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Author Topic: The Potency Of Truth, The Simple Perception of A Child  (Read 8070 times)

Offline johnbrandy

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The prepared mind. It seem clear to me that the ability to perceive a reasonable understanding of any proposition or idea requires, at the very least, a prepared mind. What does this mean. A mind that is free from preconceptions and biases. Any subject, topic, or ides that is discussed within this forum, or anywhere else, is of limited value, if not viewed with a mind that is unfettered with conditioned thinking, and ungrounded knowledge. As such, we are often to quick to access the value of an opinion or "fact" without the minimum degree of information necessary to form a useful response. I do not deny that such exchanges can have real value, as with, for instance ,the exchanges between a knowledgeable teacher and a budding student. But if our goal is to facilitate a path towards the quality of knowledge and understanding that lead to a genuine dialog, than, perhaps we might consider what is essential to achieve the direct perception of a child. I don't pretend to hold the key. Moreover, I cannot persuade you of its value. I suspect, many of you instinctively realize the need for this goal. Perhaps meditation, journalizing, reflection, communing with nature, creative endeavors, and the like can get us closer to this goal. You must discover the best way for yourself. I believe it is a worthy and difficult ambition. Thank you for this opportunity to precipitate.   


 

Offline neilep

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The Potency Of Truth, The Simple Perception of A Child
« Reply #1 on: 18/08/2007 02:52:55 »
What a fascinating post.

Even a mind that is "virgin " unfettered !...will have within itself some natural proclivities for the way it will comprehend the facts that it is presented with.

..It will have it's own individuality and identity that will bias it's conception of what it digests as information.

One could say that as soon as one is exposed to such data that it must be swayed to derive an opinion. The wording of such data will aid in the bias of which the virgin mind will comprehend the information.

I can see the beauty and enlightenment that an innocent mind can behold..the sweet naivety of a child........but also accept the maturity and rationale of a mind that has been exposed to a wide variety of data.....One might say that one needs to be exposed to a variety of opinions before one can truly find ones calling in the direction that one will lead to comprehend and manifest their own opinions.

Thank YOU Johnbrandy for a very insightful thought provoking post.
 

Offline JimBob

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« Reply #2 on: 18/08/2007 04:29:35 »
BRAVO, John

And welcome.

Along with a small minority of others I have been advocating this for a good long while. I absolutely believe in the "multiple working hypotheses" method and the most intelligent thing ever to come out of Albert Einstein's mouth was "The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open."

A fair number of people seem to eschew the awe that is the precursor to beginning any scientific investigation. Being pedantically committed to what is written in a book is always a bar to true knowledge.

It is good to have another person with - well - at least with the potential ability to think outside the box about a problem and be open to new ways of looking at things. (I also have a book called "How To Lie With Statistics") The pharmaceutical companies have copies in all their labs!

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #3 on: 18/08/2007 07:42:23 »
Whilst agreeing with the tenet of the post, I must point out that there are practicalities involved.

I was the bane of my teachers' and lecturers' lives because I was forever asking questions about basic premises. While that certainly enabled me to get a deeper understanding of the subject concerned, it did make learning a lot slower & some of my fellow students, as well as the lecturers, got quite exasperated with me at times.

Although I rarely take anything for granted, there are certain "facts" and "laws" that we have to accept; we can't ask for proof of everything before accepting its validity. Knowledge advances, usually, by building on work previously done. If we were to re-visit every assumption, theory, law or whatever, then learning would grind to a halt.

What I most certainly do agree with, though, is that new concepts & ideas should be met with an open mind. Unfortunately, that is not always as easy as it sounds. We all have pre-conceived ideas & are often reluctant to admit that something we've believed all our lives is actually wrong; and the stronger we have expounded those views, the less likely we are to accept anything that contradicts them.

History is littered with greats who have shown this weakness; Einstein could not accept his own discovery that the universe could not be static, Mendeleev (sp?) would not believe in valence, etc.

