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June 29, 2009



My family said the same thing when I got home actually. They insisted that not only did I use different language but my diction and pacing had also changed. I'm not exactly sure what to make of it. Thankfully now that I've left there again no one notices.

Katy Martin-Seaver

It is nice to know this is happening to other people too! I'm curious to know how people are interpreting your tone because I've been getting some interesting suggestions. Apparently my new style of speaking seems to make people think I believe them to be stupid. Possibly a great dependence upon exact language suggests that you don't trust a person's intelligence? I can see it being taken that way though I tend to take the opposite view.


Unfortunately I've gotten the kind of reaction from some friends along the lines of: "Hey. No big words." (I think I had used "masochistic" at a certain point.) I think what changes is not only the words you use but the way you think about things. When you ask someone, "Well, why do you think that?" or "What makes you say that?" the way that we usually do at Shimer in conversation, you get curious looks or responses like, "Well, because." We examine our beliefs and our statements differently than most people do. I absolutely do not think this corresponds to intelligence. (Although you're right, I think it may be taken this way.) Rather, it shows a certain way of thinking that we're accustomed to that most other people are not. Anyone can examine their statements. Many people choose not to, or don't know to.

Katy Martin-Seaver

Shimer is such a tight knit community it is always useful to see how things get treated in different settings.
I think the key with regard to intelligence is that I wasn't suggesting that there is a correspondence between critical thinking and say raw brain power. Instead I was trying to comment on the cultural tendency to regard wordy speaking as a form of talking down to someone. I think it is an interesting trend. The fact is, as you said, we do ask questions here, we ask a lot of questions and usually people are only asked questions when they are being set up to prove themselves wrong. Or at least in my experience with traditional education. No one ever asks you to explain a correct idea, it is just correct. That kind of thing doesn't work here but realizing that things operate like that in a lot of the world many of use grew up in clears up why we have trouble deciding if Socrates (or that person in our class who always badgers us with questions) is really honestly curious, or just a jerk. Just another on going adjustment I think.
Though I've mostly been able to make up my mind about my classmates, the jury is still out on Socrates.

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