1

Does this sentence:

"Indeed, as physicists will sometimes wearily attest, more than a normal share of oddball mystics beat a path to their doors, hoping to find evidence at last that the universe itself is not only paranormal but psychic."

mean:

"As physicists claim, every day a larger number of mystics decide to use physics to prove that the universe is not only paranormal but also psychic"?

(from a book titled Art and Science by Sîan Ede)

  • I think the entire sentence is somewhat clumsy. The standard idiomatic use of share for such contexts is, for example, Physicists receive more than their fair share of [whatever it is they get an unusually large amount of], so normal is a bit abnormal here to start with (even more so when the context is about things paranormal! :) – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '15 at 12:55
  • Q: What kind of construction is more than a normal share of? A: It's a quantifier phrase with a subordinate comparative clause. Normally quantifiers are little words like some or all. This is very showy syntax, deployed here in the service of irony; bad writing -- calls attention to itself. – John Lawler Jul 16 '15 at 14:12
5

I don't think it means that each day there are more and more (one yesterday, two today, five tomorrow).

I think it means that physicists get more than whatever the normal share is. For example, imagine that most people (including politicians, teachers, taxi drivers, and doctors) get whatever the normal share of mystics is (e.g. one per year) – the point is that physicists get more than that normal share (e.g. physicists get one per month).

I think that "more than a normal share" is synonym for "more than their fair share".

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    You're right, though it's pretty ironic because there is no "fair share" or "normal share" of oddball mystics. They are rare; one is more than normal for most people. But it does mean that there are some and that the path they beat is still travelled. – John Lawler Jul 16 '15 at 14:00
2

I think your paraphrase is close but needs a little tweaking.

Here is my version.

Physicists say that they are regularly approached by cranks who want science to prove that the universe works on paranormal and psychic principles.

P.S. Having met some physicists, I can vouch for this. Not only that but one or two of them have themselves gone a little potty as a result of meditating too long on the counter-intuitive nature of quantum-mechanics. No names no pack drill! This is why they are sought after by crackpots who often completely misunderstand, and worse misrepresent, what the scientists are saying.

| improve this answer | |
2

Also, your use of "claim" doesn't retain the meaning of "wearily attest" - in fact, "claim" suggests that you want to contradict the reports of the physicists.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.