Words and References:
[warnings: mild violence, allusion to human sacrifice, decapitation]
The City doesn’t remember xer name. There are other Cities besides xim still,...
Here is the demo for the Steven Universe Theme Song!
Arrangement by Jeff Liu, vocals and omnichord by Rebecca Sugar.
Here are the chords!
'Expertise' as used here almost always requires the acceptance and approval of the Powers That Be - automatically excluding anyone who has knowledge that comes from experience (look, ‘expert’ and ‘experience’ have the same root for a reason), who can’t afford/has no access to traditional institutions through which ‘expertise’ is conferred, whose expertise conflicts with the agenda of those Powers, etc., etc.
The glory of Google and Wikipedia and everything like them is their ability to democratize knowledge. Furthermore, that is precisely what teachers want: to help people learn stuff, whether they normally would or not, whether it’s taught in schools or has been thrown aside for three months of test prep, whether it’s the area someone specializes in or is simply curious about… There’s no reason whatsoever that knowledge has to come from a ‘professional’ rather than some other source; that doesn’t make the knowledge any less potent, or any less true.
There is no division between “students and teachers, knowers and wonderers”. I am a teacher; I am also a student, always, because no matter your knowledge, you can always learn more. ‘Knowers’ v. ‘wonderers’? Really? How do you think people come to know things in the first place? I’m definitely an ‘expert’ on a number of things—an institutionally certified expert, even!—but I still wonder about all those things. Besides, who determines what is ‘knowing’? Plenty of those things I have expertise in are *not* institutionally certified, and that makes my expertise not one whit less.
For instance: I know a shitload more about recovering from traumatic brain events than my neurologist. He knows all about how these things happen in the first place, all the ins and outs and mechanisms; however, when it comes to practical advice for what’s necessary to not continue to fuck yourself up in the weeks afterward, he learns a hell of a lot from me. He’s an MD/PhD, he’s about as ‘expert’ as you can get; but that’s nothing in the face of actual experience. In fact, the main reason I knew he was an infinitely better doctor than the other neurologists I’d seen is because he acknowledged how little he knew about the experience of, say, having your life force drained from you by anti-seizure medication. Despite his honest-to-Dog genius, he does not pretend to all-encompassing expertise, or treat his fount of knowledge as the only valid source - which makes him smarter and more ‘expert’ than anyone who thinks they know it all.
And everyone knows that the only difference between professionals and laymen is that one gets paid for their achievements and the other doesn’t. It’s such a pathetic example, really: ‘laymen’ is a word created to distinguish the people who were not endorsed by the institutional Powers That Be in religious life; the Jesus Christ of the Bible was a layman, and as such was anathema to the institution. Now, we’ve all seen how much we should blindly trust and accept what the Church/etc. tells us, right?
Finally, that bit about “achievement in an area” is utterly nonsensical. Is ‘achievement’ supposed to stand in for ‘experience’—which, as already noted, is never accepted as institutionally valid in conferring ‘expertise’? Does ‘achievement’ mean an official document a la a diploma? How many of the world’s political leaders have degrees in management, policy, diplomacy, etc.? Have they ‘achieved’ less than those who have studied those topics in a fucking ivory tower? To reverse the question, there’s that old saw about how those who can’t do, teach. Now, I think that’s bullshit, because teaching is a fucking skill, and plenty of people who have incredible achievement in an area can’t go into a classroom and convey any of that in a useful way. By the same token, when those people *are* good teachers, do we keep them out of the classroom because their ‘expertise’ comes from experience rather than academic success? Never.
This whole thing is bullshit. All those signal words—expertise, professional, layman, student, teacher, knower, wonderer, achievement—are deliberately misused, ignorant of their actual definitions and meanings, to make a faux-profound statement that has no purpose other than to bitch about how the Powers That Be are no longer as all-important in conferring expertise as they used to be.
You can be an expert without paying for it. That really pisses this person off.
"I worry that in an information-driven age of technological marvels, nobody will treat me like I’m a wizard-priest anymore."
I think this is becoming a sort of under-the-table war. And I’m not really exaggerating. For example, recently various academic groups and journals have been banning their members and editors from having blogs:
“Academic blogging grew from the desire to compensate for people being unable to access academic scholarship,” Saideman told the Guardian. He said academic blogging has become a part of a professor’s job and that it is part of a movement to share scholarship with broader groups of people, including translating it into other languages.
