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Random Thought [Apr. 5th, 2005|02:48 pm]

The way to get a trait to spread throughout a population is with selection pressure: making those who have the trait more successful than those who do not. Positive or negative selection will both work.

If you want to teach people something, put them in a situation where they need to know it to accomplish some goal. They *will* figure it out.

"Critical thinking" seems to be the trait that is most needed by our modern citizenry, if we want to make the world a better place.

So we just need to figure out some way of making basic critical thinking skills correlate with success in some widely desirable context... Right?

EDIT: Please note, I'm not talking about removing "stupid" from the gene pool -- that's something that other people brought up in the comments section, and frankly, although I made a couple jokes about it, it's a lousy idea on a number of fronts. All I said was, it seems to me like we need more "critical thinking" going on, and the way to get that is to somehow reward that with success. Okay? Okay.

From: thetarnishedowl
2005-04-05 02:06 pm (UTC)
Hear hear!!!
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[User Picture]From: redbeardedblond
2005-04-05 02:30 pm (UTC)
This all goes along with my theory of what is wrong with Americans and how it came about. It came about through a flawed educational model where we are taught to listen to what is said and regurgitate the knowledge back as fact. This model is flawed and we realize that. However the repurcussions are only barely being seen now. You see, we're not taught to reason on our own from facts, just regurgitate what others say.

Now we have people lying their asses off and saying it's fact and other people believing them and regurgitating it back as fact and getting pissed off when someone who is logical and reasoning will not bend under their relentless verbal attacks because they make so sense.

This is something that our society has brought upon itself and is not something that can be turned around easily without bringing back natural selection by removing all the warning labels off of all products and killing all the lawyers.

That is my plan.

Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2005-04-05 02:42 pm (UTC)
A fine plan -- as long as we can exempt the couple lawyers I know personally.

What if we just introduced new forms of natural selection? We could solve several endangered species problems at the same time! All we need to do is release cybernetically-enhanced wolves (and other large predators) into major urban areas. Two birds, one stone!

Ooo, extra bonus: it would also give people some perspective. "How was your day, honey?" "Well, I wasn't eaten by wolves while walking to my car, so not bad, really."
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2005-04-05 08:44 pm (UTC)
Actually, you're mistaking the purpose for a flaw.

No, really. Dewey— the primary creator of the school system we have today— repeatedly stated that his educational purpose was to turn out component-style worker people to fit into the mold of the worker class of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, he deliberately promoted a style of education to turn out perfect factory workers. "Public" education was intended to be a benefit to the worker class; it was assumed that the upper classes would have recourse to private education in the traditional university style.

Naturally, an educational style geared toward the Industrial Age is of little use in the Infomation Age. The decline of education, such as it is, directly correlates to the rise of a different world. The old system is unsuited to the new challenges, and teachers— themselves educated under the old— are unable to break the mold imposed on them of what a teacher should be.
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[User Picture]From: backrubbear
2005-04-05 02:34 pm (UTC)
I forget where I saw this recently:

A Chinese Proverb on Education:

Tell me, I will forget
Show me, I may remember
Involve me, and I will understand
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2005-04-05 02:38 pm (UTC)
This is why I get to make educational computer games! =)
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2005-04-05 04:11 pm (UTC)
If there aren't already selection pressures for critical thinking, there's probably a good reason for that.

I mean, really. We have "lousy" critical thinking skills and we're still damn good at surviving. That says something about human skill, but also something about critical thinking.
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[User Picture]From: nehrlich
2005-04-05 04:29 pm (UTC)
Dude. Cheater! You already said this as a comment on one of my posts. Recycling comments as posts. I swear. What kind of world is this coming to?!

Of course, that being said, neither of us had any good ideas as to how to teach critical thinking skills when you asked it before. And I still don't. One of your other commenters makes the good point that critical thinking doesn't correlate well to survival or success in this world. Just to what you and I consider "right thinking".

Actually, we're pretty close to the world where critical thinking will become a survival skill. As Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) continues to proliferate on the Internet, and as the Internet becomes the primary source of information for people, those that can learn to sift through the crap and find good information will have more success. Good information carnivores. People that take what they're told at face value will end up following a lot of bad advice, and suffer for it.

We can hope, at least.
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[User Picture]From: ng_nighthawk
2005-04-06 02:55 pm (UTC)


"...neither of us had any good ideas as to how to teach critical thinking skills when you asked it before."

I was a teacher for a whole 6 weeks at a private school that was really freaky. I came away from that realizing that in my mind, education consists of giving students facts, technique, creativity, and critical thinking. The head of the school said, "You can't teach creativity and critical thinking."

I completely disagree. The problem is in an approach to teaching. To teach these skills you need to give students the opportunities to utilize them. You need to work on the process through which they approach these tasks--not with the idea of forming them into a specific "best practice" but giving them a variety of different tools to use, and making sure they try each tool at least once. The important part is not a specific outcome, but an outcome that shows qualities associated with a thoughtful, intentional process of creativity or problem solving.

Giving kids many opportunities to do this, and encouraging them through successes, is how you teach these skills, and it is not only possible, but once you start working with this, it becomes hard to remember why you didn't do it that way all along.
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[User Picture]From: madbodger
2005-04-05 07:44 pm (UTC)
Easy, just stop giving huge cash awards to stupid people, and go back to letting stupidity be lethal.
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2005-04-05 09:58 pm (UTC)
Can we have like a “best of five” on the lethality? I’d hate to be culled on the one stupid day I have over the course of a month.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2005-04-05 08:26 pm (UTC)
So we just need to figure out some way of making basic critical thinking skills correlate with success in some widely desirable context... Right?
One possibility -- set up some kind of a network whereby people could analyze published data about various economic entities and rank those entities based on those data. We could set it up as a kind of competitive thing, where you compare your ranking to other people's rankings, and if you're more accurate than they are you get prizes and stuff. Like, we could give the winners various kinds of broth which they could exchange for money... beef, chicken, vegetable, etc. We could call it a broth market...
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[User Picture]From: ocschwar
2005-04-05 08:43 pm (UTC)
Sir, most selective pressure in life comes during events that call for quick, decisive thinking, not critical thinking. Not sure it's feasible to overcome this, sir!
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[User Picture]From: baronet
2005-04-06 07:25 am (UTC)


In the words of my people, or at least his people,
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