Re: [NGC4LIB] Publishers and ebooks

On 05/10/2011 11:06 PM, john g marr wrote:

On Tue, 10 May 2011, James Weinheimer wrote:

there is no chance for everyone to be trained to think in specific ways

That sentence contains several “fallacies” and “cognitive distortions and biases”: 2 “sweeping generalizations”, an “irrelevant conclusion”, “begging the question”, “straw man” conclusion, “all-or-nothing thinking”, “mental filtering”, “jumping to conclusions”, “magnification” beyond objective reality, “framing”, “hindsight bias”, “confirmation bias”, “hyperbolic discounting”, “negativity bias”, “Semmelweis reflex”, “pessimism bias”, “forward bias”, “belief bias”, etc.


Wow! That must be some kind of record. My phrase of 14 words, including “is” “in” “for” and a couple of “tos” contained no less than 17 fallacies and cognitive distortions and biases! Plus, I even merited an “etc.” at the end! That is a truly amazing feat! I am really proud of myself! 🙂

But seriously, while I am very sympathetic to critical thinking and fervently hope that many more people would dare to think critically, it’s not a fix-all solution. The fallacy applying this idea to the case of the traditional library, is that everybody else must change, and change in some highly specific ways, rather than change ourselves; the problems of which are staring us in the face. At some point, sooner or later, (I think many are doing this now) we must look at it from another point of view and declare,

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves ….”

There is truly only so much that a person can do and what we can expect from others.

The tools must adapt to fit the changing environment and for that to happen, we are the ones who must change first. Believing the answer is that everyone must begin to think critically is simply not realistic in any way, as history has shown us time and time again. Each person has different modes of thinking: some are deeply religious, others are not. Some are moved by art and music, for others, it leaves them cold. Some are conservative in their outlook while others revel in constant novelty. Some believe that science and its methods can resolve any issue, others think quite differently. Each individual takes all kinds of things for granted based on their own special natures, the culture they were raised in, and the friends and mentors they have chosen. No one of these people are any more right or any better than any other, but they show how rich and diverse the human community is.

Certainly you can train people to do some things more or less the same so that all can function in society, such as driving a car or making change but getting them to think in certain ways is far more difficult. In the main, we must take people as they are, and appreciate their differences.

None of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions, there is simply too much to know and it would be an unending task; as a result, we would accomplish nothing at all. For instance, I am not any kind of expert in climate science, yet I “believe” that the environment is changing on a more or less permanent basis. Have I been through all of the data? No, I have neither the time nor the inclination. I also believe in relativity and many other concepts that I do not have a clue about but I trust the judgments of the majority of experts, just as I place my trust in my plumber or my dentist or my mechanic. Different people trust different experts. For example, many years ago a seismologist apparently predicted a major earthquake will happen in Rome today (or did he?). The Colosseum will fall and people will die. Lots of people have left Rome, or at least are staying at home
to be with their families. Everybody makes their own decisions and I am ignoring it, but who knows? The guy was right before apparently. A person cannot be master of all things and must take at least some things for granted.

This is why society has established procedures such as adherence to standards, peer-review and all kinds of–I’ll call them “fail-safes”–for the interested citizen. I know a lot about some things and practically nothing about others. In this, I am not unique at all. I believe the world’s “expertise” should be mustered in some fashion to help others. Librarians can be a major part of such an endeavor. Some of my last podcast was precisely about this.

And if some want to ignore it all, they can.