Aussie Life

Aussie Language

22 January 2022

9:00 AM

22 January 2022

9:00 AM

A letter writer to the Australian has pointed out that Anthony Albanese appears to have coined a brand-new oxymoron to sell his 2030 emissions reduction target of 43 per cent (which, we are assured, will also lower power prices and create more than half a million jobs). The expression concerned is ‘modelling guarantee’. But of course, ‘modelling’ doesn’t ‘guarantee’ anything! The Ancient Romans examined the entrails of birds, we examine the printouts from computers, and the result is exactly the same—a guess about the future. The Oxford helpfully defines an oxymoron as ‘a figure of speech in which a pair of opposed or markedly contradictory terms are placed in conjunction…’ Recorded from 1640 oxymoron was produced by combing two Ancient Greek words— ‘moron’ meaning… well… moron (‘stupid or slow-witted’ OED) with the prefix ‘oxy—’ meaning ‘unusually acute’. In other words, the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron. Which helps us understand the moronic nature of a supposed ‘modelling guarantee’. We have all seen how appallingly inaccurate so much mathematical modelling was during the pandemic, and how many climate alarmist predictions (based on modelling) have been falsified by time. Which is what we should expect, since in complex situations all the variables can never be included or properly accounted for. Computer ‘modelling’ can never (when dealing with anything beyond the basic and the simple) do the job it is sold as doing. So, you’d have to question the logic of anyone who thinks it’s appropriate to link ‘modelling’ with any sort of ‘guarantee’. Unless, of course, they were aiming to win the Oxymoron of the Year award (a gong all the Word of the Year committees have so far failed to recognise).

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