Posts Tagged ‘education’

We’ll Tell You What You Need To Know

April 4th, 2023 No comments

I’ve spilt plenty of virtual ink discussing the evolution of the accessibility of information to the masses over the course of history.

There have always been those in any given society who had preferential access to knowledge, or at least information, that they used to great advantage over those less in the know.  For the longest time and even up to present day, religious practitioners were the arbiters of information and truth.   Entire civilizations were founded and run by those with the power conferred upon them by a religious hierarchy and this continues to this day.  Thus, access to information and knowledge was the key to population control.

This model works pretty well since being the ultimate authority on information and truth means that it wasn’t necessary to actually prove anything.  To paraphrase the utterance of Al Gore, the truth is like gravity….it just is.  Of course we know what happened over time.  Some of the great thinkers of humanity decided to take more objective measures on truth and reality.  Men of great intelligence and bravery dared to challenge the established truths of their time and thus their revelations laid the foundation for modern education. Men such as Da Vinci, Copernicus and Galileo showed that knowledge can be empirically achieved and not just by taking someone’s word for it.

Most of everything which we consume and from which we benefit in our daily lives depends on empirical science.  Observations are made about our environment, they are measured, there are experiments and then there are conclusions which become universal truths.  Notwithstanding that in modern times, the notion that 2 plus 2 equals 4 is a racist construct to some, this does not change the fact that 4 is always the answer when 2 plus 2 is the question.

The entire point of education is to spread the ability to think and act rationally via legitimate processes of thought.  It is therefore of the greatest irony that despite mankind having the greatest access to information ever in human history, that populations are as clueless as those who used to depend on the town gossip for their truths.  The modern purveyors of ‘truth’ are often the most vapid.

Part of this paradox lies with what actually constitutes an education.  Whereas once rational processes were taught at schools, now we see more and more squishiness on topics of knowledge.  Relativism is as important in education as are the lenses through which education is transmitted.   At the end of the process, we get people who are pretty sure that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but we also have those who think that this result has an asterisk.  Both of these constituencies have the same nominal degree, but both operate under quite different realities.  Thus, entire populations emerge, notionally ‘educated’ populations, who can never agree on a plainly evident logical construct.   You cannot easily make good policy decisions if there are those who think 2 plus 2 contributes to Global warming.

Unfortunately, in a free society, such people can, and often do, rise to positions of political influence which detrimentally affects everyone.  Anyone who was perhaps a drama teacher or part time snowboard instructor, could impress their version of 2 plus 2 upon a population vastly more educated and qualified than them to make big picture decisions.

So it appears as if we’ve come full circle on the distribution of information and knowledge.  The only difference is that this time people actually know the truth and are able to verify thus for themselves….should they choose.  Oddly, large numbers don’t.  They instead rely on the utterances of those unable to give an answer to a simple 2 plus 2 question.  Entire societies have been run like this for the better part of two generations.  They have allowed the least qualified to make policy. Given the tack taken by governments of many nations on numerous favored woke issues,  we can easily see the day when we don’t even need schools, the government will just tell you all you need to know in official pamphlets….or they could employ a national broadcasting corporation.  As is already true in nations such as China, we can see the circumstance when disagreeing with the official narrative is made illegal; but at least they help to ‘re-educate’ you if you so stray.  Or Canada, where they close your bank accounts down if you don’t agree with their positions.

I mentioned some of the great thinkers of history above as being foundational for rational thinking and education which led to the creation of great civilizations.  But it’s also thanks to authors such as George Orwell and Ayn Rand to remind us that the natural inclination of man to control others by information or misinformation is always at work.  Julian Assange has proved this. There may be the equivalents of Da Vinci and Galileo somewhere today, great thinkers who may yet lead civilization again, but in the meantime, the mental midgets…er, little people,  are running the show.

Acceptable Truths

January 10th, 2021 1 comment

link:  CNN openly trying to ban Fox News, Newsmax, OAN from airwaves with Dem stamp of approval (

A long time ago, I attended a trading seminar with a well-known futures trader, who by training was actually a PhD level psychologist.  A rhetorical question was posed, and that was, why do kids think that 2 plus 2 equals 4.  He suggested that the obvious answer of 4 lies not so much in the cognitive ability of the young students as it does in the fact that the teacher tells them that this was so.  At the time, I thought this was just an amusing anecdote to illustrate a point, but many years later, this dynamic exists every day in our news and information consumption.

No kid wants to be seen as an idiot, so they go along with the acceptable answer because, after all, the teacher must know what they’re talking about.  Later on, they could always figure out and truly understand for themselves why the answer is 4. Young people have a much stronger social compunction to fit in rather than to consider the merits of their own independent thought.  That usually only arrives with time, self confidence and the influence of positive teachers.

The entire basis of modern science and thought rests on the ability of ‘educated’ students to become critical thinkers that can understand the consequences of certain inputs into an equation.  One would expect that with all of the advances that have been made in this half century alone, an entire nation of adroit, critical thinkers has emerged.  In fact, quite the opposite has happened.

The focus on education appears to have shifted from training critical thinkers to producing people who can regurgitate the acceptable answers.  With the emphasis on achieving high grades alone to advance, the reality of satisfying the criteria of the teacher becomes crucial for any academic success.  The hard sciences have not escaped this educational bias.  We know for example that the conclusions of the current crop of ‘climate scientists’ are predicated on expectations of certain preferred conclusions.  Actually, the current activity in the virus and vaccine business is on the same trajectory.  There is no shortage of science which conflicts with the currently acceptable ones, but for reasons which can be discussed another time, they are marginalized.

With the emergence of devices that purport to make life easier for all, the mundane excercises required to find an answer to even the most banal questions have been obviated by such resources as Google and You Tube which can provide instant answers to anything that we may want to know. The danger of course is that most assume the answers to be correct in all contexts. This is the same as the kids answering 4 to the question of what is 2 plus 2.  The answer is 4 because Google says it is.  While this example may be simple enough to corroborate with our own cognitive abilities, it may be more difficult to ascertain the veracity of a slightly more difficult statistic; such as how many votes Joe Biden apparently got. Actually, it would be interesting to see what would happen if Google gave the answer 5 to the 2 plus 2 question.  No doubt millions would accept this as gospel.

While these resources are convenient, people have relied on them for answers to questions which don’t have such a simple conclusion.  In matters of social trends and behaviors, answers may be given which have no scientific or provable basis but are presented as fact and thus, is the same as truth.  The best example of this in modern culture is Wikipedia.  For those still unaware, it is far from being on objective resource for information.  It is a platform on which people can edit and create narratives in the guise of objective fact.  It is very much the modern equivalent of “the teacher said so”.  People are oblivious to the fact that actual people direct query results. The classic notion of GIGO applies here.

In fact, the availability of all this free information has served to make people lazy in their mental processes.  The great trade-off has been made between convenience versus original discovery. Notionally rational people are embracing things wildly dissonant with observable and measurable reality. This does not create mental discord within themselves because all around them, everyone else seems to be of the same view.

This is not the dynamic that leads to a productive and forward moving society; quite the opposite. It is not hyperbole to ruminate that this a return to the dark ages when knowledge and information was controlled by a small cabal of rulers and the masses were told what truths to observe. For now, people still have the option to check and assess their facts.  If things continue the way they are however, truth will be what’s acceptable to those who present it; there will be no need to worry about why.