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Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 1) 60

by ScentCone (#49559863) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies
I get it. It's just too much trouble for you to choose between multiple ways of saying something in order to be succinct instead of vague. People who don't value clarity never realize that they people they're talking to - every time that happens - value that communication (and the person attempting it) less and less over time.

What's so hard to understand? This forum is full of people correcting others' poor use of communication when talking about everything from natural selection to global warming to employment demographics. Someone makes a sloppy choice of phrase, and the simple thing they're trying to convey turns into a four-step back and forth during which everyone from trolls to the merely dim decide to screw up the thread or just rant because the OP couldn't trouble themselves to just speak clearly in the first place.

This particular lapse in clarity, which comes up regularly in lazy science and technology reporting, isn't the point. The larger point is the grinding erosion in careful communication, and the erosion in clear and critical thinking of which that is an indicator. You think this is about ego? It's about understanding the power and value of properly nuanced communication, especially in the shortened format that venues like this tend to encourage.

I need to learn English? What you're really saying is, I need to forget English, because it's just too much trouble to quickly sort through the differences found in several ways to say the same thing, each of which contributes to a more quickly digested communication of different ideas. You're cranky because I'm not a fan of lazy thinking, and the fact that you think "learning English" means forgetting how to distinguish between different words is exactly the larger problem I'm pointing out.

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 1) 60

by ScentCone (#49558729) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

There is nothing in there constraining SizeA or SizeB relative to anything else, just the size relative to each other.

No, no constraints in that sense. Just the larger constraints introduced by the fact that the purpose of saying anything at all, in that context, is to communicate something meaningful about A's size. And by choosing the "ten times more" construction, part of what you're communicating is the fact that B, the thing to which you're comparing A, is by implication already considered small. That format (rather than saying, "A is a tenth B's size") is a choice of words that communicates the understand that B is small, and A is even more small. The phrase "ten times smaller" is using the word "smaller" in the sense of "more small."

The words "ten times" is a multiplier. It's used, in a comparison, to say that one value is LARGER than another. In this usage, the smallness of A is ten times larger than the smallness of B. Trotting out that multiplier is a deliberate choice made to focus on smallness in both A and B, with A having ten times more of it. That doesn't describe the size of B, but it communicates that notion that B is already - in the scheme of things - considered small, and A more so.

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 1) 60

by ScentCone (#49558713) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies
It's a shame that your own literacy is so limited, and that your own ability to parse the differences between words is disabled by a lack of vocabulary breadth. That's got to be frustrating. Or maybe not, since perhaps ignorance is bliss in some way, right?

Saying that something is "ten times smaller" is like saying "ten times more small." The phrase "ten times" is a multiplier. It means that you're describing an aspect of something, and saying that there is ten times as much of that aspect. In that usage, the aspect you're describing and comparing is the smallness.

By choosing that construction ("A is ten times smaller than B"), you're deliberately focusing on B's size, and implying that the smallness of B is the thing that's being multiplied ... that B's smallness is important in what you're communicating, and that it's of note because A's size is even more so (small, that is). If we're not trying to convey B's smallness as part of the concept being communicated (perhaps B isn't really thought of as small at all, in the scheme of things), a different construction makes more sense. Makes for better communication: "A is tenth of B's size." We're still describing the relationship, but doing so without including words that suggest B's size is already considered small.

That you don't have the cognitive and communication skills to understand the difference, or that you DO, and prefer to have communication dumbed down and muddied, and require more back and forth to clarify what you mean, says a lot about you. Which is unfortunate. That you think you have to insult someone else in order to feel better about it is just kind of pathetic, really.

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 1) 60

by ScentCone (#49557675) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

That has nothing to do with the wording people are arguing over

No, that's EXACTLY what people are arguing about. You say "A is ten times smaller than B" when B is already understood to be small compared to something else. The implication in that sentence is that B is already known for its smallness, and A is even smaller. Except, people use that same construction even when B isn't considered small. They use that incorrect connotation when what they're really trying to say is, "B is big, but A is only a tenth as big."