But how do we differentiate between a simple refusal to accept new ideas based on bias, and singularity of purpose? Single-mindedness can be a very useful asset, but should not be allowed to become sheer stubbornness.
 

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« Reply #4 on: 18/08/2007 23:57:01 »
I agree with most of the above. I would just like to add, however, that true advances in any knowledge field can only result from a pretty thorough understanding of the status quo at the beginning. So many posts on these fora(ums?)  are mere fancy - built on little knowledge  and no evidence.
Science absolutely has to be conservatively based and, of course, any advance must be justified by strong evidence.  If Science went chasing after every distraction, it would exhibit Brownian motion. 
Einstein was human and subject to the same frailty as the rest of us. So he got a few things not quite right. Does that justify a sneer? So many posts in so many threads seem to suggest that it does. How many lay people are aware of the excellent (Nobel - winning) work he did on more mundane things than Relativity and Cosmology?
 I hardly think he would throw a tantrum if resurrected today and presented  with updated theories plus evidence. He'd be hard to convince, at first - like any good Scientist.
 

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« Reply #5 on: 19/08/2007 00:22:19 »
I agree with most of the above. I would just like to add, however, that true advances in any knowledge field can only result from a pretty thorough understanding of the status quo at the beginning.

Are we limiting ourselves to science, or talking about knowledge and philosophy in general.

Science is a particularly European philosophy, while there have been, and to some limited extent continue to be, non-European philosophies that have been substantially supplanted by European scientific philosophy without those who are extending European philosophy having any substantial understanding of the status quo in the alternative philosophies.

Science absolutely has to be conservatively based and, of course, any advance must be justified by strong evidence.  If Science went chasing after every distraction, it would exhibit Brownian motion.
 

This is true of all evolution, including the evolution of philosophy (including the philosophy of science).  The problem is that all evolution goes through long periods of slow, conservative, micro adjustments that build on what went before; but in doing so ever more accumulates inadequacies that will at some time in the future require a paradigm shift, just as modern science is itself a paradigm shift over many of the historic philosophies it has supplanted.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #6 on: 19/08/2007 10:55:32 »
I agree with most of the above. I would just like to add, however, that true advances in any knowledge field can only result from a pretty thorough understanding of the status quo at the beginning.


Yes, indeed. But my point was that we must not let our understanding of, and entrenchment in, the status quo stand in the way of revolutionary thinking. As I mentioned above, some of the great thinkers have refused to believe the evidence of their own work simply because they were reluctant to admit that the status quo was wrong. I may be wrong, but I believe such firm entrenchment is not so prevalent these days as it was in the past.

So many posts on these fora(ums?)  are mere fancy - built on little knowledge  and no evidence.


I find some of them quite amusing; especially when the person posting argues against all scientific evidence to the contrary. I'm all in favour of looking at things from a different perspective, but some of the posts here have been dreamt up in cloud cuckoo land.
 

Offline neilep

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« Reply #7 on: 19/08/2007 15:04:12 »
Without a doubt the ability to revolutionise your own way of thinking by adapting your own biases is paramount for growth and to be able to turn speculation into fact.

Some may keep an open mind with ease and some may not.....How easy is it really to remove oneself from what one fundamentally believes as facts ?

..it is a refreshing thought that the answers to some questions may lay in the need to wipe the slate clean and start again avoiding the clouds of entrenched understanding.

This flexible approach could lead to a whole new myriad ways of looking at things.........Could it lead to there being so many possible approaches of varying degrees that an answer will take forever to find ?

Thinking 'outside the box' is well and good but how many 'outside the box' ways of thinking are there ?....a lot !!

I always think simplicity is the key and I agree that we tend to over calculate and over complicate so many times.  (I only say that cos  'complicated' is too ' complicated for me !)
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #8 on: 19/08/2007 15:48:58 »
Well said, my dear chap
 

another_someone

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« Reply #9 on: 19/08/2007 18:14:28 »
I think the problem that sophiecentaur was probably highlighting is that answers don't exist in isolation, but are an answer within the context of a given model of the world around us.

