[EAS] Civics & Mush

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Tue Feb 1 14:46:40 EST 2005

Subject:   Civics & Mush

(from NewsScan Daily, 1 February 2005)

     A University of Connecticut survey of more than 100,000 high
school students has found that educators are failing to give high
school students an appreciation of the First Amendment¹s guarantees
of free speech and a free press. Commissioned by the Knight
Foundation, the $1 million, two-year study found that nearly
three-fourths of high school students either do not know how they
feel about the First Amendment or admit they take it for granted;
seventy-five percent erroneously think flag burning is illegal; half
believe the government can censor the Internet; and more than a
third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it
guarantees. Knight Foundation chief executive Hodding Carter III
says, ³These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous.
Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our
nation¹s future.² (Knight Foundation 31 Jan 2005)

And I thought the basic civics lesson about the separation of church
and state was the one slighted in high school these days. The Knight
Foundation survey suggests an even more dire situation.  --PJK

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people
to stop reading them."   --Ray Bradbury

(from NewsScan Daily, 1 February 2005)

     Wired contributing editor Daniel H. Pink, author of the new
book "A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the
Conceptual Age," says the future no longer belongs to people who can
reason with computer-like logic, speed, and precision:  "Until
recently, the abilities that led to success in school, work, and
business were characteristic of the left hemisphere [of the brain].
They were the sorts of linear, logical, analytical talents measured
by SATs and deployed by CPAs." But today, the world is shifting from
an economy built on the logical, sequential abilities of the
Information Age to an economy built on the inventive, empathic
abilities of right-hemisphere Conceptual Age. Identifying the causes
for this shift to be "Asia, automation, and abundance," Pink
champions a more energetic use of right-brain thinking: "Want to get
ahead today? Forget what your parents told you. Instead, do
something foreigners can't do cheaper. Something computers can't do
faster. And something that fills one of the nonmaterial,
transcendent desires of an abundant age. In other words, go right,
young man and woman, go right." (Wired Feb 2005)

And regarding the brain's _right_ hemisphere, every good scientist
uses it, everyone who has ever designed anything uses it. But the
cause & effect loop has to be closed, and that requires some
analysis and reasoning. Design moves us forward, but analysis
supports those advances. The "go to the right side of your brain"
advice is mushy thinking. Mr. Pink is rather short on examples.
Better lipsticks? Cosmetic surgery? A successor to pet rocks?


"Reason can dream what dreams cannot reason."
                                  --Nicholas Snowden Willey 1965

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