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Thread: What is science?

  1. #1 What is science? 
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    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.


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    observation, intuition, measurement and experimentation---then refining the preceeding.

    alternately phrased, science is an ever improving series of guesses about the natural world/cosmos/etc... .


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    A sturdy foundation to build your perspective on reality from.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    An organised way of building useful models of the world by using objective data to test the models?
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    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Science is the practice of observing a phenomenon, then best explaining that phenomenon by utilizing the scientific method.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Science is a way of looking at the universe via constructing models that explain certain phenomena with the aid of testable, falsifiable, repeatable elegant explanations.

    It is answering the questions we ask ourselves and it is questioning the answers we propose to others.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Science is many things, in Math, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Music, Art, Theatre, and even Sports.

    Science has a part in everything in our lives, even when we don't recognize it, because it has many titles.
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    I would argue that what science does is multifaceted, but what science is​ is very well-defined.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I would argue that what science does is multifaceted, but what science is​ is very well-defined.

    Tell that to individuals who try to shoehorn their beliefs in a such matter that they fit into the definition of science.
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    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I would argue that what science does is multifaceted, but what science is​ is very well-defined.

    Tell that to individuals who try to shoehorn their beliefs in a such matter that they fit into the definition of science.
    I thought that was what I was doing.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  12. #11  
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    Guess I'll toss in my pithy definition as: Observation, inductive reasoning and testing.
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    Science is the pursuit of knowledge - the methodology needs to suit the phenomena being observed and that means that not only quantifiable, objective data is valid.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    For a neuroscientists view of what science is have a look here.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.They are used as facts.You could build a ladder from them and climb to the moon.It works.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Oh dear.

    They are used as facts.
    Oh dear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Oh dear.

    They are used as facts.
    Oh dear.

    I am afraid that we have another individual on the SF who is asserting things (deliberately distorted or not) without obvious reasons.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  18. #17  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    It's not so much the assertion as the apparent ignorance that science doesn't deal in proofs (and doesn't ever expect theories to be "proven") and that theories are explanations for facts, not facts themselves.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    It's not so much the assertion as the apparent ignorance that science doesn't deal in proofs (and doesn't ever expect theories to be "proven") and that theories are explanations for facts, not facts themselves.

    I cannot but agree with you.
    However, is it ignorance? It is hard to imagine that one would join a science forum whilst having such misunderstandings about the nature of science.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  20. #19  
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    It's just trolling from someone who can't spell the word Roast.
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
    Prof Richard Feynman (1979) .....

    Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    However, is it ignorance?
    Well, when a supposed genius can't even spell "roast" one has to wonder.

    It is hard to imagine that one would join a science forum whilst having such misunderstandings about the nature of science.
    Huh?
    Have you seen the Trash sub-forum?
    It's full of people that have joined and proceeded to display a profound ignorance.
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  22. #21  
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    Seven years of high school before being kicked out.
    Obviously, not enough.
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
    Prof Richard Feynman (1979) .....

    Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidan_sage View Post
    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.
    Interesting. So, your teacher must feel that science is based on subjective truths?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Oh dear.
    They are used as facts.
    Oh dear.
    Lol!
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by aidan_sage View Post
    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.
    Interesting. So, your teacher must feel that science is based on subjective truths?
    Or it could be (as we've seen in this very thread) that some people are clueless as to what science is and the teacher's going to point that out.
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    Science is what it's called when we investigate to learn *how* reality and the Universe in general works. There's no differing opinions, no "open to interpretation" or anything like that. Just verifiable cold hard factual evidence.

