I was browsing a blogsite posted by a professional colleague from another part of the country and came across this  vocabulary term, new to me at my advanced station in life, where I figured there weren’t too many new words yet to discover:

apophenia :: making connections where none previously existed.

The first association that came to mind, after having graded 15 or 20 recent second-semester college freshman research papers, is that apophenia rages in epidemic proportions throughout  the academy.

But then I reflected, “Let’s not be too hard on only the students.  What other professions and metiers among us feature more than their share of apopheniacs?”

Hmmm . . . I have to admit, I have known some teachers  whose random babbling and disjointed discourse reeked of apophenia.

And I think I’ve heard a blowhard politician or two ham up a speech or pronounce some ringing-but-outlandish declaration that smacked of apophenia.

Why, I’ve even heard a sermon or two (not recently, to Pastor Tim’s credit) where a minister fumbled through an ill-conceived and/or ill-delivered homily–yes, apophenia from t100px-PrirodneNaukehe pulpit,  the lofty lectern for truth!

I looked the word up in (where else?) Wikipedia and learned a little more about its associations and contexts.  It obviously has applications to irresponsible conclusions in statistical  analysis, but the term is also associated in the article with paranormality, questiopnable explanations of religious claims (watch out, ye apologeticists!), and also pseudoscience.  That range supports my citation of the examples above, huh?

In the end, I’m pleased that I’m not an apopheniac, but I’m more pleased now that I know of their existence, since I can do my best to avoid these disreputable characters in the future.

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