Sunday, July 17, 2005

Vagueness

For those of you without a philosophy background, one of the puzzles some people pimp for tenure is vagueness -- for example, is a refrigerator with one bottle of mustard and some weeks-old green tea drink left there by your last girlfriend empty? Does it become unempty if you add a bottle of beer to it?

I put some clothes in the drying machine and had a choice between the timed-drying -- which never seems to be long enough to actually result in dry clothes -- and the by-dryness, drying.

The by-dryness part of the dial has little adjectives like "less dry", "dry", "more dry", and "most dry". It's true that I can get my head around the concept of more or less dry -- perhaps there's some way to measure water content left in the clothes.

But really, I just want my clothes to not feel wet. If they feel wet, they aren't dry. And if they don't feel wet (er, ceteris paribus...) they are dry. So dryness is a binary function but Maytag is trying to convince me it's a continuous function -- the philosophically rigorous, but practically useless, bastards! Personally I think the dial should have three settings:

  • Not Dry
  • Dry
  • Dry and Extra Hot

3 comments:

The Awful Writer said...

So which setting did you chose? I sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to learn if your clothes came out more or less dry. :-)

Steve Peterson said...

Thanks for visiting!

I set it for a little past "dry" and, embarassingly, had my theory proven wrong by Maytag. The clothes came out mostly dry -- but one shirt collar was still damp. Figuring it would dry out on its own I gave in to the Maytag gods and accepted a non-binary outcome.

The Awful Writer said...

There is probably a guy somewhere in the bowels of Maytag's product development building whose job is calibrating dryness knobs on clothes dryers. I'm glad I'm not him.