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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:23 pm 
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I can understand the disillusionment and the cynicism but things change extremely slowly and if those who are more aware/conscientised give up on those who are not ("the herd" as they have been called here) then it just slows the process of change down even further. Using a bit of a cliche here to make a point: just as one bad apple can rot a barrell of apples, one good apple can influence all the others!!! Sorry, not a great analogy but couldn't think of a better one!

I feel disillusioned and cynical at times too, but I don't want to give up on believing that change is possible. In my experience, many people listen eventually. Sometimes people have to suffer a lot before they "wake up", there are many twists and turns and self-interest is a strong force that can pull us back from realising that what is good for us all will ultimately benefit each of us as individuals.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:19 pm 
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Yes, you get to a certain age and you lose faith. I do maintain faith in the young. But I think they need to totally break away on their own. Nice story that illustrates what is needed below:

Quote:
A Pompous Man

... Gingerly, the wizard opened the door. Outside stood a pompous man.

"Good Evening," he said. "Wizard Prang? May I come in for a moment?"

The wizard did not feel like denying who he was, although he had all the arguments lined up to prove that he wasn't.

"Who are you?" he asked the pompous man boldly.

Indeed, it took him a lot of courage to ask this question. So often the result was embarrassing. Last time the answer had been: "A policeman, Sir!" It was true. The caller was wearing a blue uniform and a helmet and was carrying a truncheon. Why the note of heavy sarcasm was not explained, and it had left the wizard uncomfortable. The time before that the reply had been: "I'm your brother, you old fool!" Undeniably, it was he.

"I am a Pompous Man," replied the pompous man with an air of great satisfaction.

"Come in by all means," said Wizard Prang amiably. "What can I do for you?"

The pompous man lowered himself into the visitor's armchair.

"I have the honour to be the Chairman of the Education Committee in our little town," he said. "As you know, education is the hope for mankind."

Wizard Prang raised an eyebrow, but waited politely for his visitor to continue.

"It has come to my attention," the pompous man said, "that you are the possessor of some very advanced knowledge. Our Committee has therefore passed a resolution Inviting you to give the School Prizes away on Speech Day this year and to give us a little address telling us all about it."

Even as he spoke, the pompous man was wondering uneasily whether the wizard had any proper clothes. He tried to imagine him in an ordinary suit, and couldn't. Come to think of it, what was this advanced knowledge? He looked round the room, which was littered with messed up spells of one kind or another, and shuddered. The wizard cleared his throat.

"In a hundred years or so, everyone now alive in the whole earth will be dead - is this not so?"

The pompous man was relieved. He could follow that. He nodded sagely.

"It would therefore be possible for the human race to run its affairs quite differently, in a wise and benevolent fashion, in a relatively short time."

This way of looking at things appealed to the Chairman of the Education Committee. It had an optimistic ring, so different from the doom-laden pronouncements of most so-called clever people.

He leaned forward. "And so?" he asked encouragingly.

"The purpose of education," said Wizard Prang, "is to make sure this doesn't happen."

The pompous man was thunderstruck.

"Look here, Sir," he said, "please remember who I am. Not only do I have civic responsibilities - I am also a Pompous Man. You can't say things like that, you know."

The wizard was under the Impression that he just had said it, and looked around anxiously to see If anything was wrong. But things looked much as usual.

"Young people today are lazy and good-for-nothing," declared the pompous man. He resounded. He was on familiar ground. "They sit around listening to pop music and taking drugs. What they have to do is learn more things, apply themselves."

"No, that's not correct," the wizard explained, "they have to unlearn things."

"How can that possibly be?" The pompous man was lost.

"Well," said Wizard Prang, "we can teach only what we know. Now what we know is how to devastate the planet, kill its inhabitants, and starve two thirds of the rest. Seems a bit silly to teach people to do all that."

"Ridiculous!" shouted the pompous man. "That is not the intention at all, and you know it."

The wizard looked reflective. "The purpose of a system is what it does."

