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A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - YouTube
"What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”"

[See also:
https://theintercept.com/2019/04/17/green-new-deal-short-film-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

"The question was: How do we tell the story of something that hasn’t happened yet?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This skepticism is understandable. The idea that societies could collectively decide to embrace rapid foundational changes to transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, forestry, and more — precisely what is needed to avert climate breakdown — is not something for which most of us have any living reference. We have grown up bombarded with the message that there is no alternative to the crappy system that is destabilizing the planet and hoarding vast wealth at the top. From most economists, we hear that we are fundamentally selfish, gratification-seeking units. From historians, we learn that social change has always been the work of singular great men.

Science fiction hasn’t been much help either. Almost every vision of the future that we get from best-selling novels and big-budget Hollywood films takes some kind of ecological and social apocalypse for granted. It’s almost as if we have collectively stopped believing that the future is going to happen, let alone that it could be better, in many ways, than the present.

The media debates that paint the Green New Deal as either impossibly impractical or a recipe for tyranny just reinforce the sense of futility. But here’s the good news: The old New Deal faced almost precisely the same kinds of opposition — and it didn’t stop it for a minute."]
alexandriaocasio-cortez  2019  mollycrabapple  greennewdeal  speculativefiction  politics  policy  future  climatechange  globalwarming  1988  us  oil  petroleum  fossilfuels  environment  sustainability  puertorico  crisis  change  food  transportation  economics  capitalism  inequality  medicareforall  livingwages  labor  work  infrastructure  trains  masstransit  publictransit  americorps  unions  indigenous  indigeneity  childcare  care  caring  teaching  domesticwork  universalrights  healthcare  humanism  humanity  avilewis  naomiklein  skepticism  imagination  newdeal  fdr  wpa  greatdepression  moonshots  art  artists  collectivism  society 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Time for Self | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 61]
"In this episode, Atlanta-based SDE facilitator and education entrepreneur, ANTHONY GALLOWAY II, speaks on moving past the mental aspect of self-care over to the literal practice. You’ll also learn about two Atlanta events in support of Self-Directed Education, both of which Anthony is playing a major role in bringing to the city. Also, the Jamaican patois term “Dat nuh mek it” basically means “that isn’t nearly enough.” In other words, something needs leveling up, because in its current state, it just won’t do. You’re welcome! #POCinSDE"
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  unschooling  deschooling  self-care  self-directed  self-directedlearning  creativity  art  howweteach  howwelearn  work  labor  focus  artleisure  leisurearts  play  teaching  mentoring  practice  criticism  advice  decisionmaking  schools  schooling  schooliness  decisions  skepticism  pedagogy  priorities  process  technology  2018 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Resource Guide
"These are the official writings, videos, and more that BSA recommends all Socialists explore, regardless of skin color.

Please remember to read, watch, or listen to the content shared below with a healthy dose of skepticism, and to use your critical thinking skills. Just because one figure is correct on most issues does not mean that they are correct on all issues, and just because another figure is incorrect on most issues does not mean that they are incorrect on all issues.

The truth lies between and beyond all of the words our greatest revolutionaries and theorists have spoken, therefore we mustn’t fetishize the leaders of the past, or be apologists for the errors in their ways; we must learn from the mistakes in their methods in an effort to develop realistic approaches that stay true to the socialistic principles we all claim to embody."
books  education  politics  marxism  socialism  lists  readinglists  skepticism  bsa  blacksocialism  resources  references  webdubois  krlmarx  douglassturm  haldraper  antonpnnekoek  jmescone  erichfromm  mikhailbakunin  friedrichengels  alberteinstein  rosaluxemburg  bellhooks  abramlincolnharrishr  theodoreallen  cedricrobinson  noamchomsky  edwardherman  vladimirlenin  levtrotsky  maozedong  kaliakuno  ajamunangwya  claudiasanchezbajo  brunoroelants  jessicagordonnembhard  ajowanzingaifateyo  fredhampton  richardwolff  abbymartin  peterjoseph  capitalism  cornelwest  chrishedges  berniesanders  leninism  amyleather  stevemcqueen  paulrobeson  economics  policy  lenin  blacksocialistsofamerica 
may 2018 by robertogreco
stop literalizing the design process | sara hendren
"This is your semi-regular reminder that collaborative, ethical design is not synonymous with customer service, taking orders from “users,” retail-style. It’s synthesizing and recombining ideas from insights gained by deeply considered habits of attention. The implications of this claim are twofold, and people are forever forgetting either one or the other, ad infinitum.

The first implication is that—yeah, you can’t ask people a bunch of questions in survey mode, and then turn the magical crank of the design process to automatically make something good, something the world is asking for. But the second implication is that a designer’s job is not to obediently make the precise widget described by so-called end users, to check a moral box and be sure that they did the right thing. Insights and synthesis are subtler than that. A designer has to both be grounded in multiple forms of deep attention, not in simple yes-no answers, and she has to get liftoff from the mundane first ideas at hand—to take considered risks, to switch scales, to propose ideas that are bigger than the sum of parts.

And perhaps it’s surprising, but it’s actually that second implication that’s harder for people to grasp. Yes—yes of course—the world is full of solutioneering. We have to keep talking about all the ways tech and design go wrong when there’s an assumption that any given clever intervention will make the world better. But it’s also far too easy to wield a blunt moral cudgel to ethics-check people in a simplistic way. It seems to me that in 2018, folks who know something about design tend to find a voice for their skepticism about this clueless over-confidence, but those same people have too little patience for the non-linear and enigmatic way that design gets its work done. “Did-you-ask-the-user-what-she-wants” now is code for: did you get a direct order for your decisions? It’s just never that simple, never that rote, never that guaranteed. A plea for discernment and subtlety, friends."
sarahendren  2018  design  collaboration  ethics  ethicaldesign  customerservice  synthesis  recombination  surveys  attention  solutioneering  solutionism  technosolutionism  morals  morality  skepticism  discernment  subtlety 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What If? And What’s Wrong? – Sherri Spelic – Medium
"According to Erikson’s analysis, Design Thinking favors those already positioned to benefit from and claim the best of what society has to offer. It stands to reason then those places where Design Thinking finds its most ardent supporters and enthusiastic practitioners will be among those with the resources of time, money and opportunity who can contemplate ‘What if’ questions in relative existential safety.

In his study of the lives of the vulnerable, Marc Lamont Hill challenges us to go beyond the headlines and video capture of numerous awful human interactions to see the system designs already in place which made those encounters more likely, more predictable, more damaging. He shows us the histories and patterns of disenfranchisement and exclusion of America’s vulnerable that are hiding in plain sight. Embedded in those patterns are hundreds of local, statewide and federal design decisions in urban planning, municipal budgeting, school district allocation, law enforcement strategy, and social service delivery all with the potential to support or suppress affected communities. The question ‘What’s wrong?’ is ever present in these contexts but when addressed with the kind of careful analysis that Hill provides we can name the elephant in the room, trace its origins, learn how it grew and was nourished over time.

Our students can see inequality. Many of them experience its injustices on a daily basis. Precisely here is where I would like to see us focus our educator energies: on helping students see and identify the faulty designs throughout our society that plague the most vulnerable among us. In order to dismantle and correct these designs and patterns, they must first be able to notice and name them. That’s the kind of design thinking I hope and wish for: Where ‘what’s wrong?’ drives our pursuit of ‘what if?’

I also imagine that would be a pretty tough sell in the current marketplace of ideas."
sherrispelic  designthinking  education  skepticism  criticalthinking  systems  systemsthinking  inequality  2018  marclamonthill  leevinsel  meganerikson  entrepreneurship  neoliberalism  optimism  enthusiasm  design 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Update: Opportunity Knocks Again, And Again, And Again … / Reflections of a Reluctant Writer
"What interests me is the work that has been done to shine a spotlight on the short-comings of using meta-analysis and effect sizes to validate all manner of commercial and educational activity and supposed policy legitimacy. For example, back in 2011 Snook et al wrote a critique of Visible Learning. Of particular note were their concluding concerns. After picking apart the methodological inconsistencies, the authors noted that “politicians may use his work to justify policies which he (Hattie) does not endorse and his research does not sanction”. They go on to state that “the quantitative research on ‘school effects’ might be presented in isolation from their historical, cultural and social contexts, and their interaction with home and community backgrounds”.

Beyond a schools choice to adopt strategies which anchor themselves in meta-analysis, there is the bigger question of how far up the system chain does the acceptance of intervention effectiveness go and how wide does the sphere of influence extend? Simpson (2017) has noted that our preoccupation with “‘what works’ in education has led to an emphasis on developing policy from evidence based on comparing and combining a particular statistical summary of intervention studies: the standardised effect size.” The paper suggests that research areas which lead to the array of effective interventions are susceptible to research design manipulation – they stand out because of methodological choices. It also asserts that policy has fallen victim to metricophilia: “the unjustified faith in numerical quantities as having particularly special status as ‘evidence’ (Smith 2011)”. Dr Gary Jones does a great job of highlighting this and other worries in his blog post about how this paper puts another ‘nail in the coffin’ of Hattie’s Visible Learning. Similarly, Ollie Orange ably dismantles the statistical concerns of Hattie’s meta-analysis.

The seductive rhetoric of Hattie’s work can be found almost everywhere and certainly seems compelling. With questions being asked of the methodological credibility upon which all else gushes forth, shouldn’t we be questioning how much we buy in to it? Surely we cannot ignore the noise, not necessarily because of its message, but because the noise is becoming a cacophony. As Eacott (2017) concludes,
“Hattie’s work is everywhere in contemporary Australian school leadership. This is not to say that educators have no opportunity for resistance, but the presence and influence of brand Hattie cannot be ignored. The multiple partnerships and roles held by Hattie the man and the uptake of his work by systems and professional associations have canonised the work in contemporary dialogue and debate to the extent that it is now put forth as the solution to many of the woes of education.”
"
jonandrews  2017  johnhattie  meta-analysis  policy  education  schools  research  manipulation  garyjones  ollieorange  neo-taylorism  scotteacott  edugurus  cultofpersonality  skepticism  visiblelearning  measurement  certainty  uncertainty  silverbullets  ivansnook  johno'neill  johnclark  anne-marieo'neill  rogeropenshaw 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Grades, Equity, and the Grammar of School – Teachers Going Gradeless – Medium
"Teachers lead a lot of change only to be bound by “grammar of school”, or the “organisational regularities” that largely lie outside of the control of individuals (David Tyack & Larry Cuban). Like Sparks, most teachers who aim to go gradeless in their classrooms still have to report grades because of the grammar of school."



"As we de-emphasize grades in our classroom, we still have a responsibility to make the larger grammar of schooling intelligible to our students so they can see a clear connection between our assessment and the numbers that will follow them around."



"Grades are part of what work to create the illusion that we live in a meritocracy, and so when people like Bock claim to have hit on practices that really help to discover merit, we also need to treat those practices with skepticism."



"Can we look forward to a ‘more flexible grading system’ in the near future? I hope so. But given that we live in a society where corporations turn bits of our lives into data points, we’ll need to help students navigate the new grammars of school."
grades  grading  benjamindoxtdator  2017  schools  schooliness  schooling  education  teaching  howweteach  assessment  meritocracy  skepticism  larrycuban  davidtyack 
may 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One? | Hapgood
"What is the digital literacy I want?

I want something that is actually digital, something that deals with the particular affordances of the web, and gives students a knowledge of how to use specific web tools and techniques.

I want something that recognizes that domain knowledge is crucial to literacy, something that puts an end to helicopter-dropping students into broadly different domains.

I want a literacy that at least considers the possibility that students in an American democracy should know what the Center for American Progress and Cato are, a literacy that considers that we might teach these things directly, rather than expecting them to RADCAB their way to it on an individual basis. It might also make sense (crazy, I know!) that students understand the various ideologies and internet cultures that underlie a lot of what they see online, rather than fumbling their way toward it individually.

