"Junk" Science LO21566

Winfried Dressler (winfried.dressler@voith.de)
Mon, 10 May 1999 16:02:18 +0100

Replying to LO21521 --

Dear John,

Errors provide a great learning opportunity.

One necessary condition for the above statement to be true is, that errors
must be recognisable by those how made the error.

Your mail on logic and fallacies is a great contribution to establish the
first part of this necessary condition - namely establishing common sense
on what an error is. But there is still a problem with the
"recognisable..." part, as you write:

>And just to ward off those who (illogically, in my opinion) want to claim
>that they are immune to being rational -- it's not necessary for them to
>accept "my" ideas of logic -- I respond thusly:

What could prevent people to learn from their errors?

This may relate to the way, an error is presented to the erroneous person.

In order to learn from an error, such an error must not be presented in an
intimidating, judging way. One must not judge an error. Judging an error
is TOTE (do you remember: Tyranny of the experts): The expert-predator
jumps on the error-prey. It is not a bad self-defensive strategy for the
supposed prey to apply some magical "I am immune"-claim. The predator will
have to walk away, grumbling something like "s/he is cheating, I am not
going to play/talk... anymore with him/her", but that doesn't help.

What did the predator learn: Nothing, for the confirmation of "I was
right, I am right and I will be right" is of course no learning. The only
change for the predator is, that s/he stays hungry and thus may be even
fiercer the next time s/he is going to meet a fallacy. And the prey, who
successfully survived, what did s/he learn? "Thank god! S/he is gone. That
was a great strategy. Just claim to be illogical works. I will become an
expert with this tool. Looking forward to see you again, dear predator!"

I was writing about presenting an error, and I tried to show
metaphorically that a TOTE approach is couterproductive - it is an error
of becoming. Does this error happen in reality? You may answer this for

What would have helped to transform the original learning opportunity into
real learning? I may also ask: What distinguishes a teacher from an
expert? Finally, assuming that each of us has expert and teacher
properties: How would the teacher within us dea l with what the expert
within us recognises as "Junk" Science? And how can the teacher prevent
the expert to jump on the prey without intimidating the expert?

Liebe Gruesse,

Winfried Dressler


"Winfried Dressler" <winfried.dressler@voith.de>

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