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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Fixed ideas and polarization

Hear, hear!
You said everything I was cranking up to saying, Eric, but much better.    (01)

Peter    (02)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eric Armstrong" <eric.armstrong@sun.com>
To: <ba-ohs-talk@bootstrap.org>
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2002 1:02 AM
Subject: Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Fixed ideas and polarization    (03)

> Thanks for an exceedingly excellent post.
> A few comments:.
> I think one point in your exposition is that a collaborative
> knowledge-interchange/  reasoning facility will *only* be valuable to
> people who are in "science mode",
> at least for that particular subject. I think that's true.
> I also believe that we place WAY too little value on people changing
> their minds,
> in the light of evidence. In politics, it's the "kiss of death" to
> change your mind
> about anything -- but that is exactly what reason dictates.
> The fact that reputations depend on "being" right, rather than "coming
> to the right
> conclusion", causes many of us to hold beliefs beyond reason, even in
> scientific
> circles, because credibility and reputation depend on it.
> I believe that situation is exacerbated by the lack of a knowledge
> repository.
> When it's really hard to find alternatives, and to get opinions about
> what works,
> it's really easy (and necessary) to believe the person who trumpets
> their ideas
> confidently.
> But Amazon-style rating systems take a lot of the wind out of marketing
> huff,
> so in the "market of ideas" I would expect that a rated repository to be
> highly
> effective in helping good ideas rise to the top, instead of languishing
> underneath
> the reputation-fed "monopolies" of ideas.
>   <aside>
>   Unfortunately, accurate ranking systems turn out to be
> multi-dimensional,
>   which creates major difficulties. Any system which is accurate enough
> to
>   permit automated reasoning is impossible to use. As a concrete
> example,
>   my "excellent" rating as a beginner is completely different from an
> expert's
>   "miserable" rating. Other beginners care about my rating. Other
> experts
>   can discount my rating. But how do I know to choose the ranking
> crierion,
>   "excellent for beginners", unless I know that I am a beginner? I may
>    consider myself fairly well versed in the area, yet the way I express
> myself
>    may make it clear to others that I am a beginner.
>    Amazon's rankings, on the other hand, allow the dimensionality of the
>    ranking to be clarified by the text that accompanies it. That is an
> example
>    of a system that is relatively easy to use, and practical implement.
> But it
>    allows for little or nothing in the way of automated reasoning.
>    </aside>
> "Garold (Gary) L. Johnson" wrote:
> > ... I continue to insist that any collaboration system must serve the
> > individual first and group(s) second. .... For an individual to be of
> > value in a collaborative effort, he must bring something to the
> > discussion. Any tools to support collaboration must first support the
> > individual in his attempt to make sense out of the information that he
> > needs to understand.
> >
> This makes perfect sense to me. I have always envisioned such a tool as
> one
> in which I gather useful stuff into my cocoon, and push useful stuff out
> to others.
> The other important implication is that such a system helps put people
> into that
> "science mind" you mention. Personally, I find it to be a
> "philopsophical" state
> of mind -- in the sense of doing philosophy and thinking about things,
> rather than
> in the sense of acquiesing to fate. My critical thinking skills were
> forged in college,
> doing philosophy, mathemetics, and the sublime combination of the two:
> logic and
> abstract algebra. (That makes me *little* more inclined to accept new
> ideas, but
> I still have trouble letting go of the old.)
> From a social perspective, though, it seems we have to find a way to
> actively
> applaud the person who "changes parties", so to speak. We should award
> them
> recognition and respect, and give their views the utmost credibility
> because,
> after all, they have beheld both sides of the argument.
> Interestingly, pentecostal religions *love* the lost sheep who has
> returned to the
> fold. But perhaps that is because it confirms fixed ideas. On the other
> hand, the
> person who changes political parties is often a pariah on both sides of
> the aisle --
> after all, no one trusts a "traitor" -- it's only a matter of time until
> they jump ship
> again.
> Emotionally, then, somewhere deep in our genes, there is a
> predisposition to
> prefer steadfast, loyal support, rather than intellectual freelancing.
> Should you
> see a means to modify that state of the world by addressing it directly,
> then by
> all means, I wish you success.
> I suspect, though, that providing tools like a knowledge repository will
> be the
> only effective means of doing so, because only they will "change the
> environment"
> in ways that change how we react and respond to others.
> For example: Without a KR, a politician changes their vote on a bridge:
> Ewwww! (emotional reaction). With a KR, a politician changes their vote.
> A click on the
> vote brings up a list of 29 architects and 12 environmental planners who
> recommended that position. The most highly rated summary of the issues
> is only
> a paragraph, and it's *very* convincing. New reaction: Yay! But that
> reaction
> was only enabled by the ability to rapidly, effortlessly access the
> relevant
> information.
>     (04)