Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Knowing is the act of appropriating knowledge as one’s own. It’s a more nuanced term than learning. If educational environments start paying more attention to the nature of knowing, we would probably see some drastic changes in the way we approach teaching and learning.

For one, knowledge is presented as hard, concrete, and incorruptible by individual minds. And the way to reach this hard substance and acquire it is often laid out on a unidirectional map. On the other hand, imagine knowledge as malleable, clay… and knowing as the act of playing with it, making models of it.

Look at what happened to computers and why there has been an explosion of ideas in the field of computing. From intimidating codes and scary looking interfaces, the computer evolved as a friendly plaything for the average user. Playing (not necessarily in the sense of playing games) leads to experimentation and new ways of using things.

What is missing in educational curriculum is this sense of play, this sense of tinkering.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Production of "Truth"

Here's an article by Marcus Munafò and Jonathan Flint on how scientists end up publishing papers that does not represent truth, pressed by financial interests and the pressure to publish in prestigious journals.

An excerpt:

"Outright scientific fraud is rare, but less deviant behavior may be much more common. For example, researchers may run multiple statistical tests on their data: they keep analysing the results in slightly different ways (known as "data mining") until they get a P-value less than 0.05. This is tempting because it is much easier to get one's research published if the findings are "statistically significant" (i.e. the P-value is less than 0.05) – a phenomenon known as "publication bias".

With enough data, and by running enough statistical tests, it is easy enough to find a significant effect, given the probabilistic nature of the statistical methods used. And with enough people trying, this effect might even be found more than once, giving the appearance of replication. The problem is that the results almost certainly won't be true."
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