Fair is Foul

Seven Day. Air Temperature a bit higher than yesterday. No shivering during the morning constitutional.

Almost the end of Week Out. Why have week out become so miserable? Inactivity? Probably a major factor.

Which brings me to an article [Link] I ran across yesterday titled “Strong language: swearing makes you stronger, psychologists confirm.” I have to admit that this article brought a lot of baggage with it.

My first concern was having psychologists measuring physical and physiological things. My experience with most psychologists, Total Angular Momentum Magnetic Inductance being the primary exception that proves the rule – and he started as an engineer, are a bit whackadoodle. Their experiments seldom make a meaningful and clear connection between methods and conclusions. I suppose part of this is the whackedness of humans in general but when someone tells me they are going to measure X and then announce this confirms Y with no demonstrated connection between X and Y except in the mind of the psychologist I get a bit skeptical.

The second thought was the strangeness of language. Take the words “swear”, “curse”, and “profanity”. All are synonyms for foul and offensive language. But one also swears an oath and cursing is a form of magic, or, at least, witchery. So the degeneracy is confusing in the least.

There is also the matter that the “English” spoken in England is different from the “English” spoken in the Yankee republic. 

And the last was that this seems not to be news. I can recall that Edward Elmer Smith in one of his Lensmen series wrote “Men curse to keep from crying, women cry to keep from cursing.” This may be a different form of strength but the implication is at least as clear as one of those psychology experiments. 

Also, in dealing with the military for many years, the use of profanity to summon some form of strength, physical among the ranks, mental and ethical among officers, is common and often inappropriate. 

So is this a case of academic approval where some well-known effect must be validated by academics to actually exist? Or is there something really new here? The difference cannot be resolved given the state of the journalism. 

In the meantime I reflect on whether I had to make use of profanity to read the article. I don’t recall it, but that is part of profanity: we become addicted to it and don’t realize we are using it until we are punished for doing so.

Which is a matter that the psychologists should have studied but apparently didn’t.

Maybe I will shiver now.

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