Cognitive Load

My parents taught me as a child lying is harder than telling the truth. I am way too lazy to bother with anything other than using a tangent to change the subject. Simplicity also helps keep track of my life. I like understanding what is happening and why.

Skills involved in deception also teach problem-solving, project management, and social context management. My favorite friends were the brilliant liars. They always had a new entertaining story.

For a host of reasons, their theory goes, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. Performing an extra task while lying or telling the truth should therefore affect the liars more. The Load of Lying: Testing for Truth

As evidenced by Dunbar’s Number, our brains are wired for both determining honesty in others and being the cheat.

TED Talk: Liz Coleman’s call to reinvent liberal arts education

About this talk from the TED site:

Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education — one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day.

She goes further than this blurb would indicate. She claims the drive towards professional degrees, aka “learning more and more about less and less”, results in a toxic brew dismantling Liberal Arts education. Losing this cross-disciplinary approach results in an inability to tackle the country’s and world’s problems which often require more than one discipline to understand them.

Focus on higher education as a means to a profession ignores these questions:

  • What kind of a world are we making?
  • What kind of a world should we be making?
  • What kind of a world can we be making?

Parents are sending their children to college to get a good job. Solving the world’s problems isn’t part of the American dream. Well… outside of academia.
🙂

Smart Boys

George and I talked about this some last night.

Nature vs Nurture… I tend to think of both as bottlenecks for human development. The debate about which does more to me makes as much sense as debating which is better for a web application: Apache or MySQL? Both are involved and affect the end results. The debate should be about how to leverage the synergy of both, but that is another blog post.

We humans have 46 chromosomes. 23 from each parent which come in pairs. Males have an XY pair. Females have an XX pair. Brain Rules was the first I’ve read that ~1500 brain-related genes are on the X and ~100 on the Y (and losing ~5 every million years). So the X chromosome is quite important for determining brain development.

For boys, the one X they have comes from the mother. Girls inherit an X chromosome from both her mother or father. To set up the strong potential of great genes for boys, look to women who are really intelligent. That tells you there is a 50% shot for the boy to get a good X. If both of the woman’s parents are intellectuals, even better.

Be smart about it though… Don’t make an IQ score for the parents part of a prenuptual agreement.

My mother has occasionally said things I enjoy remind her of her father. That’s a biased sample. 
🙂

How Do I Get to Be Black Like Obama?

Barack Obama is called a lot of things. Being a candidate for President of the United States means a lot of people apply a lot of different labels, good or bad or indifferent, to categorize you and anticipate your every move.

I find it interesting people use the labels “African American” or “Black” to describe him instead of “Biracial”, “Multiracial”, or “Interracial”. The frustration I dealt with for most of my life was neither being Black or White enough to be accepted as belonging. Is it a case of, “If you have even a drop of a Black blood-line, then you are Black not White?” These musing about Obama did start after a Black homeless guy downtown looked at me and stated that I didn’t understand his point because I am not Black. See, I wasn’t kidding in that not Black enough post. By the two generation ratio of blood-lines, I am just as Black as Obama.

What makes Barack African American and me not African American?

  1. We both have fathers of African descent.
  2. We both have mothers of European descent.
  3. I at least had the influence of my father and his aunts and his cousins and my cousins to show me African culture. Barack had two White grandparents.
  4. Barack’s close friends in high school and college were of African descent. My close friends during those periods were all of European descent.
  5. Barack worked with and for people of African descent at the community level. I’m ecstatic just to have > 10% people of African descent in the cube area. It is new for me. I like it.

This is more important to me than the politics.

Causal Stupidity

Everything Bad Is Good for You
Image via Wikipedia

I remember as a kid, my parents restricting television and video game use because they would both make me stupid and violent. They worked too hard, so I had plenty unsupervised time to violate the rules. Plus no force would make me do homework.

The past half decade has seen a resurgence of blame on making kids dumber: the Internet. If I were a kid today, then certainly my parents would be trying to limit my time on it. Comics and radio were also accused of making kids dumb during my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

What I don’t understand is… If we are becoming so dumb from the current media sources, then how is it possible we can invent new technology to make us even dumber? Perhaps Mark Bauerlein and Lee Drutman should read Everything Bad Is Good For You? (a review) Mike Wesch has an engaging video regarding how kids use these technologies called A Vision of Students Today.

