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Jiro comments on Taboo Your Words - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 February 2008 10:53PM

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Comment author: Jiro 17 December 2014 08:47:45PM *  0 points [-]

It's hard to convince someone of something if you are forced to explain it in a way that is impossible to understand. And saying "Taboo this word" can sometimes mean "phrase your argument in a way that is impossible to understand." Which makes "taboo this word" a tool that can be abused.

The essay describes legitimate uses, but let's not pretend that legitimate uses are all there is.

Comment author: TimS 17 December 2014 10:12:38PM *  0 points [-]

I don't think that is an on-point critique of this essay. If defining your terms makes your message incomprehensible, that's a problem with the medium you've chosen or the message itself.

"US Copyright law is bad" is a pithy summary of Lawrence Lessig's book, but the sentence fails to persuade or even communicate effectively - which is why Lessig wrote a book.

And if your message is simply too long to be comprehensible, it doesn't become comprehensible simply because you choose to use words idiosyncratically to shorten character length of the message.

In the hands of a hostile audience, "Taboo Your Words" can be a very effective way to derail the discussion. But if you are not communicating effectively with a good-faith listener, it is a powerful tool to discover the root of the mis-communication.

And if you are communicating effectively, why are you tabooing your words? The article doesn't suggest using more words for its own sake.

Comment author: Jiro 17 December 2014 10:16:59PM *  0 points [-]

If defining your terms makes your message incomprehensible, that's a problem with the medium you've chosen or the message itself.

Defining terms inline can make things hard to understand simply because human beings don't have a large stack size for the purpose of understanding sentences containing many inline clauses. I suppose that's a problem with the medium--if the medium is "speech by human beings".

Comment author: TimS 17 December 2014 10:18:13PM 0 points [-]

The essay isn't about speech, it's about communication. Outside the scope of this essay, but sometime speech is the wrong medium.