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【AEON】干什么都别说“因吹斯听”

【AEON】干什么都别说“因吹斯听”


我们认识世界的方式一直在转变,人类不断采集信息,又将信息转变为知识,再将知识转变为认识和改造世界的方法论。然而,当形式大于内容,新颖大于严谨,当趣味性与重要性挂钩,在注意力经济时代,我们到底能汲取多少有价值的信息?


干什么都别说“因吹斯听”

【AEON】干什么都别说“因吹斯听”

作者:Simson L Garfinkel

译者&笔记:王雅婧

校对:刘小康

推荐:杨雪

策划:王雅婧 泮海伦


Whatever you do, don’t call this an ‘interesting’ idea

干什么都别说“因吹斯听”


本文选自 AEON | 取经号原创翻译

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My understanding of the word interesting came not from school but from a 14-inch black-and-white television showing Star Trek reruns in the late 1970s. ‘Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected,’ I heard Mr Spock explain. ‘In this case, I should think interesting would suffice.’

我对“有趣”这个词的理解不是来自于学校,而是70年代末期从14英寸黑白电视上的电视节目中学到的,当时正在重播《星际迷航》。电视中史波克解释道:“我会用‘迷人’形容意想不到的事物,但是在这种情况下,我认为‘有趣’一词就够了。”

 

Spock was the epitome of logic in the original Star Trek series. Although he had a human mother, it was the Vulcan half that was firmly in control. If he said that something was interesting, as I understood it, then he was describing an expected, objective fact. That notion is embedded deeply in today’s popular culture: cable news segments, websites and Facebook posts compete for our attention with surprising but allegedly genuine – interesting – truths.

史波克是《星际迷航:原初系列》中逻辑的化身。虽然有个人类母亲,但掌控他思维的是另一半的瓦肯血统。依我理解,他说某事“有趣”,即是在描述预想之中的客观事实。这一概念深深植根于当今的流行文化中:有线新闻节选以及网站和脸书上发布的内容中,令人新奇但据称真实有趣的事实竞相争夺我们的视线。

译注:瓦肯人是虚构科幻电视剧《星际迷航》中的一种外星人。他们是发源于瓦肯星(英语:Vulcan)的智慧外星类人族群,以信仰严谨的逻辑和推理、去除情感的干扰闻名。

 

It didn’t occur to me at the time that when Spock said that something was interesting, he wasn’t talking about that thing, he was talking about himself. Forty years later, I see things more clearly. The well-meaning writers on Star Trek set a bad example for us all, and the taint hasonly kept spreading. Calling something interesting is the height of sloppy thinking. Interesting is not descriptive, not objective, and not even meaningful.

当时我没有想到,史波克用“有趣”去形容事物的时候,不是在谈论事物本身,而在谈论自己。四十年后,我有了更明确的体会。《星际迷航》的编剧好心办坏事,作了不良示范,恶果至今仍在扩散。将事物称之为“有趣”、“有意思”是极其草率的见解。“有趣”并非描述性质的词语,也不具客观性,甚至没有意义。

   

Interesting is a kind of linguistic connective tissue. When introducing an idea, it’s easier to say ‘interesting’ than to think of an introduction that’s simultaneously descriptive but not a spoiler. I hear interesting all the time at conferences when someone is introducing a speaker. I hear interesting on the radio, when a host introduces an upcoming interview. These flighty little protocols happen so rapidly that they transit almost below the level of conscious discourse, serving only to prime me to pay attention.

“有趣”一词是语言学上的一类联系性词语。介绍观点时,说它“有意思”可比想出一个既精要又勾人的开场容易多了。会议中介绍演讲者的时候,“有趣”一词不绝于耳。电台主持人介绍稍后的采访时,也惯于用“有趣”形容。这些浮躁的“约定俗成”发生得如此之快,以几乎仅次于有意识话语的速度传播,只为吸引我们的注意力。

flighty / ˈflaɪti / adj. hangingyour opinions and behavior often, and not serious or reliable 轻浮的

 

In practice, interesting is a synonym for entertaining. This has become especially problematic in higher education. Back in 2010, an article in US News & World Reports said that the number-one sign of a bad professor is that ‘the professor is boring … Even in the very first classes, you can tell if the professor presents the material in an interesting way.’ Likewise, a blog post from Concordia University in Portland about teaching strategies offers advice on ‘how to become a professor who keeps lectures interesting’. The Princeton Review’s series of college guides (eg The Best 381 Colleges) give every college and university a ‘Profs interesting rating’.

实际上,“有趣”是“可乐”的同义词。这种语义上的混合引起了麻烦,尤其是在高等教育领域。早在2010年,《美国新闻与世界报道》上的一篇文章提到,一个好评低的教授获得最多的评价是“十足的无聊……课程刚开始你就能判断教授讲课会否有趣。”同样,康考迪亚大学波特兰分校在一篇关于教学策略的博客文章中,以“如何成为一个教学风趣的教授”为题给出了建议。《普林斯顿评论》在一系列大学榜单(如全美最佳的381所大学)中,对每所院校给出了“教授有趣度评级”(Profs interesting rating)。

 

In today’s data-driven educational enterprise, faculty who do not entertain frequently do not get promoted – or even retained – because of the influence of student evaluations. The same goes for information technology workshops and conferences I attend, where questions such as ‘I found the speaker interesting’ on evaluation forms help to determine who is invited back in subsequent years. TED talks are the logical conclusion of this fashion, inspiring lectures with high production values and well-rehearsed presentations. They hold one’s interest, but they convey little information. Seriously, what do you remember from the last five ‘interesting’ TED talks that you watched?