I think I want less CRAAP and more process. As I look at my own process with fact-checking, for example, I see models such as Guided Inquiry being far more helpful — systems that help me understand what the next steps are, rather than abstract rubric of quality. And I think what we find when we look at the work of real-life fact-checkers is that this process shifts based on what you’re looking at, so the process has to be artifact-aware: This is how you verify a user-generated video for example, not “here’s things to think about when you evaluate stuff.”

To the extent we do use CRAAP, or RADCAB, or CARS or other models out there, I’d like us to focus specifically on the methods that the web uses to signal these sorts of things. For example, the “S” in CARS is support, which tends to mean certain things in traditional textual environments. But we’re on the web and awful lot of “support” is tied up in the idea of hyperlinks to supporting sources, and the particular ways that page authors tie claims to resources. This seems obvious, I suppose, but remember that in evaluating the gun control claim in the Stanford study, over half the students didn’t even click the link to the supporting resource. Many corporations, for business reasons, have been downplaying links, and it is is having bad effects. True digital literacy would teach students that links are still the mechanism through which the web builds trust and confidence.

Above all, I just want something that gets to a level of specificity that I seldom see digital literacy programs get to. Not just “this is what you should value”, but rather, “these are the tools and specific facts that are going to help you act on those values”. Not just “this is what the web is”, but “let’s pull apart the guts of the web and see how we get a reliable publication date”. It’s by learning this stuff on a granular level that we form the larger understandings — when you know the difference between a fake news site and an advocacy blog, or understand how to use the Wayback Machine to pull up a deleted web page — these tools and process raise the questions that larger theories can answer.

But to get there, you have to start with stuff a lot more specific and domain-informed than the usual CRAAP."
digitalcitizenship  digitlliteracy  mikecaulfield  edhirsch  robertpondiscio  knowledge  internet  web  online  experience  skepticism  literacy  inquiry  sfsh 
december 2016 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases...
"
Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades — and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.


—Damon Linker [https://theweek.com/articles/645664/rise-american-conspiracy-theory ]

Most of what Damon says here is exactly right, but he’s leaving out another major factor: the toxic combination of habitual arrogance and habitual error that afflicts so many of our “authorities.” Consider the amazingly inaccurate track record of expert economic forecasters [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/finance-why-economic-models-are-always-wrong/ ]. Consider the vast claims made by neuroscientists wielding fMRI machines — machines that consistently yield false results [http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/07/algorithms-used-to-study-brain-activity-may-be-exaggerating-results/ ]. And consider the constant cheerleading for expert bullshit from much of the media.

It is true that “the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades” — but it is also true that some of those authorities deserve to be attacked, and indeed to be attacked more strongly than they are. So in this situation, what is the ordinary person to do? How is she supposed to tell the difference between the reliable expertise of climate scientists and the unreliable “expertise” of yet another neuroscience charlatan? Isn’t it perfectly understandable that in such a noisy environment she will say, “Yeah, right, ‘experts’ — who needs that crap?”"
alanjacobs  damonlinker  arrogance  experts  trustworthiness  science  neuroscience  2016  confidence  skepticism  economics  economists  politics  debate  information  criticalthinking  media 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The Educator’s Secret and Modern Stupidity
[Followed by:

"The Educator’s Dilemma and the Two Big Lies"
http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/0710/dilemma.htm

and "The Educator’s Folly and the Shadow of the Future"
http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/1108/educators-folly.htm ]

"Several years ago, a distraught mother who knew I was an “educator” called me in tears. She had just come from a parent/teacher conference where she had been informed by her son’s kindergarten teacher that he was “four months behind.” (In kindergarten!) She imagined her son’s future possibilities slipping away and hoped I could give her some advice, or at least some sympathy. “Is there anything I can do for him?” she wondered.

I told her what her son’s kindergarten teacher should have known: that no two children are alike; that each child develops in his or her own mysterious way; that a child who is “four months behind” when he is five might be “two years ahead” when he is seven.

I told her that when Albert Einstein was her son’s age his teachers thought he was slow and simple-minded and that Thomas Edison was expelled from first grade because his teacher thought he was retarded. (In Edison’s case, we can have some sympathy for the teacher. It was probably difficult to assess his school work in the dim light.) “I’m sure that with a concerned parent like you,” I told her, “your son will be all right.”

This kindergarten teacher was probably not being malicious. She was probably doing what she had been trained to do; what she thought her job required her to do. How can we explain such an absurd situation?

In The Art of the Novel, the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, claims that one of the greatest ills facing the contemporary world is “the modernization of stupidity.” In pre-modern times, stupidity implied ignorance, “a simple absence of knowledge, a defect correctable by education.” In its modern form, however, stupidity is something else. It is “not ignorance but the nonthought of received ideas.”1

Modern stupidity is closely related to what Ivan Illich called “modern certainties,” ideas that have become so ingrained they are almost never questioned because we are hardly aware of having them. “Nonthought” also underlies the “modern superstitions” that Wendell Berry has criticized, for example, in books like Life is a Miracle.2


Ironically, the field of education is as rife with this “nonthought” as any other. One example of modern stupidity is the superstitious belief that there is such a thing as an “average child,” whom a five-year-old could be “four months behind.” In succumbing to what philosopher Alfred North Whitehead called “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness” – that is treating an abstraction as if it were a concrete reality – educators start their work in the wrong place.3

In his book Citizenship Papers, Wendell Berry recounts a conversation between a well-known, highly respected horse trainer and someone curious about his methods. “How do you train horses?” the latter asks. The former replies, “Which one do you have in mind?”4

If such a response makes sense for horses, then surely, given the complexity of human development, the answer to the question “How do you educate children?” must be “Which one do you have in mind?”

Instead of beginning with the pernicious abstraction of the “average child” and tracking students into the “gifted and talented” at one end of “the bell curve” and those needing “special education” at the other, we should try to free our approach to “education” from modern stupidity. Since no two children are identical, there cannot be one best way to educate all of them. And we should certainly stop frightening parents with pronouncements about their children’s status compared to some abstract and arbitrary standard."



"“Most of what we learn before, during, and after attending school is learned without it being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much of what is remembered is irrelevant.” 10

Ivan Illich was even more to the point when he said: “It is really an alienation to believe that learning is the result of teaching.” 11

The “science” upon which the structure of schooling rests is flimsy at best and certainly out-of-date. Roger Schank, the Director of the Institute for the Learning Sciences [sic] at Northwestern University, summed up the latest research about the approaches to “learning” used in schools this way:

“From elementary school to college, educational systems drive the love of learning out of kids and replace it with the “skills” of following rules, working hard, and doing what is expected…We all learn in a very specific way, and the method schools use in antithetical to this learning model.” 12

After reviewing the various claims educators have made for the “scientific” basis for their theories of “learning,” Bruce Goldberg concluded:

“There is no such thing as educational science. When the views that have been offered as scientific are examined closely, they turn out to be not scientific at all but rather a combination of personal taste and simplistic, distorted versions of philosophical theories about how the mind works.” 13

I think the obsession with science itself must be questioned. Philip Sherrard and others have shown that the assumptions upon which modern science is based inevitably dehumanize people.14 Scientists investigating human nature are confronted with a dilemma: Either human beings can be reduced to observable, predictable energy and matter, or we must remain unknowable to ourselves. And, as Wendell Berry observed, if we accept the reductive premises of modern science, we get caught in a paradox:

“Reductionism…has one inherent limitation that is paramount, and that is abstraction: its tendency to allow the particular to be absorbed or obscured by the general. It is a curious paradox of science that its empirical knowledge of the material world gives rise to abstractions such as statistical averages which have no materiality and exist only as ideas. There is, empirically speaking, no average and no type.” 15

There is no such thing, for example, as an “average child,” which brings me back to the anxious mother of the boy in kindergarten. When she had calmed down, I decided to take a risk and to share with her “The Educator’s Secret.”

Professional educators, at least those trapped in what Richard Mitchell (and Flannery O’Connor before him) called “educationism,” keep the secret because they want gullible people to believe their services are indispensable.16 They realize that if the general public knew about it, the entire project of compulsory schooling, which costs more than $500 billion each year in the United States, would be threatened.

“If you love your son and feed him,” I confided, “he will grow up.”

“And who knows?” I added. “Someday, he may come up with an idea that will light up the world.”"
culturaldarkmatter  darkmatter  ivanillich  2010  danielgrego  milankundera  alfrednorthwhitehead  education  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schools  teaching  howweteach  aldoushuxley  wendellberry  supersticion  skepticism  criticalthinking  children  scientism  educationism  sfsh 
august 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 1: progress dogma
"Despite the name, Crap Futures is not all gloom and doom. We may view notions of progress with a sceptical eye, but we still subscribe - heartily, even - to the pursuit of a better world, however small our contribution might be.

In that spirit of improvement - and to introduce the first in our new series on constraints - let us turn for a moment to Ray Bradbury, the presiding Crap Futures muse. In his short story ‘A Sound of Thunder’ (1952), the protagonist, Eckels, travels back to the Late Cretaceous period to track and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The slogan of the company that organises these tours, Time Safari, Inc., is straightforward: ‘Safaris to any year of the past … we take you there, you shoot it.’ Time Safari’s main job, aside from organising tours, is making sure each hunter leaves no footprint, literally or figuratively, in or on the past (or future - whatever, it’s confusing).

The spark in Bradbury’s cautionary tale is Time Safari’s meticulous treatment of the prehistoric ecosystem. With the vast timeframes involved, minute changes to a particular point in the past - increasing exponentially through time - can lead to dramatic differences in everything proceeding from that point. To avoid contaminating the past and altering the future, an ‘anti-gravity metal’ path hovers above the prehistoric jungle, from which hunters are instructed never to stray in even the slightest. The possible impact of any deviation from the path is conveyed in dramatic terms by the tour guide: ‘Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity.’ The hunters even wear special ‘oxygen helmets’ to avoid introducing ‘bacteria into the ancient atmosphere’.

Naturally enough, however, Eckels panics at the sight of the Tyrannosaurus and accidentally steps off the path. This leads to a typically Bradburyesque climax - which we won’t spoil here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The key message of Constraint No. 1 is that unlike Time Safari, most of those with a hand in ‘how the future happens’ have no motivation to think about long term consequences of their actions. So blinded are they, in fact, by the bright lights of progress and its successor innovation that any potentially negative impact is ignored. This positivistic message about technology is endemic, and is only being exacerbated by the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’ culture of the social network. Unfortunately, as we know, life is complicated and unforeseen negative outcomes happen.

Progress dogma keeps us on the current technological trajectory - it is belief as a motivational force of change. It gives this trajectory huge momentum, meaning that is is virtually impossible to change course. If you’ll pardon the bleak image, it’s a bit like the Titanic sailing directly into potentially fatal waters without a care in the world.

Once we remove the constraints of positive thinking, it becomes possible to more realistically apprehend the future in (some of) its complexity, helping us to figure out what to avoid as well as where to aim. So, how can we rethink progress to identify possible implications? How can we disconnect from the utopian mantra and twentieth-century mindset of positivist corporate culture?'
crapfutures  raybradbury  design  titanic  dinosaurs  sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  constraints  progress  technology  systemsthinking  time  longnow  bighere  skepticism  timesafari  implications  consequences  caution  positivism  future  duediligence  diligence  change  ecosystems  californianideology  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » Santa Claus – The Ultimate Dry Run Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders
"By allowing our children to participate in the Santa myth and find their own way out of it through skeptical inquiry, we give them a priceless opportunity to see a mass cultural illusion first from the inside, then from the outside. A very casual line of post-Santa questioning can lead kids to recognize how completely we all can snow ourselves if the enticements are attractive enough. Such a lesson, viewed from the top of the hill after exiting a belief system under their own power, can gird kids against the best efforts of the evangelists – and far better than secondhand knowledge could ever hope to do."
2007  dalemcgowan  parenting  belief  santaclaus  skepticism  inquiry  children  criticalthinking 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Audrey Watters Casts a Skeptical Eye on Tech Boosters - The Digital Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Audrey Watters describes herself as a Cassandra of educational technology, but the comparison is only partially apt.

