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Normal Science Graduates Too Many Sophomores

  1. Oct 12, 2008 #1
    Normal Science Graduates Too Many Sophomores

    Sophomoric—conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and [intellectually] immature

    American culture enshrines and ritualizes hubris.

    Hubris—exaggerated pride or self-confidence

    Specialization is a boon to narrow mindedness.

    Our culture is permeated with an obsessive desire to acquire stuff. We educate our self so as to gain quick entry into the race for the acquisition of more stuff than our neighbor. We are going to hell in a shopping cart because our educational system focuses attention upon the practical problem of preparing our self for the race to efficiently produce and consume more stuff.

    Normal science, i.e. those sciences controlled and guided by paradigms, which I guess are primarily those based upon the sciences of physics and chemistry, have been so successful in meeting their respective goals that we have placed this form of intellectual inquiry on too high a pedestal. We have become deluded into thinking that the methods utilized by these sciences are not only the best but the only useful means for acquiring valuable knowledge.

    It is human nature to be attracted to the mere appearance of things; the survival of many kinds of animals is dictated by the ability of the male and female to attract one another resulting from the colors and forms of eye appeal. We dress in the morning often based upon what type of trial we are facing; we gain a sense of confidence when we are confident of our appearance.

    Our culture provides us little incentive to examine the common principles of our nature in such matters as morality and aesthetics. Such principles represent the very foundation for our actions. We finish our formal schooling without even rudimentary comprehension of these fundamental aspects of our nature. Not only do we finish our schooling with this fundamental ignorance but we leave schooling with a disdain and dismissive attitude of such matters.

    We finish schooling with a prejudice against our self. We develop a satisfaction only when we think of our self as being surrounded by objects and laws independent of our self. We finish school unaware of the psychology which is the instrument of our speculations about these laws and principles. We aggressively dismiss the exclusively “subjective and human department of imagination and emotion…we have still to recognize in practice the truth that from these despised feelings of ours the great world of perception derives all its value, if not also is existence…had our perceptions no connection with our pleasures, we should soon close our eyes on this world”.

    I think that specialization is perhaps a necessity but it is not necessary, nor is it health, for us to graduate sophomores who lack the rudimentary knowledge of fundamental human capacities and limitations. Also the self congratulatory attitude resulting from a mistaken hubris leaves us handicapped in any effort to develop a sophisticated comprehension of our problems after our school daze are over.

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. (Mohandas Gandhi)

    Quotes from “The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory” by George Santayana
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2008 #2
    It seems to me that our educational system has graduated far too many individuals who have not been educated but have been propagandized into thinking that the reality that they have been taught in their specialized study represents the most significant part of reality. It is like implanting into the mind that Kansas is the center of the world.

    Our educational system is so preoccupied with producing good workers that it fails to graduate sophisticated intellects that are not only prepared but eager to discover what the rest of reality is all about.

    Our educational system has graduated individuals who are not only grossly ignorant of reality beyond their own specialty but are arrogant in that ignorance.

    Saul Bellows wrote in his introduction to “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom “Professor Bloom’s book makes me fear that the book of the world, so richly studied by autodidacts, is being closed by the “learned” who are raising walls of opinions to shut the world out.”
  4. Oct 14, 2008 #3


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    So when was the last time you've produced an idea that actually became useful?

  5. Oct 14, 2008 #4
    I am not convinced that many practising physicist, chemists, or the like are "deluded into thinking that the methods utilized by these sciences are"..."the only useful means for acquiring valuable knowledge.", perhaps we have each had differing anecdotal experiences.

    However, do you mean to propose that the methods of science are indeed not the best manner in which to go about acquiring valuable knowledge? If so, I must detest. Or maybe you should define what you mean by 'valuable knowledge'. Certainly cultural and interpersonal know-how could be considered valuable, as could the geometry of the universe, though I would not say that carefully constructed controlled experimentation with exhaustive mathematical evaluation of data would be the most viable option for learning social etiquette, etc.
  6. Oct 14, 2008 #5
    The domains of knowledge focusing on values, morality, meaning, and aesthetics are not susceptible to the parameters of distance, weight, wavelength, and time. Normal sciences disregard all domains of knowledge that cannot be measured by such parameters.

    The normal sciences focus only upon that knowledge that is pattern intense and ignores the rest.
  7. Oct 14, 2008 #6
    I'm not entirely following your post. Could you give us an example of where "we have placed [physics and chemistry] on too high a pedestal"? Could you also give us an example where "[w]e have become deluded into thinking that the methods utilized by these sciences are not only the best but the only useful means for acquiring valuable knowledge"?

    Also, what alternative to a "form of intellectual inquiry" that is not "based upon the sciences of physics and chemistry" are you proposing that we adopt?
  8. Oct 14, 2008 #7


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    That is because "values, morality, meaning, and aesthetics" do not have a clear and unambiguous definitions. Yet, you think they are as clear and valid as "distance, weight, etc...". Do you simply prefer them because there are no "definite" answers and thus, any type of BS can be entertained?

