...is a suggestion for progressive thinkers. How can embattled
progressives use these ideas for counteracting our current deluge of anti-liberal
decision making? Here in the United States decades of media influence
have helped give control of all branches of government to extremely anti-liberal
public officials. This anti-liberalism is the kind that sees (demands?)
society as being competitive and antagonistic rather than cooperative and
tolerant. For many reasons, this is almost guaranteed to be a narrow
path to disaster. Too many "outsiders" are left outside of the decision
making by the insiders who don't easily see viewpoints not their own.
Safer, broader paths are needed.
Eight dollars per hour times
three hours work equals twenty-four dollars pay.
X 3 = 24
DUMBING DOWN points to several logical imperatives which are “simple
but subtle.” They are logical imperatives and not simply “matters
of personal opinion,” but the insights, like those of science, are at a
level of abstraction just a bit deeper that our day-to-day discourse demands.
The insights are powerful, however, and worth reaching for.
The work of many sophisticated thinkers is represented here: Richard Feynman,
J. Archibald Wheeler, and Erwin Schrödinger (physics); Nevitt Sanford,
Gordon Alport, Milton Rokeach, Lawrence Kohlberg, P. C. Wason, and J. P.
Guilford, (psychology); Noam Chomsky, Martin Gardner, Paul Kurtz, George
Orwell, and Chas. L. Dodgson (logic); Robert McChesney, I. F. Stone, James
Fallows, and Daniel Schorr (journalism). And many, many more.
These thinkers have been, and are, surrounded by controversy.
"We said eight dollars per
hour, and I worked three hours, so I guess you owe me twenty-five bucks,
8 X 3 = 25
weak math or wishful thinking?
DUMBING DOWN suggests that much of the controversy arises for the same
reasons that simple basic science and math is not understood—“Physics is
simple but subtle,“ say the physicists—and it cannot be used by a large
fraction of those who would benefit by its use. Understanding involves
human thinking skills a bit beyond the mundane. This thinking
is the “fourth level of abstraction” of Keith Devlin (NPR’s “The
Math Guy”), Jean Piaget’s “formal operations,” and the student-thinking
recently achieved by the Physics Education Group (Lillian McDermott, director)
at the University of Washington. It’s the very best humans can do.
Devlin, Piaget, McDermott, et. al. have shown us how Feynman, Wheeler,
Schrödinger, and all those other workers of mental magic have been
exploring beyond the edges of easy human comprehension. They have
WISE-ING UP is the alternative to dumbing down. It's not easy.
But it's exciting, stimulating, and worth the work. It's effective
for solving complex problems. Narrow, anti-liberal oversimplification
is driving society rapidly toward disasters. Broad, progressive vision
is necessary for seeing safer routes to the future.
Let's try to better understand “wise-up wisdoms” and find
ways to convince more people of their reality and importance.
The links in the
Dumbing Down pages lead to many examples and suggestions.