在当今评分为导向的教育行业中,受学生评价影响,不常展现风趣一面的教师难以得到晋升甚或留用。我参加的信息技术研讨会和大型会议也是如此,评估表上诸如“演讲者很有意思”等问题也会用于确定今后再度邀请的人选。鼓舞人心、高产值的演讲再加上精心排练的演示,TED讲座即是此类趋势的必然产物。演讲者抓住人们的兴趣,却没有给出多少有用的信息。说真的,最近看过的几场“有趣的”TED讲座中,你还记得多少内容?

 

What’s the result of society’s increasing emphasis on entertainment over substance? Novelty and innovation are valued above rigour; boring truth loses out to flamboyant falsehoods. I see it in today’s click-bait headlines, and even in the practice of science.

社会日益重视娱乐而非实质的结果是什么?新颖和创新大于严谨,无聊的真相输给了光鲜的谎言。这些现象在今日的标题党中屡见不鲜,甚至科学实践也未能幸免。

novelty / ˈnɒvlti / n.something new and unusual 新奇;新颖

flamboyant / flæmˈbɔɪənt / adj. brightlycoloured and easily noticed 艳丽的

 

People say interesting to convey importance– and they shouldn’t. I review papers for academic conferences and scientific journals, and I’m routinely frustrated when other reviewers write dismissively that an article under consideration ‘isn’t very interesting’. That word, it does not mean what these reviewers mean. What they’re trying to say is that the scientific findings aren’t presented effectively, or that the results are only incremental, or (heaven help us) that the findings are not new, but merely replicate work that’s been done by others.

我们应当摒弃使用“有趣”、“有意思”来传达重要性。我审阅投给学术会议和科学期刊的论文时,遇到其他审稿人“不是非常有趣”的随意评价,就常常感到沮丧。这个词并不能表达出这些审稿人的意思。他们想说的是,这些科学研究结果没有得到有效呈现,或者是没有创新性研究,或是结论无新意、仅是重复了前人的研究而已。

 

Replication and repeatability are thought by many laypersons to be a shared ideal among many scientists. In practice, few scientific studies are ever replicated. Last year, a survey by Vox.com of 270 scientists found few attempting replication studies because of the difficulty in funding and publishing. Funding agencies pride themselves on sponsoring transformative, breakthrough research – interesting work that, almost by definition, doesn’t repeat (read: replicate) what’s been done before.And journals generally don’t print articles that merely replicate findings that have been previously published; such articles aren’t considered sufficiently interesting.

许多外行人认为,重复研究和研究的再现性是众多科研工作者共同的理想。事实上,很少有科学研究被重复。去年,Vox.com对270名科研工作者的调查表明,由于资金和出版方面的困难,很少有人尝试去复现前人的研究。资助机构以投资变革性、突破性的研究为傲,这些研究无非都是“有意思”的工作,说白了就是不重复过去的研究。期刊通常也不会发表重复以前实验内容的论文,因为这些文章被认为不够有趣。

 

The results are bad for the practice of science, because the scientific method relies on replication. Without it, it takes a lot longer for erroneous studies to be corrected. But getting things right is not interesting, it’s pedantic.

其结果不利于科学实践,因为科学方法依赖于复制,否则修正错误需要花费更长的时间。但是把事情弄清楚算不上有趣,只是一项枯燥的工作。

 

So, when you write or speak, don’t say that something is interesting. It might attract your interest, sure, but whether your audience finds something interesting is determined by a complex set of preconditions including their background knowledge and other items competing for their attention. Their interest depends, too, on their pre-existing emotional state. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-5) states that ‘markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day’ over two weeks or more is one of the diagnostic symptoms of major depressive disorder. Meaning that, if your audience doesn’t find your astronomy talk interesting, the fault might indeed be in themselves, and not in the stars.

所以,当你写作或说话时,不要说某事很有意思。诚然,它可能引起了你的兴趣,但是你的听众是否觉得有趣取决于一系列复杂的前提条件,比如受他们的背景知识和其他争夺视线的事物影响。他们的兴趣也受制于原有的情绪状态。精神疾病诊断和统计手册(DSM-5)中指出,若感到“几乎每天对所有活动都缺乏兴趣或愉悦感”,这种状态持续两周以上即是重度抑郁的症状之一。也就是说,如果你的听众对你的天文学讲座提不起兴趣,错在他们自己,而非群星。

 

Conversely, if someone tells you ‘this is interesting’, remember that they aren’t describing the thing at all. They are describing the effect of that thing on them. Even though we hear it a lot from the would-be Vulcans around us, interesting is a subjective, emotional word, not the objective, logical word we want it to be.

相反,如果有人说“这很有意思”,请记住他们根本不在描述这件事本身,而是这件事对他们的影响。尽管我们经常能在身边的“瓦肯人”口中听到这个词,但是“有趣”是一个主观的、描述情感的词,不是我们想要的客观且合理的词。

 

It must be Spock’s human half talking.

必须让史波克的人类血统来负责说话。


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【AEON】干什么都别说“因吹斯听”


<原文地址:https://aeon.co/ideas/whatever-you-do-dont-call-this-an-interesting-idea>

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