Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the night before Christmas, and some fads have gone wrong

The English part of me that really loves the language has been baking on something for a while  There is this saying going around--was made even more popular in the video game Far Cry 3 but has been going around for probably ten or twenty years now--that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

All one really has to do is think about it for a few moments to realize that that's silly.  That's the definition, maybe, of stubbornness.  Maybe it's the definition for unintelligent, misguided persistence.  But not insanity.

No, insanity is far more complex.  Repeating the same action over and over and expecting a new result is fine.  Can you imagine the first person who began using a sharp rock to chop down a tree?  He should have stopped chopping after the first couple of times, shouldn't he have?  Unless he was insane?

What's alarming is that I saw this very incorrect and really unintelligent sentiment recently used on a political post.  I could normally let something like this go, because I don't expect a sentiment like this to gain traction, but it has.

So here is the true medical definition of insanity: 1. Persistent mental disorder or derangement. Not in scientific use.
2. Unsoundness of mind sufficient in the judgment of a civil court to render a person unfit to maintain a contractual or other legal relationship or to warrant commitment to a mental health facility.
3. In most criminal jurisdictions, a degree of mental malfunctioning considered to be sufficient to relieve the accused of legal responsibility for the act committed.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can get back to being smarter than taking pop-definitions as the gospel.  Have a happy holiday and great new year!

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