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Race – an outdated concept? January 29, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Human rights, language , comments closed

Great controversy has apparently arisen in the US over the inclusion of the word “negro” in a national census. Once again I am reminded of the different reality I live in. Where I come from, Norway, race isn’t a concept we’re familiar with neither in social science nor politics. Nationality (including second and third generation immigrants), religion and cultural heritage are certainly issues, but genetic “race” alone is an alien concept. We do have some dark blotches on our record, most notably treatment of Jews before WWII and the Rom and indigenous Sami peoples until far too recent years. In present day Norway, I perceive the concept of race as one that belongs to the extreme right fringe of society.


Not an iota! November 13, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : History, language , comments closed

In reading social science litterature over the last few days, I’ve come across the use of the word iota several times. Usually used in the expression “not an iota”, but occasionally as “there may be an iota of…” This got me pondering what iota really means. I assumed it is an expression that comes from physics or something, meaning a very miniscule amount of something. Interestingly enough, it means no such thing and has an interesting story behind it going 1700 years back, involving heresy and possible murder.