I’ve been planning and plotting a proper attack on the job market. Revising my CVs into various versions: one that makes me look just able to stack shelves, one that entitles me to type and file, and one that entitles me to be a shoo-in for the position of Director General of the BBC 10 years down the line. It’s nasty unpleasant work but something tells me it’s pretty important at the moment.
I was in the awesome vintage shop Junk on Burton Road and noticed the tiniest ever ‘staff wanted’ sign in the window. A piece of card barely three by three inches decorated with delicate script declared the position. Among all the lovely little dresses, hand-made jewellery, screen-printed t-shirts and old annuals, are some unique contemporary art pieces by local artists. It’s definitely the sort of place where my retail experience (blurgh) and creative side can mix. Should also provide some excellent opportunities to network, with regards to my illustration and t-shirt company ambitions. Out of all the many terrible Media Sales and shelf stacking jobs I have applied for this is definitely the most desirable one to come along. By a loooong long way. I would be home!
Anyway, I really don’t want to dwell on the job hunt. It’s currently taking up too much of my worry glands. It’s also prevented me from taking the time to write this blog. It’s 11.30pm now. If I don’t finish this in the next 30 min I will have already failed in my Herculean writing task. So, let’s get on with the blog – pick a subject, any subject:
I rarely, if ever, hear anyone correctly using the phrase ‘beg the question’. Even when used by the most austere educated commentators on fine BBC4 documentaries, it comes out incorrectly in the place of ‘raising the question’. As in the sentence ‘pro-Raoul Moat Facebook group begs the question “are people really that fucking stupid?”’ No, it doesn’t – it raises the question. (And since I mentioned it, yes, I guess they are that stupid.)
Begging the question is something completely different. It is a logical fallacy whereby the evidence given to support a claim is merely a restating of the original claim itself. At university about 5 years ago I was involved in a pointless debate, over a game of pool, about who was the greatest heavy metal band of all time. My fellow debater sided with Black Sabbath, whereas I (correctly) chose Judas Priest, however the best I could come up with in my drunken state was “they are the best because they just are. They are Judas Priest, duh!” Not the most convincing admittedly, but it seemed enough at the time. It is clearly a case of begging the question, and therefore I lost (despite being right). Very poor debating technique.
Other examples of begging the question include “God exists because it says so in the Bible, which is the infallible word of God,” and “the moon landings were faked because the technology didn’t exist so they had to fake it”. Two clearly stupid statements that fall apart with only the slightest prod of logic and common sense. This type of argument only works if one is already convinced the statement is true. Anyone who is convinced by this kind of reasoning has a very weak mind indeed.
While I understand that the meaning of words and phrases changes over time, and that this is a positive creative progression of language, I also understand that if language is to have any ultimate meaning then words must have definitions. ‘Beg the question’ is an extremely important and useful technical term which when properly used exposes woolly thinking for what it is, and when improperly used acts merely as a sort of unnecessary verbal semi-colon.