What is the link between language and consciousness?

idea_ISIZED-Indo-girl2010-5227609661_8d48e1e8fa_o“Scientists working on animal cognition often dwell on their desire to talk to the animals. Oddly enough, this particular desire must have passed me by, because I have never felt it. I am not waiting to hear what my animals have to say about themselves, taking the rather Wittgensteinian position that their message might not be all that enlightening. Even with respect to my fellow humans, I am dubious that language tells us what is going on in their heads.”

Frans de Waalis a professor of psychology at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

Read full article here.

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The value of subjective experience (or not)

From smbc

The heap problem

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Free will and mobile phones

Can you prove you have free will?

dilbert free will robot

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A Critical Thinking Matrix

Exploring the relationship between cognitive skills and the values of inquiry. Grey boxes describe student work. This can be used to generate rubrics.

CT Matrix

Matrix

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The Skills, Values and Virtues of Inquiry

A model for understanding effective thinking through categorising key educational ideas and examining the relationships between them.

Skills Values and Virtues of Inquiry

SVI

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Science and art from Dilbert

sceince-art

Discuss.

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Why would anyone believe the Earth is flat?

Sociedade-Terra-Plana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

Belief in a flat Earth seems a bit like the attempt to eradicate polio – just when you think it’s gone, a pocket of resistance appears. But the “flat Earthers” have always been with us; it’s just that they usually operate under the radar of public awareness.

Now the rapper B.o.B has given the idea prominence through his tweets and the release of his single Flatline, in which he not only says the Earth is flat, but mixes in a slew of other weird and wonderful ideas.

These include the notions that the world is controlled by lizard people, that certain celebrities are cloned, that Freemasons manipulate our lives, that the sun revolves around the Earth and that the Illuminati control the new world order. Not bad for one song.

Even ignoring that these ideas are inconsistent (are we run by lizards, the Freemansons or the Illuminati?), what would inspire such a plethora of delusions? The answer is both straightforward, in that it is reasonably clear in psychological terms, and problematic, in that it can be hard to fix. Continue reading

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Dilbert on Zeno

Zeno does it again.

Dilbert Zeno

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We can’t trust common sense but we can trust science

Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

When a group of Australians was asked why they believed climate change was not happening, about one in three (36.5%) said it was “common sense”, according to a report published last year by the CSIRO. This was the most popular reason for their opinion, with only 11.3% saying their belief that climate change was not happening was based on scientific research.

Interestingly, the same study found one in four (25.5%) cited “common sense” for their belief that climate change was happening, but was natural. And nearly one in five (18.9%) said it was “common sense” that climate change was happening and it was human-induced.

It seems the greater the rejection of climate science, the greater the reliance on common sense as a guiding principle.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott also appealed to “common sense” when arguing against gay marriage recently.

But what do we mean by an appeal to common sense? Presumably it’s an appeal to rationality of some sort, perhaps a rationality that forms the basis of more complex reasoning. Whatever it is, we might understand it better by considering a few things about our psychology. Continue reading

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What does it mean to think and could a machine ever do it?

Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

The idea of a thinking machine is an amazing one. It would be like humans creating artificial life, only more impressive because we would be creating consciousness. Or would we?

How can meat think?

It’s tempting to think that a machine that could think would think like us. But a bit of reflection shows that’s not an inevitable conclusion.

To begin with, we’d better be clear about what we mean by “think”. A comparison with human thinking might be intuitive, but what about animal thinking? Does a chimpanzee think? Does a crow? Does an octopus?

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Continue reading

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Teaching how to think is just as important as teaching anything else

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Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

A new paper on teaching critical thinking skills in science has pointed out, yet again, the value of giving students experiences that go beyond simple recall or learned procedures.

It is a common lamentation that students are not taught to think, but there is usually an accompanying lack of clarity about exactly what that might mean.

There is a way of understanding this idea that is conceptually easy and delivers a sharp educational focus – a way that focuses on the explicit teaching of thinking skills through an inquiry process, and allows students to effectively evaluate their thinking.

What are thinking skills?

Let’s first understand what we might mean by thinking skills. Thinking skills, or cognitive skills, are, in large part, things you do with knowledge. Things like analysing, evaluating, synthesising, inferring, conjecturing, justifying, categorising and many other terms describe your cognitive events at a particular functional level. Continue reading

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Some useful tips on how to raise an argumentative child

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Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

The old adage that children should be seen and not heard is nothing but wishful thinking. Children are naturally inquisitive and they usually can’t help verbalising their curiosity.

Asking “why?” is the most natural thing that children can do as they attempt to make sense of the world. This simple – and tough – question allows them to construct a wide range of knowledge and to build a depth of understanding. Continue reading

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Working together for critical thinking in schools

Working together for critical thinking in schools

Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

One of the most desirable characteristics of school graduates is that they can think critically. This helps them individually and also helps the societies in which they will play a role. It’s a game in which no one loses. So why is it so difficult to achieve?

Teaching critical thinking is not something that teachers are explicitly trained to do – in fact very few people are. Nor does the curriculum generally demand it. Too often an instructing syllabus focuses on the recall of content, and this in turn forms the basis for assessment.

Continue reading

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How to teach all students to think critically

How to teach all students to think critically

Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills.

The new course would be an elective next year and mandatory in 2016 with the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for education and students Shirley Alexander saying the aim is to give students some maths “critical thinking” skills.

This is a worthwhile goal, but what about critical thinking in general?

Most tertiary institutions have listed among their graduate attributes the ability to think critically. This seems a desirable outcome, but what exactly does it mean to think critically and how do you get students to do it?

The problem is that critical thinking is the Cheshire Cat of educational curricula – it is hinted at in all disciplines but appears fully formed in none. As soon as you push to see it in focus, it slips away.

Continue reading

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Do we live in a simulation?

 

From SMBC

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Digital Piracy

Is this a good analogy?

  

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Privacy vs Security

Discuss.

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A causal nightmare

More from Dilbert

Dilbert ATA

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If it’s not right to rape a rapist, how can it be OK to kill a killer?

Discuss (1) this analogy and the (2) image below.

(1) Here is the source article for the analogy.

“That’s the thing. The reason why we would be hesitant to endorse it is that – what normal person would be paid to do something so compromising as raping a human being? But yet we have this idea that we can kill someone in a way that doesn’t implicate us. If it’s not right to torture someone for torture, abuse someone for abuse, rape someone for rape, then how can we think we can kill someone for killing?”

(2)

PB-Crenny-deathpenalty-4459fe5d81f943175d13ff2851bd571e

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The Principle of Sufficient Reason

Form the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

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“The Principle of Sufficient Reason is a powerful and controversial philosophical principle stipulating that everything must have a reason or cause. This simple demand for thoroughgoing intelligibility yields some of the boldest and most challenging theses in the history of metaphysics and epistemology.”

Read on for some of the implications of this principle, one of the most important in philosophy.

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