Friday, March 2, 2012

I Want to Change Through Learning

I feel late to the party here, but I just found the words to describe what I mean by 'education.'

What things would change how I act, if I knew them?
What would change my worldview if I knew them?

I am well educated when I know most of those things, out of the set of all things other people know.
This should, theoretically, barely warrant saying. Of course, when making a decision, I want all the relevant information. So, of course, I want to have handy all the relevant information for all decisions I regularly make. More generally, I want to reach the equilibrium, where I'm not likely to immediately change my habits just after an offhand comment by some random dude. [1]

However, these words made some facts plain to me, facts I don't see a whole lot of evidence of being known. (Or, I'd have thought, some random curmudgeon would have offhandedly mentioned them by now.)

First branch, there's some difficulties in becoming well educated.

Second branch, there's a striking contrast between what I want and things generally called 'education.'

A Good Education
The problem is unknown unknowns. Meta-education. It is hard to know about a thing I need to discover, without simply discovering it. The search relies on serendipity and inspiration.

I've approached this problem by looking at the frequency I discover new ideas and viewpoints, by aggressively neophilia, and by measuring how often Reality puzzles me or presents obstacles.

But that's the thing, isn't it? How do I know? How can I check that these measure are enough? I don't think I can. What would change how I search for knowledge, if I knew it? Nevertheless, they're what I've got and what I'm going to use.

At least the inevitable boasting about my education is falsifiable.
It's hard to ignore it when one's worldview is uncomfortable or stressed. Especially when I've consciously decided it doesn't have to be.
Unsatisfied neophilia is intrinsically punishing.
The frequency of new ideas is a simple number, and I can check 'new' by requiring myself to state where else I saw old ideas.

Even if all this is sorted out, there's the fact that what changes my decisions may not change someone else's. Education is necessarily individualistic and personal...though I also expect an awful lot of overlap.

To help balance my ongoing comments on Progressivism, I'll also say I expect roundly educated scholars to converge, even starting from different cultures. There's a clear best way of accomplishing most goals, and if you knew what it was and how to do it, why wouldn't you use it? A global intellectual elite is exactly what I would expect. (I just don't expect proggies to be any good at it.)

Also clarified, what I mean by 'uninteresting details.' Once I get chemistry, any further specific reactions are of no use, unless I want to be a professional chemist. Evolution entire fit neatly into the category of 'details' until evo psych and paleo diets hit the intertubes.

Notably, mathematics is often not details, for example the idea of 'orthogonal.' I just wish there was an actual school doing actual education, so I wouldn't have to waste time repeating arithmetic to convince the lecturer to start talking about generalized perpendicularity.

Speaking of schools...

I've Never Been in School
I went to a place called 'school.' And there were people called 'teachers' there. But I was certainly never taught anything there, except maybe a few details.

This isn't too surprising, in retrospect. It's well known that most are comfortable with confirmation bias, and only read or watch to support and validate their already-made decisions and worldview.

This is exactly the opposite of education.[2]

But since most prefer it, and this is nominally a democracy, I would expect public 'schools' to confirm that confirmation bias is okay. To be anti-education. And lo, so it is written...

Eliding most of my rant about school, I did learn that it is possible to blind the world to evil, and for a person to commit atrocities on children, then go home and think of themselves as a good person. I went to some of the best schools in my country, by the way. 'Academically' stellar.

Rant aside, I suspect that anti-education, ignorance, is in fact the correct decision for most. (Part of what lead me to concocting my theory of natural human castes.) My brain wants to out-group anyone who doesn't love knowledge per se, but it isn't necessarily cost-effective for non-scholars. My difficulty in accepting this suspicion is part of what lead me to my blog's title.

Which means that non-scholars should not only stay out of university, they should probably never go to an academic school at all. But, I'd be appeased with just an acknowledgement that the populations of G8 countries are not highly educated, no matter how many hours they've supposedly spent being taught. If they are more skilled, the cause almost certainly doesn't lie in the classroom. And that is perfectly fine.

[1] When I was a kid I noticed that I should preemptively do things the adult way, as it was generally better, which meant looking beyond my peers to find out what the adult way was.
Second, I want Alrenous:2020 edition to find the worldview of Alrenous:2012 not-retarded. Luckily, genuinely taking this approach to information all but guarantees it, because even if I do dramatically change, I know I couldn't have reasonably found it any sooner or easier. I can look only as well as I can look, which I'm doing. This has been tested first by anarcho-capitalism and then by Mencius Moldbug.

[2] Dishonourable mentions: ad campaigns, raising awareness, debates, journalism including most blogs, Khan Academy, almost all scientific papers. Learning non-details from these is like pulling teeth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of an Erik Naggum quote i saw some time ago:

"It is only in the twentieth century that a sizable fraction of the population had any means to know whether they were in the right or in the wrong to begin with. Before we invented the concept of the real world, everybody lived their entire lives in their own emotional world. After science and technology invented the concept of the real world and of truth as correspondence between thoughts and reality, the internal, private world turned out to be /untrue/ almost all the time. These days, I keep telling people that you only /really/ grow up and become a human being (as opposed to a mere animal) when you realize that most of what you think and almost all you feel is /wrong/ and every person, however smart or highly esteemed by their peers, is utterly and completely incapable of determining where they are right among all this wrongness on their own. We tend to believe we are mostly right, however, and only notice when the consequences of our actions contradict our best expectations"

The first time i read it, it seemed like an interesting idea. The second time it shook me to the core.