Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to really confuse people

I love this video clip from the BBC. Science correspondent Jonathan Amos explains the Higgs Boson by sharing an illustration that obviously makes perfect sense to him. Everybody else is left even more confused than they were to begin with.

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I particularly enjoyed the bit where, gripped with enthusiasm, he grabs the ball with a string and hurls it across the room. If you look carefully you can see the newscaster's eyes glazing over as it whizzes by.

Preachers should take note. There's a common assumption in preaching that if you construct something that can be mapped on to the point you're trying to make, then you have illustrated it. Sadly you may find that you have actually completely obscured your point. The classic example is Trinity Sunday, when a whole raft of inappropriate comparisons is floated by an army of preachers who imagine that because their example contains the word "three", then it must in some way illustrate the Trinity. It doesn't.




4 comments:

Ray Barnes said...

Nice one Charlie.
So where exactly does that leave us?

At least I now know what blinding with science means. (I think)

Graham Brack said...

I preached my first sermon on Trinity Sunday and couldn't help noticing that my name regularly appeared next to it over the years, largely because it's one of those days (like Low Sunday) that preachers dislike. I once tried to illustrate the Trinity using three candles and showing that one flame could become three very easily, so were the three always contained in the one? One of the congregation thanked me afterwards but said she hadn't really been listening because she was waiting for the pulpit to burst into flames.

Charlie Peer said...

Well Graham, at least you quickly worked out why the vicar always writes the preaching rota himself! ;)

Saintly Ramblings said...

In the past I've used a Mars bar as an illustration - chocolate, nougat and caramel, three in one bar ... and then at the end, acknowledging that the illustration falls down because the elements are separate rather than each containing the other two, I've been forced to eat it before the service continues .... :)