Midterm!

I. Quotes about Knowledge:

Choose 1 of the following quotes and write a paragraph or two discussing / exploring it further. You should directly refer to things we have studied in this course so far andhyperlink to at least one of your blog posts or relevant resource. Try to include multiple perspectives.

“If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing” – Anatole France, 1844-1924

I like this quotation…but I am ambivalent the truth of it.

I think the first problem is the definition: what is a foolish thing? Who gets to objectively decide that? Can we use science? Maybe. … On the other hand, yes, 50 million people saying that in Russia physics doesn’t exist does not impact the effect of gravity on Russia. Anatole France was a lifelong atheist and started the Freedom from Religion foundation. He would probably consider my Christianity ridiculously foolish. I on the other hand, a lifelong Christian, would consider that foolish. Who’s correct? Lewis Carol and St. Augustine would say I am, France’s view is foolish, as would the 2 billion Christians in the world. But Isaac Asimov, Ernst Hemmingway, Friedrich Nietzsche and one billion agnostics and atheists would, of course, laugh at us foolish believers and say that Anatole France is right. (other religions are ignored here)

But then the question follows, does it really matter? If all the people in South Korea [49,779,000  (2011 Source: World Bank)]say that the only way to be happy is to run through Bukak Skyway with War and Peace on one’s head once every other week, it doesn’t matter that that is a foolish thing…the foolishness of it is irrelevant. These 49,779,000 people will not be happy if they do not run through Bukak Skyway once every other week. So it is foolish to us, but very true to them…so in the end, is it really foolish?

On the other hand, if everyone in South Korea believed that the only way to be happy was to use meth each day, then this foolish thing would kill them. It doesn’t matter that they believe it, it is still foolish.

“If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing” – Anatole France, 1844-1924

II. Questions About Knowledge.

Why and how has man attempted to collect and archive all of humanity’s knowledge and what does the future hold?

To truly understand the future, we’ve got to look at the past. The most famous example in history of men trying to archive all of humanity’s knowledge is the Alexandria Library in Alexandra, Egypt.  At one time, the library housed 750,000 scrolls! The library has since burned down, but now in Alexandria they are trying to continue its legacy. And in the spirit of the ancient Alexandria library, we have institutions like Wikipedia, Quora, Wolfram Alpha, and the Free Digital Library. The goal of these institutions is to “democratize knowledge” –to make it available for all people. I think that the idea of these institutions is an amazing one! Knowledge is very valuable  and it would be wonderful it it were available to all. It is useful to have a lot of information in one place. I think that Wikipedia, for example, is useful; I use it at least once a day People know a lot of stuff, and I love learning from what other people know. I like reading what they write and how they think and explain things. It is amazing to me that there is so much information out there! I don’t think that we will ever be able to contain all of humanity’s knowledge and I don’t think I want humanity’s knowledge to be contained. I want us to be growing and learning faster than we can type. I want us to be changing quicker than technology can keep up. Somehow I feel like once technology truly catches up, the human race will have lost something.

 

III. Readings.

KnowingKnowledge_LowRes

ARTICLE “Knowing Knowledge”

Quotation: “Nothing is all —each for a proper concept and proper implementation. When we let go of solutions in advance, and instead embrace a therapy view of functioning, we discover that many of the problems we encounter are solved simply by seeking to understand. When we understand our solutions, but not the problem, we often intensify the situation. Most of our problem-solving is more about enacting a pre-configured solution. We are more about applying solutions than attending to the nature of the concern before us (pg 118).”

NOTES: This ought to be common sense. For some things it is, but for others it isn’t, and that’s just sad. But I agree, when we try to solve the wrong problem we just make everything worse. But I think the difficulty there is that there is no one size fits all way to understand problems. But I also don’t think that it problems are necessarily easy to fix once you understand the problem. But they sure are easier to solve! An example: let’s say I have been sneezing for three months straight. If I focus only on the symptoms and take dayquill each day instead of trying to understand the problem, I’ll never know I have allergies. So I’ll never get better and end up feeling terrible.

Quotation: “Knowledge possesses different states. Knowledge that has hardened is typically not open for debate (we rarely enter conversations prepared to alter our core beliefs). We are prepared to create constructs to debate knowledge that is malleable (78).”