One of his many critiques of the ISA’s proposal is that it further reduces the plurality of voices in scholarship, potentially affecting the number of minorities and women heard in academic discussions. If you’re telling people that the only way to be on editorial teams is by reducing your voice elsewhere, then that’s logically going to reduce the amount of voices out there,” Saideman said.
I’m a scientist. I’m not sure how other disciplines work, but for science, this ease-of-learning is the greatest thing ever.
I mean, it does have the slight downside that a lot of people don’t know the difference between peer-reviewed scientific research and something an angry layman made up on their blog, but that’s a teething problem. The laypeople of my generation know a lot more about reliable sources than the previous generation, and the next will know even more. I don’t think that random googling and home workshopping will ever compensate fully for actual scientific training, largely because there’s no regulation. But that’s not the point.
Science works by taking a lot of different people who are interested in the truth and having them all work on similar sorts of things and interpret the facts as best they can. Everyone is, of course, biased. Everyone wants their preferred truth to ‘win’, everyone makes accidental assumptions that support what they want to be true, even in the most evidence-based practices. But the whole point of science is that because the evidence is what’s important, these biases balance out within the community. If an experimenter misses a detail, somebody else picks up on it. If an experiment gives unusual results, this is noticed when other people repeat it. Science works only because there is a huge amount of variety in the way scientists think, in what they think about, and in what they personally believe.
But the problem that nobody will talk about in science is this: there’s not that much variety. Because in school, we were given a bunch of facts about the world to memorise, and we were told (wrongly) that memorising those was “science”. Some of us loved doing that. Most people hated it. those that loved it kept doing it, and many of us became scientists. but here’s the thing — there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that people who like memorising stuff about the world will necessarily make the best scientists. This process filters out people who think differently, and then we look back and say ‘well they didn’t do well in science and they gave it up so clearly they don’t have the mind for it’. Of course they gave it up. We forced them out by lying about what science was.
My point here is that some people don’t have the attention span to read a bunch of scientific articles. Some people don’t have the right linguistic aptitude for it — or, come to think of it, the money for it, since many of these things are behind a paywall and only members of scientific and educational institutions can browse them freely. Some people don’t care about how photosynthesis works unless it relates directly to what they’re doing at the time. Without so much open access to information, these people would be filtered out of the scientific community. But with things like the internet, they’re not. Some of them might decide to become scientists if they self-teach the basics, because the basics aren’t ridiculously boring for them that way. Many won’t, but they’ll still be more knowledgable about the world, still participate in forum discussions, still advise scientist friends and blog for science students. And this is a problem because… what? Us textbooky people can’t pretend to be smarter than everyone else any more? Somebody who failed year 11 chemistry might have the audacity to correct our physics calculations based on what they learned from google scholar?
I’m having a little trouble seeing that as a bad thing.
In a thread about the newly visible supernova in the M82 galaxy, MetaFilter user Ivan Fyodorovich offered up this plain-English explanation of what happens when a star dies and goes supernova. It’s a great read.
It will take it just 6 months to burn up its oxygen. Again, when there’s not enough oxygen being fused to generate energy to balance the pressure of gravitational contraction, the star begins to shrink, almost doubling the temperature, tripling the density, and causing the silicon (which was produced by the oxygen fusion) to begin fusing, in its own complicated sequence involving the alpha process, with the end result of nickel-56 (which radioactively decays into cobalt-56 and iron-56). This, as before, balances against the gravitational pressure and returns the star to equilibrium.
And now it will take merely 1 day to burn up its silicon. Finally, when there’s not enough silicon being fused to generate energy to balance the pressure of gravitational contraction, the star begins to shrink.
This time, however, the core of the star is mostly nickel and iron, and they cannot ordinarily be fused into heavier elements, so as the star shrinks and the temperature and density increase, there is no nuclear fusion ignition of the nickel and iron to counteract the contraction. Here the limit of pressure and density is the electron degeneracy pressure, which is the resistance of electrons being forced to occupy the same energy states, which they can’t.
Many adults are put off when youngsters pose scientific questions. Children ask why the sun is yellow, or what a dream is, or how deep you can dig a hole, or when is the world’s birthday, or why we have toes.
Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys many adults. A few more experiences like this, and another child has been lost to science.
There are many better responses. If we have an idea of the answer, we could try to explain. If we don’t, we could go to the encyclopedia or the library. Or we might say to the child: “I don’t know the answer. Maybe no one knows. Maybe when you grow up, you’ll be the first to find out.