Dictionary Delaying-Tactic

Mike Ossipoff dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Tue Apr 9 00:19:53 PDT 1996

I hope that members of SWC won't be discouraged by some of the
delaying tacticss that have been recently used in this single-winner
discussion. Don't think that we'll never gat past definitions &
start making progress toward rating the methods by the standards.
In other words, don't let the delaying tactics work.

I've invited Bruce to answer some statements about Copeland's
method. He hasn't answered them, just like he didn't answer him
when we corresponded. When I asked them in the correspondence,
he stopped replying, an then, about half a year or so later,
went on the attack, sending his anti-Condorcet paper to 
some members of EM--but without answering the questions I'd
asked. These e-mails to EM members coincided with the time when
Condorcet's method was getting increasing discussion in EM & ER.

So maybe he isn't going to answer the questions. Maybe he knows
that defending Copeland in the kind of discussion where people
actually answer eachother isn't really feasible. Hence the delaying
tactics based on definitions & dictionaries.

Bruce quoted a dictionary definition of the noun "standard". The
1st part of the definition quoted, part 2a, coincides with our
use of the word. It said something to the effect of "acknowledged
measure for comparing value". I don't remember the exact words,
but it's pretty much the way we in SWC have been using the word.

Then either Bruce, or something that he's quoting, said that a
standard is a particular object or thing to which other things
are compared to judge their merit, or something to that effect.
But that's only 1 way the word is defined, and Bruce's own dictionary
gives the more general & widely-used definition that we use in

Other dictionaries also give that general & widely-used definition
as their 1st definition. I'll cite a few of those definitions

_Webster's New World Dictionary_:

"Something established or used as a rule or basis of comparison in
measuring quantity, quality, value, etc."

_Webster's New Riverside Dictionary_:

"Something accepted as a basis for comparison; criterion"

In several dictionaries, including Bruce's, "criterion" is presented
as a possible synonym for "standard". But both Bruce & I use "criterion"
in a much more limited definition. For instance, I use criterion to
mean a definite yes/no test for methods. Bruce's use of the word is

But all these dictionaries give, as their 1st & main definition
of the noun standard (after the flag meaning), the meaning that we
in SWC have been using, and which Bruce seems to want to challenge.

_American Heritage Dictionary_:

"An acknowledged basis for comparing or measuring; criterion"

Though "criterion" is often defined the same as "standard", 
_Webster's New World Dictionary_ gives a definition containing
the words "...or test...", which is in agreement with Bruce's
& my use of criterion. The point, however, is that, according
to all these dictionaries, "standard" does mean what we in
SWC have been using it to mean. So why is Bruce making an
issue of challenging that meaning. I guess if we can be bogged
down in definitions for long enough people might start to become
tired of our lack of progress. That's a good strategy, but let's
not let it work.



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