page was orginially composed to ask friends if they would have time
to critique what we are doing with the KUP Web site. It was "NOT
ON KUP WEB SITE" (no link path from "index.html"). We've now put
it into the site because of several useful linkages from other pages.
are we doing?
science? . . . Really!
It's no joke!
Isn't science just
another reality? (But one not for me!)
What good is science?
. . . To me!
We are trying to find ways
We are looking for ways to use the World Wide Web toward these ends.
to demonstrate something of what science really is.
to show how those who are discovering or using science "see" that science.
to subdue pseudoscience.
to render science and math useful when needed.
We have constructed an experimental Web site to probe the problems,
to test the waters. It is:
<— Click here to
we coming from?
Please look over our Web site with these points in mind:
We want to demonstrate that, today, most learning of science is learned
with essential elements missing, and that results in a lot of learning
without useable understanding. This is,
in fact, very widely felt as a kind of "lost" sense about science: "Science
is a hard subject." We want to examine that common
feeling more closely.
subtle. The missed elements are usually very simple, but are,
nevertheless somewhat subtle; they are at "the edges of human comprehension."
They lie in unsuspected directions. The
feeling of being lost comes from not having a real clue of which way to
yet unobserved. To a working scientist, those "missing points"
(usually) seem obvious, so obvious that nobody could possibly miss seeing
them when pointed to. The real difficulties in any area of expertise
are on a much higher plane of understanding—things like finding a closed
solution to a second-order vector differential equation, or in charting
the maze of feedback control loops that lead from DNA to cell structures.
But the missing points of understanding actually turn out to be more like recognizing
we must multiply two numbers rather than add them, which is about as "obvious"
as recognizing that green is different from orange. Science
is an art of seeing the "obvious" that no one saw before.
Those more complex, "professional," things are learned, but often without
a lot of "seeing." (Those who do "see" a lotFeynman, for exampleseem to be "working magic.")
Although science education has been around for centuries, misunderstanding
has pervasively and persistently overwhelmed understanding. However,
suggests that understanding can be achieved, but
that it requires concentrated thought working toward resolution of perceived
discrepancies...and it will often be through a "Eureka!" experience.
When "lost," we need to discover a new way of looking.
Here we are approaching the questions that Jean Piaget
began to ask many decades ago: "Where has evolution been
taking us in our journey toward knowledge and how does it do its work?"
"The process of
science cannot be learned by reading, listening, memorizing, or problem-solving.
Effective learning requires active mental engagement."
(From note to students in "Physics by Inquiry." Follow
recent research link, above.)
seeking "The Answer." Today's sophisticated knowledge
resembles jigsaw puzzles, each with many pieces. Fitting the pieces
together can be extremely difficult because our perception frequently is
blind to the abstract mathematical patterns in the pieces. It has
the feel of a picture of flower petals and insect wings as seen by insects
with ultraviolet vision, while the pattern is invisible to us. "The
Answer" that many puzzle solvers hold up in triumph is often only a single
piece of the puzzle on which someone has seen something they recognize...and
even that may be like the image of The Madonna seen in the lacquer on the
back of a Washington state highway sign. Simplistic
directions make the lost only more lost; that light down the tunnel is
then only an approaching train.
Developing the insight that sees the patterns requires deep involvement;
"spoon feeding" information doesn't work. That makes Web site design
extremely difficult. If answers to puzzles are readily available,
learning occurs but understanding is rare. Understanding starts with
interest, which then grows into deep and difficult thinking. These
are antagonistic elements to what is usually expected in a college classroom,
but even more clashing in what we've come to expect on the Web. When
lost, "don't shirk hard work." Teaching has not been noticeably
successful in promoting "seeing."
wielding the Web, we too feel lost.
So we are considering radically different approaches from what we present
here. Chat rooms? Mutual help list servers working on potential
applications of science principles? Peer reviewed Web publication
of points such as those below? Work within existing Web rings while
adjusting to their norms? Translate these presentations into
computer games? What? Can you think of useful changes to our
answer-hiding techniques, some of which are described via our Answers
to Puzzles pages?
