User talk:Internoob/NoLQT

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
  • Note: This page was moved from User talk:Internoob on 2010-05-19 with the installation of LiquidThreads. You can use this page if you don't want to use LiquidThreads.


Hi Internoob--

I understand that your substitution of {{scientific}} for my phrasing "In scientific usage" comports better with WT standards, but I think the inclusion of "a term of art" may be useful to retain somewhere in the definition, to point out that the word law used in this context has a very specific meaning which is frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted.

You can see this confusion already in the example given for the questioned definition, Newton and Einstein understood the law of gravitation in very different ways. Newton and Einstein did indeed understand the "law" of gravitation in different ways, but the distinction here as understood by most people who are not physicists has much more to do with their respective explanatory theories of gravitation rather than with the law that describes the action of gravity. Further, it is not at all widely understood that the "law of gravitation" is not immutably written in stone, but is still now subject to observation and measurement at different scales and at different times in the history of the universe.

Obviously none of all this can go into a simple definition of the word "law" - but this is why I think it's important to specify that "in scientific usage" or in a (sciences) context, the word is used as a term of art to distinguish it from looser and more confused meanings. Milkunderwood 21:38, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Hi Milkunderwood.
Isn't "term of art" already implied by the (sciences) label? I only understand the term "term of art" by our entry's definition (essentially "a piece of jargon"), as it's not a word that I typically use, so it could be that I was removing some critical information. The (sciences) label means that the use is used specifically when talking about sciences, the same way that the (cricket) sense of law is used in reference to cricket. My line of reasoning when I trimmed the definition was that it would be awkward to have every definition start with "in x usage, term is a term of art, meaning ...". —Internoob 01:05, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Granting your reversion of "in scientific usage" in favor of (sciences), I think not really for term of art. I understand your thinking that it's redundant, as it would be in reference to cricket, but the problem is that all of this (sciences) terminology is used both strictly and loosely by scientists, depending on context. So they would tend to assume that a colleague will understand from context how to interpret their use of the word "law" or for instance "theory", which lends itself to even far greater misunderstanding - but a layman will need to have that distinction made clear.
My hope was that providing a linked reference to A term whose use or meaning is specific to a particular field of endeavor tends to make the reader think, "wait a minute, am I really understanding how this word was intended?"
If you look at the entry for theory, which I tried to similarly clarify at the same time I was posting to law, you'll see that I was quickly reverted by Widsith, I assume primarily because my "quotation" was obviously illegal. There's some discussion at User talk:Widsith#theory that may better explain what I was trying to get at; and the very long "quotation" I had provided there should still be in the History tab for theory.
I was just trying to improve and clarify a couple of definitions of terms that particularly lend themselves to great confusion between their stricter and looser senses, and I agree that I was not doing a very good job of it. If nothing else, as I pointed out in my initial post here, the original quotation given at what is the 5th definition of law is terribly misleading. My edits had first been reverted by User:DCDuring, and there's some discussion (in both of the last two sections #s 216 & 215) on that talkpage that may be of interest. It might also be helpful to look at the huge "quotation" that was reverted - I've never seen a more cogent explanation of the problem with these terms, and perhaps something of use can still be distilled from it.
In the meantime, I can't imagine how "law" can refer to the 4th definition as "a one-sided contract" - I've never seen anything to that effect in another English dictionary, and wouldn't know how to interpret this other than "if the law says something I don't like, and is enforceable, then it is per se a one-sided contract between me and the state (or whoever)." So I still am under the impression that my contributions were potentially more helpful than not, even if they weren't done very well. Milkunderwood 03:29, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I can see where you're coming from. Maybe a better way to do convey that the term can have strict and loose senses in scientific contexts would be to write {{sciences|strictly}} or some such context tag.
Or, alternatively, I recommend using "term of art" in the second sentence of the definition, because otherwise the definition becomes a {{non-gloss definition}} (basically, a term whose definition says what the term is or what it does grammatically rather than what it means). Non-gloss definitions aren't bad, they just look kind of confusing, especially when the definition is a non-gloss definition + some notes on usage.