Clearly, every model has its limitations, and for each model there will be some answers that are unavailable to that model, no matter how well you understand the model.  On the other hand, when a model has been worked on for many generations, by many different people, it has become very extensive, and very sophisticated, and the likelihood that a newcomer could single handedly create a new model with the same flexibility and sophistication is extremely improbable.

On the other hand, as I said above, all models do have their limitations (by which I don't mean simply that we don't yet know how to use the model to answer certain questions, but that the nature of the model is inherently incapable of answering certain questions).  It is inevitable that in order to answer those questions, we do need to develop different models, and in time some of those alternate models will become more enhanced and be shown to be more capable over a wider range of questions that was originally envisioned by the original developer of the models.
 

Offline coglanglab

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The Potency Of Truth, The Simple Perception of A Child
« Reply #10 on: 20/08/2007 01:03:51 »
The prepared mind. It seem clear to me that the ability to perceive a reasonable understanding of any proposition or idea requires, at the very least, a prepared mind. What does this mean. A mind that is free from preconceptions and biases. Any subject, topic, or ides that is discussed within this forum, or anywhere else, is of limited value, if not viewed with a mind that is unfettered with conditioned thinking, and ungrounded knowledge. As such, we are often to quick to access the value of an opinion or "fact" without the minimum degree of information necessary to form a useful response. I do not deny that such exchanges can have real value, as with, for instance ,the exchanges between a knowledgeable teacher and a budding student. But if our goal is to facilitate a path towards the quality of knowledge and understanding that lead to a genuine dialog, than, perhaps we might consider what is essential to achieve the direct perception of a child. I don't pretend to hold the key. Moreover, I cannot persuade you of its value. I suspect, many of you instinctively realize the need for this goal. Perhaps meditation, journalizing, reflection, communing with nature, creative endeavors, and the like can get us closer to this goal. You must discover the best way for yourself. I believe it is a worthy and difficult ambition. Thank you for this opportunity to precipitate.   

You might enjoy reading some of the "Child as Scientist" research in developmental psychology. Important researchers in this area include Susan Carey and Alison Gopnik (who frequently writes for a general audience). If you aren't familiar with this work, I think  you would enjoy it. The basic idea is that both children and scientists learn about the world in similar ways.

---
Please take a moment for science at newbielink:http://coglanglab.org [nonactive]
 

Offline johnbrandy

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« Reply #11 on: 21/08/2007 03:41:24 »
The goal is to refine our language so as to communicate effectively, otherwise real communication is impossible. In a true dialog the speaker and listener are at one with each other. This is the bases for learning and discovery. I am drawing upon my original posting. Everything that I have read is intriguing and challenging. I love this forum. You have stretch me considerable. I cannot match your learning. Yet I hope to make a contribution. I have read widely, and this has improved my ability to process information. But insight is another matter. Yes, I have learned many concepts and facts, but "real" understanding come from another place. It lies somehow between the facts, concepts, and ideas. I feel compelled to explain this, but I cannot. Of course , the grounding is important, perhaps critical. Each of us are subject to certain developmental processes. Intellectual, emotional, and maybe spiritual. This result in different mindsets. It is incredibly difficult to step outside of this conditioning. One cannot do so without a compelling need. Further , insight, like creativity, is often not on demand. I must listen, digest, and wait. I do not pretend to have a special ability. This is a human quality we all have, to various degrees. Insight can also be frustrating and disappointing. I'll leave you with that thought.     
« Last Edit: 22/08/2007 05:22:31 by johnbrandy »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #12 on: 21/08/2007 08:50:23 »
Language can indeed be a problem. People have different understandings of words which, in turn, causes misapprehension of concepts. If those concepts are abstract then the problem is compounded.

It's not so much of a problem between professionals; but when a professional tries to explain something to a layman, it can be a real problem. I have been guilty of this myself in the past; but these days I try to make what I'm saying as explicit as possible by explaining it in different ways or using analogies.