    A "scientific theory" is our best explanation to describe how and why an observed fact happens.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidan_sage View Post
    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Oh dear.
    They are used as facts.
    Oh dear.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by aidan_sage View Post
    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.
    Interesting. So, your teacher must feel that science is based on subjective truths?
    Or it could be (as we've seen in this very thread) that some people are clueless as to what science is and the teacher's going to point that out.
    yup

    Think this student's time could be put to better use though...
    So...the student comes back to class with a myriad of "replies"
    This is supposed to teach...what? This stuff bugs me. :/
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  27. #26  
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    Science is a systematic methodology/ activity for exploring nature.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    Think this student's time could be put to better use though...
    I dunno.
    Finding out that many people have misconceptions about something so basic could be educational - provided it's done at an early stage.
    Especially if there's discussion on how and why those misconceptions are misconceptions.
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidan_sage View Post
    As an assignment for a science class that I am in now, i have to post on a science forum. My assignment is to ask people what their definition of science is. If you would like to help me out, I'd really appreciate it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Oh dear.
    They are used as facts.
    Oh dear.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    Think this student's time could be put to better use though...
    I dunno.Finding out that many people have misconceptions about something so basic could be educational - provided it's done at an early stage.Especially if there's discussion on how and why those misconceptions are misconceptions.
    Hmmm...you have a point.That would be a good thing.But hopefully the teacher won't take the approach of..."well class. You see? Science can be many things...there are no right or wrong answers."Stranger things have been known to happen, Duck.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post
    But hopefully the teacher won't take the approach of..."well class. You see? Science can be many things...there are no right or wrong answers."
    I'll get my sniper rifle ready, just in case...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I would argue that what science does is multifaceted, but what science is​ is very well-defined.
    and I would reply that this also applies to this....

    Post #7

    Science is many things, in Math, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Music, Art, Theatre, and even Sports.

    Science has a part in everything in our lives, even when we don't recognize it, because it has many titles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Guess I'll toss in my pithy definition as: Observation, inductive reasoning and testing.
    That also occurs in doing a theatre or music piece, and I will add creativity, which might equate to "testing".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Science is a systematic methodology/ activity for exploring nature.
    Are humans part of that equation, Sir Ducky? <font size=0> sneaking a feather
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Are humans part of that equation, Sir Ducky? <font size=0> sneaking a feather
    That depends on whether you regard humans as natural or not, surely?

    One reason that we have so few equations regarding humans is that they're so bloody "messy".
    One day, maybe...
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Are humans part of that equation, Sir Ducky? <font size=0> sneaking a feather
    That depends on whether you regard humans as natural or not, surely?

    One reason that we have so few equations regarding humans is that they're so bloody "messy".
    One day, maybe...
    BRAT! That cost you 11 feathers!! and one better be green!
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Are humans part of that equation, Sir Ducky? <font size=0> sneaking a feather
    That depends on whether you regard humans as natural or not, surely?

    One reason that we have so few equations regarding humans is that they're so bloody "messy".
    One day, maybe...
    They are indeed - which is why they don't lean well to cause and effect experimentation......doesn't mean they cant be studied scientifically though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wegs View Post

    Think this student's time could be put to better use though...
    So...the student comes back to class with a myriad of "replies"
    This is supposed to teach...what? This stuff bugs me. :/
    I disagree with you there - how else do you teach children not to accept dogma - of any kind? To accept only one persons definition of science is as bad as accepting only one persons version of religion. Science IS many things - we lump it all under one name but it expands across medicine, geology, philosophy and technology (amongst others). In order for children to understand that the world is a messy place that just appears to exist in an orderly fashion they have to learn to appreciate that things have different meanings in different cultures across different eras in history. I would commend this teacher for not keeping the children in a closed classroom with one book and one view of life..... more like those please.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    LucyDreaming.......when I was in school..science was, WHAT YOU WERE TOLD, as was math....one who questioned wasn't exacly welcomed *L* by the teacher.....and being of the "HOW COME, WHY?" kind of person....it's nice to know it is now taught with an but there are other possibilities!
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    doesn't mean they cant be studied scientifically though.
    I agree.
    But there's so many restrictions...
    Don't use 6 inch nails to hold them in place.
    Don't apply voltage.
    It's not a good idea to feed them hydrochloric acid 1.
    LEAVE THEIR BRAINS IN THEIR HEADS!
    Etc. etc.
    It makes it really difficult to get useful data.

