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coberst
05-06-2010, 12:29 PM
Twinkies & Chips—Sound Bites & Bumper Stickers

A steady diet of Twinkies and chips will give us a fat gut while a steady diet of sound bites and bumper stickers will give us a fat head.

Political parties and television commercials often depend upon well-crafted sound bits and bumper stickers to motivate a naive population while the opposition tries to use rational argumentation; one need not be a rocket scientist to recognize which side will generally win this contest.

Early in our institutional education system we learn arithmetic. We learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. We learn to calculate without understanding.

This mode of education follows us throughout our formal education system. We learn to develop answers devoid of understanding. We do this because, in a society focused upon maximizing production and consumption, most citizens need only sufficient education to perform mechanical type operations; that is perhaps why our electronic gadgets fit so well within our culture.

If we think about this situation we might well say that this form of education best serves our needs. It is efficient and quick. However, beyond the process of maximizing production and consumption we are ill prepared to deal with many of life’s problems because we have learned only how to develop answers that are “algorithmically friendly”.

In grade school we are taught to manipulate numerals (symbols) not numbers (concepts). We are taught in grade school not ideas about numbers but automatic algorithmic processes that give consistent and stable results when dealing with symbols. With such capability we do not learn meaningful content about the nature of numbers but we do get results useful for a culture of production and consumption.

We have a common metaphor Numbers are Things in the World, which has deep consequences.

wreaver
05-06-2010, 01:35 PM
Political parties and television commercials often depend upon well-crafted sound bits and bumper stickers to motivate a naive population while the opposition tries to use rational argumentation; one need not be a rocket scientist to recognize which side will generally win this contest.

Who are you referring to when you say, "the opposition"?


My impression is that most people aren't capable of logical thinking. And of the ones that are capable, many don't practice it, for various reasons.

Also, my impression is that many people will use logic mainly to try persuade other people to their "positions". (But aren't "seeing truth", through logic.) I've observed that even if you present a person with a contradiction in their beliefs, most will tend not to re-evaluate their position; they'll just ignore it.

(Of course, my experiences might not be representative.)

coberst
05-07-2010, 09:19 AM
Who are you referring to when you say, "the opposition"?


My impression is that most people aren't capable of logical thinking. And of the ones that are capable, many don't practice it, for various reasons.

Also, my impression is that many people will use logic mainly to try persuade other people to their "positions". (But aren't "seeing truth", through logic.) I've observed that even if you present a person with a contradiction in their beliefs, most will tend not to re-evaluate their position; they'll just ignore it.

(Of course, my experiences might not be representative.)


In American politics the Republican Party is very adept at speaking in well crafted sound bites and thusly framing the issue such that the naïve voter can easily defend their choice.

The Democratic Party is very poor at crafting and presenting a common message and instead each member tries to make complex arguments that a naïve voter cannot easily comprehend. So that while the Democrat goes on and on arguing the case for reform of health care the Republican says “socialized medicine” or “death panels” andf easily wins the contest.

Our (American) educational system does not teach the youngster what math is about but teaches only the mechanics of arriving at a solution. I suspect few teachers understand that math s the science of pattern. I have an engineering degree and it was only long after graduating did I learn that math is the science of pattern and that is why it works well for the natural sciences but not for the human sciences. I suspect that you can ask a hundred engineers “Do you understand math?” And they would look blankly at you and have no answer except to say that “I know how to do math”.

Arithmetic is Object Collection

It is a hypothesis of SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) that the sensorimotor activity of collecting objects by a child constitute a conceptual metaphor at the neural level leading to a primary metaphor that ‘arithmetic is object collection’. The arithmetic teacher attempting to teach the child at a later time depends upon this already accumulated knowledge. Of course, all of this is known to the child without the symbolization or the conscious awareness of the child.

The pile of objects became ‘bigger’ when the child added more objects and became ‘smaller’ when objects were removed. The child easily recognizes while being taught arithmetic that 5 is bigger than 3 and 3 is littler than 7. The child knows many entailments, many ‘truths’, resulting from playing with objects. The teacher has little difficulty convincing the child that two collections A and B are increased when another collection C is added, or that if A is bigger than B then A+C is bigger than B+C.

At birth an infant has a minimal innate arithmetic ability. This ability to add and subtract small numbers is called subitizing. (I am speaking of a cardinal number—a number that specifies how many objects there are in a collection, don’t confuse this with numeral—a symbol). Many animals display this subitizing ability.

In addition to subitizing the child, while playing with objects, develops other cognitive capacities such as grouping, ordering, pairing, memory, exhaustion-detection, cardinal-number assignment, and independent order.

Subitizing ability is limited to quantities 1 to 4. As a child grows s/he learns to count beyond 4 objects. This capacity is dependent upon 1) Combinatorial-grouping—a cognitive mechanism that allows you to put together perceived or imagined groups to form larger groups. 2) Symbolizing capacity—capacity to associate physical symbols or words with numbers (quantities).

