|Vulcan Fuzzy Phrase Warning||
Selby Evans is Thinkerer Melville in Second Life
What words have the power to cloud menís minds so they cannot see clearly? The Vulcan knows.
Value terms. Many fuzzy phrases are value terms, such as good, better, confusing, boring, tasty, and bad. Such words (or phrases) carry a judgment about how the speaker evaluates something. They give a subjective assessment rather than an objective description. They are convenient for casual conversation. And for the language of complaint. But they confuse problem-solving with ambiguous goals.
You solve problems in the real world by figuring out what changes in the real world will give you the results you can call better. To do that you have to translate the language of complaint into goals that you can pursue.
Value terms are also used to tell you how you should evaluate something. If you want to be in charge of your own thinking, you want to watch for value words and to decide (with awareness) whether you agree with the judgment. If you want to control the thinking of other people, you want them to accept and repeat your value words without examining them.
Assume it terms. These are also fuzzy phrases that carry an assumption (usually hidden). The assumption may be one that the originator wants you to make. Or it may just be an assumption that the originator accepted without question. In either case, they operate to direct your thinking along the same path as the originator took.
These terms can take the form of innocent-sounding phrases such as "the __________," as in "the problem," or "the solution." They invite you think in terms of just one problem or just one solution. Another innocent-sounding phrase is "either _______ or __________." That phrase can misdirect you away from other logical possibilities, such as "both _____ and_____."
You want to be alert for assume it phrases unless you trust the thinking of other people more than your own thinking.
Copyright (c) D. F. Dansereau & S. H. Evans