Monday, September 13, 2010

Today's Word: Abderian laughter

Abderian laughter: Foolish laughter at things one does not understand. For some reason, the inhabitants of ancient Abdera (in Thrace, Greece) were considered simple-headed, rustic idiots who laughed at and derided things they did not understand.

Pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus, known as the Laughing Philosopher (presumably because he laughed at man's foolishness) was from Abdera. He is considered by some to be the father of modern science because he, along with his teacher Leucippus, developed an atomic theory of matter that was, as they say, way ahead of its time. Other thinkers of his time were probably more liable to laugh at his theories than him at theirs.