Sunday, January 16, 2005

Yeah, less thought is just what we need

The NY Times has an article entitled "Thinking May Not Be All It's Thought to Be", which talks about the iPod Shuffle [I still don't get what the big deal about that is since the normal iPod already has a shuffle function. Is it the small form factor ?] and Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Blink". Most of the article is reasonably unobjectionable, but there's one bit that just raised my hackles, namely:

These two products come from different eras - the book from the prehistoric world before silicon, and the music player from five minutes ago - but both suggest to consumers that there is a way to remain thinking, feeling people in a world overgrown with data, options and demands, said David Bennahum, who writes about technology issues for the online magazine Slate and for Wired magazine.

"They are two things that say your rational process of making sense of things is a model that may be obsolete," he said. " 'Life is random' is a really great way of shrugging your shoulders in a Buddhist way of nonattachment."

Ah, yes, the process of reasoning rationally is obsolete because, well, it's just too hard, and leads us to conclusions we don't like, so let's just not do it. Because if we just ignore it, it'll go away, right ? That's the dumbest thing I've heard in a long time. We need more people who think more, not less, and who demand the same from others. Otherwise, we get nonsense like "evolution is just a theory, no better and no worse than creationism" [Panda's Thumb is a good outpost to watch the battle against that particular brand of insanity] and an administration that just suppresses science it doesn't like.

Education isn't the same as rationality, but like the man said: if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.


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