Like the Greek prophet, Ms. Watters tells people things they often don’t want to hear. Unlike Cassandra, though, her clear-eyed analyses do find an audience. Her Twitter feed has more than 28,000 followers. Her blog, weekly newsletter, and year-end roundups of top tech trends are must-reads for many in higher education and the tech world. She’s in demand as a conference speaker. (She recently published a collection, Monsters of Education Technology, which features 14 of the talks she gave in 2014.)

A self-employed writer, Ms. Watters, 43, speaks with an independent voice. She doesn’t run ads on her site or take money from sponsors. Beholden to no institutions or companies, she’s free to critique them. She supports herself through her writing and speaking and through donations that readers make to her blog, Hack Education.

Animating her work is a conviction that technology needs to be not just used but questioned, its power structures and exclusions challenged, its makers’ narratives not taken for granted. She explained why this matters in a recent talk, "Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me," also posted as an essay on her blog. It’s a tech-infused riff on the phenomenon of "mansplaining" identified by the writer Rebecca Solnit. But Ms. Watters looks beyond gender to explain why the trend is a serious social problem.

"The problem isn’t just that men explain technology to me," she says in the essay. "It isn’t just that a handful of men explain technology to the rest of us. It’s that this explanation tends to foreclose questions we might have about the shape of things."

That matters, she says, "because the tech sector has an increasingly powerful reach in how we live and work and communicate and learn."

Speaking your mind about the powerful, male-dominated tech world can come at a cost, especially if you’re a female commentator. Ms. Watters is no stranger to online harassment. "It’s an issue that’s magnified by the architecture of the technology we use," she says, with platforms like Twitter making it too easy for harassers to do what they do. "It’s been really difficult, and it’s made me rethink a lot of the things about how I work online." She blocks offenders, uses online-security strategies, and calls for anti-harassment policies at conferences and elsewhere. She pushes on.

Ms. Watters brings a rare and necessary skepticism to the omnipresent innovation-and-disruption boosterism that plagues ed tech, says Jim Groom. He’s director of the division of teaching-and-learning technologies at the University of Mary Washington. He calls Ms. Watters "the cultural critic that ed tech has needed for a decade."

"She’s doing a lot of the hard work that a lot of the people in ed tech haven’t," Mr. Groom says. "It’s hard to go up against MOOCs and Silicon Valley."

MOOCs loomed large in Ms. Watters’s 2012 overview of tech trends, which featured a "forgotten history" of the phenomenon’s origins and questioned what kind of future MOOCs would really deliver: "With MOOCs, power might shift to the learner; it’s just as likely that power shifts to the venture capitalists."

Now, in 2015, even as MOOC fever has cooled, she remains skeptical. "Part of the crisis of higher education is that we’ve followed this story that innovation has to come from the private sector," she says. "MOOCs are a great example of that — so much ink spilled over something that’s really not that exciting at all."

Her own eclectic schooling shaped her thinking about education, Ms. Watters says. The child of an American father and an English mother, she went to public school in Wyoming and spent two years in an English boarding school. "It radicalized me in all kinds of ways," she says. "It was very clear to some people there who belonged and who didn’t belong and who had status."

She went to the Johns Hopkins University, dropped out, followed the Grateful Dead, moved home with a child in tow, took traditional and distance-ed courses to earn a B.A. from the University of Wyoming, married an artist, and moved to Oregon in the mid-90s. A job at the University of Oregon led her to graduate school there; she earned a master’s degree in folklore and was working on a dissertation in comparative literature when her husband died of cancer. The lack of support she and her family received from the campus community, she says, along with her sense that higher education in general was mired in bureaucracy and politics, contributed to her decision to quit graduate school.

Ms. Watters, who considers herself a recovering academic, brings the intellectual rigor of a highly trained cultural critic to her work now. She’s completing a book project called "Teaching Machines," a history of learning technologies and a corrective to the ahistorical narrative that now prevails. (The title comes from B.F. Skinner’s attempts, in the 1950s, to create a system of machine-enabled, programmed-learning classrooms.)

"It’s partially a response to what I feel is a dominant ideology out of Silicon Valley — that the past is irrelevant, somehow decadent and useless and needs to be swept aside, and the future is all that matters," she says. "I’ve been struck by how many people in ed tech speak as though the day they decided to do a start-up was the day ed tech began."

Another book project, "Reclaim Your Domain," focuses on more of Ms. Watters’s urgent concerns: data privacy and users’ control (or lack thereof) over the content they create, whether they’re students enrolled in a class, faculty members teaching and publishing online, or tech-using members of the general public.

Tech boosters argue that data collection can deliver a better learning experience as well as deter terrorism and solve health-care problems.

But Ms. Watters points out that too often users don’t know what’s at risk or aren’t given a choice about whether to share their data. For instance, universities need to make sure they’re not signing away the intellectual property of students and faculty members who use a learning-management system, she says. And what happens to users’ data when a start-up folds or gets bought?

"There are lots of places where the battle has to be fought," Ms. Watters says. "The stakes feel pretty high to me right now.""
audreywatters  2015  awesomepeople  edtech  technology  education  policy  independence  independents  criticism  criticalthinking  cassandras  truth  honesty  journalism  power  mansplaining  society  jimgroom  skepticism  mooc  moocs  radicals  culturalcriticism  siliconvalley  technosolutionism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study - Vox
"In 2003, researchers writing in the American Journal of Medicine discovered something that should change how you think about medical news. They looked at 101 studies published in top scientific journals between 1979 and 1983 that claimed a new therapy or medical technology was very promising. Only five, they found out, made it to market within a decade. Only one (ACE inhibitors, a pharmaceutical drug) was still extensively used at the time of their publication.



It’s a fact that all studies are biased and flawed in their own unique ways. The truth usually lies somewhere in a flurry of research on the same question. This means real insights don't come by way of miraculous, one-off findings or divinely ordained eureka moments; they happen after a long, plodding process of vetting and repeating tests, and peer-to-peer discussion. The aim is to make sure findings are accurate and not the result of a quirk in one experiment or the biased crusade of a lone researcher.

As science is working itself out, we reporters and our audiences seize on "promising findings." It's exciting to hear about a brand new idea that maybe — just maybe — could revolutionize medicine and stop some scourge people suffer through. We're often prodded along by overhyping scientists like Zamboni, who are under their own pressure to attract research funding and publications.

We don't wait for scientific consensus; we report a little too early, and we lead patients and policymakers down wasteful, harmful, or redundant paths that end in dashed hope and failed medicine.

This tendency could be minimized if we could only remember that the overwhelming majority of studies in medicine fail."



"We now live in an age of unprecedented scientific exploration. Through the internet, we have this world of knowledge at our fingertips. But more information means more bad information, and the need for skepticism has never been greater.

[graph]

I often wonder whether there is any value in reporting very early research. Journals now publish their findings, and the public seizes on them, but this wasn't always the case: journals were meant for peer-to-peer discussion, not mass consumption.

Working in the current system, we reporters feed on press releases from journals and it's difficult to resist the siren call of flashy findings. We are incentivized to find novel things to write about, just as scientists and research institutions need to attract attention to their work. Patients, of course, want better medicines, better procedures — and hope.

But this cycle is hurting us, and it's obscuring the truths research has to offer. (Despite the very early and tenuous science behind liberation therapy, MS sufferers traveled the world seeking it out, and launched political movements calling for resources to fund the treatment.)

For my part, I've tried to report new studies in context, and use systematic reviews — meta-analyses of all the best studies on clinical questions — wherever possible. When scientists or other members of the media prematurely blow up a novel breakthrough, I've tried to convey the reality that it's probably not a breakthrough at all. The more I do this, the more I realize the truth in what Harvard's Oreskes, Stanford's John Ioannidis, and many other respected researchers have reiterated over the years: we need to look past the newest science to where knowledge has accumulated. There, we'll find insights that will help us have healthier lives and societies.

As we turn away from the magic pills and miracle treatments, I think we'll focus more on the things that actually matter to health — like education, equality, the environment.

It's not always easy, and the forces pushing us to the cutting edge are powerful. But I try to proceed cautiously, to remind myself that most of what I'm seeing today is hopelessly flawed, that there's value in looking back."

[via: http://finalbossform.com/post/114498001935/jtotheizzoe-that-new-scientific-breakthrough
who quotes http://finalbossform.com/post/114498001935/jtotheizzoe-that-new-scientific-breakthrough

"That “new scientific breakthrough discovery” you just read about on that news site/blog/Facebook page? It’s almost certainly wrong. This article from Vox is a seriously important thing that, if you care about science, you really need to read, like right now.

My take: The tendency of the media to report on what is *NEW* in science is indicative of what I think is the largest perspective gap between scientists and nonscientists.

The general public (<- apologies, I hate how homogenous that word is, because there is no single “general public”, but I have to use it here) seems to crave novelty and has a tendency to view every scientific finding as forwardprogress and individually meaningful, but science is a an ongoing process of self-correction and repetition. It doesn’t have an “end” and any single study is almost certainly wrong, or at the very least doesn’t tell the full story.

This is why I have tried to steer clear of reporting on “breaking” science news in my own efforts here on OKTBS. Science communicators and journalists, we need to make a commitment to covering science as a process and not as a series of breakthroughs. When science IS reported that way, we run the risk of losing people’s trust when science later must later correct or contradict itself, which is something that will absolutely happen, because that’s what science does. We must also make people comfortable with the idea uncertainty and science-as-a-process is a good thing!"]
juliabelluz  science  scientificmethod  criticalthinking  joehanson  journalism  research  medicine  2015  peerreview  journals  skepticism  popmedia  media  massmedia  pressreleases 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Poly-Technic
[via: https://twitter.com/KatePahl/status/518992037740568576 ]

"The Poly-Technic is the collaborative arts practice of Steve Pool and Kate Genever. It is grown from a set of key principles, is not buildings based, geographically specific or funding reliant. It aims to provide a melting pot for ideas, exploring how knowledge is found in places and people as well as books and the internet. The ambition is to bring people together to think around the intersection between art, places, research and in doing so build what we call a “Generative Space”.

Our Manifesto includes ideas such as: Conflict can be generative, Stuff comes from stuff, Abandon what you think you know and It starts when it starts and finishes when it finishes. The Poly-Technic is an idea which can change shape while maintaining it’s form and works across disciplines with the aim of developing and promoting the idea of Wider World Artists [WWA]. We offer a mentoring service and have to date offered opportunities such as bursaries, a summer school, residencies and a commissions scheme."

[See also: http://kategenever-stevepool.blogspot.co.uk/
http://poly-technic.co.uk/news/
http://poly-technic.co.uk/publications/ ]

["How to learn from people"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-R_S83EY84 ]

[Manifesto
http://poly-technic.co.uk/manifesto-2/ ]

"Abandon what you think you know: It’s not easy to gradually let go of well developed expertise, at the Poly-Technic we suggest that it’s best to abandon it all in one go. Disciplinary boundaries can only be collapsed when we stop holding onto disciplinary knowledge.

It starts when it starts and finishes when it finishes: We are not afraid to part with or transform ideas into something new. Polytechnic projects are always “In-Process”.

Trust in the process: Trust yourself and trust in others, trust you will be surprised, trust you will be interested, trust in the future. Trust and belief depend on optimism; without which we are lost.

Meaning is negotiated: The author died in 1967, his children carry on trying to make sense of just about everything.

Conflict can be generative: Work hard to learn the difference between good conflict and bad conflict. But like cholesterol its difficult to know the difference between the good and the bad until it’s too late.

Stuff comes from stuff: trying, helping, working, making, talking – new ideas come from doing.

Make through thinking: the opposite of ‘stuff comes from stuff’, but its still active, its rigorous thinking

Be playful – improvise: Play games, play serious games – Nabeel Hamdi

Craft your practice: We could have said follow your line. The line is not to be broken, it is not marked on a short or long term strategic plan it flows from your feet and hands and entwines us with the world.

Feel your way: The artist’s business is to feel, although he may think a little sometimes… when he has nothing better to do. (John Ruskin)

Question everything: through deep reflection.

It is ambition enough to be employed as an under labourer in clearing ground a little, and removing some rubbish that lies in the way of knowledge. [John Locke. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 1689.] As such we hope to beat a path through the nettles to a light dappled clearing in the woods and have a nice cup of tea.

