Gen X at 40

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Steven Garrity -

Right on Al. Please bear with me as I quote myself quoting someone else quoting yet another (from Evolving Client Content, an article I wrote for A List Apart):

<blockquote class="quote">
<p>Neil Postman, in a 1990 address to the German Informatics Society, made reference to George Bernard Shaw's theory that "all professions are conspiracies against the common folk." The idea being that professionals construct complex proprietary language ("gobbledegook") in order to keep the common man from being able to understand, and therefore criticize their work. This phenomenon would be familiar to anyone who has ever been told by a tech support phone operator to "defrag your hard drive" and call back—by which time the operator's shift will long since have ended.</p></blockquote>

mrG -

I don't know where I first heard it or where it comes from, and it took me a while to find it through Google to be sure I had it correct, but I've always enjoyed the quote

"Philosophy is the systematic abuse of a terminology specifically designed for that purpose"

I run into word-salad generators all the time in my consulting; just today I concluded a lengthly flame fest with the webmaster for the OntarioLiberals.com website who was trying to hand me abuses of all sorts of terminology to excuse the design principles which led them to build a site where you cannot even contact the site owners unless you run the lastest MSIE. I was no more than done this and ran into another extremely long tirade from a Defender of Learnware trying to sell me on "<i>ideational scaffolding</i>" as an excuse to siphon precious (and dwindling) education funds into the pockets of Microsoft.

But as you can see from that quote, yes, the professional tactic of bamboozlement through opaque jargon is at least as old as the renaissance.

Roberto Martins -

The citation "Philosophy is the systematic abuse of a terminology specifically designed for that purpose" is a translation from the German. The original sentence is ascribed to the physicist Wolfgang Pauli:

"Philosophie ist der systematische Missbrauch einer eigens zu diesem Zweck entwickelten Terminologie".

http://www.walter-fendt.de/sprueche.htm
http://www.goethe.lb.bw.schule.de/humor/spruwitz.htm

Giorgos Karagounis -

I think you're wrong about who originally said the sentence, I'm now reading "Der Teil und das Ganze" by Werner Heisenberg, and in his book its Otto Laporte, a friend of the author and Wolfgang Pauli that uses this sentence..