I have also been on the wrong end of it too. Recently someone replied to 1 of my posts about particle physics and used words that mean something different in his field of expertise. I, with very limited knowledge of the subject, didn't understand what he was saying.
 

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« Reply #13 on: 21/08/2007 23:23:40 »
Thinking outside the box is best done when you are pretty familiar with the particular part of the box you want to think outside of.
 

Offline johnbrandy

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« Reply #14 on: 22/08/2007 04:54:35 »
Thinking outside of the box. What does that mean? Generally, suggesting relevant examples or ideas that are presented or related in an analogical or metaphorical form. The purpose of which is to generate new and novel ideas that can be potentially applied to the original question or need. Thinking outside of the box can come from other means. Brainstorming, in groups and individually, mind mapping; starting with an original ides or concept  and creating a networks of possible connections, and so on. Familiarity with the box is a great point. Taking the time to clarify the elements contained  within the box is as important as attempting to think outside of the box. Much appreciated. Thank you. 
« Last Edit: 22/08/2007 05:26:38 by johnbrandy »
 

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« Reply #15 on: 22/08/2007 10:00:42 »
There is another side to this coin.

Sometimes an outsider with limited knowledge can add a new perspective as they are not entrenched in established ideas or concepts. All too often laymen's ideas are dismissed out of hand by "experts" simply out of arrogance.
 

lyner

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« Reply #16 on: 23/08/2007 22:53:45 »
It is true that a blindfolded person can get a bullseye with a dart on rare occasions. Mostly they hit a member of the audience. Would it be arrogant not to pick a blindfolded member for your darts team?
Lay persons' ideas are usually dismissed because they fail the  initial tests.
Read these  pages and you will find  hundreds of  ideas based on nothing but whimsy. Should they all get government funding to  allow actual experiments or should they  be subjected to some good old 'peer review' before money / effort  is spent / wasted?
Yes, there may be one crazy idea that will work but which is that one?
Science is not magic. There is a very good reason that the Science establishment is very conservative - it's the only system that can work with limited resources.
There are 'experts' and there are experts. The ones without the inverted commas are the ones with track records, who's opinions are worth listening to. Of course, they are human, but the whacky idea from a layperson will turn up a bit later from an expert and he will be able to justify it.
 

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« Reply #17 on: 24/08/2007 01:14:21 »
It is true that a blindfolded person can get a bullseye with a dart on rare occasions. Mostly they hit a member of the audience. Would it be arrogant not to pick a blindfolded member for your darts team?
Lay persons' ideas are usually dismissed because they fail the  initial tests.
Read these  pages and you will find  hundreds of  ideas based on nothing but whimsy. Should they all get government funding to  allow actual experiments or should they  be subjected to some good old 'peer review' before money / effort  is spent / wasted?

I think the above highlights the real problem - science these days is big money, and big money is always conservative (and investor that is constantly backing the long shots will, unless he is very clever at working against the market, end up losing money).  The trouble is that if one constantly fails to back the occasional long shot, then one inhibits true innovation and merely keeps funding incremental improvements in what is rather than allowing radical innovators their opportunities.  The ideal is to place the big money on conservative incremental development of what is known, and place smaller stakes on outside long shots just in case something comes out of the long shot (with the proviso that one should never invest more in the long shots than one can afford to lose).
 

lyner

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« Reply #18 on: 24/08/2007 12:36:02 »
I agree. Big money means you just have to be careful. But, even when Science was studied by people who could afford it anyway, there was still the huge investment of effort and commitment.
The present system is a bit worse than it used to be, in as far as many of the really sexy  experiments cost more and more to run. If anyone wants to push the envelope a bit, they need to chose a subject that is cheap to study and then they can fund themselves.
The other way is to get a sucker (politician etc.) to take up your cause and get the funding for you. The most successful Scientists at getting funding are the best showmen, too. "Roll up, roll up! See the amazing negative gravity / time travel / miracle cure  / perpetual motion machine!!!"
 

