18 February 2012

Items to share (18 February)

  • The ever-rational Ben Goldacre sympathetically (and sensibly) entertains some way-out ideas.
  • What are the humanities for? A big question in higher education at the moment, and rarely answered as directly as this--they introduce us to the art of living, they are a toolbox for life. Here are seventeen full lectures from that course at Stanford University on video (I've only sampled them so far). The liberal arts tradition has almost gone from British universities, but it's still alive and well in the USA.
  • A collection of discussions and illustrations of the Prisoners' Dilemma. (Note that at the end there is a link to a page on the Tragedy of the Commons. That's interesting, in that the original article by Hardin (1968) is apparently "one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal", and the most uncritically accepted. My quote above is from an interesting dissenting article [decidedly from the left, but not necessarily any the worse for that] by Ian Angus in 2008; The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons which suggests that it has never been demonstrated in practice, and yet it is adopted because of its convenient fit with pre-existing ideological interests. Illustrates the principle that utility comes first, and truth a poor second in these circles. Well worth reading.)

1 comment:

  1. Not unlike Susan Cain, Lehrer seems to be conveniently missing the whole story (though, in general, I'm much more inclined to agree with him). He mentions Charlan Nemeth at length but what he doesn't mention is:

    "For example, when faced with a minority view, people utilise all strategies in the service of problem-solving. They come at the problem from all possible directions and, in the process, find more solutions. In fact, stimulated by minority views, they perform much better than they would alone."


Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.