Speaking of Accuracy

My experiments with the modern digital thermometer suggest two possibilities: a) they are more frequently inaccurate because delicate, b) they are not inaccurate but because more delicate indicate that the “normal temperature” of 98.6 is itself a gross measurement or rounding off of one’s actual temperature which can and does fluctuate several tenths of a degree up and down in the course of a day.  I am inclined to believe both of these statements are true.

The gross measurement of the old fashioned mercury thermometer was true and remains true because it could not measure small fluctuations in a way that allowed a person at least to see them on the thermometer.

I bring this up to make a point about the so-called social construction of reality, as in duh! Have you had your brains in a freezer or something to make such a big deal about it?  Like at one point, in literary studies, it was like if you didn’t use the idea of the social construction of reality and talked instead about something called reality you were a naïve idiot.  I would say for my part that these guys are naïve idiots.

Duh!  Just think about it as I did years and years before people started talking about the so-called social construction of reality.  I don’t know how long I have been bothered by the fact that there are seven days in a week.  I could make neither hide nor hair of it or locate any reason why this should be the case.  In fact, given that the year is 365 days long, I think it would make more sense to divide by 5.  That works out to a nice even number of weeks in a year: 73.  But if you divide 7 into 365 you come out with this weird 52.21 weeks in a year. 

 So this is a sort of elemental demonstration of the social construction of reality.  A brief check into the history of the seven day week suggests nobody is quite sure why we have it.  But at one point the Romans took up the idea and pretty much forced it, since they were so powerful, on everybody since.

I wrote an article about being an academic from the working class and got attacked (and rejected) by a reader who over and over again accused of me being an idiot because I did not refer to the social construction of the working class and talked as if it actually existed.  Well, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck and so forth, it is damn well a duck if you ask me.  The seven day week is obviously no less real because it was socially constructed.

But the social construction fanatics seem to think that if you just think “this reality is socially constructed” it ceases to be a reality.  These folks are idealists of the kind Marx attacked when he said changing the way you think about the world is not changing the world.

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