Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PEDANTIC QUIBBLE

What point is there in maintaining a blog if you can't post a pedantic quibble from time to time? So here goes.

George W. Bush is rightly mocked by lefties for saying that the American people "misunderestimated me." Fair enough. But every day, it seems, someone in the mainstream media or in the blogosphere misuses the term "underestimate," as in "it is hard to underestimate ..."

Look, if something is incredibly large, expensive, dangerous, beautiful, old, or likely to happen, then it makes sense to say that "it is hard to overestimate" that thing's size, expense, danger, age, or likelihood, meaning "no matter how large, expensive, dangerous, beautiful, old, or likely you estimate it as being, you will probably fall short of how large, etc etc it really is." In other words, it is really hard to overestimate its size, etc. because it is so big, costly, etc. An alternative way to say this is, "You should never underestimate the size, expense, etc etc of that thing, because it is sure to be larger, costlier, etc etc than you think."

Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?

By the way, Bush was wrong. We didn't misunderestimate him. We estimated him as being just about as low as a president could get, and we were right.

5 comments:

NotHobbes said...

I really miss Bush, honestly. "Bushisms" are so entertaining; surpassing all the great Ealing comedies with consumerate ease.
I truly loathed the guy, he was like a Father figure to me

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I do not even want to try to explore that comment! Suffice it to say that he truly tests what little humanity is left in me.

NotHobbes said...

It could have been much worse Professor, you could have endured a decade of Thatcher.
At least Bush(inadvertantly) raised a smile or two during his tenure, unlike that insidious ogre

Ann said...

I can't resist this:

See Stanley Fish and his online NYT editorial about missing Bush already!

Brenda said...

He may have been entertaining but so was Charlie McCarthy, with the VP as puppetmaster Edgar Bergen. A deadly misleading combo to the unobservant. I miss him about as much as Nixon and other such plagues.