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Thread: American ignorance of the world

  1. #36
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    It may ultimately be more important to know WHY Gibraltar matters as the guardian of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, but if they have no idea where those things are, they walk off to the mall thinking "why the fuck should I care what happens in some "sea" somewhere?"
    I do recognize this attitude. Even in myself. Things do matter more automatically when you at least know where they happened (I once heard a comedy skit that implied that Americans rate the importance of an event, catastrophe, disaster, war, etc., based on how close it happens to their genetalia).

    I too have the Weber books. There do have some very, uh, interesting aspects. Also some really good observations. I don't think they're good learning tools but I do think they're worth getting for their perspective and info.

    Of course "why" means nothing without some "what". But the current educational approach seems to be a head crammed full of "what"s and almost no "why"s. Perhaps there's just too much that one needs to know anymore. It goes back to that study I read about regarding stimuli then and now. When America was mostly agriculture and farming it was a lot easier to understand ones own place in the world and manage the circumstances that surrounded it. So now, with so much peripheral info needed to get through a day I guess we no longer have time for evaluation. Too much "what" is displacing the "why" It makes me wonder how all this technological advance is possible. Who is at the helm with new ideas? Who is developing them? Yet it IS happening. In my imagination I concieve the odd genius working in a think tank that is somehow able to orchestrate all this peripheral info. Of course supported by marketing and development departments.

    I am the kind of person that likes to understand the things that affect my life. That's become impossible. I feel helpless in the face of my routine balancing on technologies I can't control or understand. We survived just fine without cell phones for ever. Now if your cell phone dies or, god forbid, breaks it's cause for a small anxiety attack. Where's my prozac.
    "I should have been born sooner. Of course, if I had been, I might be dead now." trem

  2. #37
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    Geordies aren't Scots - they are from the North East of England from Newcastle on Tyne. That's a demontration of Welshman's knowledge of the UK

  3. #38
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    So I have been informed.

  4. #39
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Apparently few of us care what we teach our kids, but I need to report this as typifying the problem.

    My wife went into a copy store and asked the counter person to make a copy reduced by half. As God is my witness, the counter person said, "Oh sorry, we can't do fractions, we can only do percents." The wife gently suggested, "Then let's try 50% and see how close that comes."

    Somehow I don't think "Google" is the answer to that problem.


    And for that matter, one that happened to me. I took over a branch operation for a company, and on the first occasion I had to call in time cards for my crew, I got a lesson. Each week I called in the hours for my staff employees, and the home office mailed me their paychecks. Having used tenths before elsewhere, I naturally called in "Smith 6.4hrs, Jones 8.2hrs," and so on. The girl in the accounting office said "Whoa, what's all this .4 and .2 stuff? That's way too complicated, just call in quarter hours like we have always done." COme to find out that punching 8.2 into the calculator is way more complicated than punching in 8.25.

    What would the google entry for that be?
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  5. #40
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    Unfortunately the world is not idiot free and even google has itís shortcomings.

  6. #41
    Supporting Member txstrat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    ...most people really hate having the "why" of anything explained. They only ever want to know "what". This trend is so profound that I am always amazed at how stupid educated people often are. All they ever learned was "what" and they didn't retain much of it. So when it's time to make their education useful in the real world they have no point of reference because they don't know the "why" and so can't find their own way to the answer without having it spoon fed to them again and again.
    Although I think "knowing" is as important as "thinking" I totally agree.
    That's what I told my kids (they're 11 and 8) recently because when they ask me for an answer I usually tell 'em the "why" - unless it's like: "what is the distance from earth to moon, pa?" (for those who want to google it - it's about 385000 km middle distance).
    And you know what, before they went: "c'mon dad don't take sooo long to explain" but now they listen more carefully. Lucky me... and lucky them.

  7. #42
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    We forget that virtually every existing technology is accompanied by relevant behaviours, and any change in technology can easily result in change in behaviour or the loss of skills required by the previous technology. Give a married man a cellphone and he won't be able to remember what he was sent to the store for. Give a sales clerk a calculator or cash register, and they quickly lose the ability to add or subtract. Give people spell check, and they don't have to learn (or believe they don't have to) any of the spelling rules of their first language. Give people microwaveable meals and they don't have to learn how to cook. Give them paper plates, and they don't have to learn how to wash dishes. Give people Google, and they don't have to remember just about anything.
    Chuck H likes this.

