Friday, July 17, 2009

Crap Detection 101

Hello, Dear Learners!

In Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Neil Postman begins by quoting Hemingway from an earlier interview as saying that the one essential ingredient required for a person to be a ‘great writer’ is a ‘built-in, shockproof crap detector’. Postman ends by stating that ‘The new education…learning how to learn… has as its purpose…to help all students develop built-in, shockproof crap detectors as basic equipment in their survival kits’.

IMHO, crap detection is required to be an effective citizen in a healthy democracy. Fellow lifelong learners, I have some tools for you:

Howard Rheingold’s blog Crap Detection 101 is an excellent tutorial on crap detection. Rheingold makes the point that most of the books in the library are factually accurate, but you have no such assurance when you are on the web. You can protect yourself by learning how to separate the wheat from the chaff (my thanks to John the Baptist, Matthew 3:12), and this tutorial will help you. Look at the resources following, and add your own!

A healthy dose of skepticism will also serve you in this increasingly complex world. Cuddle up with Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World to learn the basics of the scientific method which can help you differentiate science from pseudoscience. Healthcare, global warming, swine flu, stem cell research, nuclear plants, sustainability, etc. etc. (the list could go on forever), all require knowledge—not just feelings--to make good decisions. Perhaps these two resources can guide you to being more knowledgeable.

And just for fun, want a quick quizzy (two minutes, max) to measure your science knowledge? Take the Pew Research Center interactive quiz. The Science Knowledge Quiz.
Enjoy your weekend!

1 comment:

Cathy W. said...

Excellent post & resources to consider. Thank you!