Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Sure, and I'll decide who's ignorant thank you (Score 1) 237

A look into the history of central banking is exactly the kind of thing that could be introduced into a class about ignorance. It might contrast the web page of NY Fed with the book The Creature from Jekyll Island. It might explain the difference between fractional reserve banking and central banking, and recall that (despite Biddle's best efforts of economic terrorism) nothing terrible happened when Andrew Jackson killed a central bank. It might end with LIBOR fixing, god's work, and the half life of economies that convert from hard currency to a system of fiat currency. Instead, central bankers depend on the public's ignorance of exactly how much is being stolen, and their fear of tanks in the streets.

Comment Re:Known unknowns (Score 1) 237

However, “more work needs to be done” often seems more like a disclaimer than an actual admission of the current state of knowledge. For example, author writes paper about neural networks, author assumes synapses are simple linear devices, author emphasizes importance of work, author notes that more should be done to undertand how brains work. But the proposed work to be done is not an admission that the author’s model assumptions violate everything we know about synapses. The actual level of Ignorance is not acknowledged, but instead modesty is falsely implied by the authors’ ignorance with respect to a lofty goal, such as curing mental illness or evolving into pure energy. Make no mistake - science papers in many fields convey an inflated sense of understanding, and grant money often follows outrageous claims of truth or significance.

Comment Re:Undergrad or Graduate classes? (Score 1) 237

Is this really the expectation of undergrads now, that the goal of the classes is to fill in the already missing information that students don't know? If so, then the point would be to introduce and expand a third possibility, namely that some things are worth thinking about, but can’t be neatly classified as facts that are not yet known to students.

Comment Sure, and I'll decide who's ignorant thank you (Score 3, Interesting) 237

Teaching ignorance directly would require an honest assessment of things like religion, central banking, chiropractors, mathematical ability and pharmaceuticals. This would require strong tenure protection for an individual teacher, or it would likely devolve into trivialities and historical anecdotes that would lead students to assume that important questions are generally irrelevant or settled in modern times. One idea is that education exists to convey the certainty by which things are known, and to prepare students for critical thinking that will improve their estimates of factual certainty with time. Another idea is that education should firstly prepare students to be productive citizens. While these ideas are not always in conflict, knowledge and critical thinking will not be tolerated when money, ideology or power can be gained or preserved through ignorance.

Comment Re:A retina? (Score 1) 244

An interesting question, actually: they claim 99% of the brain's diverse cell types in their tissue, which would mean that they're getting all but maybe one of the (roughly) 60-80 cell types in retina. The diversity of these cell types varies by >1% between species, and probably among species. Color blindness is one example of this diversity. Would a brain with a cyclopean retina really have almost exactly the same diversity of cell types in retina, LGN and visual cortex? This, along with the press release preceding the data release, makes me wonder about the authenticity of these claims.

Comment Re:No Kneejerk required (Score 1) 244

One scientific debate, if the data holds up, is whether this tissue can be called a brain or not. Is there another example of a brain that doesn't process sensory information? If not, how can you believe that this is a brain? What new definition of brain must be proposed in order to call this thing a brain?

Comment Re:Depends... (Score 1) 244

Maybe not magical, but what's the evidence that consciousness doesn't get turned on like a switch? How fast would its emergence have to be? Different cognitive abilities come and go at different times in life, but consciousness is thought to be more constant than that. Without a good way to measure it, it's difficult to declare its absence due to lack of similarity to a behaving adult. And cockroaches may be conscious, but it's OK to kill them anyway.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach