I don't know- What does it mean?
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04-10-2017, 08:33 AM
I don't know- What does it mean?
So I had a bit of a row with my wife this morning. The question was about whether the propane in a lantern was a gas or a liquid. I didn't know specifically so I said, "well, it depends on the pressure in the tank" and then I went on to explain why.

She said she understood my explanation but the conversation eventually got derailed when she kept telling me I hadn't answered the question but I said that I didn't have enough information to tell her one way or another. Now, I want to say that there were mistakes made on both sides of this but the question I wanted to punt out is this:

What constitutes an 'I don't know' answer?

From my perspective, when someone says, "it depends upon......." that is literally saying "I don't know but under these circumstances it may be A and under these circumstances, it may be B." It is still an "I don't know" answer to me but it is an informed one.

Well, she disagrees. She felt that since I literally didn't say "I don't know" at some point in the response that the answer isn't "I don't know" an some level. My stance is that there are different levels of "I don't know" and one needs to parse out which it is. I mean, I can say "I don't know" when asked about what childbirth is like or I can say "well, it probably doesn't feel as good as making the baby" because I have absolutely nothing to compare it to. To me, that is still an "I don't know" answer. Am I crazy?

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
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04-10-2017, 08:43 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
I think your answer was fair. And I agree with you, "I don't know" has many gradations. Saying it depends on such and such, to me, is saying I don't know the answer at this point as I need more info. Anyway, I think you answered the question. But that said, everyone is different and everyone perceives things differently. While I agree with you, 5 other people might agree with her. To me, sometimes things, arguments what have you--are all about perception. Everyone brings something different to the dinner table Wink

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04-10-2017, 08:47 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
(04-10-2017 08:33 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  What constitutes an 'I don't know' answer?

Simple answers should come first, followed by complex explanations if required.

I have the same problem talking with my wife. I ask a question and get a long answer because she wants to be accurate, but by the time I might finally understand what she's saying I have lost interest and am not really paying attention. So I don't think she answered me.
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04-10-2017, 08:51 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
I don't know - for me - means exactly that - that I'm lacking the knowledge on subject in question. I might suspect, infer, hope but not know when I say that I don't know.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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04-10-2017, 08:55 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
I'd say the problem isn't your answer but the question. The only answer to "is it a gas or a liquid" is "it depends" because without knowing the conditions it could be either one.

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04-10-2017, 09:30 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
Many is the time that I ask my husband a question and the 'answer' isn't an answer. I have learned to point out that what he said didn't answer my question. Of course, that's usually when I have asked a yes/no and I get a paragraph that doesn't end up at yes or no.

But 'it depends' seems to be reasonable in certain circumstances...such as the propane question.

Sounds to me like there was going to be an argument at your house this morning one way or another...some days it's like that. Undecided

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04-10-2017, 09:34 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
Normally when saying "it depends on..." , in my mind at least, you're normally saying "It could be something or it could be something else, so give that a test and let me know". I normally say something similar if I have a potential idea of the correct answer to something, although I think it works both ways, IE unless I say "This WILL 100% fix it" all bets are off lol.

Saying "I don't know" out right is something I will only say if I really have no idea what so ever haha.

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04-10-2017, 09:39 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
The correct answer would have been 'yes'.

You've been married long enough to know the next step is 'you're right dear'. Sheesh. Tread softly and carry a big bag of humble pie. Smile

If we don't see you around for a while do we call 911?

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04-10-2017, 10:17 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
(04-10-2017 09:39 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  The correct answer would have been 'yes'.

You've been married long enough to know the next step is 'you're right dear'. Sheesh. Tread softly and carry a big bag of humble pie. Smile

If we don't see you around for a while do we call 911?

Oh no. We talked it out before I came to work. We're fine. She does like Yes or No answers but gets pissed sometimes when the answer is "it depends."

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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04-10-2017, 10:25 AM
RE: I don't know- What does it mean?
(04-10-2017 10:17 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  
(04-10-2017 09:39 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  The correct answer would have been 'yes'.

You've been married long enough to know the next step is 'you're right dear'. Sheesh. Tread softly and carry a big bag of humble pie. Smile

If we don't see you around for a while do we call 911?

Oh no. We talked it out before I came to work. We're fine. She does like Yes or No answers but gets pissed sometimes when the answer is "it depends."

Good. I use the, 'I don't know, let me Google it', a lot.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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