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« Reply #19 on: 24/08/2007 13:24:41 »
Many times thinking  'outside the box ' requires one to take a 'Leap of Faith'.....and that can be uncomfortable...heresy against doctrine  aaarrgghh !!
 

lyner

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« Reply #20 on: 28/08/2007 22:48:27 »
Quote
thinking  'outside the box ' requires one to take a 'Leap of Faith'..
But you have to persuade others to take that leap, too. And why should they, if all you can say is "how's about this idea" with nothing to back it up?
Yes, it sounds glamorous to be a bit of a maverick - but only when it turned out that you were right. Otherwise you were just another loony. There are always plenty of them.
Don't knock doctrine. The system has got us this far, already!
All good ideas find a way through in the end.
 

Offline johnbrandy

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« Reply #21 on: 08/09/2007 04:11:59 »
In order to understand anything, we have to make certain assumptions. This is necessary to communicate, generally. As a minimum, we have to use and comprehend language and terms that are clearly defined and mutually understood. Thinking outside of the box is also thinking within the box. Otherwise, the "new" information or insight would not be relevant. Creative "leaps" are a function of the initial information or conditions considered. What this usually entails is the making of unique associations and connections, not previously considered. "Thinking outside of the box" is not a new concept. Making cognitive connection from simple ideas or from concepts in seemly unrelated disciplines is not at all unique in the long history of discovery. The concept of thinking outside the box is valuable, because it informs us of the need to expand our field of inquiry. Once "creative leaps" are made, often we see the simplicity of the connection, and ask why did we not see it before.This kind of creativity is not just an ability, but a learned habit. What are some of the the keys to breakthrough thinking? Certainly, we must know the issue thoroughly; all of the terms and concepts, as well as the specific goal. Additionally, we must have a thorough grounding in language; vocabulary, word sense, and reading comprehension. Further, we must learn to think and organize our ideas in logical steps. This often does not happen initially. We have to rework and change the steps to arrive at reasonable results. Even then, insight may not occur. Notwithstanding, this initial work is critical. And the habit of working in this manner can result in, so called, outside of the box thinking, and more specifically creative reasoning.   
« Last Edit: 08/09/2007 04:14:12 by johnbrandy »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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The Potency Of Truth, The Simple Perception of A Child
« Reply #22 on: 10/09/2007 09:26:06 »
I have just managed to find time to skim through this very wordy topic and find it very interesting.

I have always from a small child been interested in the sources and techniques of innovation.  In my working life I have been a "professional inventor" innovating into specific areas when required and also with freedom to innnovate and raise patents for ideas that I think are marketable and then sell them to people who will pay for them.  (you can find as bit more about this by following my profile to my web pages but they are a bit out of date and have some holes in them since one set was deleted by Virgin.net)I have has quite a considerable success with this carrer and am now enjoying a happy and creative retirement studying and creating in areas that interest me and that includes these pages.

I do believe that it is possible to learn and teach innovation and the open mind of a child is one of the approaches that can be successful but there are several others
 

lyner

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« Reply #23 on: 10/09/2007 12:37:02 »
'Inventing' is a great example where a fresh and even uneducated idea can produce fantastic results. The "why can't you make something to do . . . . " type of question can stimulate someone with the knowledge into  a real breakthrough.
My criticism of fanciful and naive approaches is really limited to  people expecting to  change the direction of formal Science with no ground work or basic knowledge.   
Conservatism is everywhere, though.  Soul Surfer must be only too aware of the 'Dragon's Den' problem where you have to sell the idea when you KNOW it is just the greatest thing and a sponsor just yawns.
 

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« Reply #24 on: 10/09/2007 23:38:43 »
I agree selling an invention to a "cold" customer is a very hard thing but it can be done.  I would always prefer to have a "hot" customer who has a problem wants it solved and is prepared to pay some money to get it solved.  The inventing bit is then much easier.
 

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