Kate Genever and Steve Pool. 2012"
poly-technic  art  stevepool  kategenever  glvo  rolisoen  learning  howwelearn  trickster  knowledge  conflict  manifestos  play  unknowing  notknowing  interdisciplinary  antdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject  process  meaning  making  howwework  thinking  ideas  practice  johnruskin  feeling  reflection  questioning  questionasking  skepticism  ambition  johnlocke  optimism  askingquestions 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Throwing cold water on the phenomenon — The Message — Medium
"Lou Gehrig’s Disease is horrible; on this everyone agrees. And anything that might hasten the development of treatments or even a cure is inarguably worth supporting. But.

That damned ice bucket challenge. Celebrities, athletes, business executives, that annoying self-promotional person in your Facebook network —they’ve all embraced the charity campaign, becoming particularly inescapable in the last month. And it’s worked, with the ALS Association reporting a more-than-tenfold increase in donations since the campaign took off, yielding over $30 million in proceeds. [Update: Felix Salmon makes a credible case for donations reaching $100 million.]

It’s extraordinarily rare to see many people publicly criticizing a charity campaign, given the risks of being seen as heartless or obnoxious. That’s especially true given the record-breaking success of the ice bucket challenge. Yet many reasonable, caring people have voiced some skepticism or concern about the particulars of this charity effort. Something about the way the ice bucket challenge has taken off rubbed many of us the wrong way, even as we’ve been pleased by its success.

In the interest of understanding how even an undeniably meritorious effort could grate on the sensibilities of good people, I solicited specific reasons that the ice bucket challenge was annoying. Dozens of people replied, offering complaints that fit neatly into a few different (presumably not ice-filled) buckets. They are presented here, sorted from least legitimate to most legitimate.

It’s getting out of giving

At least in its most common incarnations, the premise of the ice bucket challenge was that the participants were dumping ice on their heads to avoid donating to the cause. Now, the majority of extremely wealthy people who have done the challenge have chosen both to dump ice on their heads and to donate to the cause. But the setup being anti-charity stuck in many people’s minds as a fairly offensive premise. This objection seems a bit more dubious, given that nobody is actually using the challenge as an excuse not to give to the cause, but it certainly helped color the conversation for those who were already skeptical.

[examples]

Charity Ought Not Be Public
That thine alms may be in secret: and
thy Father which seeth in secret
himself shall reward thee openly.

That exhortation to give in private was courtesy of Aaron Williamson, epitomizing this class of objections.

[examples]

Annoyance at the Participants

The rich are, of course, constant and often worthy targets of our scorn. And when they do anything to advertise themselves as being paragons of virtue, that’s a quick road to opprobrium. Even worse is when we combine that with egotistical celebrities nakedly expressing self-regard, thanking themselves for their own generosity. Rising naturally from the earlier objections to any public charity are even more strident objections to hyper-public charity.

[examples]

Objecting to the Manipulation

When a friend or colleague publicly asks one to participate in a charity effort, it’s of course a deeply coercive action. There’s no suitable response other than yes, unless one is willing to look insensitive or cruel in public.

[examples]

The Insensitivity of Mirth

Because ALS is a brutal, exhausting disease that ravages both those who are afflicted as well as their families and loved ones, the lighthearted tone of many videos from the challenge seemed tone-deaf. This becomes doubly true when so many on social media this week have been focused on profoundly troubling events around the world, from Missouri to Syria.

[examples]

No real focus on ALS

One of the most pervasive threads of criticism is that the participants seemed largely disconnected from harsh reality of ALS, saying almost nothing about the disease, the Association dedicated to helping those with the disease, or even where people watching the video could choose to donate themselves.

[examples]

Fundamental Funding Problems Are More Important

The most compelling, inarguable justification for objecting to the ice bucket challenge is that it shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. As many have pointed out, many elected officials who were willing to perform the stunt in ostensible solidarity with people who have ALS were also willing to cut funding to fight the disease.

[examples]

Surprisingly, this wasn’t one of the most popularly-articulated reasons for objecting to this viral campaign. But it is clearly the one which bears the most mention, and it’s well worth reckoning with the serious issue of how our society will fund basic research on enormously devastating diseases.

How to address ALS

This final focus on the funding and research about the disease is the point most often overlooked in extremely viral online campaigns — because it leads to the sort of complexity that isn’t very much fun to share on Facebook.

But many charities that have been fortunate enough to experience a surge of online donations have also struggled with the after-effects. Like the lottery winners who, unaccustomed to managing wealth, find themselves broke a few years later, very few small non-profits have the skill to manage an onrush of funding that is both unexpected and unrepeatable. In the best case, they might be able to create an endowment that will yield a modest but significant annual return in the future. Those aren’t the kind of results that will get celebrities posting on YouTube, meaningful though they may be.

And for those of us not directly impacted by ALS, participating in these sorts of campaigns, rather than voting for broader medical research or supporting more substantive funding, can lead to an even more serious issue. Online campaigns are very effective in encouraging moral licensing, that phenomenon where we feel we’ve “scratched our itch” in regard to charity, and then give ourselves permission to be less charitable overall.

The most fundamental issue raised by the success of the ice bucket challenge is that ALS is an incredibly difficult disease to live with, and one that has seen few significant advances in its treatment. There is no cure. These realities are not going to change without an ongoing, extended, significant engagement by professionals who are dedicated to making progress through research.

We should never give in to cynicism, and we shouldn’t be afraid to participate in campaigns that are for a good cause. But it’s just as important we listen to the skeptics and the critics over the long run. Because ALS will be with us for a long time, but the gimmick in these videos is never going to work again."
als  charity  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  icebucketchallenge  stunts  anildash  viral  lougehrig'sdisease  giving  virtue  funding  fundraising  criticism  manipulation  morallicensing  skepticism  nonprofit  charities  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Love People, Not Pleasure - NYTimes.com
"We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more. This paradox has a word in Sanskrit: upadana, which refers to the cycle of craving and grasping. As the Dhammapada (the Buddha’s path of wisdom) puts it: “The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life... Whoever is overcome by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.”

This search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is elegant, simple and deadly:

Love things, use people.

This was Abd al-Rahman’s formula as he sleepwalked through life. It is the worldly snake oil peddled by the culture makers from Hollywood to Madison Avenue. But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road to misery. You want to be free of the sticky cravings of unhappiness and find a formula for happiness instead. How? Simply invert the deadly formula and render it virtuous:

Love people, use things.

Easier said than done, I realize. It requires the courage to repudiate pride and the strength to love others — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, God and even strangers and enemies. Only deny love to things that actually are objects. The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.

This also requires a condemnation of materialism. This is manifestly not an argument for any specific economic system. Anyone who has spent time in a socialist country must concede that materialism and selfishness are as bad under collectivism, or worse, as when markets are free. No political ideology is immune to materialism.

Finally, it requires a deep skepticism of our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier. Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Abd al-Rahman never got his happiness sums right. He never knew the right formula. Fortunately, we do."
relationships  people  consumerism  materialism  buddhism  2014  arthurbrooks  abdal-rahman  economics  happiness  unhappiness  life  living  skepticism  desire  charity  virtue  fame  money  danielkahneman  collectivism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Discover The Road — Join a Community of People Who Wonder...
"Hi, my name is Kirk Wheeler. Discover the road is about finding a path in the chaos and learning what it means to live an authentic life. You can learn more about my reasons for starting this journey here: The First Step.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe that together we can learn how to ask better questions. An ongoing list of ideas on how to do just that can be found at the Rules of the Road."



"Question everything. … Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. … There is no failure, only feedback."



"Question everything. … Make progress. … Embrace the journey."

[See also: https://soundcloud.com/discovertheroad
http://www.discovertheroad.com/podcasts ]

[Listened to this one "On Chaos, Zen, Love and How To Remain Loyal To The Mystery" (several of the tags used for this bookmark are for that specific podcast:
https://soundcloud.com/discovertheroad/episode-10-stuart-davis-on-chaos-zen-love-and-how-to-remain-loyal-to-the-mystery
http://www.discovertheroad.com/podcast/stuart-davis ]
via:ablaze  interviews  creativity  podcasts  life  spirituality  kirkwheeler  impermanence  death  questioning  stuarddavis  meditation  well-being  living  chaos  balance  multitasking  messiness  resilience  presence  sleep  self-knowledge  uncertainty  progress  questioneverything  skepticism  change 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Young Minds in Critical Condition - NYTimes.com
"It happens every semester. A student triumphantly points out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is undermining himself when he claims “the man who reflects is a depraved animal,” or that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for self-reliance is in effect a call for reliance on Emerson himself. Trying not to sound too weary, I ask the student to imagine that the authors had already considered these issues.

Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent “contradictions” in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. How do we think about inequality and learning, for example, or how can we stand on our own feet while being open to inspiration from the world around us? Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?

Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege.”

The combination of resistance to influence and deflection of responsibility by confessing to one’s advantages is a sure sign of one’s ability to negotiate the politics of learning on campus. But this ability will not take you very far beyond the university. Taking things apart, or taking people down, can provide the satisfactions of cynicism. But this is thin gruel.

The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not totally without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers — or, to use a currently fashionable word on campus, people who like to “trouble” ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the chance to learn as much as possible from what they study.

In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.

Once outside the university, these students may try to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school, but those points often come at their own expense. As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning — a culture whose intellectuals and cultural commentators get “liked” by showing that somebody else just can’t be believed. But this cynicism is no achievement.

Liberal education in America has long been characterized by the intertwining of two traditions: of critical inquiry in pursuit of truth and exuberant performance in pursuit of excellence. In the last half-century, though, emphasis on inquiry has become dominant, and it has often been reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief. The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated (often ironic) spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.

Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources. Creative work, in whatever field, depends upon commitment, the energy of participation and the ability to become absorbed in works of literature, art and science. That type of absorption is becoming an endangered species of cultural life, as our nonstop, increasingly fractured technological existence wears down our receptive capacities.

In my film and philosophy class, for example, I have to insist that students put their devices away while watching movies that don’t immediately engage their senses with explosions, sex or gag lines. At first they see this as some old guy’s failure to grasp their skill at multitasking, but eventually most relearn how to give themselves to an emotional and intellectual experience, one that is deeply engaging partly because it does not pander to their most superficial habits of attention. I usually watch the movies with them (though I’ve seen them more than a dozen times), and together we share an experience that becomes the subject of reflection, interpretation and analysis. We even forget our phones and tablets when we encounter these unexpected sources of inspiration.

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

Liberal education must not limit itself to critical thinking and problem solving; it must also foster openness, participation and opportunity. It should be designed to take us beyond the campus to a life of ongoing, pragmatic learning that finds inspiration in unexpected sources, and increases our capacity to understand and contribute to the world — and reshape it, and ourselves, in the "
criticalthinking  criticism  cynicism  2014  intellect  debate  skepticism  creativity  immersion  attention  inquiry  education  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  engagement  investment  michaleroth  philosophy  participatory  irony  spectators  sophistication 
may 2014 by robertogreco
launch and iterate - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"I enjoyed this brief interview [http://www.full-stop.net/2014/02/04/features/the-editors/tldr-rob-horning/ ] with Rob Horning of The New Inquiry, and was particularly taken with this passage:
What do you think is good about the way we interact with information today? How has your internet consumption changed your brain, and writing, for the better?

I can only speak for myself, but I find that the Internet has made me far more productive than I was before as a reader and a writer. It seems to offer an alternative to academic protocols for making “knowledge.” But I was never very systematic before about my “research” and am even less so now; only now this doesn’t seem like such a draw back. Working in fragments and unfolding ideas over time in fragments seems a more viable way of proceeding. I’ve grown incapable of researching as preparation for some writing project — I post everything, write immediately as a way to digest what I am reading, make spontaneous arguments and connections from what is at hand. Then if I feel encouraged, I go back and try to synthesize some of this material later. That seems a very Internet-inspired approach.

Let me pause to note that I am fundamentally against productivity and then move on to the more important point, which is that online life has changed my ways of working along the lines that Horning describes — and I like it.

