Monday, November 22, 2004

Mr. Ignoratio Elenchi

I once had a colleague to whom I gave the nickname, ‘Mr. Ignoratio Elenchi.’ Whenever I asserted p, he would take me to have asserted something either equivalent to, or implicative of, not-p, and then would launch into a longwinded refutation of not-p.

It is just as well that others do not know our nicknames for them. Or as Schopenhauer remarked in a similar vein: "If thoughts could kill, everybody would be dead."