We found a significant effect in subjects A through Thnad

Mar 24 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Dr. Seuss has given us so much. He taught many people to read. He opposed racism, anti-semitism back in the 1940's. He possibly coined the word Nerd. Half the items in the Dartmouth gift shop bear his drawings. But one thing he offered has not been taken up, his extension to our alphabet.

After Ten Apples Up On Top, my favorite Dr. Seuss book has always been On Beyond Zebra. I first read it a long time ago, a little after I learned the normal alphabet, which had, to be candid, started to bore me. I disappointed that things stopped at Z. Talk about wish fulfillment. OBZ introduced 20 extra letters, with pronunciations, illustrations, and words that could be used with them. I never understood why those letters didn't make it out of the book. Now's the time.

I am currently doing a small behavioral project in which I hypothesize the existence of a new variable. Unfortunately, all the Roman and Greek letters, both capital and lowercase have other meanings, and I want to avoid confusion. For example, pi means 3.14159 and theta means angle. And also, the same letters are kind of boring. Sure you could put a little diacritic on top of them but la dee da. And I guess there are cool alternative greek letters like koppa and pamphylian digamma. But... well, when Kurt Gödel Georg Cantor was in this position of needing a new variable, he adopted a totally new, previously unused alphabet. Of course, the various infinities he described are ALL named after aleph, and math+science have never even gotten to beth.

What's wrong with shin? In Hebrew, it stands for "add one m+m to the pile." Which is appropriate, since my equation is designed to measure devaluation of a reinforcer.

But why stop with phoenecian-derived alphabets like Roman, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic? Why not use Japanese, Korean, Ethiopian, Inuktitut or even Mayan?

This mayan letter is pronounced "kin" and it means, "The world will end in a few months!!," which is also somewhat relevant to the theme of my paper, which involves limited time horizons for reward-seeking decision-makers.

Or maybe we can use undeciphered alphabets, like Rongorongo, the putative writing system of Easter Island. No one knows how this letter is pronounced or what the words mean, but that air of mystery is good, since my effects are somewhat mysterious. And perhaps using it in more equations will turn up the pressure on linguists to get off their butts and decipher the language.

For the meantime, I am pronouncing this particular letter "shark".

But in the end, I am leaning towards Seuss. I am thinking of submitting my paper with Wum in the denominator. For the record, wum can be used to spell wumbus, which is the name of a whale who lives on a hill. It can also be used to spell wum-tiddle-um, which refers to a statistical effect that is publishable, and deserves a mild review process.

11 responses so far

  • I would absolutely use Seussian letters in blog posts and even my novels if I had an easy way to type them!

  • qaz says:

    Wasn't aleph Cantor not Godel?

    But, I think using SeussLetters in a paper would be great.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    "A significant difference between the control and experimental conditions is indicated by Snee."

  • HCP says:

    Shin would be a good replacement symbol for the Dedekind and Peano successor function.

  • "Of course, the various infinities he described are ALL named after aleph, and math+science have never even gotten to beth."

    Maybe Cantor didn't get to beth, but somebody did, apparently T. E. Forster. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_number.

    See also Kevin Wald's "Banned from Aleph" (http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/sf/filk/aleph.htm), to the tune of Leslie Fish's "Banned from Argo".

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