There’s a mantra among some software developers, most notably at Google: Launch and iterate. Get your app out there even with bugs, let your customers report and complain about those bugs, apologize profusely, fix, release a new version. Then do it again, and again. (Some developers hate this model, but never mind.) Over the past few years I’ve been doing something like this with my major projects: throw an idea out there in incomplete or even inchoate form and see what responses it gets; learn from your respondents’ skepticism or criticism; follow the links people give you; go back to the idea and, armed with this feedback, make it better.

Of course, writers have always done something like this: for example, going to the local pub and making people listen to you pontificate on some crack-brained intellectual scheme and then tell you that you’re full of it. And I’ve used that method too, which has certain advantages ... but: it’s easy to forget what people say, you have a narrow range of responses, and it can’t happen very often or according to immediate need. The best venue I’ve found to support the launch-and-iterate model of the intellectual life: Twitter."
productivity  research  cv  howwework  criticalmess  criticalmesses  internet  web  online  haphazardness  circling  unfolding  writing  robhorning  2014  via:ablerism  thinking  gtd  iteration  skepticism  criticism  feedback  twitter  process  alanjacobs  howwewrite  messiness 
february 2014 by robertogreco
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"So what is TED exactly?

Perhaps it's the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough then the world will change. But this is not true, and that's the second problem.

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realization, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I'm sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are very complicated are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time –and the audience’s time— dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

Recently there was a bit of a dust up when TED Global sent out a note to TEDx organizers to not book speakers whose work spans the paranormal, the conspiratorial, New Age, quantum neuroenergy, etc: what is called Woo. Instead of these placebos, TEDx should instead curate talks that are imaginative but grounded in reality. In fairness, they took some heat, so their gesture should be acknowledged. A lot of people take TED very seriously, and might lend credence to specious ideas if stamped with TED credentials. "No" to placebo science and medicine.

But the corollaries of placebo science and placebo medicine are placebo politics and placebo innovation. On this point, TED has a long ways to go.

Perhaps the pinnacle of placebo politics and innovation was featured at TEDx San Diego in 2011. You’re familiar I assume with Kony2012, the social media campaign to stop war crimes in central Africa? What happened here? Evangelical Christian surfer Bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of Central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony’s still there. The end.

You see, when inspiration becomes manipulation, inspiration becomes obfuscation. If you are not cynical you should be skeptical. You should be as skeptical of placebo politics as you are placebo medicine."



"E and Economics

A better 'E' in TED would stand for Economics, and the need for, yes imagining and designing, different systems of valuation, exchange, accounting of transaction externalites, financing of coordinated planning, etc. Because States plus Markets, States versus Markets, these are insufficient models, and our conversation is still stuck in Cold War gear.

Worse is when economics is debated like metaphysics, as if the reality of a system is merely a bad example of the ideal.

Communism in theory is an egalitarian utopia

Actually existing Communism meant ecological devastation, government spying, crappy cars and gulags

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing Capitalism means Walmart jobs, people living in sewers under Las Vegas, McMansions, Ryan Seacrest…plus —ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?

The most recent centuries have seen extraordinary accomplishments in improving quality of life. But the paradox is that the system we have now --whatever you want to call it-- is in the short term what makes the amazing new technologies possible, but in the long run it is also what suppresses their full flowering. Another economic architecture is prerequisite."



"As for one simple take away... I don't have one simple take away, one magic idea. That’s kind of the point. I will say that when and if the key problems facing our species were to be solved, then perhaps many of us in this room would be out of work (and perhaps in jail).

But it’s not as though there is a shortage of topics for serious discussion. We need a deeper conversation about the difference between digital cosmopolitanism and Cloud Feudalism (toward that, a queer history of computer science and Alan Turing’s birthday as holiday!)

I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomics and bronze age myths, but instead on something more… scalable.

TED today is not that.

Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be re-arranged and re-programmed. It’s not true.

“Innovation” that moves the pieces around and adds more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary, ...the only boundary left is our imagination.” Wrong.

If we really want transformation we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

Instead of dumbing down the future we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration," it's about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins

At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest things that make us feel good but which don’t work, and don’t invest things that don’t make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder and harder to feel good about not solving any problems.

In this case the placebo is worse than ineffective, it's harmful. It's diverts your interest, enthusiasm and outrage until it's absorbed into this black hole of affectation

Keep calm and carry on "innovating"... is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.

In the U.S. the right-wing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality... other constituencies have TED."

[Now posted at the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted ]
benjaminbratton  ted  tedxsandiego  2013  politics  technology  sandiego  lajolla  communism  capitalism  kony2012  geopolitics  drones  nsa  surveillance  innovation  ambiguity  contradiction  demystification  cynicism  skepticism  cloudfeudalism  digitalcosmopolitanism  via:javierarbona 
december 2013 by robertogreco
​Introducing Abler: All Technology is Assistive Technology
[Related: http://abler.gizmodo.com/
http://sarahendren.kinja.com/ ]

"So you'll see lots of new and near-future prosthetics design on Abler. But you'll also see:

Critical design. Plenty of prosthetic devices solve problems. But others investigate what counts as a "problem" in the first place. Whose bodies need "fixing," and why? What happens when designers reconsider the definition of "normal"? Whether you call it "design for debate" or "interrogative design," these are tools and technologies that raise and suspend the friction of questions, rather than rushing to the seamlessness of solutions.

Old and new devices. There are surprising connections between devices across widely differing historical and cultural contexts. The history of war, for example, reveals both incredible advances and deep ironies in the development and use of assistive technologies among veterans. A long perspective is a good one. Abler will talk to historians and anthropologists who can illuminate these technologies.

Assistive technologies as culture. Abler is influenced by historian David Edgerton's call to pay attention not just to technological innovations because they're new, but to also pay attention to technologies in use to assess their importance. The day-to-day adoption and appropriation of technologies is where their real power lies. Assistive devices reveal all kinds of fascinating collisions with politics, material science, economic structures, and fashion, but also with accidental histories and contingent relationships.

What you won't see at Abler:

No soft piano music, no "overcomer" stories. Too often, tech writers are so much in love with the conflict-and-resolution stories of prosthetics that the users of those devices become a simplified backdrop for a scripted, questionably emotional catharsis. No prosthetics users here will necessarily be "suffering from" their conditions. Abler is about assistive technologies without sentimentality.

No breathless tech utopianisms. There will be plenty of celebration here about technical innovation. You will see us join sometimes in the holy-crap-they-built-WHAT?! conversation. But Abler values a measured skepticism about technological fixes for complex, sensing humans and their many tasks. Some new devices are truly groundbreaking; some are merely new. Abler is about welcoming the future with critical wits intact.

Abler is written and edited by Sara Hendren, with research assistance by Anna Raymond. Note: the Kinja platform doesn't allow us to provide alt-text for blind readers; we'll be describing images in posts and suggesting they change their policy."
sarahendren  aberism  gizmodo  2013  assistivetechnology  technology  culture  society  criticaldesign  utopianism  skepticism  complexity  annaraymond  davidedgerton  history  anthropology  prosthetics 
november 2013 by robertogreco
I'm an atheist so why am I a committed Quaker? – Nat Case – Aeon
"I contradict myself. I am an atheist and committed Quaker. Does it matter what I believe, when I recognise that religion is something I need?"



"If you are really going to be part of a community, just showing up for the main meal is not enough: you need to help cook and clean up. So it has been with me and the Quakers: I’m concerned with how my community works, and so I’ve served on committees (Quakerism is all about committees). There’s pastoral care to accomplish, a building to maintain, First-Day School (Quakerese for Sunday School) to organise. And there’s the matter of how we as a religious community will bring our witness into the world. Perhaps this language sounds odd coming from a non-theist, but as I hope I’ve shown, I’m not a non-theist first. I’ve been involved in prison visiting, and have been struck at the variety of religious attitudes among volunteers: some for whom the visiting is in itself ministry, and others for whom it’s simply social action towards justice (the programme grew out of visiting conscientious objectors in the Vietnam era). The point is: theological differences are not necessarily an issue when there’s work to be done."



"How can we do that? How can I do that? Submitting to something I am pretty sure doesn’t exist? How can I bow down to a fiction? I did it all the time as a child. Open the cover of the book, and I’m in that world. If I’m lucky, and the book is good enough, some of that world comes with me out into the world of atoms and weather, taxes and death. It’s a story, and sometimes stories are stronger than stuff.

Maybe part of the trick is realising that it doesn’t have to be just my little bubble of fiction. I can read a novel, or I can go gaming into the evening with friends. I can watch a ballet on a darkened stage, or I can roar along to my favourite band in the mosh pit. I hated school dances with a passion, yet I have been a morris dancer for 23 years now: I just had to find the form that was a right fit. I don’t pray aloud, or with prescribed formulas. But I can ask Whatever-There-Is a question, or ask for help from the universe, or say thank you. And now that I’m in a place with a better fit, sometimes I get answers back. And so there I am, a confirmed skeptic, praying in a congregation."



"A year and a half ago, our family began worshipping with a smaller Conservative Friends group. Conservative Friends are socially and theologically liberal but stricter in adhering to older Quaker practices. The group uses the Montessori-based Godly Play curriculum for the children: it’s all about stories. Every session begins with a quieting and a focusing. The leader tells a story from the Bible or from the Quaker story book. Then ‘wondering’ questions are asked that spur the children to reflect on what’s going on, and what they would do in the same situation.

I wish I’d had this great programme as a child. The teacher is a good storyteller who clearly loves the kids, and they love the stories and the time with their friends. To me, it’s such an improvement on school-style lessons. It says: this is a different kind of knowing and learning — this is not about facts and theories you need to learn, but about the stories we want to become part of your life.

I love facts and theories, the stuff of the world. I spend most of my life wrestling and dancing with all this amazing matter. As the Australian comic Tim Minchin says in his rant-poem ‘Storm’ (2008): ‘Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex, wonderfully unfathomable world?’ And yes, it’s enough. We don’t need to tell lies about the real world in order to make it magical. But we do still need impossible magic for our own irrational selves. At any rate, I do.

Because I don’t feel stuff-and-logic-based explanations deep down in my toes. There are no miracle stories of flying children there, or brothers reborn into the land where the sagas come from. The language of ‘stuff is all there is’ tells me that I can — even ought to — be rational and sensible, but it doesn’t make me want to be. ‘Atheism’ tells me what I am not, and I yearn to know what I am. What I am has a spine, it’s a thing I must be true to, because otherwise it evaporates into the air, dirt and water of the hard world.

Maybe I — we — need to start small, rebuilding gods that we talk to, and who talk back. Or just one whom we can plausibly imagine, our invisible friend. Maybe part of our problem is that we don’t actually want to talk to the voice of Everything, because Everything has gotten so unfathomably huge. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, didn’t have to think about light years, let alone billions of light years. The stars now are too far away to be our friends or speak to us in our need. Maybe we could talk to a god whom we imagined in our house. Maybe we could ask what is wanted, and hear what is needed. Maybe that god would tell us not to tramp over the earth in armies, pretending we are bigger than we are, and that dying is OK, because it’s just something that happens when your life is over. Maybe we would ask for help and comfort from unexpected places, and often enough receive it and be thankful for it.

Maybe we need to name that little god something other than God, because maybe our God has a boss who has a boss whose boss runs the universe. Maybe we name this god Ethel, or Larry, or Murgatroyd. Maybe there is no god but God... or maybe there just is no God. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we just tell stories that ring true to us and say up-front that we know they are fiction. We can let people love these stories or hate them. Maybe imagining impossible things — such as flying, the land where sagas come from, God — is what is needed. Maybe we don’t need the gods to be real. Maybe all we need is to trust more leaps of the imagination."
philosophy  quakers  atheism  2013  natcase  religion  belief  literature  fiction  skepticism  stories  storytelling  listening  learning  life  magic  wonder  truth  logic  trust  imagination  community  committees  myth  myths  josephcampbell  robert  barclay  via:jenlowe  everyday  quaker 
august 2013 by robertogreco
On Food Poisoning and Rousseau - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"[T]here is always the danger in falling in for a distant lover who seems magically free of all the complications back home. I was raised by a generation that--to varying degrees--found this out. My friend Brendan Koerner just published a book which is getting raves everywhere--The Skies Belong To Us. The most bracing portion, to me, is Brendan's hard look at the New Left. I got my first lessons in skepticism and counter-intuitiveness from a lot of these guys. But it's worth remembering that there was when they sung the praises of Kim il Sung. 