“Metaphorizing capacity: You need to be able to conceptualize cardinal numbers and arithmetic operations in terms of your experience of various kinds—experiences with groups of objects, with the part-whole structure of objects, with distances, with movement and location, and so on.”

“Conceptual-blending capacity. You need to be able to form correspondences across conceptual domains (e.g., combining subitizing with counting) and put together different conceptual metaphors to form complex metaphors.”

Primary metaphors function somewhat like atoms that can be joined into molecules and these into a compound neural network. On the back cover of “Where Mathematics Comes From” is written “In this acclaimed study of cognitive science of mathematical ideas, renowned linguist George Lakoff pairs with psychologist Rafael Nunez to offer a new understanding of how we conceive and understand mathematical concepts.”

“Abstract ideas, for the most part, arise via conceptual metaphor—a cognitive mechanism that derives abstract thinking from the way we function in the everyday physical world. Conceptual metaphor plays a central and defining role in the formation of mathematical ideas within the cognitive unconscious—from arithmetic and algebra to sets and logic to infinity in all of its forms. The brains mathematics is mathematics, the only mathematics we know or can know.”

We are acculturated to recognize that a useful life is a life with purpose. The complex metaphor ‘A Purposeful Life Is a Journey’ is constructed from primary metaphors: ‘purpose is destination’ and ‘action is motion’; and a cultural belief that ‘people should have a purpose’.

A Purposeful Life Is A Journey Metaphor
A purposeful life is a journey.
A person living a life is a traveler.
Life goals are destinations
A life plan is an itinerary.

This metaphor has strong influence on how we conduct our lives. This influence arises from the complex metaphor’s entailments: A journey, with its accompanying complications, requires planning, and the necessary means.

Primary metaphors ‘ground’ concepts to sensorimotor experience. Is this grounding lost in a complex metaphor? ‘Not by the hair of your chiney-chin-chin’. Complex metaphors are composed of primary metaphors and the whole is grounded by its parts. “The grounding of A Purposeful Life Is A Journey is given by individual groundings of each component primary metaphor.”

The ideas for this post come from Philosophy in the Flesh. The quotes are from Where Mathematics Comes From by Lakoff and Nunez

Whatfur
05-07-2010, 11:25 AM
Have you listened to the bias song yet?

wreaver
05-08-2010, 01:34 AM
In American politics the Republican Party is very adept at speaking in well crafted sound bites and thusly framing the issue such that the naïve voter can easily defend their choice.

The Democratic Party is very poor at crafting and presenting a common message and instead each member tries to make complex arguments that a naïve voter cannot easily comprehend. So that while the Democrat goes on and on arguing the case for reform of health care the Republican says “socialized medicine” or “death panels” andf easily wins the contest.

There's no guarantee that if the masses could understand the arguments being given by various democrats, for the health care changes they want, that the masses would be accepting of it.

The thing to keep in mind is that, not everyone has the same goals. Not everyone has the same way of "calculating" what is immoral and what is not immoral. Not everyone wants the same things.

coberst
05-08-2010, 07:18 AM
Reason is our only mode of surviving. If we have no confidence in reason we cannot reason together. If we cannot reason together we cannot survive the powerful technology that we have created.

coberst
05-08-2010, 07:18 AM
Have you listened to the bias song yet?

No

wreaver
05-08-2010, 10:13 AM
Reason is our only mode of surviving.

I don't believe that is true.

Plenty of animals survive just fine without reason. And many humans do just fine without it too.


If we have no confidence in reason we cannot reason together. If we cannot reason together we cannot survive the powerful technology that we have created.

Assuming by "reason together" you mean that everyone has the same goals, does moral "calculations" the same, and want the same thing....

I don't see why you need everyone to "reason together" to "survive the powerful technology that we have created". Care to elaborate?

coberst
05-14-2010, 12:39 PM
I don't believe that is true.

Plenty of animals survive just fine without reason. And many humans do just fine without it too.




Assuming by "reason together" you mean that everyone has the same goals, does moral "calculations" the same, and want the same thing....

I don't see why you need everyone to "reason together" to "survive the powerful technology that we have created". Care to elaborate?

The human species started with our competition with nature. As we developed technology we began to conquer Mother Nature. Our species is marked by the ability to create abstract ideas. We have become meaning creating creatures. As a result we have become our own most dangerous enemy.

We have lost claw, fang, and speed and as a result we have only reason as a defensive mechanism. If we do not learn to reason together to prevent our self destruction we shall surely destroy our self because we cannot manage this powerful technology that we have created.

One of our greatest dangers results from the fact that we lack the intellectual sophistication to recognize our problems. It is this lack of sophistication that makes us blind to our own lack of sophistication. We face the old “pull your self up by your own boot strap” problem. How can we become intellectually sophisticated if we are too naïve to recognize this fact?