These “dumb” kids know something as despite their involvement with media as they still significantly outperform their parents on IQ tests to the degree the grandparents would qualify for the “special class” taking the same tests. These gains are centered in our ability to create better expansive and interconnecting cognitive maps. I suggest What is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect for more about this.

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Blackboard’s Direct Help

I just noticed an item in Behind the Blackboard for “Direct Help”. This seems to be a way Blackboard is attempting to help students and parents find assistance by directing them to institutions. I probably missed the propaganda about this initiative. Though I do understand the problem and why it ought to be solved. People end up at Blackboard’s site asking for assistance with administrative items (passwords, changes to settings, etc.). Things the school ought to resolve… Not Blackboard.

Notre Dame, California State University – Chico, or California State University – Sacramento were schools I know but not easily found by me in the search. The ones I did were Georgia Southern University, Valdosta State University, University System of Georigia, and University of Western Ontario. None of those had it set up yet.

Sounds like I am in good company.

To set it up, one either gives them a link to use as a redirect or create a web page to provide information. Does anyone know of examples where someone has set it up?

Loving Day 2008

The plaintiffs in Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving

Image via Wikipedia

Did you do anything for Loving Day? Do you even know what it is? From the site….

Loving Day is an educational community project. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. Loving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.

This is personal for me.

When my parents went to get married (after this decision), the Justice of the Peace refused to grant them the marriage license, citing a state anti-miscegenation law. Lately, Mom has been adding to the story: This was a huge deal within my parent’s circle of friends. Some, excited at the prospects of making national news, encouraged them to fight the decision and sue the state to grant the marriage just like Loving v. Virginia. Other encouraged them to avoid the confrontation and attention.

In college, I found a death threat written to Mom once about her dating Dad. When I confronted her about this, she told me this was actually benign compared to the face-to-face threats and even the rifle the neighbor across the street at times trained on my dad.

So my parents were intimidated against making a similar fight. They found someone in another state who willingly married them without the fuss.

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Has Anything Changed?

The previous post regarding the FBI checking on whether a photographer was Middle Eastern reminded me….

The Civil Rights Movement occurred before I was born. However, my parents were afflicted by blatantly racist laws which continued for decades. State anti-miscegenation law [1] at the time prohibited White females from marrying outside of their race. Since my mother qualified as a White female and my father did not qualify as a White male, they could not get married in the state. They had to get married in another state.

Jim Crow laws were designed to discriminate against anyone not of Caucasian descent and make them uncomfortable enough to go live elsewhere. Since these laws have mostly been purged, some say discrimination is done. Others say the discrimination is just less blatant. For brevity, I won’t go into all the examples.

Store employees who follow me around the store. Sixty year old men who pretend to read SAT prep books while peeking around the corner.

Getting placed in all “average” classes despite scoring in the 97th to 99th percentile on all but a single sub-test.

Being told, “No offense, but it is morally wrong for Whites and Blacks to have children together.”

Lately, though, except going through airport security, I don’t feel oppressed. In looking for why, I wonder: Is Bill Cosby right? Does behaving less Black mean more acceptance?

TSA seems to think I look more like a potential threat than African American so I get extra screening. So my new conflict is, I need to look Black to TSA and act White for everyone else. It would be easier to just be me. Ya’ know?

A Return To Educational Segregation

Huh… A nearby school system plans to segregate sexes.The administrators say the research they have reviewed says boys and girls learn better in different environments: 1) Girls need quiet time. 2) Boys need to express themselves.

Probably the Hawthorne Effect will cause scores to increase for the first couple years. 😀 So they will stick with it. The parents will buy that it is working.

If not, then this school board will be voted out very quickly.

What is in a Program Description?

 

The B.S. in Professional Studies online program will enable students to acquire expertise in significant areas of contemporary professional life, and is equally relevant in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Coursework for the major is constructed around five areas of study – social science (understanding people in a diverse world), critical thinking, creativity, communication, and business. The curriculum is designed to enable students to become professionals in their field of choice, building on their prior education and experience. Drexel University Launches a Unique Online Degree For Professionals 

Does this sound like BS to you too?

Last week I said “pretty much only your parents care about your major as bragging rights to their friends“. The critical explanation is the last sentence, which I read to mean This is your last shot at getting a degree and going out to the work force because you suck as a student. You are hopeless at Chemistry, Sociology, or even Philosophy. So… take this degree and go get a job. Thanks for the money!