I don't want to take this too far. If America has the right to be wrong, then so do its reformers. It mirrors our discussion here where we find people attacking other countries for not being "democratic" without understanding our own long, ugly and sometimes dishonorable path. More, I would say that because of my particular background, my canon was a little different than most, and whatever differences you might find in my voice are attributable to that."

[Full set of dispatches from Paris here: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/category/paris ]
ta-nehisicoates  2013  paris  skepticism  conterintuition  rousseau  us  reform  democracy  temptation  blurredvision  complexity  travel 
august 2013 by robertogreco
"Envisioning a Sustainable World" by Donella H. Meadows [.pdf]
"Vision is the most vital step in the policy process. If we don’t know where we want to go, it makes little difference that we make great progress. Yet vision is not only missing almost entirely from policy discussions; it is missing from our whole culture. We talk about our fears, frustrations, and doubts endlessly, but we talk only rarely and with embarrassment about our dreams. Environmentalists have been especially ineffective in creating any shared vision of the world they are working toward -- a sustainable world in which people live within nature in a way that meets human needs while not degrading natural systems. Hardly anyone can imagine that world, especially not as a world they’d actively like to live in. The process of building a responsible vision of a sustainable world is not a rational one. It comes from values, not logic. Envisioning is a skill that can be developed, like any other human skill. This paper indicates how."



"Beyond that we could occasionally take the social risk of displaying not our skepticism but our deepest desires. We could declare ourselves in favor of a sustainable, just, secure, efficient, sufficient world (and you can add any other "value word" you like to that list), even at the expense of being called idealistic. We could describe that world, as far as we can see it, and ask others to develop the description further. We could give as much credit to the times when we exceed our expectations as to the times when we fall short. We could let disappointments be learning experiences, rather than fuel for pessimism."



"Why is it that we can share our cynicism, complaints, and frustrations without hesitation with perfect strangers, but we can't share our dreams? How did we arrive at a culture that constantly, almost automatically, ridicules visionaries? Whose idea of reality forces us to "be realistic?" When were we taught, and by whom, to suppress our visions?"



"Vision is the most vital step in the policy process. If we don’t know where we want to go, it makes little difference that we make great progress. Yet vision is not only missing almost entirely from policy discussions; it is missing from our whole culture."

[via Nicole: https://readmill.com/nicoleslaw/reads/envisioning-a-sustainable-world ]

[video: https://vimeo.com/30752926 ]
vision  donellameadows  sustainability  1994  change  pessimism  skepticism  cynicism  culture  society  optimism  tcsnmy  visionaries  policy  process  idealism  pragmatism  naïvité 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Fredric Jameson - Wikipedia
[Link points to the section below. See also: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/jameson.htm ]

"The critique of postmodernism

"Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" was initially published in the journal New Left Review in 1984, during Jameson's tenure as Professor of Literature and History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This controversial article, which would later be expanded to a full-sized book in 1991, was part of a series of analyses of postmodernism from the dialectical point of view Jameson had developed in his earlier work on narrative. Jameson here viewed the postmodern "skepticism towards metanarratives" as a "mode of experience" stemming from the conditions of intellectual labor imposed by the late capitalist mode of production.

Postmodernists claimed that the complex differentiation between "spheres" or fields of life (such as the political, the social, the cultural, the commercial, etc.) and between distinct classes and roles within each field, had been overcome by the crisis of foundationalism and the consequent relativization of truth-claims. Jameson argued, against this, that these phenomena had or could have been understood successfully within a modernist framework; postmodern failure to achieve this understanding implied an abrupt break in the dialectical refinement of thought.
In his view, postmodernity's merging of all discourse into an undifferentiated whole was the result of the colonization of the cultural sphere, which had retained at least partial autonomy during the prior modernist era, by a newly organized corporate capitalism. Following Adorno and Horkheimer's analysis of the culture industry, Jameson discussed this phenomenon in his critical discussion of architecture, film, narrative and visual arts, as well as in his strictly philosophical work. Two of Jameson's best-known claims from Postmodernism are that postmodernity is characterized by pastiche and a crisis in historicity. Jameson argued that parody (which requires a moral judgment or comparison with societal norms) was replaced by pastiche (collage and other forms of juxtaposition without a normative grounding). Relatedly, Jameson argued that the postmodern era suffers from a crisis in historicity: "there no longer does seem to be any organic relationship between the American history we learn from schoolbooks and the lived experience of the current, multinational, high-rise, stagflated city of the newspapers and of our own everyday life" (22).

Jameson's analysis of postmodernism attempted to view it as historically grounded; he therefore explicitly rejected any moralistic opposition to postmodernity as a cultural phenomenon, and continued to insist upon a Hegelian immanent critique that would "think the cultural evolution of late capitalism dialectically, as catastrophe and progress all together".[12] His failure to dismiss postmodernism from the onset, however, was perceived by many as an implicit endorsement of postmodern views. From another angle, critics such as Linda Hutcheon have argued that postmodern artists show greater historical sophistication, by analyzing the discursive means by which historical narratives are constructed, than Jameson's account would allow.[13]"
fredricjameson  postmodernism  historyofconsciousness  metanarratives  skepticism  labor  intellectuallabor  capitalism  marxism  politics  society  culture  foundationalism  modernism  postmodernity  lindahutcheon  art  latecapitalism  theodoradorno 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Guilty Particulars
[Now at this URL: http://tanmade.com/writing/2012/12/10/guilty-particulars/ ]

"It takes attention and patience to learn the particulars of your own taste. Saying you liked a bad movie doesn’t mean you have to like everything about it – maybe the score was genius, or one character’s lines were spot-on. Being able to pinpoint what’s good about your guilty pleasures lets you talk about them without feeling ashamed by the bad parts.

Otherwise, it means being bound by a vague sense of what you’re supposed to like, and being instinctively skeptical of things that seem a bit too popular – as if that’s an automatic black mark. And the most dangerous thing as a critic is to feel like you’re learning to be discerning and critical when really, you’re only learning not to look foolish."
irony  skepticism  constructivecriticism  patience  noticing  attention  why  judgement  preference  bias  shame  guiltypleasures  allentan  2012  pleasure  criticism 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Purity
"The enemy of rigour and purity is the ad hoc approach, an approach that fits solutions to a particular purpose. Ad hoc explanations and solutions are sound and often highly effective in their own contexts, but make no claims to generality. As such, they attract only the sneers of scientific purists. Pure science, like the kitschiest art, aspires to be generic and timeless and universal. Pure science rejects all worldly purpose.

Scientific purists are right to be suspicious of purpose. Applied research is politicised research, openly co-opted to some political agenda, which, given present-day sources of funding, is more often than not a reactionary one. The aim of such research is to to produce work that will advance corporate or national interests in controlled, predictable ways: to produce patented techniques that give a competitive edge, or to produce concrete (and desirable) policy recommendations to be mulled over by think-tanks."
practical  practice  theory  celibacy  purpose  learning  scientificpurity  ghhardy  cpsnow  mathematics  m  math  romanticism  randallmunroe  academia  elitism  skepticism  stephenbond  xkcd  science  purity 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Credo
A few:

"* I believe there is a single objective material reality in which we all exist & have our subjective experiences.



* I believe in the value of human life, & the value of the quality of human life. I believe that material, intellectual & emotional satisfaction are essential for the quality of human life.



* I believe that any system which depends on depriving some humans of their quality of life, such as the capitalist system, is a bad system. I believe that in depriving some of their quality of life, such a system reduces the quality of life for all.



* I believe in my friends and in the value of friendship. A life without the constant friendship of other human beings is a tragic life.



* I believe in the value of the diversity of living things. I believe civilisation should ensure that this diversity is maintained.

* I believe in the value of art and beauty, & art for its own sake. I believe the value of art cannot and must not be measured in material terms."
knowledge  skepticism  openminded  truth  learning  curiosity  scientificmethod  science  purpose  meaning  living  relationships  firendship  stephenbond  civilization  capitalism  humanism  life  diversity  beauty  art  credo  credos  via:nicolefenton 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Why I am no longer a skeptic
"That's right: the nerds won, decades ago, and they're now as thoroughly established as any other part of the establishment. And while nerds a relatively new elite, they're overwhelmingly the same as the old: rich, white, male, and desperate to hang onto what they've got. And I have come to realise that skepticism, in their hands, is just another tool to secure and advance their privileged position, and beat down their inferiors. As a skeptic, I was not shoring up the revolutionary barricades: instead, I was cheering on the Tsar's cavalry."

"The truth is, I became a skeptic for aesthetic reasons, and the truth is, its aesthetics now repel me. I increasingly find the core skeptical output monotonous and repetitive: there are only so many times you can debunk the same old junk, and I've had it up to here with science fanboyism. And when skeptics talk about subjects outside their domain of expertise, I'm struck by how irrelevant their comments are, and how ugly, shrill and trivial."
stephenbond  psychology  camps  mindset  reality  narrative  identity  cv  howwethink  howweact  privilege  bullying  nerds  thought  criticism  politics  science  philosophy  atheism  skepticism  via:nicolefenton 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Majoring in Idiocy | Front Porch Republic
"colleges and universities are essentially diploma retailers obsequiously bent on making the shopping experience of their customers enjoyable and painless.

…For education presently conceived and presently practiced has but one goal: the mass production of idiots.

I’m speaking—I hope—in fairly precise terms here.

An “idiot,” from the Greek idios (“private,” “own,” “peculiar”), is someone who is peculiar because he is closed in on himself or separated or cut off. In short, he is a specialist. If he knows anything, he knows one thing.

… The idiot may have extensive knowledge of a given thing, but to the extent that he has no sense of where to place that knowledge in the larger context of what is known and knowable, and to the extent that he doesn’t know that the context for the known and the knowable is the unknown and the unknowable—to that extent his knowledge ceases to be knowledge and becomes a collection of mere facts, which, as Cervantes said, are the enemy of truth."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2012/06/13/specialization-idiocy-jason-peters-education/ ]
cv  criticalthinking  thinking  universities  colleges  curriculum  skepticism  science  tunnelvision  knowledge  2010  generalists  certification  diplomas  wisdom  specialization  idiots  highereducation  deschooling  unschooling  education  jasonpeters  specialists 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Two talks about data on Env
"Both of these discuss the limits of data visualization and indeed data and indeed knowledge. It’s not hard to find people claiming that we don’t know very much, but these two are experts at figuring out and showing what we know. Skepticism about the power of scatterplots means something serious – is more than sophomoric nihilism – when it comes from them.

I hope these might be news of a fresh wave of data work: analysis and visualization that retains a sense of play, but also admits its responsibility as rhetoric and is more able to expose its own assumptions and omissions. In my head I’ve been calling this data with context, but I think we need something catchier."
patterns  patternrecognition  sensemaking  rhetoric  interpretation  design  skepticism  designinggeopolitics  context  datawithcontext  analysis  dataanalysis  usmanhaque  eyeo  jenlowe  visualization  data  2012  charlieloyd 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill | Mad In America
"Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.



Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society."

…authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”"
despair  inattention  xanax  drugs  adderall  overdiagnosis  diagnosis  policy  illegitimacy  saulalinsky  defiance  hyperactivity  children  youth  teens  russellbarkley  impulse-control  impulsivity  disruption  behavior  oppositiondefiantdisorder  odd  trust  skepticism  opression  marginalization  deschooling  unschooling  education  schooliness  schools  cv  brucelevine  medication  depression  add  adhd  criticalthinking  society  control  anxiety  anger  compliance  attention  pathology  2012  anti-authoritarians  authoritarianism  authority  psychiatry  politics  health  psychology  anti-authoritarian  problemswithauthority  issueswithauthority 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Ask Chris #81: Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism - ComicsAlliance | Comic book culture, news, humor, commentary, and reviews
"Scooby-Doo is a cartoon about kids looking for truth.

