Why Design Matters

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2006

Microsoft redesigns the iPod package. Hey, it’s funny, so it “must be true”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/02/28/if-its-funny-must-it-be-true/, right? (Actually in this case that’s correct.) Via John Gruber.

Looks like the site is getting killed right now. “Try this link”:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4313772690011721857&q=microsoft+ipod.

The Mrs

by Eszter Hargittai on February 28, 2006

On occasion, I get emails in which people address me as Mrs. Hargittai. I’m not suggesting that people need know my personal history or preferences. However, if you are going to contact someone in a professional context and they have a Ph.D. and they teach at a university (both of which are very clear on their homepage where you probably got their email address in the first place), wouldn’t you opt for Dr. or Professor?

Most of the time when someone contacts me and says “Dear Dr. Hargittai” or “Dear Professor Hargittai” the first line of my response is: “Dear X, please call me Eszter.” So the status marker that comes with these is not what’s of interest to me. Rather, I’m intrigued by how gender ties into all this and would love to hear how male junior faculty get addressed in such situations.

Today, I received a message that had an interesting additional component:

Dear Mrs. Hargittai,

Professor Name-of-one-of-my-senior-male-colleagues recommended that I get in touch with you.

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If it’s funny, must it be true?

by John Holbo on February 28, 2006

So far as I know the following fallacy has no name: ‘if x is funny, there must be a grain of truth to x.’ It’s sort of like affirming the consequent, but for ‘it’s funny because it’s true’. If you see what I mean. (You have to think of ‘it’s funny’ as the consequent.) It’s part positive ad hominem. Rather than proving what he says is true, the speaker generates a sense of himself as a clever, sharp, perceptive person. The audience then infers that there must be something clever, sharp and perceptive about the position taken. But mostly the fallacy works because funniness is next to truthiness. The mechanisms of stand-up comedy and propaganda are not fully distinct. What makes you laugh has a certain kinship to that which causes the crowd’s madness. When you put it that way, it’s darn obvious what I am talking about. You have read something Mark Steyn wrote in the last several years, I take it? As Hume writes:

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