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Lies in education [was Re: The "loop and a half"]

On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 1:21 PM, Stefan Ram <ram at zedat.fu-berlin.de> wrote:
> Steve D'Aprano <steve+python at pearwood.info> writes:
>>At various stages of education, we teach many lies-to-children, including:
>   Many of those lies can be perfectly true in some sense.
>   I pick some examples:
>>- "AEIOU" are the English vowels;
>   One is free to define this term this way. This is just
>   a definition. Definitions cannot be false. The definition
>   use by phoneticians is not "more correct" than the
>   definition used in everyday life.

One is free to be factually wrong, like claiming that Australia is not
a continent. (I've seen that, in a quiz game.) Definitions can most
certainly be incorrect.

>>- you cannot subtract a larger number from a smaller;
>   In a certain theory one cannot, indeed. In another, one can.

Until negative numbers have been taught, you cannot. Once they have, you can.

>>- mass is conserved;
>   This also depends on the theory.
>   (Ok, the theory where it is /not/ conserved better
>   describes our world. [But the theory where it /is/
>   conserved might be more useful in everyday life.])

You can get through a lot of life believing that mass is conserved,
but technically it is not, as can be proven. Ergo it is a lie to claim
that it is, which fits into Steven's post.

>>- Germany was the aggressor in World War 2;
>>- well, Germany and Japan;
>>- *surely* it must be Germany, Italy and Japan;
>   This listing style reminds me of of a listing style used in
>   ?Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names?:
> |32. People's names are assigned at birth.
> |33. OK, maybe not at birth, but at least pretty close to birth.
> |34. Alright, alright, within a year or so of birth.
> |35. Five years?
> |36. You're kidding me, right?

There are a lot of those kinds of posts now, and I like the style.
(That's why I made my own take on it, about PEP 8.) Yes, okay, that
last one "You're kidding me, right?" doesn't technically fit into the
concept, but seriously, if nobody had told you that some people are
nameless for 5+ years, would you have guessed that that's the case?