Two weeks ago I started to teach my regular first year course of linear algebra and discovered a new phenomenon: unlike their predecessors, the new cohort of students no longer understand the expression “This system of equations is consistent”. “Consistent with WHAT?” — I was asked. I suspect the misunderstanding comes from the extremely popular American TV series “Crime Scene Investigations” (a whole TV channel runs them, in several version: CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami, CSI NY, and even some military (navy) vesion), where the word “consistent” can be heard a dozen times in every episode in phrases like “The fructures of the scull are consistent with the victim being hit over the head with an obtuse heavy object”. This is a professional legalistic slang; for the viewer, I am afraid, as a result of hundreds unchallenged repetitions, the expression “is consistent with” now means “PROVES THAT”.
Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | February 14, 2010
Consistent with WHAT?
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