Antonio Dias has a really good piece on “Education as Over-reach”
One of the persistent fallacies that seem to affect people across the board, including those trained as scientists – at least when looking beyond their specialty – is the Fallacy of Accuracy. We are wowed by decimal places. This stretches from simple situations when knowing the difference between half and a third would suffice and we focus in on obtaining a measure that’s down to the third decimal place; on to the Panopticon Mentality of the security apparatus that converts limitless budgets into an infinity of data points. There is a conflation of security with specificity of “knowledge” that takes us into the spiral death-traps of over-reach. (continues)
Many of the tools I use for this kind of discussion share a common approach – using some form of provocation, ie: a statement to bounce off that helps clarify our position. I’m thinking of spectrum lines, or of the process I co-facilitated with Rich from Seeds for Change last summer to explore the values people used to make strategic campaign choices. Here we used images of action, followed by a local radio-style interview using a few simple questions (see below) to provoke thinking and discussion :
1.tell us about the action you’ve just taken part in
2.what were you hoping to achieve?
3.do you really feel this one action can make that kind of change?
4.what would you say to those people listening that are thinking this is well-intentioned but won’t change the big picture?
Meanwhile, Jarded Ball has some interesting and provocative comments entitled Towards a New Pan-Africanism? Barack Obama, Connected Distance and the Politics of a Self-Described “Mutt”
[Obama] is an expanded manifestation of Frantz Fanon’s notion of a “fixed” colonized cultural expression or symbol which “testifies against” its own in very much the way that Obama symbolizes the exception that proves the rule of Black inferiority. He is proof of this nation’s claims of potential meritorious rises to the top, if only more Black savages were worthy they would too have been, or in the future be, able to similarly ascend to the highest positions of power. In each case the point is to establish the legitimacy of the settler or colonizer and, therefore, the legitimacy of the colonized as such. Contrary to some popular discussion of Obama as a symbol of hope, uplift and progress – unless the perspective behind these terms is redefined out of their popular conceptions – he is a symbol of defeat, of the might of colonial dominance and the rightfulness of empire.
Meanwhile, Joe Keohane at “boston.com” looks at “How facts backfire“(Hat tip to Elin.)
In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?
Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
Ok, final two, old posts from people who I think write and think very well indeed…
“The moral thrust of cognivory does not focus on specific foods but rather on the qualities of foods and on the relationships within which these foods are produced. Foods that are known to be grown well – with careful regard for the needs of the waters and soil, animals, plants and people – are the foods eaten. This means that there’ll be vegetarian and vegan cognivores who monitor where their grains, veggies, fruits and legumes come from and how they are grown and harvested, along with the impact of those particular farming practices on that particular environment. And there will be omnivorous cognivores who must face the additional challenges of finding milk, eggs, honey, meat and fish meeting the same stringent requirements.”
And finally Johnie Moore, from back in 2006…
Tim Kitchin pointed me to this fascinating paper: Human Nature and Social Networks by John H Clippinger. As Tim summarises, this gives strong evidence that humans are biologically programmed to collaborate, tending to undermine the ravings of “Social Realists” who think the only way to get economic man to do things is to bribe or cajole him.