Thursday, June 2, 2011

Language and thought Euphemism

Only a small sample of how language (in this case English) is being sanitised. I wrote this video for my stats and methods unit a few years ago. 

Check out a cartoon by Wiley Miller at

“Pre-emptive counterattack” = Invasion
“Air support” = Bombing enemy territory
“Back loading of augmentation personnel” = Retreat
“Friendly casualties” = Killed own troops ("Friendly fire")
“Collateral damage” = Civilians killed
“Incursion” = Invasion
“Nonperforming assets” = Bad debts
“Misinformation” = Lying
“Preloved cars” = Used cars
“Negative patient care outcomes” = Death of a patient
“Revenue enhancement initiatives” = Increases in taxes
“Workforce adjustment” = Layoffs
“Reconstruct” = Layoffs
“Improved software version” = They fixed the bugs in the software
“Special software features” = Bugs in the code
“Retaliation” =Attack/invasion
“Detention” = Prison
“Extraordinary rendition” = Abduction and torture
“Waterboarding” = Water torture
“Open government” = We'd like you to think that we have nothing to hide
“Democracy” = Four wolves and one lamb voting on lunch
“It cannot be done” = I cannot be bothered or I am not authorised to do this and I'm not asking my boss
“The matter is under consideration” = We have lost the file
“The matter is under active consideration” = We are trying to find the file
“This would create a dangerous precedent” = If we do the right thing now, we might have to do the right thing again next time
Funeral carriages = Dead wagons
Targeted killing = Assassination
Pass away = Die
Sleep with = Have sex with
Fib = Lie
Height challenged = Short
Villa = House
Rubber-hose cryptanalysis = Get the password with torture
Magic garbage disposal with water = Toilet

Later I found videos where George Carlin delivers his frank, to say the least, versions on Euphemistic Language, search YouTube.

The independence assumption: The difference between guilty and not guilty

The independence assumption is an important assumption for many statistical analyses.

Yes, a fair coin toss will give us 50-50 for heads or tails independent of what has happened before. Thus one coin toss is independent of another.

Two unrelated individuals should get independent scores on a computer game independent of one another. If the individuals are related then the independence assumption may be violated.

Here is a video written for a stats and methods unit but it has an important real life example in it where ignoring the independence assumption lead to a conviction of Sally Clark.