Hammer Words: Nailing down meaning and mismeaning
He had this look in his eye. He knew the answer. He was certain.
He drew up, paused, and slowly readied himself for the assault --- chalk in hand, poised to hit the board.
He glared at the audience and says: "Bayes"
He had just demolished in his own mind, the enemy. That hack of a job, not theoretically grounded -- that gibberish of ad-hoc computation used by MYCIN and PROSPECTOR. Crazy! Silly! Why did they use such sloppy kludges! He had the better solution. "Bayes" -- Bayesian theory could answer it all.
Bayesian this, Bayesian that, he rammed his argument into his audience, flittering for one mathematical equation to another -- from one argument to another, with a real vehemence. He prowled back and forth, for the entire talk. Bayes formula. Bayesian. Vanquishing all opponents, real or imagined, once and for all. In the end, the audience was silent, not a single objection or comment.
Those who travel in academic circles, or religious circles, or even political circles know the feeling. The hammer words change for each domain, but the same thing happens. People use their words to vanquish the demons and heathens among them, make sure the faithful know that the speaker is one of them. In fact we all know the feeling -- we have done it ourselves, many a time.
Hammer words. BAYESIAN, JESUS, JUSTICE, and DEMOCRACY. Touchstone words. Magic to those who utter them. Arguments to and fro, winding down many roads -- the word keeps coming up..
Argument over argument --- each person eventually trots out his own HAMMER words. Those magical words that solve the problem. If only our opponents would get it.
So what are your hammer words? WE ALL HAVE THEM.
Here are just a few that I have encountered: QCD, Kalman filters, unitary, homomorphism, Category theory, peace, fair, greed, evolution, entropy, self-organization, just, wholeness, humanity, natural, global warming, elite, allah akbar.
Here are some of mine:
Of course, there are my dad's