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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Still Annoying, Fifty Years Later

The late, great Fritz Machlup wrote an essay on how annoying he found it to see the word 'methodology' (the study of methods) used when what was meant was the simpler, less pretentious 'method' (how something was done). I just ran across an article on the price of General Tso's chicken in Brooklyn where the author talks about the 'methodology' of his survey -- of Chinese restaurant prices!

4 comments:

  1. Gene,

    I think about this literally two or three times a WEEK! I can't get Machlup's complaint out of my mind. The distinction between method and methodology is constantly ignored. Courses are given in methodology when then are really courses in methods. However, this is to be expected to some extent because most people don't understand methodology and its methods.

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  2. I think about Chinese food two or three times as week, as well.

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  3. I don't think about Chinese food very often. In fact, I've never tasted General Tso's chicken, though I know a stoner who used it as an excuse in a traffic stop.

    The Darien CT police pulled this person over for driving too slowly. The cop asked the stoner why his eyes were so red. The driver replied, "they put too much pepper in the General Tso's chicken, and I've been rubbing my eyes the whole way home."

    It was an effective method for avoiding a DUI charge.

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  4. Where are links to

    a) Machlup's essay
    b) the article with the study.

    I'm serious. Stop being such a tease.

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