He got up, and retrieved a bottle of white wine from a side table. It had been holding up part of an experiment, which promptly collapsed into a heap of tubes, wires and so forth.

No matter: the wizard had been trying to remember for weeks what the experiment was for, so that was one worry less.

"Please have a drink," said the courteous host.

The visitor accepted less than graciously, and took the glass. Wizard Prang collected a bottle of mineral water from the other side of the room. Nothing fell down. The wizard stood still for a time wondering if anything was wrong. He mixed water with his wine - a trick he had learned from the ancient Greeks.

The pompous man had by this time emptied his wineglass, which the wizard promptly refilled. Somewhat mollified by these gestures, he made an Utterance. This Utterance was all about the noble aims of education. He always made it when he felt in need of reassurance, and it took some time to Utter.

While this was going on, Wizard Prang sat down, placing his glass on the only vacant surface in the room: a small wooden table that he had made himself.

"... lifting civilized man above the status of the savage ... supporting the noblest aspirations," the pompous man declaimed, "to which man can, er, aspire to." He had forgotten the words, but hoped no-one would notice.

The wizard was ever so slightly mesmerized. He did not notice his glass was sliding across the table top, and it fell to the ground with a crash. It was a low table, and the glass did not break. He poured more wine and water for himself, and another glass for his guest.

The fact is that the wizard had been very pleased with his invention of the table. He had become fed up with having every surface in his room cluttered up with books and papers, experiments and messed up spells, old sandwiches, musical instruments, and so on. So he had invented this table. It had a slanting top. It worked. The surface was always clear.

Evidently, though, he would have to give it more attention: something was not quite right.

"What they have to do is learn more things," finished the pompous man, as usual.

This time Wizard Prang was ready for him. "The only things on offer are the ones leading to the world we already have - and that doesn't work," he said. "Until we unlearn, we cannot recognize the world that our education has concealed from us. Let me demonstrate something to you." He stood up.

Picking up his visitor's newspaper, he led the way outside.

The pompous man surveyed the see-saw that the wizard had built in the field before his cottage for the children who loved to visit him. He was wary. "Take a good look," he was instructed. He walked all round the see-saw. Two chunks of tree-trunk had been buried in the ground, and grooves had been cut in their tops. In the grooves was another piece of tree - a round piece of branch, held in place by two huge iron staples. The branch had been flattened in the middle, so that a long plank could be screwed to it. And that was it.

"Not a very - ah - sophisticated piece of equipment, I dare say," said the pompous man in a condescending way and wearing a smirk.

He moved the plank up and down; it just about worked.

The wizard spread the newspaper over one end, and held the plank steady at the other.

"Please get on," he asked.

Pomposity nearly overtook the pompous man. He looked around dubiously, but there was no-one around to observe him.

"Heaven knows what you are playing at," he said as he got on.

"Yes, without doubt," said the Wizard as he lowered the portly gentleman to the ground position.

Then he himself scrambled up to the other end of the plank. Nothing happened. The pompous man was portly. Moreover, he felt ridiculous squatting on the plank with his knees nearly under his chin. He expostulated.

"Please be quiet," said Wizard Prang.

And his face gradually assumed an expressionless expression. That's the only way to describe it, as some sort of benign contradiction. The portly gentleman was overawed, and said nothing more.

After a time, the plank gradually began to move.

Very, very slowly, the wizard's end came down, while the pompous man rose slowly into the air. He hung on for dear life.

The wizard's end touched the ground as gently as thistledown. His face did not change. There was silence. After nearly a minute, and with no movement made by either of them, the wizard's end slowly began to rise. Eventually, the pompous man was on the ground again.

He got off in a bustle, making harumphing noises, and causing the wizard to hit the ground on his end with a thump.

No-one was going to make a fool of him.

"Well, how's it done?" he demanded in controlled rage.

"You've seen everything for yourself," the wizard said mildly. "Have another look. Make a thorough inspection!"

He went off down the path and back into his little house.

The pompous man stormed in after him.

"You don't understand what happened," the wizard said from his chair, "because you have learnt too many things. Now you have to unlearn them!"