NOTES:  Once again, as always, there are things here that I agree with and things that I don’t. Maybe people in general don’t like to debate about core beliefs, but I do. I enjoy talking about religion, for example. Christianity is within my core beliefs, but I do enjoy debating about it (as do my friends). But it is true that I’m not willing to alter my beliefs while I talk about them. I like talking about both abstract morality (which falls under the malleable knowledge) and functional morality (ex: altruism vs a more objectivist world view). It is also interesting because in the context of NFL debate (National Forensics League) this came up. We were in ninth grade and the resolution was “High school public forum debate should not confront sensitive religious issues.” In our affirmative case, we tried to articulate the point said above.

ARTICLE: How the Internet is Changing What We Think We Know:

Quotation: “Here you might wonder: if justification, and therefore knowledge, is really so difficult, then why go to all the trouble?”

No, I’ve never wondered. But now that you bring it up, it is a good point. Why bother? For me, I guess I just have a desire to know. I want to understand the people and the world around me. I want to make sense of the chaos. I think that’s why we go through all the trouble: because we want to impose the illusion of order upon the chaotic universe. So we create beliefs and support those beliefs so that we can, by extension, support our world view.

Quotation: “I’ve always been personally uncomfortable representing myself online in any other way than how I really am.”

Online, I’m generally similar to myself. I don’t create avatars, really, because I don’t play games that require it. As a personality, I usually represent myself as I do in person. If you meet me on Nerdfighteria.org you will find a Star Trek nerd who loves to write but can’t spell. I don’t pretend to be smarter than I am or any less nerdy.  But the problem, of course, is that I don’t know if other people are being as honest as I am. How can I know? So I am a little more guarded. But of course all this begs the question: what is your identity? I’m a *generally* consistent person in how I act in different social settings, but many people oscillate even in person (“first life”). Sure, in avatars there is a clear cut line as to how you represent yourself, but what about on a wider context? Just because people reinvent themselves online, does that mean that person that they have become is any less real?


 

IV. Must-See Video Playlists and Articles (5 themes).

On Thinking:

  • First, I think that before we talk about thinking and technology, we’ve got to talk about thinking and physiology. There is a lot of controversy about nature vs. nurture, so we’ll first need to talk about nature via a case study (this, though abnormal, will help lay the groundwork for a commentary on thinking because it give credit to biology…something that cannot be ignored). Some things, such as diseases like Fatal Familial Insomnia (the case of the  Silvano) affect psychology. With FFI, the victim dies after four stages: The patient suffers increasing insomnia, resulting in panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias ~ four months. Hallucinations and panic attacks become noticeable~ five months. Complete inability to sleep is followed by rapid loss of weight ~three months. Dementia, during which the patient becomes unresponsive or mute ~six months. This is the final progression of the disease, after which death follows The patient is aware of what is happening to them for the majority of the disease. FFI is genetic, people in the family have ½ chance of developing the disease. This affects their psychology because, because of a genetic disease, they are unable to sleep and so their thinking becomes warped.  The point: thinking is highly influenced by physiology. Now, a more typical example would be something like obesity and the amount of time we spend exercising. I’m not an expert, but I know that things like that have a huge and often underappreciated effect on thinking.
  • On the video “where good ideas come from” à the basic assumption that all people are interested in the “where good ideas come from” and trying to be innovative is not true (example: Mother…she is more pragmatic, she would look at that question and say “what’s the point in wasting time pondering it?”). I am, you might be, but that doesn’t mean everyone is. If everyone was, the world would be a better place. Just a note: I know that I’m not everyone and I probably haven’t had any truly important ideas…but, as a person, I tend to function on the eureka moment creation basis. On that one, I also recognize that I’m not that old, yet.  Overall, I think that there are some really good points in this video, especially about collaboration…and a historical context was nice. However, I think that people ought not be too reliant on others. People ought to be able to, of their own accord, create full ideas.
  • On “we think” As I said above, I agree that collaboration is extremely important. A lot of my better ideas have come through conversations (an example used in the video) and through collaborating. But on the flip side, I do have good ideas on my own and I come to you from a generally individualist mindset. I don’t think that collaboration is the end all be all, and I think that it is imperative that people think for themselves and conceptualize without other people telling them what to do.
  • On “the secret powers of time”: I disagree with the premise. I don’t think that people only live in past positive, past negative, present positive, present negative, future positive and future negative. This could be me pulling a Sigmund Freud and deciding that that which is true for me must be true for all people, but I live all the time zones (maybe not simultaneously). I’m generally not hedonistic, but sometimes I indulge in reading when I should be doing my homework. I remember a lot of bad stuff, but I remember a lot of good stuff, too. It is interesting how language affects thought! No future tense in Sicilian dialect? How do they plan? It is also interesting to think about how the proximity to the equator etc. affects thought. I never considered that before! It was very intriguing.
  • On “Crowdsourcing” – I am very distrustful of tyranny of the majority. Crowdsourcing seems to have nothing to do with collectivism, but yet my mind immediately jumped to that. When I think about the idea of people working together as opposed to businesses, I like it…but yet I have a gut reaction against it. I wish I could figure out why I think that way…

3. Digitization

Oh! I thought that it was refer to 4 videos per theme. Humph. Well, I guess I’m done referring.

