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Why Do People Say 'Bias' Instead of 'Biased'?

It’s an error you see a lot these days: the use of bias in place of biased. Bias is a noun. You can have a bias, show a bias, or worry about bias. But when used as an adjective to describe something, the word is biased. It’s incorrect to say, “your opinion is bias,” “that’s a bias statement,” or “don’t be so bias.”

There are a number of factors that make this mistake likely and even hint at the notion that one day it could stop being seen as a mistake. First, in speech people drop the d or t sound from the end of words so often that linguists have a label for the phenomenon: "t/d deletion." Think about how you say “I passed through.” If you think very carefully about it, and speak very slowly you can get all the sounds in there, but in casual speech, it will come out as “I pass through.”

If a sound is often missing in speech, it’s likely to get left off in writing, too. There are a number of common errors where the –ed ending is left off of adjective forms. You see stain glass for stained glass, can goods for canned goods, bake chicken for baked chicken, and hundreds more like these (especially on menus).

When an adjective-noun phrase is used often enough, the –ed may eventually go missing for good. Skim milk, popcorn, and ice tea began their lives as skimmed milk, popped corn, and iced tea. Whip cream is well on its way to crossing over. Do you go over things with a fine-toothed comb or a fine-tooth comb? Either way works.

The process for biased losing its ending doesn’t quite fit this pattern. It doesn’t participate in any set phrases with a following noun of the skimmed milk variety (the most common words that follow biased are the prepositions against and toward). But bias fits another pattern: many adjectives that describe stances toward the world end in –ous, among them jealous, oblivious, righteous, serious, cautious, meticulous, treacherous, generous, callous, and pious. Bias might get a boost from the –ous family of adjectives because it ends in the same sequence of sounds.

Bias wouldn’t be the first such word to become an adjective because it coincidentally sounded like one. That’s what happened to the word genius, which has nothing to do with the –ous ending and was not used as an adjective until the 1920s, when people started saying things like “What a genius idea!” There are other words that coincidentally sound like they end in –ous, like prejudice and jaundice, which also seem especially susceptible to word errors of the bias type. “Are you prejudice?” gets thousands of hits on Google. “He was jaundice” and “She was jaundice” get thousands more.

Bias, prejudice, and jaundice are less likely than genius to become fully acceptable as adjectives because their spellings don’t fit as closely with the expectations for –ous words. They are still errors. But they are errors that reveal a complex sensitivity to the patterns of English. You might say the language is biased toward them.

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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How Long Could a Person Survive With an Unlimited Supply of Water, But No Food at All?
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How long could a person survive if he had unlimited supply of water, but no food at all?

Richard Lee Fulgham:

I happen to know the answer because I have studied starvation, its course, and its utility in committing a painless suicide. (No, I’m not suicidal.)

A healthy human being can live approximately 45 to 65 days without food of any kind, so long as he or she keeps hydrated.

You could survive without any severe symptoms [for] about 30 to 35 days, but after that you would probably experience skin rashes, diarrhea, and of course substantial weight loss.

The body—as you must know—begins eating itself, beginning with adipose tissue (i.e. fat) and next the muscle tissue.

Google Mahatma Gandhi, who starved himself almost to death during 14 voluntary hunger strikes to bring attention to India’s independence movement.

Strangely, there is much evidence that starvation is a painless way to die. In fact, you experience a wonderful euphoria when the body realizes it is about to die. Whether this is a divine gift or merely secretions of the brain is not known.

Of course, the picture is not so pretty for all reports. Some victims of starvation have experienced extreme irritability, unbearably itchy skin rashes, unceasing diarrhea, painful swallowing, and edema.

In most cases, death comes when the organs begin to shut down after six to nine weeks. Usually the heart simply stops.

(Here is a detailed medical report of the longest known fast: 382 days.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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