Michael Ryan recently wrote a really interesting article that suggested the decision to keep real monsters off of Scooby-Doo was originally done in order to appease parents who wanted something that was just scary enough to keep a kid's attention without being so scary that they wouldn't actually get "excited." They wanted to have the fun of monsters without the consequences of having to deal with nightmares…the televised equivalent of a Nerf Dracula, taking something that was supposed to be scary and blunting it down until the the big reveal at the end of every episode, which would show kids that the monsters they were scared of were just normal dudes.

…whether or not it was the intent of the creators, what they ended up with was something that went far beyond that idea.

Because that's the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren't monsters, they're liars."
scooby-do  secularhumanism  humanism  skepticism  askingquestions  reason  curiosity  thinking  fear  tv  television  parenting  children  criticalthinking  belief  truth  cartoons  rationality  2011  glvo  questionasking 
december 2011 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - William Deresiewicz
"Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there."

"What happens when busyness & sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection…is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude…one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system."

Also here http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/voices-in-time/william-deresiewicz-trims-the-ivy.php?page=all in this issue: http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/magazine/ways-of-learning.php ]
williamderesiewicz  2008  via:jeeves  highered  highereducation  learning  unschooling  deschooling  liberalarts  class  perpetuation  criticalthinking  skepticism  resistance  institutions  intellectualism  introspection  solitude  cv  self-awareness  conformism  elites  power  control  racetonowhere  purpose  vision  education  colleges  universities  lapham'squarterly 
november 2011 by robertogreco
When you stare into the eye of a whitebait... - Artichoke
"It was a “when you stare into the eye of a whitebait” type question.  Because when you stare into the eye of a whitebait, its protruding lens and fixed-size pupil stares right back at you in a very knowing 360-degree gaze.  A “when you stare into the eye of a whitebait” type question is a question that demands/extracts a response."
questions  questioning  skepticism  pamhook  artichoke  2011  johnhattie  neilpostman  culture  change  technology  teaching  learning  education  artichokeblog 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Graduation Speech - SLA Class of 2011 - Practical Theory
"And after you have forgotten the granular details of the periodic table of elements, continue to honor the scientific spirit of inquiry, always asking powerful questions and seeking out complex answers.

That is, we hope, what you have learned from us. That inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are not just words in a mission statement but an iterative process of learning that can and will serve you the rest of your life if you let it. And perhaps above all else, remember that throughout that process, there are those in your life who have been there, who have cared about you, who have mentored you, and in doing so, hope that you will pay that forward. That you will care for those around you. That you will understand that the intersection of that ethic of care and that spirit of inquiry starts with asking the question, “What do you think?” caring about the answer, and then taking action."
learning  chrislehmann  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  education  collaboration  research  presentation  reflection  process  skepticism  ethics  care  questioning  action  actionminded  agency  legacy  persistence  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  commencementspeeches 
june 2011 by robertogreco
INTHECONVERSATION: Art Leisure Instead of Art Work: A Conversation with Randall Szott [Truly too much to quote, so random snips below. Go read the whole thing.]
"Sal Randolph talks w/ Randall Szott about collections, cooking, "art of living," & infra-institutional activity."

"undergrad art ed seemed overly concerned w/ 'how & what to make' sorts of questions…"

"in my possibly pathetic & overly romantic vision of considered life, I am quite hopeful about ability of (art & non-art) people to improve their own experience & others' in both grand & mundane ways"

"I would like to build along model of public library. Libraries meet an incredibly diverse set of needs & desires"

"art is a great conversation…tool for making meaning & enhancing experience, but it is highly specialized, & all too often, closed conversation of insiders"

"I am deeply committed to promoting "everyday" people who are finding ways to make lives more meaningful - devoted amateurs to a variety of intellectual pursuits, hobbyists, collectors, autodidacts, bloggers, karaoke singers, crafters, etc…advocate for a rich, inclusive understanding of human meaning-making."
2008  salrandolph  randallszott  leisure  art  living  collecting  food  cooking  life  slow  thinking  philosophy  unschooling  deschooling  credentials  artschool  education  learning  skepticism  everyday  vernacular  language  work  leisurearts  dilletante  generalists  cv  distraction  culture  marxism  anarchism  situationist  lcproject  tcsnmy  intellectualism  elitism  meaning  sensemaking  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  projectbasedlearning  projects  openstudio  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  thewhy  why  audiencesofone  canon  amateurs  artleisure  darkmatter  pbl  artschools 
may 2011 by robertogreco
How 'Radiolab' Is Transforming the Airwaves - NYTimes.com
"they seem to share is a blend of curiosity & skepticism, willingness to be convinced—& delight in convincing."

“Normally reporter goes out & learns something, writes it down & speaks from knowledge…Jokes & glitches puncture illusion of all-knowing authority, who no longer commands much respect these days anyway. It’s more honest to “let audience hear & know that you are manufacturing a version of events…

“It’s consciously letting people see outside frame…those moments are really powerful. What it’s saying to listener is: ‘Look, we all know what’s happening here. I’m telling you a story, I’m trying to sort of dupe you in some cosmic way.’ We all know it’s happening—& in a sense we all want it to happen.”

This is how “Radiolab” addresses tension btwn authenticity & artifice: capturing raw, off-the-cuff moments…& editing them in gripping pastiche…hope…is to preserve sense of excitement & discovery that often drains away in authoritative accounts of traditional journalism."
via:lukeneff  radiolab  radio  npr  robertkrulwich  jadabumrad  2011  storytelling  science  journalism  classideas  authority  authenticity  humility  humor  fun  artifice  attention  engagement  curiosity  skepticism  convincing  knowledge  honesty  uncertainty  perspective  teaching  knowing  understanding  transparency 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Chris Hedges: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System - Chris Hedges' Columns - Truthdig
"A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs…"

[Printable: http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/why_the_united_states_is_destroying_her_education_system_20110410/ ]
education  politics  reform  us  corruption  class  money  policy  rttt  nclb  testing  standardizedtesting  billgates  michaelbloomberg  schools  schooling  chrishedges  socrates  hannaharendt  civilization  civics  morality  authority  obedience  consciousness  self-awareness  skepticism  thinking  criticalthinking  lcproject  tcsnmy  greed 
april 2011 by robertogreco
n+1: How to Behave in an Art Museum
"This is very American. Our purported populism has always made us wary of those claiming, by virtue of their position or education, to know better than everyone else. One thing that’s changed, though, is that this populism, often disguised as the heady skepticism of continental theory, has managed to sneak into the very bastion of elitism, into the places where the aspiring intellectual first learns how to be a pompous snob: academic humanities departments…

The closer we get to the top, it seems, the more likely we are to believe, or pretend to believe, that the ladder we’ve been climbing leads nowhere—is meaningful only to those who stare at its innumerable rungs from below. Self-improvement, we discover, is a sham. We were better off when we were just kids, when we knew what we liked effortlessly, when our passions were not learned. And so we end up in MoMA’s romper room, doing somersaults on the carpet, hoping to return to a state of innocence."
art  culture  hierarchy  timothyaubry  posturing  humanities  skepticism  populism  continentaltheory  cleverness  museums  nyc  highculture 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Technium: Possibilians vs Agnostics
"Eagleman: "Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

…Agnostics end w/ lack of an answer. Possibilians begin w/ lack of an answer. Agnostics say, we can't decide between this & that. Possibilians say, there are other choices… Agnostics say, I Don't Know, it's impossible to answer that question. Possibilians say, I Don't Know, there must be better questions. Both start in humility, but agnosticism is bounded by our great ignorance, while possibilism is unbounded by our limited knowledge."
davideagleman  kevinkelly  uncertainty  possibility  possibilianism  religion  certainty  science  belief  agnosticism  atheism  doubt  curiosity  humility  skepticism  storytelling  criticalthinking  philosophy  ambiguity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  stories 
february 2011 by robertogreco
David Eagleman on Possibilianism on Vimeo
"Neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman introduces the concept of Possibilianism, a new philosophy that simultaneously embraces a scientific toolbox while exploring new, unconsidered uncertainties about the world around us."
davideagleman  religion  atheism  agnosticism  possibilianism  philosophy  science  ambiguity  uncertainty  certainty  belief  curiosity  hubble  ultradeepfield  ralphwaldoemerson  literature  myths  greekmyths  greeks  romans  creationstories  storytelling  stories  possibility  doubt  humility  skepticism  criticalthinking 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Don't Believe
"Pop science is a curse. There are few things I dislike more than having “studies” (mis)quoted at me to justify a point.<br />
<br />
I try to approach science with the same incredulity that those in the sciences apply to matters of faith and intuition. My reasoning for this is simple: what science “knows” tends to be in constant flux. We look back at the science and medicine of previous generations and laugh, but we treat our current “state of the art” with reverence.<br />
<br />
That attitude is a large part of why I sometimes feel that I’m living in the past. It’s also why I put ever less stock in arguments made from a rigid position of “hard scientific fact”. It’s nice to have data, but it’s probably only useful when arguing about the particulars of small, closed systems."
alexpayne  flux  science  criticalthinking  popscience  skepticism  cv 
january 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)
"The Poetry of Reality is the fifth installment in the Symphony of Science music video series. It features 12 scientists and science enthusiasts, including Michael Shermer, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Carolyn Porco, and PZ Myers, promoting science through words of wisdom."
carlsagan  jilltarter  richarddawkins  jacobbronowski  stephenhawking  carolynporco  pzmyers  briangreene  lawrencekrauss  richardfeynman  neildegrassetyson  michaelshermer  wisdom  science  music  skepticism  knowledge  criticalthinking  collaboration  human  evidence  insight  discovery  unknown 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Finding Time | Rebecca Solnit | Orion Magazine
"conundrum is that language to describe ineffable splendors & possibilities of our lives takes time to master, takes a certain unhurried engagement w/ tasks of description, assessment, critique, & conversation; that to speak this slow language you must slow down, & to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by doing so. It’s not an elite language; nomadic & remote tribal peoples are now quite good at picking & choosing from development’s cascade of new toys, & so are some of cash-poor, culture-rich people in places like Louisiana. Poetry is good training in speaking it, & skepticism is helpful in rejecting the four horsemen of this apocalypse [Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, & Security], but both require a mind that likes to roam around & the time in which to do it.

Ultimately…slowness is an act of resistance, not because slowness is a good in itself but because of all that it makes room for, the things that don’t get measured and can’t be bought."

[My take: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/2393325961/slowness-is-an-act-of-resistance ]
culture  productivity  technology  music  efficiency  convenience  profitability  pleasure  poetry  sociability  security  slow  slowness  cash-poor  culture-rich  inspiration  nomads  skepticism  language  conversation  time  resistance  neo-nomads  distraction  well-being  2010  rebeccasolnit  comments  cv  canon 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy « You Are Not So Smart
"When you desire meaning, when you want things to line up, you forget about stochasticity. You are lulled by the signal. You forget about noise. With meaning, you overlook randomness, but meaning is a human construction.<br />
<br />
You have just committed the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.<br />
<br />
The fallacy gets its name from imagining a cowboy shooting at a barn. Over time, the side of the barn becomes riddled with holes. In some places there are lots of them, in others there are few. If the cowboy later paints a bullseye over a spot where his bullet holes clustered together it looks like he is pretty good with a gun.<br />
<br />
By painting a bullseye over a bullet hole the cowboy places artificial order over natural random chance.<br />
<br />
If you have a human brain, you do this all of the time. Picking out clusters of coincidence is a predictable malfunction of normal human logic."
randomness  fallacies  skepticism  statistics  bias  psychology  probability  logic  fallacy  coincidence 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: What Price Control?
"My democratic leanings from childhood were strengthened as it became more & more obvious that 12+ years of schooling was such a poor preparation for democracy. The strong-willed, skepticism that is essential alongside of the habit of seeing & feeling the world from different perspectives (call it empathy?) is precisely what schooling dulls rather than nurtures, what is stronger at age 5 than 15.