  8. #43
    Senior Member cminor9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hammer View Post
    We forget that virtually every existing technology is accompanied by relevant behaviours, and any change in technology can easily result in change in behaviour or the loss of skills required by the previous technology. Give a married man a cellphone and he won't be able to remember what he was sent to the store for. Give a sales clerk a calculator or cash register, and they quickly lose the ability to add or subtract. Give people spell check, and they don't have to learn (or believe they don't have to) any of the spelling rules of their first language. Give people microwaveable meals and they don't have to learn how to cook. Give them paper plates, and they don't have to learn how to wash dishes. Give people Google, and they don't have to remember just about anything.
    This is a very interesting thought. I do find I am more forgetful than I used to be. I wonder if this is technology or advancing age or just having more stuff to remember? That's the trouble with this kind of assertion. Nobody ages in reverse, and seldom do we find we have fewer things to do as we get older... and technology keeps marching forward. All of this makes it very difficult to test. So is a correlation/causation problem or does technology really impair our abilities? I would be interested in studies on this topic. My intuition agrees with you, Mark, but my inner skeptic just tells me I am getting more forgetful.

    I mean, from time to time, we see things like this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/te...brainside.html But even then I wonder about the hard research that goes into these conclusions.
    In the future I invented time travel.

  9. #44
    Supporting Member jmaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cminor9 View Post
    This is a very interesting thought. I do find I am more forgetful than I used to be. I wonder if this is technology or advancing age or just having more stuff to remember? That's the trouble with this kind of assertion. Nobody ages in reverse, and seldom do we find we have fewer things to do as we get older... and technology keeps marching forward. All of this makes it very difficult to test. So is a correlation/causation problem or does technology really impair our abilities? I would be interested in studies on this topic. My intuition agrees with you, Mark, but my inner skeptic just tells me I am getting more forgetful.

    I mean, from time to time, we see things like this: Technology But even then I wonder about the hard research that goes into these conclusions.
    I have absolutely zero scientific knowledge to back this up, but I attribute my forgetfulness(?) to "information obesity". I find that I read reddit.com, cnn, all my local news outlets, then to "relax" turn on TV and watch NatGeo...why? Why do I need to know that some killer jelly fish has 100 times the poison of a serpent? Information is like a drug, you want more of it.... I find that when I relax and take time off computers and off information in general, I remember things more clearly and have my priorities straight.

    This information obesity includes all the 200 functions in your car panel. We use to have just one function to turn it on, 3 pedals and a gearshift....that was all. Now my car is a source of information. My cell phone is always there beside me, asking me to pay attention to it, giving me more information. My email flows in in real time, people found out about that, now they expect an instant reply.

    I am gearing towards simplifying my life. I've bought a plan for my cell phone where internet access is restricted. I only turn it on for emergencies. I keep the radio on music-only, forget the news. I am training not to read the news after work. I am not undertaking more than one project at a time. Etc....all this because my brain is obese, it got sluggish from so much information.

    I started taking notes instead of memorizing, I started using my iphone's to-do list instead of mentally setting priorities, I started trusting wikipedia instead of my earlier technical training....all this made my brain obese and slow....

    Fish which are grown in a tank with predators develop strong muscles, lean meat and are much more tasteful. The Japanese grow fish for sushi in a tank with predators, because the fish will always be alert, and their meat will be super. If you grow fish without predators, they grow fat and relaxed, their meat is soft. The same applies to us. We've got 200 luxuries in a regular day-to-day existance. You know you can be robbed or something, but you also know there are police, and hospitals, and medicine, and clean water and food all over the place....basically, we have no predators, and we're getting more and more obese, not only physically but mentally.

    We humans need very little to live well, but it seems like the market is pushing 200 new things each day, creating informational anxiety, informational obesity and all the physical problems humans face in their body seems to happen exactly in ther brains. Brains get fat and slow too, and a diet is healthy sometimes. Also keeping goals is like having a predator. Don't relax and let your brain fall in the comfort zone, it'll get fat and accommodate in a slow state. Keep a "predator" on the chase artificially, by setting goals and pursuing them seriously, then you'll see your brain magically comes alive again and you start remembering everything faster.

    Of course, this is meant for the daily routine. There are times when you want vacations and a slow brain, we're talking 48 weeks of the year here, not vacations. My 2 cents, and sorry for the long post.
    "Tell them I said something." - Pancho Villa's last words
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  10. #45
    Senior Member cminor9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmaf View Post
    Of course, this is meant for the daily routine. There are times when you want vacations and a slow brain, we're talking 48 weeks of the year here, not vacations. My 2 cents, and sorry for the long post.
    Apology not accepted; it was a good post
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  11. #46
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Eh... What's that sonny. Speak up in my good ear. Baahh, kids these days. With their IPads and their baggy pants.

    That's the position I'm taking. But you can't let technology run over you either or you actually end up like the phrase above. I'll never be a gadjet guy with twenty potential sources of accountability at arms reach though.
    "I should have been born sooner. Of course, if I had been, I might be dead now." trem

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