How to Use Experts

"In a world of data deluge and extreme complexity, we believe that experts are more able to process information than we can -- that they are able to come to better conclusions than we could come to on our own. And in an age that is sometimes nowadays frightening or confusing, we feel reassured by the almost parental-like authority of experts who tell us so clearly what it is we can and cannot do.
But I believe that this is a big problem, a problem with potentially dangerous consequences for us as a society, as a culture and as individuals."

討論逐字稿: Barefoot College

We're discussing Bunker Roy's TED talk.

Discussion Transcript:
What did you notice from this video?
They are all women and children in the school, and no men.
And this situation is totally contrary to the traditional Indian world.
Why does the speaker call the women grandmothers?
That's a function of that women have children earlier, in India.
At around 50 or 60 they're already grandmothers.
You were in India.
Most of the become grandmothrs when they're 45 or 50?
Around 50, yes.
Yeah, if they have children at 20 years old, then their daughters have children at 20 years old, so 40 or 45 they'll become grandmothers.
I found that they use solar electricity, it's more popular than in Taiwan.
India is very big, and has little infrastructure, it's hard, not physcially, but governmentally, to do it.
Before I saw this video, I thought about solar energy, places like India and Africa, they have so much sun, but no electricity. So I thought about this problem, and I started searching on the internet, and they said solar is very expensive, and the gov't doesn't subsidise, and I wondered how much this costs.
In another video, Bunker Roy said the cost of the service is 5 dollars per household per month.
And the start up costs?
I don't know. But it can't be that big in real terms, looking at the machines they put in.
So I was amazed by this, I didn't know someone was doing this, and spreading this to other countries.
And he's spreading it to Afganistan, and I thought, the freaking US military cannot do what he's doing. Also, i like that he thinks of ways around the way they limit women. You know, as a concession he brought their husbands, and then says, 'Of course the women were far more intelligent than the men.' Ha.
Concession is what you give up to reach a compromise. A compromise is an agreement where you give something up so that you can reach the agreement.

What did you have an emotional reaction from this video? What amazed you? Shocked you? Made you joyful?
The solar energy made me very happy. Because I feel like, there is somebody doing this, and this is, because I think, in my opinion, it's the best energy.
There's no explosive stuff sitting around your house, no smoke, there's nothing that will run out! You don't have to keep buying fuel.
There's no waste! With oil, there's waste, with nuclear, there's waste.

A Wonderful Country for Positive Thinking

Discussion transcript here.

In the TEDx Youth conference in Khartoum, Wafa Elamin discusses the commitment of her fellow Sudanese to the future of Sudan. I saw some parallels to Taiwan, and an opportunity for discussion.

Let's start with the questionnaire that Wafa Elamin gave the attendees of that TED talk (at 2:35 in the video), and ask these questions about Taiwan.
Pick three of these words that define Taiwan for you:

If given the chance, would you:
-Leave and never come back?
-Remain here permanently?
-Leave, but return after some period of time?

討論逐字稿: A Terrible Bargain

We discussed Melissa McEwan's article, "A Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck"

Feminists have a reputation of being man-haters.
Is this true, in your opinion?
Why do you suppose people say this of feminists?

Because feminists are females that stand up for females, so I think it easily will form a sort of strong feeling towards men.
Yeah, because feminists are always saying things like, 'fucking men'!
Most people, when they talk about feminism, they think feminists are women who hate men, who hate marriage, who hate traditional society.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, and no, I don't know. I kind of dislike men.
All men?
Wow. An authentic man hater here!
Just because I dislike them doesn't mean i hate them.
Yeah, dislike is different than hate.
Well, what don't you like about men?
They already have a stereotype about women, what they want from women is just like, a servant to serve them.
To support them!
Not really support them. Serve them! Do the laundry, cook for them, take care of their kids, take care of their parents. They don't care much about their spouse's intellectual ability. They are afraid of their spouse if their spouse is smarter than they are.
I think it's because now the world is man-based. So that's why there is something called feminism. But is there masculism?
Yes, it's called everyday culture. Or Patriarchy. Or Machismo. Or, basically everyday life. When is the culture about men? All the time, our culture is all about, for men. It's all men, all the time!

A Terrible Bargain

In 2009 Melissa McEwan posted this essay on her blog. It struck a chord in the blogosphere, and many people have since linked to it and discussed it. I've never heard anyone else make the points she makes here, and so I'd like to discuss it with you.

Feminists have a reputation of being man-haters.
Is this true, in your opinion?
Why do you suppose people say this of feminists?

In the essay, Melissa McEwan, who runs a very well known political blog called Shakesville, writes: "Most of my threatening hate mail comes from men. The most unrelentingly trouble-making trolls have always been men. I've been cat-called and cow-called from moving vehicles countless times, and subjected to other forms of street harassment, and sexually harassed at work, always by men. I have been sexually assaulted—if one includes rape, attempted rape, unsolicited touching of breasts, buttocks, and/or genitals, nonconsensual frottage on public transportation, and flashing—by dozens of people during my lifetime, some known to me, some strangers, all men.
But I don't hate men, because I play by different rules. In fact, there are men in this world whom I love quite a lot.
I don't hate men. It would, however, be fair to say that I don't easily trust them."

討論逐字稿 Digital Willpower

We discussed "Why It's OK to Let Apps Make You a Better Person" an article from the Atlantic.

Concluding Statements:
I'm not a person with strong willpower. I always set goals and fail to acheive them. But I still don't want to rely on the apps we mentioned tonight too much, because I want to trust myself more, and train myself to a better life by myself. I think if I rely on apps too much, i'll lose the fundamental control power of myself.

After I bought my iPhone, I got really addicted to my apps.
"Draw Something"...
Yeah! But for me, it's about convenience, and just make my life colorful, a lot of fun. But I won't use the apps we discussed today, because I don't want to be tied up by an app, and I want to train my willpower. Apps are for the daily life, to make somthing easier. But if we really want to train for a goal, make myself more mature, or maybe more close to a good person, or my concept of a good person, I don't want to rely on apps.

Let me ask a question. What do you mean by 'a good person'. What's your definition?

I can do more things, other people can rely on me, maybe I can make money, or maybe my mom and dad can fully retire, I can have more function. and maybe feel more confident about myself, Oh, I'm a good person, I can do anything, I can be happy in my life.

So you're not good enough now.

Yes, I'm not perfect.

You're never perfect!

Like english, you can always speak more smoothly, or express your thought more quickly.

But I don't like saying 'good person'. The opposite of 'good person' is 'bad person', but we are not bad.

Okay, say 'become a person you like'.

I like that, become a person you like to be, or want to be.

I want to say, why not just accept our weakness? We all have things to improve, but why not just accept that?

4/6 Digital Willpower

Today we're discussing "Why It's OK to Let Apps Make You a Better Person" an article from the Atlantic.

What is willpower?
Is there a difference between willpower and discipline?
When you hear these words: willpower/discipline, what do you feel?
Do you struggle with willpower/discipline?

"Humans have always found creative ways to manipulate behavior through technology--whips, speed bumps, and alarm clocks all spring to mind."

"Individuals are turning ever more aspects of their lives into managerial problems that require technological solutions. "

"Individuals (and, as we'll see, philosophers) are growing increasingly realistic about how limited their decision-making skills and resolve are."
Do you think this is true?

"Our conception of what it means to be human has become "design space." We're now Humanity 2.0, primed for optimization through commercial upgrades."

Let's discuss these apps: