Debate and Discussion

A Black Hole
subcultured at 10:11AM, July 17, 2008
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Someone
You'd be surprised. In the past I've frequently been floored at the lack of understanding exhibited by the people I've talked to, over relatively simple things that should be well within the fields of their own expertise.

The funny thing here is that so many people immediately thought of that as a purely scientific term, not at all realising that it was only a metaphor in this case. I wonder how many people here even realise when they speak metaphorically, use simile, analogy and what differences are, and the subtle differences and true meanings are of many of the words that they use all the time…?

I wouldn't claim to even be aware of all those that I myself use. The thing is, communication isn't a straight forward science, it's an art and anybody can get it wrong.

someone shouldn't apologize and think of being a racist just because someone doesn't understand the whole concept of black holes or white boards(cause you use pens of color to change the whiteness :P)
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
bravo1102 at 12:35PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
someone shouldn't apologize and think of being a racist just because someone doesn't understand the whole concept of black holes or white boards(cause you use pens of color to change the whiteness :P)


Good point. It reminded me that in 1990s-2000s when I taught “blackboards” were no longer “blackboards” but Chalk boards.

Back in the 1980's when I went to school they were always black boards no matter what color they were (red brown, green etc.)

Of course whiteboards are white A lot more white than any Caucasian.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
DAJB at 12:43PM, July 17, 2008
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People who want to make a race issue out of something that clearly isn't are pretty racist themselves, it seems to me. That's all that this clip demonstrates.

By attacking behaviour which is in no way racist, this guy is clearly showing that his only beef with the speaker is that he's of a different race. That qualifies as racism in my book.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
ozoneocean at 2:44PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
Someone
You'd be surprised. In the past I've frequently been floored at the lack of understanding exhibited by the people I've talked to, over relatively simple things that should be well within the fields of their own expertise.

The funny thing here is that so many people immediately thought of that as a purely scientific term, not at all realising that it was only a metaphor in this case. I wonder how many people here even realise when they speak metaphorically, use simile, analogy and what differences are, and the subtle differences and true meanings are of many of the words that they use all the time…?

I wouldn't claim to even be aware of all those that I myself use. The thing is, communication isn't a straight forward science, it's an art and anybody can get it wrong.

someone shouldn't apologize and think of being a racist just because someone doesn't understand the whole concept of black holes or white boards(cause you use pens of color to change the whiteness :P)
I sigh…
It seems communication is failing utterly here as well…

The “concept” of black holes is neither here nor there. Those people had a discussion, one used a metaphor that some others misinterpreted. The result was funny and sad, But mistakes happen.

And now people are all trying to be clever, talking about science while completely misunderstanding the nature of the mistake and making fools of themselves. This discussion is stupid. and circular.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
subcultured at 3:14PM, July 17, 2008
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if it was a black guy saying that it wouldn't be an issue. period.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
mapaghimagsik at 3:28PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
if it was a black guy saying that it wouldn't be an issue. period.

I know, we used to just call them n*ggers too.

Whatever happened to that sweeter, happier time?

Do I NEED to put sarcasm tags around this? Tapping into latent white outrage is *so* 1980.

I do actually respect several of your arguments Sub, but are you really that oppressed because calling someone something is appropriate from one person and inappropriate from another? There are so many more ways you're getting screwed.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
subcultured at 3:35PM, July 17, 2008
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“black” is a bad word now?
but i guess “white” is still okay.

one of my best friends is “black”.
as a “brownie” i like “white” blond girls.

just cause i'm describing people's “off-color” doesn't make me a racist.

J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
mapaghimagsik at 4:11PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
“black” is a bad word now?
but i guess “white” is still okay.

one of my best friends is “black”.
as a “brownie” i like “white” blond girls.

just cause i'm describing people's “off-color” doesn't make me a racist.



And I understand that you're not some generic racist because I've read your posts before and we have history and previous context to work with.

But, whether we like it or not, I don't get to say some words – or at least I avoid saying them. Some white people don't like being called Redneck or Cracker. Some black people are sensitive as well, and some people are so comfortable with a given person that they can transcend the norms. I've had one friend I could call words that would make most other people *very* offended.

Those people getting offended are not guilty of reverse racism, which is at best a poor excuse.

I don't think we're in agreement that “black hole” is probably pretty okay to say, and one would only get offended in certain circumstances.

You've presented some very nuanced observations that didn't go for the reverse racism canard. I just don't think this is one of them.


last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
subcultured at 4:21PM, July 17, 2008
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i think if a person is predilected towards a certain way of thinking they can jumble a message as it was unintended.

in example every time i see this sign:

i crack up. most people don't understand why it would be so funny, but to me without a comma this sign is saying “slow children playing”. but i have a sick sense of humor.

so if you're reality is always thinking the “white” man is making backhanded comments about your race…you tend to think every comment is racist.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
mapaghimagsik at 4:32PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
i think if a person is predilected towards a certain way of thinking they can jumble a message as it was unintended.

in example every time i see this sign:

i crack up. most people don't understand why it would be so funny, but to me without a comma this sign is saying “slow children playing”. but i have a sick sense of humor.

so if you're reality is always thinking the “white” man is making backhanded comments about your race…you tend to think every comment is racist.
That sign makes me said, but when I see “Slow Men Working” I'm cheered up because they got jobs.

I don't, but I don't think I can call a woman “bitch” or even “girl” without knowing her first. And that's knowing if certain words are clear. It sounds like you want to blame “reality” for not realizing that you mean your words in a better light than they come out, but its really symiotics and culture.

Or in other words, “Words mean things” and many times things we don't intend. Its the mark of a civilized culture that one tries to pick words that aren't going to hurt someone just for the sake of hurting them.

Sure, the listener bears the ultimate responsibility for how words affect them. That should be an empowering concept that allows people to rise above things that would normally be hurtful.

But the speaker has a choice too.





last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
bravo1102 at 6:58PM, July 17, 2008
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When you get to the bed rock of this whole thing it merely points up the low standard of scientific literacy in the US.

One person assumed that his audience would understand a simple metaphor that is standard English usage and based on an understanding of basic science. That someone was incapable of understanding the metaphor is the sad thing. The matter of is scientific and cultural literacy and has everything to do with it.

It isn't racist because one person hasn't the scientific and cultural literacy to understand what is a basic metaphor. It's ignorance. I had to teach the class on racial sensitivity. Racism is all based on ignorance, and in this case the speaker was communicating effectively, the audience member was inattentive and misunderstood a simple point because of his own ignorance of a simple term that he should have learned in junior high science class.

As an educator that's sad. That's the big picture, the whole forest not a bunch of trees. It's not a case of racism but of the poor state scientific literacy and education in the US.

It points up that the USA has one of the lowest levels of scientific education in all the developed world.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
subcultured at 7:08PM, July 17, 2008
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why blame the smart person of being smart?
it's not like he was using a really sophisticated scientific concept. blackholes have been around since the 1916.
it's not like the audience are quakers.

does he have to explain that the earth revolves around the sun?
i think he gave the audience a lot of respect by using that as an analogy. most smart people with suits on and has the capacity to make decisions for the masses should have been educated enough to know the concept of black holes.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
mapaghimagsik at 8:00PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
it's not like he is addressing uneducated individuals. he's talking to people that went to big colleges and got to their position by hopefully being smart.

also you can not be too sure who will and who will not grasp certain metaphors. but we use them anyway.

i saw that guy's face when they wanted him to apologize. It said “are you fucking kidding me?”.

I think we're in a surprising amount of agreement about this specific instance. At the same time, your statement pointed to a much larger issue, where the speaker has a responsibility. Believe me, I say things that cause people to get offended, and depending on the situation I either try to modify my speech to adjust for the more sensitive people (surprisingly, its a fair number of conservatives that will at some point piss and moan about being PC that I have to modify things to make sure their widdle feelings aren't hurt.) or I just move on.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
subcultured at 8:32PM, July 17, 2008
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then what would be an alternative with what he was trying to make a point? something that doesn't require 2 minutes of explanation?

speech is about getting to the point that's why words are invented all the time to decrease the instances of long drawn out sentences that can be summarize in a word.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
ozoneocean at 9:47PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
then what would be an alternative with what he was trying to make a point? something that doesn't require 2 minutes of explanation?

speech is about getting to the point that's why words are invented all the time to decrease the instances of long drawn out sentences that can be summarize in a word.
Exactly. It's a problem of communication. There are always different ways of saying things. A lot of times the use of metaphors like “Black Hole” is actually just lazy speech and lazy thinking; instead of really explaining what people mean, they'll often just throw in a simple metaphor and hope that covers it. That's not being intelligent or scientifically literate so much as blase.*

Politicians are masters of that. They say a lot, but it tends to mean surprisingly little… Or can be interpreted many ways. Good academics however will write reams and reams, with each sentence using about 3 times more words than you'd normally use in that instance, just because they can't afford to be misunderstood: so they try and be as precise as possible. When you dispense with the lazy short cut words and phrases it takes a lot longer to say things. But it's harder to be misunderstood.

*( :) to explain: “Blase” would normally have an accent over the “e”, but it can't be displayed here. It means “not to care” )
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
DAJB at 11:28PM, July 17, 2008
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subcultured
why blame the smart person of being smart?
it's not like he was using a really sophisticated scientific concept.
I'm with you on this one, sub. (Well, someone had to be!)

I doubt many people outside of astrophysicists really understand what a black hole is (in fact I doubt whether they do, to be honest!) but the term is in such common usage these days that you'd have to try very, very hard to interpret it as being in any way racist.

There's been a Disney kids' movie called Black Hole. There's been a Muse song titled Supermassive Black Hole. It is constantly used and misused in the press. It's featured in every other SciFi movie and TV show of the last ten years. You do not need to be a scientist to understand that the term has nothing to do with race. You just need to be a trouble-maker with a chip on your shoulder.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
ozoneocean at 11:41PM, July 17, 2008
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DAJB
You just need to be a trouble-maker with a chip on your shoulder.
Or a frustrated man having a discussion where the meaning of the word “black” is already exceptionally loaded and heavy. ;)

There's a lot more to language, communication, and understanding than just surface stuff. And while the man was wrong to take offence, we're wrong to judge him as: an idiot, a “reverse racist”, a malcontent, a “trouble maker”, and so on.

People are being just as blind, unfair, and quick to make a judgement as he was during that discussion. Except you guys don't have the excuse of the high feelings of those involved in it at the time and the pressure you feel while you're being recorded on a TV set. You can vent and criticise at leisure.

So who'd being more unfair?
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
subcultured at 12:45AM, July 18, 2008
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maybe he should have said point singularity. heh
but no one really knows that's another name for black hole.

so ill go with black hole.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
ozoneocean at 2:08AM, July 18, 2008
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I doubt he'd know either, but that's totally irrelevant. ;)

Rather: maybe it would have been better if he'd actually said what he really meant?
ie. “spending money on that programme isn't worth it because…”
-Instead of the almost meaningless, throw away line that he did use.

It's hilarious that not only was the use of his metaphor misunderstood, it's use was almost completely pointless anyway because it made what he was saying far too vague. lol!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
DAJB at 5:27AM, July 18, 2008
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ozoneocean
So who'd being more unfair?
Er - he is. Quite obviously. This guy went out of his way to make a race issue out of something that wasn't. That makes him guilty of racist behaviour, not the speaker.

We should be prepared to call people on that type of behaviour, whatever their ethnicity. Making excuses for them will only postpone the day when race is genuinely no longer an issue.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
ozoneocean at 5:31AM, July 18, 2008
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You guys are amazing. It's like nothing else matters to you. You'd just rather stick the boot in to some poor fool who made a mistake on TV. Good going. :)

———–
Reminds me of the tunnel vision and attack dog fury of British Tabloids…
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
bobhhh at 3:12AM, July 19, 2008
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ozoneocean
It's hilarious that not only was the use of his metaphor misunderstood, it's use was almost completely pointless anyway because it made what he was saying far too vague. lol!

Oh come now, was it REALLY vague to you? I mean didn't you understand instantaneously what he meant? When he called central collections a black hole, didn't you instinctevly think he meant that collections was a place where information dissappeared never to return?

I know I did, and I'm willing to stipulate that neither you nor I are geniuses. ;)

You know Zoney old pal, when you get right down to it, I'm not really as mad at this guy for misunderstanding the term initially, as I am at the fact that they tried to crucify him in an open forum. This poor guy said again and again it's a science term, but it never occurred to them for a second to stop and check on the veracity of his claim. Instead later another stubborn moron insists on an apology, you want to talk about giving someone a boot in the ass?

I'm not sure if you are aware what happens to politicians in this country if they are percieved to make an unrepentanat racial slur. They were trying to silence that guy and make him admit he made a racist comment.

Seriously everybody knows what fkn Black Hole is, I've seen the movie a bazillion times(Tron was better) lol!

Those two complainers were both stupid and dangerous, they ought to aplogize to him.
My name is Bob and I approved this signature.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM
ozoneocean at 4:54AM, July 19, 2008
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bobhhh
Oh come now, was it REALLY vague to you? I mean didn't you understand instantaneously what he meant? When he called central collections a black hole, didn't you instinctevly think he meant that collections was a place where information dissappeared never to return?
No…? From what I understand about the theory of black holes; they tend to be formed by massive supernovas collapsing into an extremely dense point, so dense that the the gravitational forces overcome the atomic bonds or something, ripping apart the very atoms and transforming them… The singularity has such amazing mass that space, light and even time around them is noticeably bent. And yet they're completely invisible in of themselves and only seen by their influence on the space around them. They gather an accretion disk as matter is slowly drawn towards the singularity, it speeds up as it gets closer. And as that matter is drawn down towards the central mass, it's ripped apart before it even gets there. This process releases a vast plume of energy in the form of gamma ray bursts… And that can in turn energise matter and help in the formation of other stars…

It's believed that they don't go on collapsing forever, but eventually just evaporate. It's also believed that many galaxies have massive black holes, or fields of several of them in their hearts. And it's also thought that they help in the formation and renewal of stars and galaxies, not just in their destruction.

-That's all I've learned about them, and that's from memory so if you wiki that, don't be surprised if there are errors.


Now, given all that: No, I don't take the same meaning you do from that metaphor. Not at all.

———————
The trouble with your defence there Bob is that everyone knows the man made a mistake. So you're really just putting the boot in along with everyone else. Doing much the same as you accuse him of doing.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
subcultured at 9:06AM, July 19, 2008
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actually some physicist states that information can be preserved in a black hole. a black hole is like a giant cd it spools the quantum and physical information towards the center..as of yet no one really knows what is really happening in the point singularity.

Someone
So you're really just putting the boot in along with everyone else.

why is he wearing a boot? maybe he should take offense to that. cause from my understanding boots are smelly.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
ozoneocean at 10:50AM, July 19, 2008
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Especially when you walk in a dog park…

——–
Yep, I did make some errors there with my knowledge of black holes, but that's to be expected. As I'd thought though, the term came from the infamous Indian prison (that's where I always remember it from) and it wasn't until the late 60's when it was used to describe this unusual phenomena in space, which before that didn't have that name. ;)
——–

They're a very interesting subject Sub, a lot more interesting than people harping on at a silly man on TV for his harping on at another man on TV.

I seriously doubt that black holes could preserve anything in the forms they were before they fell in… Maybe they can preserve the matter and energy in there, but seeing as all sources I've read say that matter is torn into its smallest pieces (quarks or whatever) before they even reach the core, it's not a CD that you can ever play back again. More like a CD full of static :)

…Unless you're talking about how the stuff is all stretched out, but still whole as it goes in… But it doesn't stay that was forever -although it apparently LOOKS that way once it crosses the event horizon, but only until something else gets in the way of your line of sight when it too crosses over.

So, funnily enough, even the idea that once something crosses the event horizon it appears to be gone forever to the outside observer is actually incorrect: because to the outside observer it appears to take an infinite amount of time to cross the event horizon, so it never disappears- (until something else crosses where it did, as I said before).
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM

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