    1 Well, only partially true. My first ever chemistry lesson at school involved drinking a sample of every acid in the lab 2.
    2 I perhaps should point out that each was highly diluted and done as an object lesson (after a demonstration of what the undiluted versions could do to various materials) that, properly handled, chemicals aren't that dangerous. I have no idea if today's "politically correct" schools could get away with such a thing though...
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    LucyDreaming.......when I was in school..science was, WHAT YOU WERE TOLD, as was math....one who questioned wasn't exacly welcomed *L* by the teacher.....and being of the "HOW COME, WHY?" kind of person....it's nice to know it is now taught with an but there are other possibilities!
    Sorry if I'm going a little off topic here but I think this is a point worth addressing and is linked to the issue of why your teacher would send you off to do this - I think. If nothing else your getting some interesting stuff for your class....... Anyway - Sir Ken Robinson addresses this much better than I ever could. Although it seems to cut off abruptly all that's missing at the end is his thank you's and applause.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... me English is rubbish innit......
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    doesn't mean they cant be studied scientifically though.
    I agree.
    But there's so many restrictions...
    Don't use 6 inch nails to hold them in place.
    Don't apply voltage.
    It's not a good idea to feed them hydrochloric acid 1.
    LEAVE THEIR BRAINS IN THEIR HEADS!
    Etc. etc.
    It makes it really difficult to get useful data.

    1 Well, only partially true. My first ever chemistry lesson at school involved drinking a sample of every acid in the lab 2.
    2 I perhaps should point out that each was highly diluted and done as an object lesson (after a demonstration of what the undiluted versions could do to various materials) that, properly handled, chemicals aren't that dangerous. I have no idea if today's "politically correct" schools could get away with such a thing though...
    SO THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU!...poooooor Sir Ducky

    If they did that now in days they'd be sued.

    One of my non theatre jobs (yes we usually have a second job unless you are like full time Broadway , et al and after I had stopped touring) was at one of the first places I think that started making "wafers" for computer chips...and bookkeeping ( and I hate Math) ..in the Bay Area..I worked with the MAD SCIENTIST literally who wanted to bed me, but I got to work with all these science formula's etc and acids and stuff..(I being theatre music girl) making micro chips for the first computers....I learned a lot....we baked them in these "ovens" at the time, but word a lot with some lethal types of acids...because he was in the lab one day and just tossed some backwards...and I happened to be behind him and it hit my lab coat...and all of a sudden I started to feel a burning...and then they were tearing my stuff off and pouring water on me, I something water....and it did hit my skin but luckily ..well I didn't get any burns, but I sure ruined that ole lab coat!

    If I remember...though the business is long gone and I don't want to remember him because about a years later, the Professor of Physics, who was my boss, called and asked to meet me i.e. a "job"

    Well it wasn't the job I was looking for...he offered me an apartment, trips to Europe and him.....and then followed me in a car for three weeks.....let's just say..I said NO.

    Brilliant and whacky!

    But whetted an interest in "Science"
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  43. #42  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pot Raost View Post
    Science is a collection of currently undisproved theories.
    Actually, that is not bad (although it says nothing about how we go about disproving/falsifying a theory. But it does highlight the contingent nature of all science.

    They are used as facts.
    Well, "facts" might be a bit strong but, yes.

    You could build a ladder from them and climb to the moon.It works.
    If the ladder is a metaphor for technology then yes.

