10 April 2013

Question of the week

I've always downplayed the importance of the "generation gap" as mostly a gap in knowledge of pop culture, but what if people of a different generation just THINK differently?*

This comment on Reddit made me step back:
Person 1: Many people have flawless mechanical memory, but most of them are quite bad at understanding tasks and using logic.

Person 2: Part of that is the focus in high school in memorization of facts rather than critical thinking and problem solving.

Person 3: Welcome to the world of No Child Left Behind and standardized tests. This is what happens to education when non-educators try to reform the school systems.
So I'm thinking that Person 1 is right, since I've run into people who are good at the facts or details but who cannot put them together in a logical way. Is that a function of nature (born that way) or nurture (trained that way)?

Persons 2 and 3 seem to think nurture. That leads to the next question: is this a national or global trend?

Please comment.

* Read this on how we think. Excerpt:
Someone who is really seeking the truth should be eager to collect new information through listening rather than speaking, construe opposing perspectives in their most favorable light, and offer information of which the other parties are not aware, instead of simply repeating arguments the other side has already heard.
If you like that, then read this discussion on the difference between intelligence, rationality and groupthink.


  1. This is good and important stuff.

    About 13 years ago I was the quality design manager on a large civil infrastructure project. From that vantage point I watched the designers, owners and contractors interact in ways that usually seeded irrational to me. The difficulties in communication lead me to study personalities and temperaments as each group had disctinct types of temperaments that were drawn to them.

    After understanding some of the dynamics of interaction of different personality types I continued my study with behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology to understand why people are so prone to mistakes, so biased, and so unwilling to try to understand different view points.

    There are many paths to evolutionary fitness (and they change continually). Being factually correct does not seem high on the list in our species where group cooperation and group dynamics are so powerful.

  2. Gents, I am a water and power policy maker for 50% of AZ's water supplies and 40% of AZ's power supplies. We don't often discuss the Water / Power nexus, because its not that important in the context of serving customers needs.

    Less than 4% of the costs to produce energy is related to water. But fuel costs and federal regulations make up 40% of the costs of power, so we talk about that a lot.

    On the water side, 50% of our costs are related to energy costs, so its important, but not overriding. Staff spends a lot of time hiding the actual cost of water from the policy makers so their friends cut a fat hog on pricing.

    Its very difficult to make policy decisions when everyone is lying to you.


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