    I still want to know when was the last time one of your ideas actually resulted in something useful.

    Last edited: Oct 14, 2008
  9. Oct 14, 2008 #8
    It seems to me that you're upset because you think everyone is close minded and just getting into science so they can get a high paying pharmeceutical job to buy lots of TVs and stuff. Suppose that's true, I don't think you can make incurious people curious. I think that is a hard coded aspect of personality. Those people you despise were put on Earth to do that which you despise - and you're here to despise them. That's your function. How could you be doing a better job?
  10. Oct 15, 2008 #9
    One example is our intense effort to send more youngsters into math and science. Such domains of knowledge are useful in the effort to maximize production and consumption but are of little use in our efforts to develop a moral code that might act to save the species and perhaps the planet from extinction.

    Our culture applaudes such efforts and fails to recognize that our moral structure will destroy us unless changed. Our (USA) educational system has left is completly lacking in any comprehension of the most important problems facing our future.

    We see technology as the only solution for the problems created by technology.
  11. Oct 15, 2008 #10
    We can comprehend only that which we are prepared to comprehend. I write these posts about ideas that might help prepare the reader to "see" a little further than before and thus comprehend a little more than they do now. How affective this effort might be is anyone's guess. Perhaps ten years from now you might look back and recognize how it has affected your world view.
  12. Oct 15, 2008 #11
    I am convinced that you are wrong. I have been a self-actualizing self-learner for 25 years and have learned from that experience that your judgment is erronious.
  13. Oct 15, 2008 #12
    I'm dissapointed that you resorted to the "you're wrong because I have experience" tactic. I expected a little more from you.

    I don't find your posts enlightening because you ramble and your essays are unrefined both in lnguage and thought.

    Take for example:

    This is a whopping assumption. The fact that people happen to consume a lot of stuff or that they like to consume a lot of stuff is not evidence that consumption is their primary motivator in life. Many people become teachers, graphic designers, join the military or work for the public knowing that they will probably never make a lot of money or have as much stuff as the lawyer down the street. So you have assumed that people get into science primarily for the money; did you take a survey?

    Not only do schools not teach students to simply go for the highest paying jobs, but they expose students to lots of activities with intrinsic pleasure such as art, music and sports. Your essays would be more compelling if they weren't steeped in bias and if they had a clear thesis.
  14. Oct 15, 2008 #13
    The crux of my position and our disagreement on this issue lies in the fact that I disagree strongly with this particular statement. I do not believe that there is a single form of inquiry that escapes the methods of science.

    The only action that could possible generate any true long term stability and high quality of life for all human beings, is for the greatest number of people to have the most accurate grasp of reality. Only then can individuals be reasonable enough to create prosperity and solidarity for the human race. Delusion is the most difficult and most powerfully ingrained obstacle to the advancement (in all aspects of life) of our species. The antidote for delusion is fact. Science is the means by which one discovers, to the highest degree of accuracy possible, facts. Giving more young minds the opportunity to choose objective modes of thought which can be applied to any aspect of life is a large step in the correct direction.

    I would agree with you here. There are precious few teachers who are able to communicate the pathetically lacking State standards of education in a manner which is profound, fun, and clear enough to have a lasting impact on the minds of our children.

    I would say that the mass lack of understanding about technology (and everything else for that matter) is the problem; with the throwing off of delusion, CT, and reasoning being the solution.
  15. Oct 15, 2008 #14
    I think this forum in general can get a little too preoccupied with arguing viewpoints then actually learning something. Proving right and wrong on the internet does nothing but boost and ego. I come on to this site to learn and learn I do. I rarely post and when I do post it is to answer a question of something I'm sure of or to ask a question.

    So I'll be the first to say that I agree that the US education system lacks.

    I hit my point of interest in knowledge and understanding in college. I started to realize how math and physics worked. From there it opened up many doors to different sciences, history, philosophy, (never English though :-p).

    My point is, is that If I never forced myself to go to college I might never have hit this level of understanding. This level of understanding could be reached by someone very young or old or maybe not at all. I will say that this level of understanding may be easier to reach by some then others and that some people may be incapable of it, but I would say most people could. The US education system and every other countries systems that lack should be redesigned and tested so that kids reach this level of understanding earlier in life before they drop out of school.

    It is sad because some people will never know what they are missing because the school didn't provide interest in school. It is just memorization pounded into the brain and math that has no applications. I have heard people from middle school all the way to college say "Why do I have to learn this, I will never use it in real life". This level of understanding is the passion and lust for knowledge that is useful or not useful. Once this point is reached you never ask that question anymore as everything you learn is just one more step that you feel is helping you.

    Small wonder Detroit's drop out rate is somewhere near 50%...
  16. Oct 16, 2008 #15


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    Or I can also play your speculation game and say that, based on your track record, that it will amount to nothing. After all, you are not basing any of your argument on valid, verified evidence, something which science can claim to do.

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