finally toggle the moral compass...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by azuki, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. azuki Senior Member

    Hello everybody,

    The following is an excerpt from the passage, titled as "Why academic researchers involved in fraudulent Paxil study escape scrutiny", posted on the blog of Alison Bass, Aug. 7, 2012.

    One can only hope that this latest inquiry, published in the must-read publication for academia, will finally toggle the moral compass of a few federal and university officials. (in the last paragraph of the page)

    What does "toggle" mean? I looked up some dictionaries, but none of definitions seems suitable for the context. Could anybody help?

    Thank you in advance,

  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I see on her blog that ...

    Alison Bass is a Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, which won the NASW Science in Society Award. She was a longtime medical and science writer for The Boston Globe and has also written for The Miami Herald, Psychology Today and MIT's Technology Review, among other publications. [...] She is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Mount Holyoke College and an Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Brandeis University.

    And I would still never toggle my compass, nor expect anyone else to toggle theirs. :rolleyes:

    If I were being excessively generous, I would suggest that she is perhaps using this definition from Merriam-Webster:
    toggle: intransitive verb: to switch between two options especially of an electronic device usually by pressing a single button or a simple key combination

    If she is, I suppose she is imagining the officials toggling between the two positions of MORAL and IMMORAL.

    But I still wouldn't toggle a compass, moral or otherwise.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  3. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Too many metaphors at once!

    A toggle (originally a button shaped like this: is also a component of an on-off switch. It then became a metaphor for the switching itself. So you can toggle an electrical circuit or a YES/NO option.

    A compass is a magnetic device that always points north. It then became a metaphor for a moral or other guide that always points the right way.

    So, by definition, you cannot toggle a moral compass. What you can do is pay attention to it or ignore it, but that wasn't good enough for Alison Bass's flashy style.
  4. azuki Senior Member

    Thank you for answering my question, Copyright and Keith Bradford. I see, it is an interesting expression. I've got it! azuki:)
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    To be completely clear, it may be an interesting expression, but it's a wrong expression. :)
  6. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    >>a wrong expression

    More specifically, as has been suggested, a mixed metaphor. (from

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