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Thread: Subjective classifications (split from random thoughts)

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Subjective classifications (split from random thoughts)

    Someone just referred to me as 'tall'. I am 6'0" even. I would classify a female that was 6' as 'tall', but I've never thought of any male at that height as being anything but average. Minimum cutoff for 'tall' designation in my book: 6'3" - male and 5'10" - female. I guess this is a subjective sort of thing.

    There are a lot of adjectives that we use to describe people as if there were universal agreement, but the reality is some of those adjectives are more subjective and relative than others. Where, for instance, would you put the cutoff for the terms: tall, short, rich, poor, middle class, smart, dumb? I'm sure there are many other common 'classifications' with pretty subjective elements out there.
    Last edited by Maister; 13 Jan 2009 at 9:57 AM. Reason: Expanded material to make new thread topic

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Someone just referred to me as 'tall'. I am 6'0" even. I would classify a female that was 6' as 'tall', but I've never thought of any male at that height as being anything but average. Minimum cutoff for 'tall' designation in my book: 6'3" - male and 5'10" - female. I guess this is a subjective sort of thing.
    I get the same thing often. I'm 6' 1" , but also have sizeable heft, so the perception can be that I am a "big" guy.

    I agree - "tall" for males starts around 6' 3".
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I always thought the BMI index is a pretty worthless/subjective measure because it doesn't take into account muscle mass. Consider that Tim Tebow is 6'3", 240 lbs and would be considered obese (having a BMI index >30)

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Someone just referred to me as 'tall'. I am 6'0" even.
    You're probably 6'3' with your new iconic haircut. Personally, I'm short at only 5'7" and that's not too subjective. Except, when I find myself in a primarily Mexican-American neighborhood in Dallas, I'm taller than average.

    Are there adjectives that aren't subjective? Maybe my morning coffee hasn't kicked in yet.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    Are there adjectives that aren't subjective? Maybe my morning coffee hasn't kicked in yet.
    Where measurable/quanitfiable qualities exist it's possible to make a better case for an adjective being 'objective'. For instance there is a 'poverty level' definition adopted by the Federal government which could be used as one way to gauge 'poor'. 'Beautiful', on the other hand, is much more difficult to quantify.

    Take another slug of that joe.

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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Maister-to ZG, you are probably a giant. As for me, I'm 6'4 and have a large build-broad shoulders, deep chest, large, long arms, long legs. Given my ethnic background, I bred true to it. My years of working out and not exactly following a diet have only heighted these traits. By most nonfootball standards, I'm a big guy.

    Another interesting idea is how this affects stereotypes. Is the idea of big and dumb still out there, much like the airhead blonde stereotype?
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Where measurable/quanitfiable qualities exist it's possible to make a better case for an adjective being 'objective'. For instance there is a 'poverty level' definition adopted by the Federal government which could be used as one way to gauge 'poor'. 'Beautiful', on the other hand, is much more difficult to quantify.
    You can use a "standard" to make the adjective more objective but no entirely so. Even the standard is relative. Poverty in the U.S. would be Wealthy in Haiti.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I am 5'8", on the low side of average for the American male. Who decides what is average? Even with my lower stature, I tend to be fairly heavy-set, even with being active. According to my BMI, I am considered 'overweight', even though my percentage of body fat is quite low. I am sure I could lost 5 lbs. but it is all subjective IMO.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'm 5' 10", and found that "tall" is relative. In Buffalo, among a population filled with lots of short, stocky Italian men (I've head the term "fireplug" used to describe the Italian-American build), I was considered tall by my peers. Same in New Mexico, with a large population of Hispanics. When I lived in Colorado, I was considered short. When I was still doing online dating, same thing; for many, anything under 6' is considered "little person" territory.
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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I was considered tall at 6'2" in school until everyone passed me. I mastered my skills at playing center in basketball in junior high, but lack of additional growth put me at point guard size now.
    I'm considered tall in my family (tallest, actually) but were a bunch of shrot Hungarians... no one knows from where my "height" came. (shrugs)

    I'm also a smart dude, but my grades in school reflected someone average.
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    You could also relate this to an earlier discussion we've had regarding the middle class and how it is defined. Many people said that the notion of a middle class was more a state of mind, as opposed to a set income level.
    Last edited by btrage; 13 Jan 2009 at 12:59 PM.
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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    You could also related this to earlier discussions we've had regarding the middle class and how it is defined. Many people said that the notion of a middle class was more a state of mind, as opposed to a set income level.
    I usually avoid the use of "class" when referring to one's societal position when related to income.

    I simply use "income" - be it low, middle, high and every division before, after and between the three.

    "Class" is an extremely subjective term. Whereas income is more objective because it is related to a very specific and quantifiable value or range of values.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    I am 5'-11-3/4" tall. I weigh 210lbs though my body fat is only 9-10%. I have weight train for years (layed of it while I race to keep my weight down) but I now trained with weights 5 days a week and consume around 120grams of protein day though the calorie input is only around 2000. I would be considered obesed by the bmi.

    I consider my self short manily cause the rest of the males in my family average around 6'-3" in height.
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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I am 6'1" and recently ran into and spent time chatting with a guy that was at least 6'6" and very thin. It gave me a good idea of what shorter people experience looking up at the taller world much of the time (this is not a jab, seriously!). I agree that I have never considered myself "tall" but I also rarely find myself craning my neck to speak with someone either. It was an interesting experience.

    As for BMI, I remember seeing some kind of PBS program (Nova perhaps?) that explored this issue. They talked about how they created the standards and looked at examples that defy this wisdom. Two points stood out to me. Firstly, the currently used BMI index for the US is based on a profile of the population in something like the 1970s. Today, more people from other parts of the world live in America and this changes what the "average" or "mean" is in terms of body dimensions. Humans come in a variety of forms, at least some of which is determined by where we are from. Those in the northern regions (and who have lived there for long periods of time like Mongolians or Inuit) tend to be shorter and rounder to retain body heat better. Those that live near the equator may be tall and thin to disperse heat (the Nuer and Dinka of southern Sudan - think Minut Bol). This oversimplifies things as diet also has a large bearing on height. The Nuer and Dinka primarily eat milk and a milk-blood mixture traditionally and protein loading at certain developmental stages increases height dramatically. When some of these people migrated into other areas and adopted farming instead of cattle keeping, their stature shrunk.

    But my point is that the human form is very varied.

    The second point I remember was an interesting survey of people who defy conventional BMI recommendations. One guy in particular was quite stout but was a professional athlete on a controlled diet and daily fitness regimen. They guy was seriously fit, but looked like a bread roll. His primary training was running and biking, so its not that he was building mass to be a lifter or something. According to the BMI, he was obese, maybe even "morbidly" but clearly, this was just his body type as he was in top performance mode.
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  15. #15
    Using BMI to define overweight and obese is approximate. A person with a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight, greater than 30 is obese. For a person who is 5'6" they are overweight at 154 and obese at 183. For a person 6' even, they are overweight at 184 and obese at 221. At 6'3 240, Tim Tebow is just at the edge of being obese.

    These guidelines are based on long term epidemiology studies that collectively have shown that overall mortality reaches a low point at around a BMI of 26 or 27 and begins to sharply increase after 30 and skyrockets after 35. There could be some minor adjustments to make the definitions more exact, but they put them at 25 and 30 so they are easier for people to remember.

    In general, the Schwartzenager argument is that you can be bigger and still be fit. However, for the most part this is not true. Football players, for example, have a very high mortality rate and much more likely to die in their forties and fifties than the general population. It may be better to be a little overweight, but it is not good for health to be too overweight.

    There is another important thing to remember, however. That is principle that one can not individualize risk. We all know people who smoke all their lives and die in their 90s. These mortality risks apply to an entire population. They say nothing about how long you as an individual will live.

    Sorry going on so long, but I am an epidemiologist (and an urban planner - go figure).

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Oh for crying out loud. I am 4'11 and 3/4" at last measurement, I've probably shrunk, anyone over 5/6" is "tall" to me. Making RJ a giant among men. And I won't expound any further on that.

  17. #17
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by craines View post
    I am 5'-11-3/4" tall...[snip]..
    It's that last 1/4' to 1/2" that's a killer for us, isn't it? I'm in that range. I read some time ago, that it's one of men's biggest lies: claiming to be 6-foot tall, but they're not exactly there. I give you kudos.

    BTW, I'm over 6-foot wearing thick socks and shoes.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    This Bear used to be 6-9, but I was sick a year.

    Seriously......in bare feet I am just over 6'. When I was a regular on the basketball court my weight kept me from being much of a jumper. Did develop a killer jumper from the top of the key. Still could whip "slipper boy".

    I was the tallest in my family. Older brother and younger brother, both just under 6'. My Dad was about 5-9.

    My ears are getting longer. Does that count as subjective?

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  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Usually when I think someone is tall, they usually are. I don't notice a woman's height unless they are over 6'2" or a man's unless they are over 6'6". Then I think wow she/he is tall. Otherwise anyone from 4'10" to 6'1" looks about the same size to me. I am 6'5" and don't understand BMI at all. I don't think it works for tall people.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    Never gave it much being a short person all of my life
    Until my annual physical last year and I was informed that I had lost three inchs in height in one year and went for some tests.
    Can now do chin ups on the edge of a desk
    I think that most everything is subjective -- as compared to what

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