Monday, July 02, 2007

Substitution phrases for "Science" and "Energy"

This is a language rant, but I hope to be concise:

Two of the most consistently abused words I see are "Science" and "Energy". I propose when you encounter these words in conversation or the media just substitute the phrases below and see if it still makes sense:

Science: "Fallible individuals interacting in an evaluating community"

Energy: "The ability to do work"


Note: the science substitution was pulled from an book I recently listened to:
William James, Charles Peirce, and American Pragmatism by James Campbell

Note: The energy substitution was suggested in the podcast quoted below:


Energy is a measurement of some thing's ability to perform work. Given this context, when spiritualists talk about your body's energy fields, they're really saying nothing that's even remotely meaningful. Yet this kind of talk has become so pervasive in our society that the vast majority of Americans accept that energy exists as a self-contained force, floating around in glowing clouds, and can be commanded by spiritualist adepts to do just about anything.


The Filmer said...

So, when a hydrogen bomb explodes, it's just a lot of work getting done? And what about heat? I usually feel hot not from the ability to do work, but from having done some work. I don't think the simple 'ability to do work' is a sufficient definition of the word energy. And ball lightening is what, a concentration of work ability? And with Einstein's famous formula, are we saying that matter or material can be turned into the ability to do work? And then what, that ability to do work can be fusioned back into material?

daddy_phantom said...

Your examples are all example of "work". Just because the H-Bomb is normally used for destruction does not stop that from being work. Knocking things down is actually work.

The idea of the substitution is to help identify the misuse of the word "energy" as a some vague thing unto itself.