Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jun 27 2007 - 21:16:51 PDT

I can certainly agree with this: To forget our frailties and flaws, no
matter how successful we may be been previously, is to invite tragedy. Every
drip under pressure, every
x-spurt should know it.

And I agree with Louise that an expert in making decisions about, say,
prostate operations, may 1) make mistakes and 2) may be terrible at choosing
between a fresh fish
and an overly dead one.

I still would defer to a licenced pilot over my grand daughter to fly a 747
to new york. No hierarchy intended.


On 6/27/07, Michael Glassman <> wrote:
> But the argument the other way around is that when you have an identified
> expert you also have a hierarchy, and you give the knowledge of that
> identified expert some a priori higher worth. And again, I would ask, who
> would be the person to identify the expert? We have financial experts who
> invest our money for us, but for many you could do just as well tossing
> darts at a board. You have international experts who tell us how to handle
> difficult international situations - and get us in to brutal wars with no
> end. If you are in a birthing room with a nurse and a doctor, and the
> doctor tells you that you must have a C-section right now, and the nurse
> tells you that you should wait who do you listen to? Who gets listened
> to? If you go to a brilliant Park Avenue heart doctor and he tells you that
> you need to have a double bypass, and you go to a homeopathic doctor in a
> four floor walk up in Brooklyn who tells you that you would do better with
> diet or excercise, which is the right advice to choose?
> Of course the whole idea of expert is hard to shake loose. But the truth
> is that we never know what the next problem, the next issue will be, so how
> could anybody really be an expert at it? That doesn't mean we devalue the
> abilities and knowledge individuals already have. When I raise the idea of
> there being no experts to students they say, "Wouldn't you want a doctor who
> was an expert operating on you?" I think from what I know of hospitals I
> would rather have nurses that have not been overworked and an operating unit
> that works well together - but if I thought about it I would rather have
> somebody who could explain to me what they were going to do and help me make
> an informed decision than somebody who carried that label of expert surgeon.
> We don't all start denovo, but to use Pepper's description of
> contextualism - we come to a river and we build a boat to cross. We will
> never come to that river, at that crossing point, at that particular time
> again. We always have to take that in to account when we meet the next
> crossing point. To forget our frailties and flaws, no matter how successful
> we may be been previously, is to invite tragedy.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Mike Cole
> Sent: Wed 6/27/2007 10:51 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca]
> Copernicus,Darwinand Bohr
> Hi Louise.
> I spend a lot of my time working on creating activities where expertise is
> widely
> distributed across age, class, gender, etc. So the heterogeneity of
> expertise
> is important to me for many reasons. It is a wonderful generative
> condition
> of human life, or can be.
> But, to deny that in a domain specific way there are people who have
> attained a deep
> mastery of activities in that domain: abacus users, magicians, cooks,
> pre-school teachers,
> invites the idea that there is no differentiation, in general, to cope
> well
> with life challenges.Next time
> you fly, ask yourself if you want to change places with the pilot......
> I fear that that way lies cultural nihilism and the idea that we all start
> de novo. That is a very despairing
> view. Equal to the despair of the experts as unquestionable, context free
> authorities, and not, as my son likes to remind
> me, drips under pressure.
> mike
> On 6/27/07, Louise Hawkins <> wrote:
> >
> > I also find issue with the distinction between expert and novice, as if
> > the expert has something to give and the novice something to receive.
> > How many times is it the student who poses a question that raises a
> > point that the 'expert' learns from?
> >
> > Louise
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: []
> > On Behalf Of Michael Glassman
> > Sent: Wednesday, 27 June 2007 04:37 AM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: RE: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
> > Darwinand Bohr
> >
> >
> > Martin
> >
> > Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy
> > us? And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an
> > expert/novice scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to
> > make this distinction on whatever level, and get to define the two
> > classes. Take a look at the political class in the United States, we
> > define experts as those who have the right cultural capital, wear the
> > right type of ties and suits, who speak in somber, modulated voices with
> > a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of course you cannot see what I
> > can see, but trust me."
> >
> > This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every
> > generation starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure
> > out how to use those tools to solve what invariably must be new
> > problems, or they develop new tools out of the old tools. Let's say we
> > have a set of spears we use to hunt food. There are great spear
> > throwers who use those spears and teach others to use them as well.
> > Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power within the
> > community. But things change, and the spears that were once used on
> > larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear
> > throwers going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or
> > are they going to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a
> > different way, or it is the fault of our lazy children who do not train
> > in spear throwing the way previous generations did. Meanwhile the food
> > supply dwindles for the community. A young person examines the spear
> > and says, hmmm, the arrow head pierces the skin but it cannot reach the
> > skin with these new animals that we hunt. Perhaps I can create
> > something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But she is not an expert.
> > Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development would listen and
> > adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the danger of a
> > heirarchical system of knowledge development.
> >
> > In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a
> > species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on
> > the easy access and flow of information. I just read the most
> > fascinating article by the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks
> > about famine. He makes a really good argument that famine is almost
> > never about food. There is always enough food even in some of the major
> > famines of the twentieth century. It is about the lack of capability
> > for getting to the food. At its core the lack of information as a tool
> > in obtaining this basic human function. What else is there other than
> > information. When we define information as static and give it value
> > separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we find
> > the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?
> >
> > I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more
> > about it. But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly,
> > developing strategies and processes that see incredible to me. It is a
> > virtual world in which there are no "experts." The world and my son and
> > the other players co-exist.
> >
> > I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this.
> > Perhaps a problem that needs greater consideration.
> >
> > Michael
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: on behalf of Martin Packer
> > Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
> > Darwinand Bohr
> >
> >
> >
> > Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from
> > scratch? No
> > experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!
> >
> > My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning"
> > and
> > "information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
> > artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
> > process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political
> > agenda. To
> > argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue
> > against
> > formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of
> > human
> > action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the
> > division
> > of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
> > thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but
> > thoughtlessly.
> >
> > On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:
> >
> > > But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the
> > problem
> > > solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it
> > through their
> > > own activities?
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list
Received on Wed Jun 27 21:18 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Jul 01 2007 - 00:30:04 PDT