Radioaesthetics and ultimatonic field patterning

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Ben Goldacre recently featured this lovely job advertisement:


A couple of the words were new to me: radioaesthetics turns out to mean "dowsing", basically; and ultimatonic fields are presumably the fields associated with ultimatons, as discussed in the Urantia book.

I was quite disappointed in radioaesthetics, which I briefly hoped would turn out to involve some sort of modern form of David Burliuk's Radio-Futurism:

Burliuk and his wife were among the Russian emigrés who were close friends of my grandparents, and thereby became honorary aunts and uncles of mine. (Until I was twelve or so, I thought I had dozens of real aunts and uncles, members of a family whose size and diversity should have tipped me off…)

Anyhow, I guess that aesthetics in radioaesthetics has the (otherwise obsolete) meaning "Of or pertaining to sensuous perception, received by the senses", rather than the derived but now-usual "Of or pertaining to the appreciation or criticism of the beautiful".

Both radioaesthetics and ultimatonic are currently missing from the OED.

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27 Comments »

  1. Nathan Myers said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 1:56 am

    Somebody was asking about the origin of the term "woo", which was said to be onomatopoeia for the cinematic use of theramin music, which ties nicely back to the Russian theme here.

    [(myl) Woo in the relevant sense is another word that's missing from the OED. They clearly need to assign someone for a while to vibrational medicine and allied fields.

  2. Martin Ball said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    You might appreciate this from the Maperton Trust website (complete with pictures of unicorns):
    "For nearly twenty years, we have been working to construct multidisciplinary systems that are simple to operate and have now produced a system, proven by trials, to help people with their health problems by sending the health-giving treatment over the Internet.

    It sounds incredible, but it works!"

    Yeah, well ….

    [(myl) My favorite, also featured by Ben G, is the Head Lice Repelling Unit:

    The 20 years research by The Maperton Trust, which is concerned with the holistic approach to health, has produced another winner to help people with a difficult health problem.

    The Head Lice Repelling Unit (HELRU) is a small device using the latest technology to repel head lice from infesting children and adults. It is in the form of a badge of the Unicorn and is pinned to the clothing of the individual.

    The first of the Frequency Asked Questions, of course, is "How does it work?" Their answer:

    Without a comprehensive understanding of technology e.g. that used in space travel, it is not really possible to provide a very satisfactory answer.

    Note that it is pragmatically implicated but not logically implied that it's possible to provide a satisfactory answer even *with* a comprehensive understanding of technology.

    Anyhow, the device appears to be a pin-on button (like those used in political campaigns) bearing a picture of a unicorn. The cost is $33 each, or $25 each for orders of 1,000 or more.]

  3. Stephen Nicholson said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 3:24 am

    I want to know what "personal minimum vegetarian health standard is?" It sounds like they want the applicate to be a vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan.

  4. Johanna said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 5:00 am

    No, it's "a personal vegetarian minimum health standard". The applicant's personal vegetarian just has to be in reasonably good shape.

  5. Tom Saylor said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 5:56 am

    Mark Liberman said: Anyhow, I guess that aesthetics in radioaesthetics has the (otherwise obsolete) meaning "Of or pertaining to sensuous perception, received by the senses", rather than the derived but now-usual "Of or pertaining to the appreciation or criticism of the beautiful".

    If "radioaesthetics" refers to dowsing, it's likely that the "radio" portion derives from Latin "radius" in its primitive sense of "staff" or "rod," so that the etymological sense of the whole word is something like "[the science of] perception by means of a (dowsing) rod." Cf. "rhabdomancy."

  6. Benvenuto said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    Surely "radioaesthe[tics]" is a variant of "radiesthesia", which has long been used as the technical term for dowsing etc. Maybe the variant arose for easier pronunciation for people not aware of the French root?

    @Tom Saylor, AFAIK the "radi[o]-" part refers to the "radiation" of aura by which the dowsing information is supposedly conveyed. Pendulums are commonly used, as well as rods.

  7. stormboy said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 8:18 am

    £20-24k starting salary for a PhD and no (stated) benefits? That's appalling (although it's probably the going rate).

