Friday, April 12, 2013

Is It Me?

Do I struggle so to explain simple things to simple folk because of some flaw in my pedagogical technique? If so, and if that flaw is obvious, please tell me! Once again, for your amusement, The Wrong Monkey offers an unaltered transcript of my struggle to communicate with someone. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's been me all along:

HIM: (reacting to an article about how the age of the Gospel of Judas manuscript had been confirmed) Who cares?

ME: It's a manuscript which appears to be over 1700 years old. That's kinda cool.

HIM: What's cool is that it's a fake which naturally means con artists have been around forever.

ME: In this case, "authentic" means over 1700 years old -- regardless of the manuscript's content, the character of its author, whether Judas, or Jesus, ever existed, or what you want "authentic" to mean.

HIM: In other words if it were 1699 years old in wouldn't be authentic, but at 1701 it would? Good grief. I was curious if that was true or whether you were loony, maybe even both. My thesaurus has similar words for "authentic" from accurate to valid and lots more in between. But there is never a mention of any particular age the subject must be. And if you'd care to validate that just find an authentic thesaurus and you'll see.

ME: No, if it were 10 years old, or 150 years old, then it would be a fake, a fake which had been made to look like it was 1700 years old (GIVE OR TAKE!) And yes, I am loony. My Mom had me tested. By a specialist.

HIM: Are you suggesting if I were to build a fake Ferrari from one of those kits that are seen in all car magazines, when that fake Ferrari becomes a particular age, in this case 1700 years old give or take, it ceases to be a fake Ferrari and then somehow becomes an authentic one?

ME: No. It would never be a real Ferrari. But 1700 years from now it would be an authentic 21st-century artifact. Something built 1690 years from now and artificially aged to make it look like it was made in the 21st century will never be a 21st-century artifact.

At this point, to my astonishment -- I had been settling in for a long, long haul -- he said he understood, and who knows, maybe he really does. Could it be that my pedagogical technique, although still abysmal, is improving? It still seems that I may be enraging people when I'm trying to explain something. Sheldon, on The Big Bang Theory,seems to constantly enrage other people in the process of explaining things to them. But then Sheldon doesn't seem to care about his effect on others, or perhaps it's more that he rarely notices it. Maybe I need to be much, much more discreet about such explanations, and only offer them when requested. Maybe so, but the effort which would be involved in such a great change in my behavior, and the distress I would feel in seeing uncomprehension and doing nothing about it, makes me cringe already. Again, your feedback is welcomed.

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