Know the words

Or why it is difficult to figure out what are the facts

The Matriarch was gifted an enigma by a Fount of Knowledge. She wanted a scion to undertake the quest but alas, the challenge was too much. Before the enigma met an ignoble end, I attempted the quest. After two days of toil, the answer was a Malus.*

Photo by Mark Rasmuson on Unsplash

If your head is spinning at this point, it is intended.

So what is a Malus?

It was probably the first word that you learn to spell in English.

Photo by an_vision on Unsplash

Except that the picture below is also a Malus.

Photo by Sara Cervera on Unsplash

A Malus is the name for the genus for all the apples species. In Latin, it means both evil and apple.

There is this glamour casted upon education that makes it seem more useful or more complicated or just more exclusive than it really is. The cost of degree is skyrocketing in most countries. In the 21st century, is education oversold?

In ancient time, the word glamour referred to enchantments or spells. Except that the root word of glamour is actually is grammar. The grammar that children studying English have to learn. In ancient times, one of the subject taught was (Latin) grammatica. For all the unschooled people who asked those now educated peers what was being spoken, they were told (rather unhelpfully) grammar. The unhelpful answer was accepted with suspicion and then myths about what grammar really was took a life of its own.

At this point, most people will start protesting that those were less enlighten times. Thanks to the internet, we can learn which institutions are fraudulent or ineffective. We are taught to be skeptical. We do not take everyone at face value. We can root out lies using our knowledge. We know right from wrong.

If you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. — Maslow’s Hammer

The phrase above means hammer of the witches. It is supposed to be the sacred text for witch hunters. In ancient times, these were the people that were used to seek out supernatural threat to the common people. Except that it resulted in deaths of tens of thousands. It is of little surprise since torture (The clue was in the title.) or questionable methods were often used to get confessions.

Even with the internet, we still have anti-vaxxers, anti-mask (new trend from 2020) and people claiming Trump won the 2020 Presidential election (Months after the election has been called.). We find that doctors will say things that will benefit themselves directly and not the rest of the country. If you pay enough (or threaten to sue), Google and even Wikipedia can whitewash one’s internet’s presence.

Literally Latin for who is guarding the guards? Today, the term is means who watches the watchmen. It is naïve to trust people solely based on their education as many have proven that education does not equal moral responsibility. Big words do not have a correlation with big hearts. It does not matter if the words are from the heart or from the dictionary.

How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again! -Mark Twain

Photo by Habib Ayoade on Unsplash

If Brexit has taught us anything, it is easier to be fooled by lies than to be taught by truths. If there are money backing those liars, their effects can be amplified. Lies are be reused with minimal changes.

Today, truth can be behind a paywall. Or it is pretty boring. There is no superfood or special supplement. It does not get the blood pounding. It is usually not life changing. Due to dynamism of the modern world, truths are also have a short lifespan.

We can’t trust everybody. We do not know who the good guys are. Quick, tell me who is an expert on probiotics. Moreover, the good guys can change into the bad guys (Ben Carson and Doctor Oz come to mind.). The bad guys have their defenders. A poor written science paper or a well written science paper is identical to most people. It is full of complicated words and even if you understand everything, you would be in a difficult position to judge its merit.

I treat new things the same way I see a cup of Cappuccino. The foam on top is different from the liquid below. While the foam art can be attractive, you have to swallow all the coffee below. The milk foam can be sweet. But the coffee is going to taste different. Which can be bitter or sour.

*This is the Malus. It was a 44 pieces gift from library that my mother thought would make a nice challenge to my nephew. It turned out to be a little harder to assemble than I thought.



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