...Susan Sontag: "Don't allow yourself to be patronized, condescended to" & "Don't be afraid."

When I visit many "acclaimed schools" for poor children I'm struck by how hard adults work at putting kids "in their place", at public humiliation & condescension. The way children's families are too often talked about by school adults is unnerving. Yet school adults are also object of similar condescension. But connection btwn the two is somehow lost.

Too many of our schools are organized around fear & thus "solutions"/reforms are too. The details are similar to those that drive prisons."
deborahmeier  susansontag  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  fear  condescension  control  empathy  education  policy  reform  childhood  schools  humiliation  2010  hierarchy  power  tcsnmy  skepticism  civics 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Cancer-causing box springs? [Interesting, but the update (quoted here) is why I'm bookmarking]
"So, you know when you run across something about some current scientific theory or hypothesis on a blog or in a magazine or newspaper or even in a scientific journal, there's a fair chance that whatever the article says is misleading, misstated, or even incorrect. That's just how it is and if you didn't know, now you do. Take this stuff with a grain of salt. It's why I use phrases like "suspected cause" instead of something like "box springs and FM radio proven to cause cancer".
kottke  skepticism  science  media  truth  hypotheses  cancer  boxsprings  medicine  quacks 
july 2010 by robertogreco
BigThink videos: Penn Jillette and Dan Ariely - Boing Boing
"A couple of great videos from BigThink. First, Penn Jillette on how reading the great religious texts will make you into an atheist, the future of magic, and how he and Teller work together."

[Videos are at: http://bigthink.com/pennjillette AND http://bigthink.com/danariely ]
behavior  rationality  religion  pennjillette  skepticism  atheism  irrationality  primarysources  criticalthinking  magic  pennandteller  performance  business  partnerships  ikeaeffecy  ikea  onlinedating  math  politics  tolerance  respect  morality  right  wrong  glenbeck  abbiehoffman  libertarianism  honesty  humility  tcsnmy  classideas  civics  policy  humanity  context  media  perspective  evil  good  wisdom  disagreement  debate  philosophy  drugs  alcohol  modeling 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Newsweek (But if you turn out to be wrong, even temporarily,...)
""But if you turn out to be wrong, even temporarily, even only once, on a hot-button issue, that’s enough for effective excommunication from polite society. That, to me, is chilling: I’d much rather live in a world where people should be able to change their minds and should be allowed to be wrong on occasion. For surely we are all wrong, much more often than we like to think."
highstakes  religion  catholicism  excommunication  society  consequences  certainty  learning  fear  rightandwrong  morality  felixsalmon  change  gamechanging  mindchanges  criticalthinking  skepticism  mindchanging 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Children as the Trojan horse | The Fifth Conference
"I guess the problem begins with our educational system, which is rotten. Children hate school. The problem is that they hate education, while they love to learn. All children love to learn. There are two things—essential things—we do not teach at school: functional technology and money...We need to teach kids to learn to navigate a world that is becoming more and more technological...Children must learn to play with maths. And we must teach them to work with resources like Wikipedia, but as critical thinkers, as people who understand how that knowledge system is put together. Ultimately it is all about teaching kids to learn and to think...“Today what we teach is confusion.”
olpc  it  education  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  children  highered  compartmentalization  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  culture  europe  innovation  us  criticalthinking  skepticism  wikipedia  unschooling  deschooling  business  walterdebrouwer  belgium  curiosity 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Shortcuts - In a Land of Cynics and Saps, the Skeptic Is King - NYTimes.com
"The choice, though, is not simply between cynicism and gullibility. The middle ground is skepticism — someone who doesn’t accept things on faith but seeks out more information, said Paul Mihailidis, an assistant professor of media studies and public relations at Hofstra University.

“A cynic doesn’t trust and walks away,” he said. “A skeptic doesn’t trust and keeps asking questions.”

The danger is trying to teach skepticism and ending up with cynics, which can happen, Professor Mihailidis said, when educating students in how the media operates. A study of University of Maryland undergraduates who took media literacy found they were more able to understand, evaluate and analyze media messages, but they were also more cynical and negative about the media’s role in civil society — which was not the goal.

“It’s not enough to teach students how the message is slanted,” Professor Mihailidis said. “We need to teach how to become engaged and active citizens.”

The aim is, as much as possible, to question and learn. Nonetheless, all of us, at some point, will be duped or mistakenly distrust an honest man. But that doesn’t make us cynics or fools. It just makes us human."
cynicism  medialiteracy  skepticism  criticalthinking  education  learning  curiosity  questioning  paulmihailidis  gullibility  trust  human  daviddunning  psychology  society 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Bulls#@t and the Art of Crap-Detection : Stager-to-Go
"Back in the late 1960s, Neil Postman wrote extensively about how educational quality and a healthy democracy were dependent on each citizen having a highly sensitive “shockproof crap detector in their survival kit.” The classic book he co-authored with Charles Weingarten, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, (Delacorte Press, 1969) discusses crap detection as fundamental to learning. This work is as timely today as it was forty years ago. In fact, Postman delivered a paper at the 1969 National Council of Teachers of English annual conference, entitled, “Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection.” Read the historic speech here or scroll down"
neilpostman  skepticism  writing  bullshit  education  learning  filtering  authority 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Back to Reality - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com [via: http://libedge.blogspot.com/2009/01/curiosity-close-cousin-of-creativity.html via: cburell]
"In schools, science is often taught as a body of knowledge — a set of facts and equations. But all that is just a consequence of scientific activity.
science  curiosity  experimentation  evaluation  measurement  observation  skepticism  investigation  learning 
december 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - RDF TV - The Baloney Detection Kit - Michael Shermer
"Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine lays out a "Baloney Detection Kit," ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim."
michaelshermer  criticalthinking  science  skepticism  patterns  pseudoscience 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Liz Coleman's call to reinvent liberal arts education | Video on TED.com
"Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education -- one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day."
colleges  universities  liberalarts  education  learning  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  politics  design  society  future  ethics  lizcoleman  reform  change  gamechanging  expertise  specialization  specialists  generalists  lcproject  tcsnmy  skepticism  overspecialization  knowledge  academia  policy  unschooling  deschooling  benningtoncollege  transdisciplinary 
june 2009 by robertogreco
The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com
"All 6 Dysons describe eventful child­hoods w/ people like Feynman coming by...father...always preaching virtues of boredom: “Being bored is the only time you are creative”...Around the Institute for Advanced Study, that intellectual Arcadia where the blackboards have signs on them that say Do Not Erase, Dyson is quietly admired for candidly expressing his doubts about string theory’s aspiration to represent all forces and matter in one coherent system. “I think Freeman wishes the string theorists well,” Avishai Margalit, the philosopher, says. “I don’t think he wishes them luck. He’s interested in diversity, and that’s his worldview. To me he is a towering figure although he is tiny — almost a saintly model of how to get old. The main thing he retains is playfulness. Einstein had it. Playfulness & curiosity. He also stands for this unique trait, which is wisdom. Brightness here is common. He is wise. He integrated, not in a theory, but in his life, all his dreams of things.”"
freemandyson  skepticism  science  play  curiosity  diversity  tcsnmy  physics  futurism  future  climate  globalwarming  time  weather  boredom  creativity  sandiego  geneticengineering  tinkering  learning  habitsofmind  howwework  richardfeynman  generalists  attention  nuclearweapons  algore  optimism  intellect  genius  interdisciplinary  problemsolving  ingenuity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  orthodoxy  heretics  belief  debate 
march 2009 by robertogreco
H. L. Mencken Quotes
"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure.""
hlmencken  quotes  truth  certainty  wisdom  progress  change  reform  morals  ethics  skepticism  tolerance  civilization 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Demon-Haunted World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The book is intended to explain the scientific method to laymen, and to encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking. It explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science, and ideas that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking, and should stand up to rigorous questioning."
science  skepticism  skeptic  books  carlsagan  via:blackbeltjones  freedom  atheism 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Poe's Law - RationalWiki
"Poe's Law relates to fundamentalism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies of it. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they both sound equally ridiculous. The law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they think he's a "deep cover liberal" trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes."
humor  religion  fundamentalism  creationism  sarcasm  satire  parody  skepticism 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Nassim Nicholas Taleb top life tips
"1. Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

I think scepticism is one of driving motivations behind many entrepreneurs: a healthy scepticism for existing products and people’s predictions invokes the ‘challenger’ mindset. I have honed my scepticism on the small & aesthetic for long enough now…

2. Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.

HOW can you possibly fault a man who holds amongst his top 10 tips: ‘GO TO PARTIES’

3. It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.

There is ONE exception to this rule. Never tease a Venture Capitalist. Regardless of the size of his tie. Buy him a drink, complement his colour-co-ordinated cufflinks, but never tease him.

4. Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.

Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) once said: ‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” And so it is with Snagsta. When the time comes we’ll be wearing our best but at first ‘site’ it may appear as if we got dressed in a bit of a hurry… tucking in our shirt on the way out the door. Kind of my ‘style’ I suppose, given I was once described as looking like an ‘unmade bed’…

5. Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.

I didn’t understand that but I am sure it’s deep.

6. Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.

There is an interesting debate on the correlation between success and past failure. In my industry the US is very pro-failure, whereas Europe is far more risk-adverse. Statistics suggest there is no correlation but I have hedged my bets by establishing a long track record of failure…

7. Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).

Bit late for this advice given I am now inextricably linked to Alex M… he’s not really a loser but has exceptionally dodgy taste in music.

8. Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants… or (again) parties.

I’ve talked about this before. Ironically this list came from the business section of The Times… a Black Swan perhaps?

9. Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.

The central theme in Taleb’s book (Black Swan): success has a lot to do with luck. Do whatever you can to put yourself in its way. Luck is less likely to visit you in your bedroom while you’re watching dvds…

10. Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.

Given his instantaneous reply to my mail I know exactly how junior Taleb thinks I am. To those of you that I haven’t written back to recently… it’s because you’re so important."

[from the video seen here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article4022091.ece?print=yes&randnum=1214904808363 another version here: http://blog.snagsta.com/2008/06/13/time-to-party/ ]
nassimtaleb  blackswans  life  skepticism  news  reading  information  risk  investment  luck  failure  success  money  systems  environment  complexity  communication  email 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Clifford Stoll calls BS on the internet in 1995 - (37signals)
"Vision is about demolishing today’s assumptions and recognizing that new things are possible. It takes real guts to fight for the side of the non-obvious."
internet  web  skepticism  cliffordstoll  37signals  change  technology  society 
march 2008 by robertogreco
QDN: Improving the classroom learning experience
"I gotta say, this idea — a professor intentionally introducing a single falsehood into each of his lectures, challenging the class to find it and expose it — is pretty great for a slew of reasons."
colleges  universities  factchecking  information  infoliteracy  literacy  skepticism  pedagogy  teaching  learning 
february 2008 by robertogreco
What's wrong with homeopathy, by Ben Goldacre | Science | The Guardian
"properly conducted studies have proved homeopathic remedies work no better than simple placebos. why do so many sensible people swear by them? Goldacre follows a trail of fudged statistics, bogus surveys & widespread self-deception"
medicine  homeopathy  science  psychology  placebos  pseudoscience  skepticism  health  healthcare  criticalthinking  belief  research  evidence  media  vaccinations  mmr  truth  public 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Edge: LEARNING TO EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past."
blackswans  nassimtaleb  cognitive  datamining  skepticism  decisionmaking  economics  philosophy  learning  future  statistics  psychology  risk  predictions  randomness 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car’ - Times Online
"Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance."
agriculture  business  cars  climate  CO2  data  debate  ecology  earth  development  efficiency  energy  environment  opinion  skepticism  statistics  sustainability  globalwarming  pollution  population  waste  politics  planet  perspective 
august 2007 by robertogreco
Nano geekery and otherwise « Speedbird
"Our tools are nothing but frozen maps of our needs, desires, lacks and weaknesses...we’d be far better off recognizing these all-too-human qualities...than lunging after some maximally improbable transcendence."
technology  society  future  nanotechnology  singularity  perspective  skepticism  criticism  enthusiasm  adamgreenfield 
march 2007 by robertogreco

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