Friday, June 17, 2016

Why Do People Put '-ology' Where It Doesn't Belong?

And I don't just mean on the end of 'sociology'...

  Ha ha! No, just kidding! Some of my best friends are sociologists!
  Plus I'm in philosophy, so...it's still "punching up" (Though I've come to be annoyed by that phrase to... Man...I'm turning in to Old Man Smith, the crotchety blogger...)
   Anyway, the one that currently bugs me most is the extremely widespread use of 'methodology' to mean 'methods.' Very few scientific studies contain anything about methodology...but it's always important to know about their methods. Methodology is the theory of methods. Almost nobody ever talks about that. But everybody likes to say 'methodology'.
   This seems to be basically the same error as using 'ideology' for 'ideas'...though it seems to me that 'ideology' has come to suggest something somewhat different than 'ideas'--'ideology' sounds political to my ear. And maybe: big and political. Maybe not. Maybe just political. I suppose the popularity of the term can be trace back to Marx?
   I suggest the Sounds Smart hypothesis to explain this.
   I think the SSH also explains why people like to say 'calculus' when they mean calculation. I first noticed this one about ten years ago. I think somebody heard the phrase 'propositional calculus', realized that 'calculus' has a more general use than they thought, and went crazy from there.
   And, of course, 'calculus' sounds way smarter than 'calculation'.
   AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON 'BEGS THE QUESTION'...
   Now this is a quality screed--not the careful observation of the use/mention distinction even during the yelling part...
   I'm changing the name of this blog to Inconsequential Shit That Pisses Me Off. Or ISTMEORAPTOR maybe.
   So I'm avoiding writing a paper in case you can't tell...

3 Comments:

Blogger The Mystic said...

Hey, I thought you might actually be pleased with my (I believe) appropriate use of the term "methodological" in my article to which I linked you.

At least know that I have heard this justified complaint of yours enough that I was hearing it in my head as I typed the word. So, if it turns out I used it incorrectly, well, at least you can chalk it up to my incorrigibility and not your lack of effort in education..

Sidenote: The more I read your posts like this, the more I admire the connection between your pseudonym, Winston Smith, and the blog subtitle, "Imagine a hand palming a human face forever."

That really is brilliant. Wasn't it Lewis Carroll who suggested that?

It's perfect. Never change it.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I think it was LC... I dimly recall that maybe I had used the phrase in a post, and then he suggested putting it up as the...I dunno...slogan or whatever you call it.

Damn good idea.

Also: good post. Did I link to it?

8:13 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

No, you didn't link to it, I put it in one of the comments here. And of course, I'm interested in any further thoughts of yours, as always.

8:51 AM  

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