Overall, I think that digitization is a good thing. I want old books and even all the books from our time to be saved for future generations. I’ve always been very focused on saving things and preserving things. I don’t want what we did and who we are to be forgotten in the future. I want our ideas (as bad and off as they might be) and our identity to survive until the end of the world (that means that we have 13 days from the day that I write this…do you think we can make it?). I like the idea of reCaptica quite a bit.

I think part of my favor towards digitization comes from a selfish source: I want my great-great-grandchildren to be able to look at what I believed and what I wrote and remember me. I don’t want to be forgotten. Digitization gives the unextraordinary people a chance to be remembered. Instead of remembering solely the Leonidases and Caesars and Cleopatras, what I did will continue to exist if anyone cares to look. 100 years from now, if things remain as they are, a kid will be able to listen to the Trance playlist I compiled on youtube.

5. Libraries

The Medieval help desk was very funny because of its relevance. Often, that’s how I feel when I’m talking to less technologically inclined people about things that I feel are easy and common sense. Sometimes I forget how new all of it is to them.

I don’t think that libraries as a physical place will disappear. Yes, there will be changes, but there will always be diehards like me. I love libraries. And I love hard copy books. For fiction, I rarely use my kindle (which could be attributed to the fact that I have to pay for books there, but even Gutenberg books I read in hard copy) and I hate reading fiction online (I’m distracted). For nonfiction, I only use to library for subjects of personal interest. I almost never use the library for school work. However, I prefer hard copy books for subjects of deep interest. For example: let’s say I want to learn about schizophrenia. I usually go to the online catalog and search “schizophrenia” under “subject browse”, choose books, check their quality on goodreads, and order the book that looks best(an alternate course: sometimes, I’ll google “best books about schizophrenia” and find a book. Then I’ll go to the online catalog and see if the State Library System has the book. If so, I’ll order it. If not, I’ll keep looking…a second alternate course involves me walking to the library, finding schizophrenia’s dewey decimal number…619.86 if I remember correctly—nope, I switched the 6 and the 9, 616.898, but I was close!—and peruse). I prefer reading books about subjects of interest because it is a bank of information laid out for me with sources/etc. I can get away from distraction and just focus on the task at hand. I don’t skim books, but I skim long and in-depth articles. Also, on the web, I often get distracted, I’ll click on this “learn more about the causes of schizophrenia” and by the end of an hour I’ll find myself reading about butterflies, never having found the information I was dying to consume. I’m in the library quite often and I love it!


 

Part V: Vlog

 

My 10 Ideas for Rethinking Education and School.

  1. Comfortable chairs; standing room; treadmill desks.
  2. Mandatory debate in every school from 8-12th grade Chalkboard video (if these wall could talk)
  • Critical thinking
  • Speech skills
  • Research skills
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Logical fallacies in conversation and in media
  • Analyzing claims
  • Organizing and articulating thoughts
  • Becoming more aware of the world around me, more politically aware.
  1. Google 20% time (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katherine-von-jan/unstructured-classroom_b_1024404.html); tinkering school
  2. High school ought to start at 10:00
  3. World studies – at least one class dedicated to asking questions and learning about anthropology, langauge, and culture around the world. This class would be dedicated to the expansion of the American understanding from the world. I don’t even know all of the countries in the world, and I am not proud of that. This wouldn’t be an essay/homework based class…it would be a class where you could look at a map and choose a place…then find out information about said place and share and discuss their cultural ideas and view points. Of course, you couldn’t get to everywhere in the world, but you would understand people a lot better. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-1571756.html 6 in 10 Young adults can’t find Iraq on a map. That’s really bad…because Iraq is in the news. But what about Gabon? What about Lao? No one cares, and that is not good. The world at large exists. (VIDEO: Father Gido’s five minute university: people might forget the facts, but if the class is intresting enough students will not forget the places and the change in worldview can last a life time)
  4. Encourage health: PE- play time/ Healthy food in cafeterias (21st century…educating children about food)
  5. Mandatory community service, where you choose
  6. The sound of school: Ipod during tests; Bells like in Japan
  7. Waste less time: break up into classes by intelligence
  8. Better discipline
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By spockinthehood

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