Mind-Blowing Theories

Tom Gauld cartoons from New Scientist magazine, in a 2020 collection:


— with three cartoons that especially caught my interest. One  on science vs. journalism over de-extinction (already posted on this blog); one on the agony of Science Hell, the scene of eternal scientific mansplaining; and one on the adverbial literally understood literally (which then provides the title for the 2020 book).

Scientist, journalist, and Jurassic Park. My 4/19/21 posting “A mammoth revival” features a Gauld cartoon on de-extincting dinosaurs as Jurassic Park-style fantasy —


(which I contrast to a potentially realizable scheme for a sort of de-extinction of the woolly mammoth).

The agony of Science Hell. A cartoon that will strike a chord of unpleasant recognition in many a linguist:


Literally mind-blowing theories. You don’t often experience literally being used literally; its usual function — which many usageists deplore — is to convey exaggeration or astonishment:


to blow someone’s mind is, of course, an idiom — conventionally understood non-literally, so taking it literally is perverse (though entertaining). From Merriam-Webster on-line:

blow someone’s mind: informal to strongly affect someone with surprise, wonder, delight, etc.; to amaze or overwhelm someone | The music really blew my mind. The thought of all she’s accomplished at such a young age just blows my mind.

Read about the theory and your head explodes. Messy, very messy.



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