move mountains."

Faith can move… nothing. Dynamite, bulldozers, big trucks, and people of action have proven an effective means for messing mountains up, but faith has yet to move even a grain of sand. On a side note, “faith” is generally regarded as a positive attribute. The term refers to belief without evidence, based on gut feelings or intuition. I consider this a slippery slope. If I accept even one idea without evidence, have I not opened the floodgates to falling for believing any number of absurdities? Doesn't this define gullibility and make me an easy mark for those who would manipulate me to their advantage?

"People with book smarts have no common sense."

Research has shown the exact opposite. Different types of intelligence tend to positively correlate with each other. In other words, folks who are highly intelligent in one arena, tend to also be highly intelligent in other arenas (and vice versa). We all know exceptions to this pattern and tend to use them as “evidence” to the truth of this old saying. However, using rare exceptions to nullify overwhelming data to the contrary speaks more to our psychological need to “take smart people down a peg” than it does to the validity of the saying… Besides, isn’t it common sense to have book smarts?

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

Hmmm, this one is just self-evident bull shit.

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