Book about explanations: what made the cylinder fall over?

In summary, there is a book that explores the concept of "explaining" and the levels of satisfaction people have with their explanations. It involves an experiment with a falling cylinder and categorizing responses into five different categories. It doesn't matter what the answer is, but rather the tendency of people to decide for themselves what is considered a satisfactory answer. The book is non-fiction and can be found by searching for books about explanations.
  • #1
DaveC426913
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Years ago I read a book that explored what it means to people to satisfactorily "explain" something. There were 5 different levels of "doneness". I'm looking for that book.

In a nutshell, the book explored a lecture hall experiment:
- a cylinder was placed on a table at the front of the room
- after five minutes the cylinder fell over
And that's all.

The audience was asked to give an explanation as to what happened.

The key to the experiment was to analyze the responses and categorize them in terms of the type of answer. Answers seemed to group themselves into five categories - i.e. five types of people who were satsified with the answer they provided.

Category 1 grouped audience members whose answers merely described what happened - a sort of acceptance that how it happened was unnecessary i.e. "The cylinder fell over."

All the way up to Category 5, grouping audience members who gave explicit, detailed explanations - and even diagrams of internal mechanisms - attempting to theorize exactly how the cylinder fell over.

It was irrelevant what the answers were, or whether they were right or not, all that mattered was the tendency of people to decide for themselves what is considered a satisfactory answer to a problem.


Anyway, does anyone recognize this book, and know where I might find it?

(Please move thread to appropriate forum as needed)
 
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  • #2
This will probably do best in GD, where more people will see it. Never heard of this book myself.
 
  • #3
I haven't found the book you want, but some googling lead to the following, strange, falling cylinder story:

Amongst the Ewe-speaking Peoples at Porto Novo, Obatala determines the guilt or innocence of accused persons by means of an oracle termed Onshe or Onishe (messenger, ambassador). It consists of a hollow cylinder of wood, about 31/2 feet in length and 2 feet in diameter, one end of which is covered with draperies and the other closed with shells of the edible snail. This cylinder is placed on the head of the accused, who kneels on the ground, holding it firmly on his head with a hand at each side. The god, being then invoked by the priests, causes the cylinder to rock backwards and forwards, and finally to fall to the ground. If it should fall forward the accused is innocent, if backward guilty. The priests say that Obatala, or a subordinate spirit to whom he deputes the duty, strikes the accused, so as to make the cylinder fall in the required direction; but sceptics and native Christians say that a child is concealed in the cylinder and overbalances it in front or behind, according to instructions given beforehand by the priests. They add that when a child has served for a year or two and grown too big for the cylinder he is put to death, in order that the secret may be preserved; and is succeeded by another, who, in his turn, undergoes the same fate-but all this is mere conjecture.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/yor/yor03.htm
 
  • #4
Um OK. Thanks.

What my question really needed in order to get some constructive response is the injection of a healthy dose of woo wooism...
 
  • #5
Are you talking about "God's Debris" by Scott Adams?
 
  • #6
No!

This is a non-fiction book, exploring reasoning and problem-solving.
 
  • #7
DaveC426913 said:
Um OK. Thanks.

What my question really needed in order to get some constructive response is the injection of a healthy dose of woo wooism...
What you need is someone who is familiar with the book you're talking about.

I don't know what "woo wooism" is, but I thought it was extremely odd, and worth mentioning, that a falling cylinder, of all things, was the springboard for similar speculative explanations in a completely different setting.

Anyway, no one seems to recognize the book from the one thing you mentioned. Do you recall anything else about it that might jog someone's memory? About when was it written? Any other points the book made people might recognize?
 
  • #8
Damn. Response lost in cyberspace.
 
  • #10
But what terms did you search for?
 
  • #11

Related to Book about explanations: what made the cylinder fall over?

1. How did the cylinder fall over?

The cylinder most likely fell over due to the force of gravity acting upon it. As the cylinder was not balanced or stable, the force of gravity caused it to topple over.

2. Why did the cylinder fall over?

The cylinder fell over because it was not in a stable position or had an uneven weight distribution. This caused the force of gravity to pull it towards the ground, resulting in it falling over.

3. Could there have been other factors that caused the cylinder to fall over?

It is possible that other factors, such as a gust of wind or an external force, could have contributed to the cylinder falling over. However, the main reason for the cylinder falling over is still the force of gravity.

4. Is this phenomenon common in everyday life?

Yes, this phenomenon is very common in everyday life. Objects that are not balanced or stable will often fall over due to the force of gravity. This is why it is important to properly balance and secure objects to prevent accidents.

5. How can this concept be applied in other areas of science?

The concept of objects falling over due to the force of gravity is a fundamental principle in physics and can be applied in various areas of science. It is important in understanding motion, stability, and equilibrium in objects. It is also essential in fields such as engineering and architecture when designing structures and ensuring their stability.

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