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The policy of truth July 11, 2010

Posted by mareserinitatis in societal commentary.

One time, my husband and I went out to eat with a friend of his and his wife. The friend’s wife was from an old family in the deep South, and she was quite the debutante.

I suggested a particular food item for us to order, and my husband and his friend (both engineers, I might add) very excitedly agreed. After they said they wanted it, she said, “Well, we don’t really eat that kind of thing.” I immediately realized she didn’t like it and suggested we order something else.

“No, that’ll be fine!” both guys said. At this point, the friend’s wife said nothing, but when the waitress came around, she ordered a plate of nachos.

I later asked my husband why he didn’t offer to order something else. My husband looked puzzled, so I recounted the conversation. Then, when it wasn’t making any sense, I explained, “She didn’t want to order the pizza. That’s why she said that.”

“Oh,” he looked very surprised. “I guess I totally missed that.”

Perhaps it is the fact that I’ve been hanging around physicists and engineers for a good part of my life, but I guess I don’t see a problem with being upfront about what you want or don’t want. I think, of course, that tact should play a roll in stating it, but that being honest shouldn’t have to be societally unacceptable. Certainly one can be honest without being rude.

A friend has told me that, before he got married, he told his wife that he didn’t get hints. He told her that if she wanted him to get something for her birthday, she shouldn’t say she really liked something, hoping he’d pick up on the hint because she’d end up being disappointed. She was simply supposed to say, “I want this for my birthday.”

I know that this bugs some people, but I just think honesty is the best policy. There are some people who are really great at picking up on social cues, but I also think there are a lot of people who expect social cues to substitute for direct communication. The latter is certainly more reliable.



1. Chris Gammell - July 12, 2010

And you have described the relationship problems of every science-minded person ever.

“You wanted that for your birthday? WHERE’S THE EMPIRICAL PROOF????”


mareserinitatis - July 12, 2010

The whole thing about expecting your significant other to read your mind, it happens a lot from both sexes. I think that people who are dating sciency types catch on to the no-hints thing pretty fast…or they break up. It’s my non-science friends who have bizarre relationships that I don’t understand. 🙂


2. NJS - July 12, 2010

Ah, yes, I face that repeatedly. I find that I’m less dense than I think I am.


mareserinitatis - July 12, 2010

My husband was wondering how viscous you are and if that relates to your density at all.


NJS - July 12, 2010

I’m quite viscous–solid, in fact. I don’t know if there is a definable relationship between the two. I’ve never tried varying either of them.


mareserinitatis - July 12, 2010

If you drink a lot of water, I imagine that might slightly impact your density.


NJS - July 12, 2010

What if I don’t drink enough water on a hot bike ride? I kind of turn into a puddle afterward. If I breathe out, I sink in water, so I must normally be more dense than water. If I get dehydrated, my density should increase.

I see an inverse relationship between density and viscosity! How’d that happen?


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