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Posts Tagged ‘The Law Of Unintended Consequences’

No Shit, Sherlock: Darwin, Tech and Cylons

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY, Uncategorized on February 3, 2011 at 6:24 AM

COMPUTERS AND TECHNOLOGY: Think It Won’t Change Your Brain? Think Again.

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“We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do,” he said. “We know already there are consequences.” –Adam Gazzly, Neuroscientist, University of California, San Francisco

From June 2010, Article by Matt Richter for The New York Times

And at first they were concerned about the lack of Classical Education.

More precisely, failure to adhere to the Trivium: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric.

Skipping the Grammar and Logic foundations, curriculums began jumping into the last stage, Rhetoric. “This is why so many elementary texts insist on asking six-year-olds how they feel about what they’re learning, long before they’ve properly had a chance to learn it,” Susan Wise Bauer writes in her book, The Well Educated Mind. Explaining how the Trivium secures a student with a firm foundation of understanding, she makes a compelling argument apropos of how and why education has adhered to this structure since the Renaissance. The building blocks necessary for the mechanics to process information and apply knowledge are critical, she explains, and leaping to the last stage has affected our culture. “This mental short-cut has become a habit for adults, who are ready to give their opinions long before they’ve had a chance to understand the topic under study. (Listen to any call-in radio show.)ª”

Thus, many adults growing up in the late 20th Century think Logic is something said by Vulcans and Grammar is the difference between a verb and an adjective.

Dorothy L. Sayers, a British mystery writer, gave a speech at Oxford in 1947 proposing a return to the classical education and provocatively questioned how the loss of the classical “tools of learning,” manifests [ Full Text may be found here ] :

Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy is higher than it has ever been, people have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? …Have you ever, in listening to a debate among adult and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the other side?  …And when you think of this, and think that most of our public affairs are settled by debates and committees, have you ever felt a sinking of the heart? …Is not the great defect of our education today–a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble I have mentioned–that although we often succeed in teach pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them HOW to think: they learn everything except the art of learning.

Within half a century of this speech, prolific Classical Scholars like Victor Davis Hanson refudiated the entire world of Academia by declining to accept tenure, substantiating his reasons most notably in the 2001 book written with fellow classicist John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise Of Classical Education And The Recovery Of Greek Wisdom. Modern education systems had squeezed out the Classics to the extent where few Universities and Colleges offered undergraduate programs in the Classics. The world of Philology had grown into an elitist collective, reputing any new scholarship instead of properly refuting the compelling arguments made by the scarce, rising Classicists.

Meanwhile, Cable News spawned FNC, MSNBC, CNBC (et al,) and something called “THE INTERNET,” was evolving rapidly. By the time the Millennium came and the Y2K Scare was over, public phone booths had turned into urinals and 1-800 Numbers became www.ifyouaredepressedthengetfreepillsthatwillmakeyouhappy.com

Fill in the blanks between 1989 and 2010 with whatever historical event you believe is relevant, we’re still here today and we’re still facing The Law of Unintended Consequences.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, then I suggest you google it. (Please, if you use Wikipedia as a primary reference, find at least two secondary sources to substantiate what you learn there. If you do not see the point in doing this, stop reading now and reply to that SMS Message with, “IDK FML!”)

To summarize, the introduction of moveable type in the west represented by the Gutenberg Bible triggered a ripple effect across several centuries. Including (among other things) the Scientific Revolution, The Christian Reformation and an Agrarian Revolution which immediately resulted in the Industrial Revolution: The Law Of Unintended Consequences reveals how technology changes the human environment.

Students of Military History will note how the relationship between technology and tactics in the theater of war remain out of sync. Advanced weaponry rarely meets with an adaptation in military tactics and strategy, thus resulting in enormous casualties.

And at first they were worried about kids watching too much television instead of reading books.


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