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Principles of Applied Epistemology (APPLIED EPISTEMOLOGY)
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Mick Harper
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Interesting. You must give us the full Twitter story sometime, these barebones hardly convince. I decided right from the off not to join any social platform, a decision I have never regretted. Although my offer that anyone can use anything I write here (so long as my name is not mentioned) on any social platform still stands.

I watch a vast amount of news -- in a permanent finger on fast forward sort of way -- but restrict my Guardian reading to Saturday. Actually I restrict my reading period, I find it such a slow medium. As for your creativity my recommendation would be, as a start point, to resolve never to post up anything which has been said before. That way your angrily frustrated brain will oblige with something new. At first with a twist, later with something more radical.
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Mick Harper
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Here is a nice example of the way historical revisionism works (not). Anybody who did a traditional British 'O' level history course would know that in the War of American Independence (as we call it) the Americans divided into three groups: pro-independence, anti-independence, and fence-sitters. We are taught, without much pretence at statistical analysis, that the last of these were the most numerous, the second was the next numerous, and the first was the least numerous. Now this is slightly two-edged in that (a) we must have been pretty benevolent colonisers but (b) we got turned over by diddley-squat. For that reason I'm inclined to agree with the analysis. Here's an American take on the subject

Not Every American Colonist Was a Rebel. There Are Two Sides to Every Story Paul Combs
https://medium.com/perceive-more/not-every-american-colonist-was-a-rebel-82e99737f9cd

It seems to be news to them. But now for some 101

We all know that there are two sides to every story, but if you’re an American you grow up believing that the only two sides to the story of the American Revolution were the colonial rebels and the British Empire. In reality, there was another, much ignored facet to the conflict: colonial rebels vs. loyalist colonists, also known as Royalists, Tories, or King’s Men.

But now, in the approved manner of every human being who ever lived, including historians but not including Applied Epistemologists, we are told who are the goodies and who are the baddies

So who were these loyalist colonists, and why didn’t they join their rebellious compatriots in the fight to become an independent nation? Let’s look at some things they never taught you in school.

I'll let you know when I know. I haven't got that far yet.
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Mick Harper
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There were a number of reasons that a significant proportion of the American colonists remained loyal to the Crown. I say a significant proportion because it truly was; it is estimated that up to 20% of the two million Whites in the colonies in 1775 were loyalists.

In AE we might call this 'the tyranny of small numbers'. Or 'what to do in the absence of any number'. But the real AE point is 'think of a number'. You're looking for something that is (a) on the low side but not derisory (b) large but not worryingly large and (c) precise but not pretending to exactitude. I'll leave you to get on with that one.

Some of those reasons will seem quite practical to us today if viewed objectively.

Well, that's tipping the wink and no mistake.

Loyalists tended to be older, more established both socially and economically, and were thus understandably resistant to radical change.

We often call these sorts of people 'people'.

Many (though 170 years after the founding of the Jamestown colony certainly not all), had family in Britain and thus had an attachment to the mother country, if only sentimentally. It’s not unlike a fourth or fifth generation Italian-American feeling an affinity for the ancestral homeland they’ve never set foot in.

Can I stop you there? First of all, a fourth or fifth generation English-American in the seventeen-seventies would have come over on the Mayflower and -- who knows? -- might very well be socially and economically established by this point in the nascent nation's affairs. Even ruling the roost, I shouldn't wonder. And second of all, remind me, I'm not all that up on American history, was there some kind of movement to either install Mussolini as president or, contrariwise, fight tooth and nail to prevent him from annexing the thirteen colonies, or however many there were. As I say, I'm not that clued up about it. I see that Cuomo chap's blown it, kissing interns rather than babies.
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Mick Harper
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Heard the AE joke about the slippery comparison? No, I couldn't grasp it either.

Some, perhaps even most, loyalists simply saw England as the legitimate government and believed rebellion against that government to be wrong.

We'll ignore 'loyalists' being slipped in when the word he meant was 'Joe Public' and agree for the sake of argument that by 1775 there were legitimate reasons for arguing over who was the legitimate government. This is the bit where the comparison follows Branson and Bezos into places only cretins and morons would venture. (It may be morons and cretins, I haven't been following them all that assiduously.)

This is not unusual historically, as there have always been groups within a colonized people who felt a loyalty to their colonizer, whether that colonizer was benevolent or not. We see instances of this from Roman Gaul to British India.

Well, yes, I suppose if it was the native Americans rising up against the colonists this would be a fair comparison. But I don't know of many Raj types who were gasping to be ruled by Nehru and Jinnah. Though I concede there were plenty of natives pining for the Raj as being superior to being murdered wholesale by the Independence crowd. And as for Roman Gaul ... this is the most blatant use of the 'bogus list' I've seen in ages, several days in fact. Quite a lot is hanging on it now this is the only legitimate example left on the list, so it's a crying shame that nobody has the least idea about how the Gauls were feeling about their overlords in c 450 AD.

The Romans left of their own accord, we are told, but we haven't been told whether the Gauls were high fiving at the prospect of a bit of independence. As Marcus Quintus Pragmaticus said to the Hunnish commander, "They wanna be careful about what they wished for. We'll be off now. You won't be offended if I say I hope we don't meet again."
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Mick Harper
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It's one thing disagreeing with people -- not that non AE-ists do even that very often -- but it's something else when it's a case of diametrically opposed, across the board, all guns blazing. That's AE. Here's an example plucked from today's medum.com

Ten Reasons Not To Move to Europe Markie Young
(or, as I thought when reading it, ten reasons to move to Europe)

#10 High Taxes One of the worst parts of being an adult in the United States is paying taxes. Well, you’d better get used to paying very high tax rates if you’re considering a move to Europe.

In so far as this is true -- and this is often folk tales from Scandinavia -- the extra is to pay for socialised health care. And believe me you wouldn't want to live anywhere that didn't have that. Or pay the money to get the equivalent.

#9 The Language Barrier With all the diversity that exists in Europe, you’re going to have a bit of a learning curve when attempting to communicate with your new neighbors.

This is true though Americans do at least speak the one language in the world that allows you to communicate with most neighbours.

#8 The Weather In short, the weather in Europe is god awful. There is obvious variance across the entire continent, but get used to cold and rainy if you plan on establishing residency in the old world.

This is downright weird. The USA has too hot summers, too cold winters and all too brief in-betweens.

#7 Everybody Smokes (Cigarettes) Maybe you’re a smoker and this one doesn’t matter so much to you. But while most of Europe is pretty health conscious, cigarette smoking remains the outlier

Speaking as a smoker I can assure our American compadre he won't have many problems unless he is visiting the more unreconstructed parts of the eastern bits. More later. https://markieyoung.medium.com/top-10-reasons-not-to-move-to-europe-f516758fc49
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Mick Harper
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#6 Bureaucracy - what a dirty word. Bureaucracy is alive and thriving in Europe. That’s not to say that the United States doesn’t have its fair share, too, but man is it on another level in Europe.

I found this genuinely interesting in that I'd never really thought about it before. Not so much whether it's more or less than in the United States but ... the reason I hadn't thought about it was because I'm not really aware of its existence. You interface occasionally, it's usually mildly incompetent when you do, but ... well, let's hear what Markie has to say on the subject

With the European Union as strong as it is, even amongst Brexit, the state sees itself as far more important than the citizen, and citizens around Europe have recently been expressing their distaste for their subpar leaders and weak governments.

Just as I suspected. It's more a political than an experiental view. And, one has to say, you are most likely to interface with bureaucracies if you are a foreigner moving around Europe looking for somewhere to live.

The handling of the coronavirus pandemic has only shown just how poor the leadership is among several of the countries there.

Quite so. Mildly incompetent but the reason was precisely because the EU doesn't have a firm grip on its citizenry.

#5 The Learning Curve Moving to another part of the world comes with its fair share of frustrations. By uprooting your life and moving to Europe, you’re going to need to relearn just about everything you have come to be familiar with.

