Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Passive tolerance? Yes please!

So this week we had

'Britain to end what he termed "passive" tolerance of extremism' David Cameron seeks new powers to combat extremism in Britain (NY Times)

'ending what he said was a culture of "passive tolerance"'
David Cameron to unveil measures against extremism. (FT)

'"conclusively turn the page" on passive tolerance of extremist views'
David Cameron revives moves for tough action against non-violent extremists to target radicalisation. (Independent)

and in 2011 we had

'Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism'
State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron. BBC

This is what annoys me.

You have a belief that extremism should be punished but the most effective counter-argument is that a thing called 'passive tolerance' exists, is a force for good, and would be harmed by such a belief. So, instead of trying to better understand the social science you diminish it; you use its name in your announcements and frame it as a bad thing so that journalists and voters are misled.

Now when we hear about 'passive tolerance' we remember our well-spoken leader telling us it was bad.

No it's not.

"Passive tolerance is probably not a concept many people have yet heard of. Let's hope that changes, because "passive tolerance" is the most hopeful bit of academic social psychology research to emerge in a long time. It is the idea that simply living in an area of high diversity rubs off on you, making you more tolerant of ethnic diversity." Madeleine Bunting. Guardian March 2014.

We should work to prevent the causes of extremism in the first place not punish it which will simply encourage it.
There's probably a very good word for the rhetorical technique used - like equivocation - but I'm not sure - I'd need some journalist friend to tell me that. :-)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Learning Management Systems are like a minivan or a bus or best avoided?

LMS Is The Minivan of Education (and other thoughts from #LILI15) by Stephen Downes.

Pierre Louis and the "numerical method"

The French doctor who analysed the use of blood letting in pneumonia and settled the argument about whether it was helpful or harmful.

Numbers trump even the most strongly voiced opinions.

Pre-clinical med school MOOC?

This US piece talks about disrupting medical school education and decreasing physician training costs with a national MOOC for the basic sciences. The most depressing part is the scale of junior doctor debt and how utterly distorts career choices away from primary care and improving health to increased specialization and the focus on treatment.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Tesla Powerwall - can a battery change everything?

Tesla is disrupting the energy industry with a massive battery building development. The storage capacity - if delivered and bought by consumers, business, and even energy companies - could change the economics of energy.

It will benefit "local renewable power and renewable energy microgrids". However, some argue Powerwall may even encourage coal and nuclear - though that clearly isn't the intention.

"Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup."

Not too late to enrol in the 'Making sense of climate change denial' MOOC

Mind-control exoskeleton gives unprecedented paralysis recovery

What is so unexpected about this case series is that patients appear to be regaining some sensory and motor control in their lower limbs by using a mind-controlled exoskeleton.

Why should a mind-controlled exoskeleton stimulate neurone recovery in spinal injury?

"Since November 2013, Nicolelis and his team have been training Pinto and seven other people with similar [spinal] injuries to use the exoskeleton – a robotic device that encases the limbs and converts brain signals into movement.

The device also feeds sensory information to its wearer, which seems to have partially reawakened their nervous system. When Nicolelis reassessed his volunteers after a year of training, he found that all eight people had regained sensations and the ability to move muscles in their once-paralysed limbs."