Nietzsche’s “The Use And Abuse Of History” How historical knowledge can be both a blessing and a curse

In Nietzsche’s view, his culture (and he would probably say ours too) has become bloated with too much knowledge. And this explosion of knowledge is not serving “life”–that is, it is not leading to a richer, more vibrant, contemporary culture. On the contrary.

Scholars obsess over methodology and sophisticated analysis. In doing so, they lose sight of the real purpose of their work. Always, what matters most isn’t whether their methodology is sound, but whether what they are doing serves to enrich contemporary life and culture.

https://www.thoughtco.com/nietzsches-the-use-and-abuse-of-history-2670323

Banksy Is a Control Freak. But He Can’t Control His Legacy.

This article speaks to some important questions about art: What is the purpose of art? What makes art valuable? What is the role of authorities in determining the value of art?

The enormous popularity of Banksy’s brand of urban art has given the cultural establishment, increasingly jittery about perceptions of elitism, plenty to think about. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart has asked the question: Is Banksy a historically significant artist? If he is — and for many that is a very big “if” — what will be his legacy?

Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview

“Human cognition is inseparable from the unconscious emotional responses that go with it.”

In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present the evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen.

But things don’t work that way when the scientific consensus presents a picture that threatens someone’s ideological worldview. In practice, it turns out that one’s political, religious, or ethnic identity quite effectively predicts one’s willingness to accept expertise on any given politicized issue.

https://www.niemanlab.org/2020/01/the-fact-checkers-dilemma-humans-are-hardwired-to-dismiss-facts-that-dont-fit-their-worldview/

This Man Created Traffic Jams on Google Maps Using a Red Wagon Full of Phones

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The maps are their own territory, their own objective reality, not just a reflection of the real world but a branch of it. Weckert was showing us all how data and maps can affect the world they’re meant to chart. “Maps have the potential as an instrument of power,” he said. “They substitute political and military power in a way that represents the state borders between territories and they can repeat, legitimate, and construct the differences of classes and social self-understandings.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9393w7/this-man-created-traffic-jams-on-google-maps-using-a-red-wagon-full-of-phones

An algorithm that can spot cause and effect could supercharge medical AI

How do we make better use of this piecemeal information? Computers are great at spotting patterns—but that’s just correlation. In the last few years, computer scientists have invented a handful of algorithms that can identify causal relations within single data sets. But focusing on single data sets is like looking through keyholes. What’s needed is a way to take in the whole view. 

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615141/an-algorithm-that-can-spot-cause-and-effect-could-supercharge-medical-ai/?utm_source=newsletters

Panicking About Your Kids’ Phones? New Research Says Don’t

A topic rich for TOK discuss. Seemingly all people have an opinion on the impact of smart phones on society so this topic pits intuition and personal experience against scientific investigation. This is one of the top comments that accompanies the article

I don’t care what the “academics” say. My experience as a teacher in the trenches tells a different story. One of the top reasons I retired early was cellphone addiction. All of the teachers on our campus was losing their minds because of them. My students turned into zombies. Between social media, video games, and porn, they showed zero interest in learning anything . Also, explain to me, after almost 30 years of teaching, I lost six senior girls in my last two years. Four of them my last year. All of the girls dropped out because of anxiety/depression. I have never seen anything like it in my career.

This raises article also raises questions about how we produce knowledge in the natural sciences, the role of an individual study, what high quality science is, the concept of a meta analysis, and questions about correlation vs. causation as well.

Ms. Twenge’s critics argue that her work found a correlation between the appearance of smartphones and a real rise in reports of mental health issues, but that it did not establish that phones were the cause.

It could, researchers argue, just as easily be that the rise in depression led teenagers to excessive phone use at a time when there were many other potential explanations for depression and anxiety. What’s more, anxiety and suicide rates appear not to have risen in large parts of Europe, where phones have also become more prevalent.

“Why else might American kids be anxious other than telephones?” Mr. Hancock said. “How about climate change? How about income inequality? How about more student debt? There are so many big giant structural issues that have a huge impact on us but are invisible and that we aren’t looking at.”

Here is a good short version of the same topic.

https://www.technologyreview.com/f/615071/your-kids-phone-probably-isnt-making-them-depressed/

Australia fires: Aboriginal planners say the bush ‘needs to burn’

Indigenous cultural burns work within the rhythms of the environment, attracting marsupials and mammals which Aboriginal people could hunt.

“Cool burning replenishes the earth and enhances biodiversity – the ash fertilises and the potassium encourages flowering. It’s a complex cycle based on cultural, spiritual and scientific knowledge.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51043828