    (Not sure why that got such a negative reaction...)
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  44. #43  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... me English is rubbish innit......
    Er, if you say "are his "thank you"s..." shouldn't you also say "all that are missing" to maintain the sense?
    And "all that are missing" is bloody awful.
    So "all that is (that's) missing is his...".
    Because you'd say "What IS missing IS..."
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    LucyDreaming.......when I was in school..science was, WHAT YOU WERE TOLD, as was math....one who questioned wasn't exacly welcomed *L* by the teacher.....and being of the "HOW COME, WHY?" kind of person....it's nice to know it is now taught with an but there are other possibilities!
    Sorry if I'm going a little off topic here but I think this is a point worth addressing and is linked to the issue of why your teacher would send you off to do this - I think. If nothing else your getting some interesting stuff for your class....... Anyway - Sir Ken Robinson addresses this much better than I ever could. Although it seems to cut off abruptly all that's missing at the end is his thank you's and applause.
    Love it! Thanks!
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  46. #45  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... me English is rubbish innit......
    Er, if you say "are his "thank you"s..." shouldn't you also say "all that are missing" to maintain the sense?
    And "all that are missing" is bloody awful.
    So "all that is (that's) missing is his...".
    Because you'd say "What IS missing IS..."
    Speak English!! SIR DUCKY!
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  47. #46  
    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... me English is rubbish innit......
    Er, if you say "are his "thank you"s..." shouldn't you also say "all that are missing" to maintain the sense?
    And "all that are missing" is bloody awful.
    So "all that is (that's) missing is his...".
    Because you'd say "What IS missing IS..."
    I cant find the raspberry blowing smiley.......
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  48. #47  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucidreaming View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lucidreaming View Post
    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... Me english is rubbish innit......
    er, if you say "are his "thank you"s..." shouldn't you also say "all that are missing" to maintain the sense?
    And "all that are missing" is bloody awful.
    So "all that is (that's) missing is his...".
    Because you'd say "what is missing is..."
    i cant find the raspberry blowing smiley.......
    give me a high five!
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  49. #48  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    "are" his thank-you's and applause.... me English is rubbish innit......
    Er, if you say "are his "thank you"s..." shouldn't you also say "all that are missing" to maintain the sense?
    And "all that are missing" is bloody awful.
    So "all that is (that's) missing is his...".
    Because you'd say "What IS missing IS..."
    I'll go with "all that are missing" and since we are policing grammar, isn't that a greengrocer's apostrophe? I think it should be "thank-yous", but I admit that looks a little bit weird.
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  50. #49  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    "All that are", sounds stilted (unless the non-single instance is set up before hand).
    Similar discussion here.
    One "solution" is that the "and" turns "thankyous" and "applause" into a "single object".
    And yes, I'd say it's a greengrocer's apostrophe (but, like you say, without it looks weird - that's why I went for "thankyou"s ).
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  51. #50  
    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    Its one of the reasons I stumble in exams - I write sentences that paint me into grammatical corners if I cant sit back and think. I used to ask questions starting "Do I not" or "Can I not" but I soon stopped doing that when I realised the answer could mean anything.... :-)
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  52. #51  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    "All that are", sounds stilted (unless the non-single instance is set up before hand).
    Similar discussion here.
    One "solution" is that the "and" turns "thankyous" and "applause" into a "single object".
    And yes, I'd say it's a greengrocer's apostrophe (but, like you say, without it looks weird - that's why I went for "thankyou"s ).
    Chuckle.

    When I think of you Sir Ducky, I think stiff, proper and stilted! A bit of a dry humor, and you do have one, but you do tend to like to keep it hidden!
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  53. #52  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    Its one of the reasons I stumble in exams - I write sentences that paint me into grammatical corners if I cant sit back and think. I used to ask questions starting "Do I not" or "Can I not" but I soon stopped doing that when I realised the answer could mean anything.... :-)
    Hell I can do that without it being a test! *laughing*
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  54. #53  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    When I think of you Sir Ducky, I think stiff, proper and stilted!
    I'm tall enough to not require stilts.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  55. #54  
    Theatre Whore babe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    When I think of you Sir Ducky, I think stiff, proper and stilted!
    I'm tall enough to not require stilts.
    One out of three ain't all that bad, Sir Ducky! *chuckle*
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