"Rubbish." The pompous man was not so much rude as completely rattled. "There is something new here and you must tell me what it is!"

"There's nothing new," said Wizard Prang, "in fact, it's extremely old. But you have to unlearn things to take it in."

"Try me," said a strained, belligerent voice opposite.

The wizard sighed gently. "Oh, all right," he said. "Making oneself light and making oneself heavy are two of the eight occult powers."

"Yes, yes, yes," said the pompous man tetchily. "Now give me a proper explanation!"

"I just did!"

"Oh, come now. I mean an explanation In terms of physics!"

The wizard stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"In terms of physics"; he repeated it from a distance.

"Of course!"

"Oh dear," the wizard spoke almost to himself, because his demonstration had not had the right effect.

He filled the two glasses again, and absent-mindedly set down his own on the slanting table top again. He sat down, noticed the glass traveling over the edge, deftly caught it, and hoped that the pompous man had not noticed. He had.

"Well, let's try," said Wizard Prang.

"Weight is related to the specific gravity of any given body," he said. "If the mass of that body Increases compared to the mass of the same volume of water, it gets heavier. And conversely," he added.

"Schoolboy stuff," said the pompous man. "What about it?"

"My body is mainly water, and water is mainly H20 - two atoms of hydrogen to one of oxygen," the wizard went on. "Also schoolboy stuff; as is the fact that water has other components, such as heavy water - which is ten percent denser than ordinary water. So what happens if there is a molecular transformation, and the proportion of heavy water goes up - I get heavier. And that's only an example!"

"But you haven't any equipment to make 'molecular transformations' in that way," the pompous man said flatly.

"Oh haven't I?" said the wizard gently.

"Well, what could it be? - in terms of physics," the visitor added hastily.

"Think some more schoolboy thoughts about the combining power of atoms in terms of hydrogen atoms," Wizard Prang said sourly. "The word is valency."

The pompous man tried to look profound.

"Ultimately, we're only talking about charged particles," said the wizard, "that makeup the atoms in the first place. And those particles are only little flecks in space/time. They just need ... adjusting a bit."

The wizard thought of adding that space/time itself is an illusion, but thought better of it. That isn't schoolboy stuff. You have to go back to being a baby to perceive it. After that, education makes sure you get space/time systematically wrong. Knowledge is systematic ignorance.

Before Wizard Prang had time to say 'Knowledge is systematic ignorance,' which would have annoyed the Chairman of the Education Committee to the point of apoplexy, the pompous man delivered his judgement.

"Ridiculous," he declared. "Absolute nonsense!"

He fixed the wizard with his eye.

"It couldn't happen," he said, although it just had.

"Oh, I see," said the wizard.

There was a long pause after that. The wizard could hardly throw the pompous man out on his ear, and the pompous man could hardly storm out.

Tactfully, Wizard Prang refilled the glasses.

The pompous man coughed.

"There was something else on my mind," he said.

"Oh, yes?" Wizard Prang spoke in the lowest possible key.

"Yes," said the pompous man. "My oldest daughter has become involved in some kind of cult. They preach something called Metafarcism. I wonder if you could explain to me what it is!"

"Yes, I could," said the wizard.

The pause this time was even longer.

Eventually, the pompous man asked: "Well then, would you?"

"No," the wizard replied.

He was wearing what his friends called his computing face.

"It's not worth it," he said. "I would do the explaining, and you would have to listen. The combined effort would be considerable. Metafarcism, isn't worth the combined effort!"

"Oh" - the questioner was flummoxed.

The wizard went into computational mode a second time.

"Got it," he suddenly said, brightening noticeably. "We can get out of the combined effort," he explained. "I shall give the explanation after you have gone home."

"Oh, I see," said the pompous man.

They got someone else for Speech Day. He told the boys and girls and their parents that it was no use sitting around listening to pop music - they had to work harder and learn more things because education is the hope of the world. The parents applauded loudly.