I would recommend the former option more highly because the second sentence of the definition might get changed or moved to a usage notes section because the entry is on RFC, and besides it looks cleaner IMO.
As to the fourth definition, "one-sided contract", I agree that it seems dubious. The process for getting rid of definitions like those is to put them up on WT:RFV unless they're obviously rubbish. I don't know why DCDuring restored that fifth definition, TBH. Your edit was only a modification of it. —Internoob 05:51, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
It's clear to me that this whole situation is going to require some thoughtful discussion among interested senior editors of Wiktionary, including yourself and perhaps DCDuring and Widsith. And by the way, I had forgotten to mention that I had left just the same sort of mess at the entry for hypothesis. I'm not at all a competent Wiktionarian (nor a Wikipedian for that matter), and am really just a passerby. It seems to me that the key to the problem lies in the explanatory paragraphs written by Ronald H Pine, but I have no idea how best to distill the distinctions he articulates, or how to present any such distillation in acceptable WT format. Of course Pine's article is not the only possible source for these distinctions - it's just that I'm not aware of any other specific source in mainstream scientific writing that distinguishes the terminology so clearly. Also note that it is not only definitions that will need consideration, but also illustrative quotations can be very misleading, as I had pointed out in the Newton/Einstein example in my original post here. I just hope I may have helped improve the dictionary in some small way by having raised these issues. Milkunderwood 07:21, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Pine doesn't address the term proof, but back many decades ago when I was taught in the sixth grade exactly the same definitions and distinctions made by him, my teacher also pointed out that in a strict sense, proof cannot be a scientific concept, but only a mathematical one. That is, something can be disproved, but never proven. We were taught to always use "demonstrate" or some other such word instead. In careful mainstream scientific writing you will find this admonition being followed. Milkunderwood 08:16, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Great. I've made this edit to law in the absence of anything better. If you want to discuss with others, there are discussions on WT:RFD#law, WT:RFV#law and WT:RFD#law. I have limited time and I should probably work on WOTD before we get behind again. I'm sorry for putting this off, but I'll look at the other things you mentioned when I get time. —Internoob 23:47, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
 :-) Internoob, I very much appreciate your patience with me. There can't be any particular hurry to get to the specific problems mentioned here. I had earlier stumbled across a less current version of the WT:RFD#law, and I don't really have anything useful to add to that "discussion". As I've said, I'm just a passerby who thought I might have something of value to contribute to Wiktionary, which the editors here may take or leave at their pleasure - or block me from WT, as the case may be. I will say, however, that being only an occasional editor at Wikipedia, including having made my share or more of mistakes and errors there, I have never encountered the kind of ugly intolerance and possessive attitudes that appear to be a fixture among a number of senior Wiktionary editors, including, or perhaps especially, User:SemperBlotto, whose talkpage I rummaged through a few days ago. The tone of discourse at Wikipedia is entirely different from here. To date, my impression has been that you're the only welcoming editor I've encountered here, which appears to be reflected in your good choice of wikihandle. Milkunderwood 04:01, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the guys at RFD are being tools. This is a persistent problem here. We let them get away with it because they are excellent editors and administrators in every other regard.
I don't have a fix right now for the Pine quotation. It might get moved to the citations page eventually, and/or replaced with something else, but for the moment, I won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. —Internoob 21:48, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
I haven't looked here for a few days, but I'm very encouraged by your response. Your suggestion of specifying (strictly) is probably just as good as mine of term of art, but in either case, (sciences) alone is misleading and lends itself to argument, since scientists do use all this terminology sloppily as well as in their strict senses. Milkunderwood 17:56, 26 November 2011 (UTC)


Hello, I opened a voting to have bot flag. I hope you particibate. Thanks.--M.Gedawy 19:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, don't know which way to vote. —Internoob 00:18, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Re new def: isn't that capitalised at Olympiad? --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 23:33, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Actually, it seems from a Google Books search that both senses are commonly capitalized. I'll move it. —Internoob 02:20, 6 August 2012 (UTC)