  8. Mark said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 8:45 am

    My Psion Organiser could come in useful again.

    As for the vegetarian minimum health standard, I assume this means someone who would be considered sub-standard if he were a carnivore, but if you make allowances for the lack of protein…

  9. Mark P said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 9:28 am

    At first it seems like it would be hard to meet the requirements, until you realize that you can make up your entire work history.

    [(myl) Ah, but can you make it up fluently, and without giggling or flinching?]

  10. Mr Punch said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    A "personal vegetarian minimum health standard" doesn't seem any more far-fetched than these "partial zero emissions vehicles" that are apparently selling pretty well.

  11. John Lawler said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    I note that the Maperton Trust is located in Wincanton, which is a twin city of Ankh-Morpork. This may explain a great deal.

  12. evandra said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    Clue in Sunday's NYT Crossword: 6-letters, "Emulates a rhabdomantist".

  13. Rob P. said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    stormboy – it's a PhD/MA in parascience, so it might not represent that much actual scholarly effort.

  14. Forrest said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    Do you think I could get the job if [I admitted that] my PhD was in pseudoscience and not parascience?

    Here's a quote from my doctoral thesis (lifted from the Postmodernism Generator) which I think could have come from the want ad itself:

    1. Burroughs and postdialectic semantic theory

    If one examines dialectic subcultural theory, one is faced with a choice: either reject postdialectic semantic theory or conclude that expression is created by the collective unconscious. The subject is interpolated into a subdialectic socialism that includes consciousness as a paradox. However, the main theme of Hubbard’s[1] analysis of rationalism is not depatriarchialism, but subdepatriarchialism.

    In the works of Burroughs, a predominant concept is the concept of precapitalist culture. Sontag promotes the use of dialectic subcultural theory to modify sexual identity. Thus, the primary theme of the works of Burroughs is the dialectic, and some would say the stasis, of modern art.

  15. Echoes and Mirrors » Daily Links said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    [...] Radioaesthetics and ultimatonic field patterning [...]

  16. Gabriel Fazito said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

    This is beautiful. Seems like the easiest job in the world.

  17. Brain said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    "Without a comprehensive understanding of technology e.g. that used in space travel, it is not really possible to provide a very satisfactory answer. "

    So if I read that correctly, the person(s) attempting to answer the question are implied to lack that understanding?

  18. Nathan Myers said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    It doesn't pay much, but you don't have to show up. If you qualify at all, you can project your consciousness to the job site.

  19. John said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

    aesthet-, as in kinesthesia or anesthetic is hardly obsolete, I should think.

    Radioaesthetics is one of those awful chimeric words made up of Latin and Greek bits, like automobile and heterosexual. (Do we call these chimeras, or is there a better term?)

    Ban 'em, says I.

  20. Nathan Myers said,

    February 24, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

    Or television. But if the Romans could do it, why can't we? (Minus points for pointing out that I'm no Roman.)

  21. Ginger Yellow said,

    February 25, 2010 @ 6:38 am

    Yeah, I hate it when people mix languages with their portmanteau words.

  22. John said,

    February 25, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    Nathan,

    The Romans doing it (example?) would be like us doing it with English and Latin.

  23. Alex said,

    February 25, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    I'm sure it helps to get the job if you can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

  24. Ellie said,

    February 25, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

    Quite the hyphen/dash crash blossom in the "Users Comments" section:

    'Increased energy-symptoms diminished'. Mrs D. Sherborne, Dorset.

  25. Robert said,

    February 26, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    @John

    I've heard them called "heteroradical". This has the advantage over your term "chimera" of being autological.

  26. mossy said,

    February 27, 2010 @ 10:56 am

    You knew Maria and David Burliuk? Wow. Please write about them (or link to where you have already).

  27. Karen said,

    February 28, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    Both radioaesthetics and ultimatonic are currently missing from the OED. … Woo in the relevant sense is another word that's missing from the OED.
    No, no. All three words are present but at traditional homeopathic doses.

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