We are especially seeking peer review of several of the possibly controversial
points we know we are making. (How about our assertion that the conjugate
pairs of parameters in the Uncertainty Principle are simply inseverable
elements of a multicomponent measure that give us nutty results when incomplete?)
And we need user review of the effectiveness of what we try.
[The fine,fine print] Please
join this fascinating exploration.
Why do we
feel it's needed?
Discovery - Creation -
- - - - - - - - - - - - Use
Higher education has traditionally been far more concerned with new
disciplinary subject matter than with the use of knowledge by non specialists
outside those disciplines.
|"Our job is to throw the subject
matter out in front of our students, and if they want to bend over and
pick it up, that's their problem."
This sentiment was suggested by a professor who, in my opinion, was
an excellent chemistry instructor. It's still a sad dereliction of
duty. Although most faculty would not express it quite so cynically,
something like it does guide a lot of the teaching in higher education.
We envision more collaboration between learners and teachers that aims
at actual use of higher learning long after the student leaves the college.
In fact, except for education of future disciplinary specialists, we suggest
that such a goal should be paramount, rather than:
|"I see my job as showing my students
the wondrous nature of science. Whether or not they can use their
knowledge of science is simply none of my business."
...from another faculty discussion.
|We see many societal problems as
growing out of failures of higher education to bring the kind of understanding
to their students that has characterized the science of the past several
centuries. We see a need to try to do something about it.
And the Internet is the newly
plowed ground in which we might plant some seeds...like
(Please use your "Back" button to return.)
we expect to get started?
We also see a possibility of using these Web pages to inject into discussions
certain essential points that we see as being widely ignored. This
could well be an effective way to arouse interest in "the edges of
a matter of personal opinion."
But some things are "merely personal opinion" only as long as we remain blind to some "Eureka!"
When we achieve that flash of insight, we no longer logically have a choice.
We must follow a truth -- a kind of truth -- we had missed seeing.
Even if we would prefer not to believe it.
And even when many others do not believe it...
because they still do not "see."
Click on a graphic and see where it leads...
Everybody wants peace. But peace lies at the edges of
human comprehension. Peace is is a property of more than one person or more than
one country, and egocentrism, or ethnocentrism, blinds us to the path to
peace and instead points us to paths to war. This happens because each person feels free to select the one component of "value," from the millions of components, that puts him or her "at the
top." And every person or nation that commits atrocities easily finds a way to see
those atrocities as "bettering humanity."
"Addiction" to gambling implies "blindness"
to certain principles of elementary statistics.
The use of hypnosis to find deeply "hidden"
truth in a person's memory ignores the fact that hypnosis is a state of
heightened suggestibility. Implantation of false memories
is then very, very difficult to avoid.
Ranking of anything or any group of people
almost always involves the reduction of a multicomponented measure to a
scalar measure, which introduces great oversimplification. Personal
biases are then very, very difficult to avoid.
Silt storage is an unavoidable byproduct of
constructing reservoirs. Silt is a "waste" byproduct of the erosion
caused by rain and water flowing downhill, which is, in turn, the process
which the builder of the dam is "tapping" to obtain the free energy
(a thermodynamics term) that does work for mankind. Thermodynamics
is knowledge from the mid-nineteenth century; however it's "simple but
subtle" and remains missed by most at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Just what is "energy"?
Some "truths" are not really arguable because
they are merely points of simple, but perhaps subtle, logic (information
processing), which sometimes are, and sometimes are not, "seen" by a person
doing the arguing. The "subtleties" lie in "unsuspected dimensions,"
and the argument needs to proceed into those dimensions. (Exemplar:
Color vision, where the "logic" is discrimination of wavelengths.
Protanopic color vision sees grass and oranges as "the same color."
The unarguable "subtle truth" is only that orange and green are different.)
"Proofs" and "justifications" that rest on oversimplification
are rendered invalid to the extent of the oversimplification. Completely
ignoring disconfirming evidence completely invalidates an argument—unless
the issue is trivially simple. When the "subtleties" of elementary
logic (Boolean) are "unseen," confirming evidence alone often
seen as adequate proof. (When we "see" some logic point for the first
time, we may get a "Eureka!" feeling.)