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 1) 60

by ScentCone (#49557213) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

Just like every time someone says, "Product A is $2 cheaper than Product B," I have to guess that, "Product B is $2 more than Product A." Maybe we shouldn't have slept through math class.

Math doesn't help in the absence of context. If Product A is $2 cheaper than Product B, but Product B costs $10,000 ... does it really matter? That's a little different than Product B costing $3, right? Right. In real life, context actually matters, or you're just wasting people's time.

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score 0) 60

by ScentCone (#49557205) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

There is no confusion that it might mean something else.

Yes, there IS confusion. Are we supposed to infer that the thing that the new 10-times-smaller version is being compared to was already considered small? That's what implied, but nobody knows for sure because the person saying it is lazily using a common, and poorly thought out, construction that doesn't actually tell us that.

No, you're not. It is perfectly reasonable for someone to say something like, "The Small Magellanic Cloud is the smaller of the two Magellanic Clouds," without implying it is smaller than a breadbox or even small in general.

OK. But let's say you don't know how big the Small Magellanic Cloud is, relative to, say, the Milky Way, or Andromeda, or anything else. And then someone says, "We've just found a new galaxy, hiding behind a dust cloud, and it's three times smaller than the Magellanic Cloud." What are you supposed to gather from that use?

Fine, you don't like the wording

No, I don't like people conveying information in a way that forces you to go research something they mentioned without providing any useful context. When somebody cites a comparative size, but doesn't explain why (or if) that comparison is meaningful, then it's a waste of time. Especially when the communication is theoretically about science and/or technology.

Comment: Re:times smaller,,, (Score -1) 60

by ScentCone (#49556201) Attached to: Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies

even though everybody knows what it means right away

You're missing the point.

When someone says, "The new battery is ten times smaller than the old battery," yes ... we can guess that part of what's meant is, "The new battery is a tenth the size of the old battery."

But there's a reason those are TWO DIFFERENT SENTENCES.

When you use the word smallER in that context, you're communicating that the old battery is small, and the new battery is even smaller. Why? Because you're saying that the new battery has time times the smallness of the old one. That has a completely different connotation than a sentence that suggests that the old battery was what it was (or was large), and the new battery is comparatively small.

The reason we have lots of vocabulary words, adjectives, and constructions is so that we can be nuanced and more precise in simple communication. When you use a sentence that essentially forces the audience to go find out what you actually meant by "ten times smaller" (was the old one small, or huge?) then you've done the opposite of providing useful information. All of that in order to avoid using slightly different words that we also all know?

This is pure laziness, that's all. It's mimicking a sound or phrase without thinking about what's actually being communicated. It's no different than people who say, "I could care less," when they mean exactly the opposite. They are uttering sounds without thinking about the actual words they're using. One small, lazy spoken step for man, part of one cumulative giant leap towards dumbing everybody down.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 400

Im sure some dogs DO detect drugs

Thousands of them, trained by some very serious, very passionate people who don't even begin to fit the cartoon caricature description of cops who fake drug busts

but the above scenario has been reported a number of times

How many is a "number," relative to the all day, every day work these dogs and their handlers do?

Comment: Re:...Coming Soon (Score 1) 400

wouldn't you want a furry friend with an addiction to powerful drugs to keep you company?

The only thing search/detection dog is addicted to is the simple pleasure of working. They're descended from wolves, who live to hunt. They're bred to be incredibly sensitive, nose-wise, and have had their pack instincts morphed into a very gratifying (for them, and their handlers) pleasure in their essentially symbiotic relationship with humans. They love to go out and do stuff, and are raised as pups to get some good clean joy out of accurately differentiating between being right and wrong with their noses. They're addicted to being part of a well organized pack, just like many social animals. Addicted to the drugs or other materials they've learned to identify by the parts-per-billion in the air? Nonsense. They want a pat on the head, their favorite toy as a reward, and a chance to go do it again.

The UNIX philosophy basically involves giving you enough rope to hang yourself. And then a couple of feet more, just to be sure.