Tagged: education Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 15:27:59 on 2016/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: academia, academic, , , , , , , , bandwagon, bandwagon effect, , , , , , , , , , compute, , corrupt, corrupted, corruption, , , , education, , , group think, groupthink, , , , , , , , , , , , , majority, , , , , populism, populist, , , rason, , , , , , , , , , systemic, , , trusted, , , universities, , valid, validity, vote, votes, voting, ,   

    The Spectre of Populism 

    There is a spectre haunting the Web: That spectre is populism.

    Let me backtrack a moment. This piece is a part of an ongoing series of posts about „rational media“ – a concept that is still not completely hard and fast. I have a hunch that the notion of „trust“ is going to play a central role… and trust itself is also an extremely complex issue. In many developed societies, trust is at least in part based on socially sanctioned institutions (cf. e.g. „The Social Construction of Reality“) – for example: public education, institutions for higher education, academia, etc. Such institutions permeate all of society – be it a traffic sign at the side of a road, or a crucifix as a central focal element on the alter in a church, or even the shoes people buy and walk around with on a daily basis.

    The Web has significantly affected the role many such institutions play in our daily lives. For example: one single web site (i.e. the information resources available at a web location) may be more trusted today than an encyclopedia produced by thousands of writers ever were – whether centuries ago, decades ago, or even still just a few years past.

    Similarly, another web site may very well be trusted by a majority of the population to answer any and all questions whatsoever – whether of encyclopedic nature or not. Perhaps such a web site might use algorithms – basically formulas – to arrive at a score for the „information value“ of a particular web page (the HTML encoded at one sub-location of a particular web site). A large part of this formula might involve a kind of „voting“ performed anonymously – each vote might be no more than a scratch mark presumed to indicate a sign of approval (an „approval rating“) given from disparate, unknown sources. Perhaps a company might develop more advanced methods in order to help guage whether the vote is reliable or whether it is suspect (for example: one such method is commonly referred to as a „nofollow tag“ – a marker indicating that the vote should not be trusted).

    What many such algorithms have in common is that on a very basic level, they usually rely quite heavily on some sort of voting mechanism. This means they are fundamentally oriented towards populism – the most popular opinion is usually viewed as the most valid point of view. This approach is very much at odds with logic, the scientific method and other methods that have traditionally (for several centuries, at least) be used in academic institutions and similar „research“ settings. At their core, such populist algorithms are not „computational“ – since they rely not on any kind of technological solution to questions, but rather scan and tally up the views of a large number of human (and/or perhaps robotic) „users“. While such populist approaches are heralded as technologically advanced, they are actually – on a fundamental level – very simplistic. While I might employ such methods to decide which color of sugar-coated chocolate to eat, I doubt very much that I, personally, would rely on such methods to make more important – for example: „medical“ – decisions (such as whether or not to undergo surgery). I, personally, would not rely on such populist methods much more than I would rely on chance. As an example of the kind of errors that might arise from employing such populist methods, consider the rather simple and straightforward case that some of the people voting could in fact be color-blind.

    Yet that is just the beginning. Many more problems lurk under the surface, beyond the grasp of merely superficial thinkers. Take, for example, the so-called „bandwagon effect“ – namely, that many people are prone to fall into a sort of „follow the leader“ kind of „groupthink“. Similarly, it is quite plausible that such bandwagon effects could even influence not only people’s answers, but even also the kinds of questions they feel comfortable asking (see also my previous post). On a more advanced level, complex systems may be also be influenced by the elements they comprise. For example: While originally citation indexes were designed with the assumption that such citation data ought to be reliable, over the years it was demonstrated that such citations are indeed very prone to be corrupted by a wide variety of corruption errors and that citation analysis is indeed not at all a reliable method. While citation data may have been somewhat reliable originally, it became clear that eventually citation fraud corrupted the system.

     
  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 13:40:00 on 2016/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , answered, , develop, , , education, , , , , , , unanswered,   

    The Unanswered Questions 

    There’s a piece by Charles Ives, a famous American composer, named „The Unanswered Question“. I have long enjoyed this piece, and in particular also its title. In my opinion, there are many unanswered questions.

    One reason why there are so many unanswered questions is that lots of questions are never actually expressed. It is a great irony that quite a few so-called „free“ societies remain unwilling or unable to allow people to voice their own opinions.

     
  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 17:55:47 on 2014/05/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , class, classes, , , educated, education, , free lunch, , , lunch, , privelege, priveleged, , , uneducated   

    The Uneducated Masses Will Probably Choose the Free Lunch 

    There are primarily two reasons for this — both of which are based on the limited literacy skills of the uneducated masses:

    1. They can’t really comprehend what the fine print means;

    2. They can’t seem to learn from history.

    In the Twentieth Century, educated elites — the 1% — learned how to manipulate the masses by duping them with “Free Lunch” offers. The ironic result is that those societies which are based on relatively naive masses are becoming increasingly prone to “falling for” marketing tricks that result in increasingly corrupt organizations. Widespread lobbying is one good example of this grotesque outgrowth, leading to a phenomenon of “you get the results that you deserve” (cf. the movie “Idiocracy”).

    This phenomenon is actually a vicious cycle, as the marketing tricks primarily appeal to the uneducated (as described above), and therefore promoting widespread education is shunned, because that would make it more difficult to dupe the masses with propaganda. This is probably the main reason why it took several centuries after the invention of the printing press for public schools to be established across Europe.

    Perhaps one  good way out of this vicious cycle is to make it clear to people that every time they are offered a “special deal“, they are actually being duped. Indeed, often the people who fall for such tricks themselves think they are indeed getting a free lunch (or at least a “good offer”), so their motivation is actually to get ahead by taking advantage of such “offers“. Once they realize how dishonest and unfair these tactics are, they will presumably be less prone to fall for these marketing tricks.

     
  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 18:41:11 on 2013/07/01 Permalink
    Tags: , education, , , , ,   

    The Distribution of Literacy is More Important than the Distribution of Wealth 

    A large component of happiness is being able to manage (aka “deal with”) the world. In my opinion, this has much more to do with literacy than it has to do with wealth.

    That’s why I’m far more concerned about the fact that more than 99% are still by and large illiterate than I am about whether they “only” earn 100 times as much as a Chinese worker.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
Skip to toolbar