(by Stafford Beer)


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:09 pm 
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Great story Roc. The Wizard could have kept his door shut, he could have humiliated the pompous man etc. etc. But instead, he opened his door, tried to connect, tried to find ways of helping him to understand. While he appeared to fail (the pompous man left with the same amount of foolish pomposity he came in with!) who is to say when or where a moment of enlightenment could occur for any of us?? (Let's not be pompous and assume that we don't need to be more enlightened too!)


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:48 pm 
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the younger generation are different - social media has helped with this - different things motivate them, not just money, for example social status, for now.

World is changing at an ever increasing pace but one thing stays the same - you need to have some means available to you (and often more is better) to protect yourself and your family. If somebody bigger picks a legal fight or if you need healthcare then you need money.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:15 pm 
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grateful wrote:
Great story Roc. The Wizard could have kept his door shut, he could have humiliated the pompous man etc. etc. But instead, he opened his door, tried to connect, tried to find ways of helping him to understand. While he appeared to fail (the pompous man left with the same amount of foolish pomposity he came in with!) who is to say when or where a moment of enlightenment could occur for any of us?? (Let's not be pompous and assume that we don't need to be more enlightened too!)

Yes, very true. The writer of the story used to often go on about how important a huge 'generation gap' was, particularly as society's evolution speeds up. The gap had to be big enough so that the different generations inhabited completely different mental models etc. Only in this way, would western society be able to make the adaptations required to survive in our fast changing environment. So, in the story above, he is making the point that young people must not 'learn' what the previous generation know. Rather, they must 'unlearn' it. ie. Better that they stay away from formal education and instead keep at listening to music and taking drugs. Neat idea huh.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:10 pm 
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The wizard needs a little perspective...

There are more infants surviving to adulthood, both in absolute and relative terms, than at any other stage in human history. Things that we have learned, that most specifically do not need to be unlearned, save lives and limbs. My uncle had polio as a child and has been affected by this his entire life; I and my siblings were vaccinated against it, as were my own kids. I lost an aunt to TB when she was very young, a condition that would be curable now. I can only hope that my kids don't unlearn too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:33 pm 
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I really don't get it. Maybe I'm a Pompous Man myself. But saying children have to "unlearn" stuff it facetious bullshit. We just need to teach them to think for themselves in the first place, and use what they learn in school as building blocks, not an end in themselves.

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:35 pm 
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Mantissa wrote:
I really don't get it. Maybe I'm a Pompous Man myself. But saying children have to "unlearn" stuff it facetious bullshit. We just need to teach them to think for themselves in the first place, and use what they learn in school as building blocks, not an end in themselves.


Unlearning means learning in the truest sense of the word.

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:39 pm 
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Perfectly said, OW. In fact universities like trinity used to propound this a long time ago, before we became so modern, capitalist and efficient. They saw success in education as producing in the minds of their graduates what they called 'tabula rasa' or a blank slate. Then, the man was ready to go out into the world. A long way we are away from that now apart from a very small part that is mostly sneered at and starved of resources when it calls attention to itself..


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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:13 pm 
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roc wrote:
Perfectly said, OW. In fact universities like trinity used to propound this a long time ago, before we became so modern, capitalist and efficient. They saw success in education as producing in the minds of their graduates what they called 'tabula rasa' or a blank slate. Then, the man was ready to go out into the world. A long way we are away from that now apart from a very small part that is mostly sneered at and starved of resources when it calls attention to itself..


Universe is a blank hologram we paint with our minds.

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:49 pm 
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The Pin -- now with a 2 joint minimum :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:33 am 
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Schooling and learning are not the same thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:40 am 
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roc wrote:
Perfectly said, OW. In fact universities like trinity used to propound this a long time ago, before we became so modern, capitalist and efficient. They saw success in education as producing in the minds of their graduates what they called 'tabula rasa' or a blank slate.

I'll see your tabula rasa and raise you a palimpsest.
Mantissa wrote:
The Pin -- now with a 2 joint minimum :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:00 am 
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tlllllllllldr

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 Post subject: Re: Everyone for themselves!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:50 am 
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