Very true but the only reason for (voluntarily) uprooting your life is surely because of all this. Otherwise it would be no more than emigrating to New Zealand.
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Mick Harper
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#4 The High Cost of Living The data shows that the average cost of living in Europe trends higher than the United States. This is especially true in northern countries like Iceland and Norway, but the average remains fairly similar to that of a city like Boston throughout Western Europe.

As fine an application of the bogus list as you'll see anywhere outside Luxembourg and San Marino. Here's another one

#3 It’s Old Everything is old. The buildings, the roadways, the plumbing, the hospitals.

What's plumbing doing in there?

It’s really cool to visit and see some of the oldest architecture on earth, but it’s entirely different when you’re relying on it to deliver water to your flat.

Ah, right, got ya. Low water pressure. Anything else?

The charm of the old world suddenly disappears when you realize that you’re unable to get enough water pressure to take a proper shower.

Ah, right, got ya. Low water pressure. Anything else?

#2 There’s No Real Entertainment Sure, you can go see a play or head to a swanky museum. But believe it or not, most European nations source their most popular music, film, and television shows from the United States.

I believe it with all my heart but surely that's more of an advantage than a disadvantage for visiting Americans?

#1 It’s Not The United States What else can I possibly say here? The United States is the greatest country on earth for a reason.

That's why, generally speaking, we encourage them to live there.
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Mick Harper
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A correspondent wants to know why I want to abolish universities. Since the dude in question is more one of us than one of them, and since I haven't thought about it much lately and never systematised my thoughts anyway, I thought I'd answer his query here for wider consideration. It is not of course a Principle of Applied Epistemology but I hope to show it ought to be.
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Mick Harper
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Since he is American and we have recently adopted The American Way, it is worth pointing out first the sheer financial lunacy of going to university at all. In the old days (my days) a university education came free and a degree was worth having for employment purposes. It put you in the top two percentile or whatever it was. Employers were impressed. In fact my first employer said, “Well, we weren’t looking for someone quite so well qualified but...”

Now you get saddled with a fifty thousand pound bill and a degree is just entry level. Not having a degree might be taken as evidence of a mis-spent youth but having one is certainly not going to put you ahead of the fifty percentile (or whatever it is) also paying off their fifty grands. The number of jobs that might require a degree has not changed much. A bit less than two per cent I would have thought.

I see no practical way out of this national dilemma other than by preventing everyone getting a degree but let us move on to the official justification for universities.
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Mick Harper
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We have to separate out the purely vocational aspects of the modern university. An MD has nothing in common with a PhD. A bachelor of laws is a lawyer, a bachelor of arts is .... well, not an artist, that's for sure. There's a whole tranche of degrees like pharmacy, engineering, accountancy that are just high level apprenticeships.

You could always tell what they were because you never saw the people taking them, they had to actually learn stuff, noses to the grindstone. I mean, everyday for Chrissake, not just a week before finals. Oh yes, and one other thing, they actually got chucked out for failing exams. Are you kidding? And this is before you take into account B Ed's (teachers) and Soc Admin (social workers) who were always away on TP's and attachments i.e. working but not getting paid for it.

What you do with all these things after the universities are closed is not something I have paid much mind to. I'm sure the Inns of Court, the teaching hospitals, Big Pharma or ... er ... the government if it's important, will come up with something. Frankly, Miss Scarlet, I couldn't give a damn.

So now for the rest of us. Real students, getting our higher qualifications in rod football and plotting the overthrow of the system that was treating us so badly.
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Mick Harper
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We have one thing in common: we are studying bodies-of-knowledge that will be irrelevant as soon as we leave university. So why did we choose it in the first place? Leaving aside the not unimportant matters of which subject will make it easiest to get in, to stay in and get a degree in, it will certainly be because we were interested in the subject.

Not for long, once we get there. To our bewilderment what may have been a consuming passion becomes something else. A body-of-knowledge to be learned. Not only do we find this a passion-killer, what we have to learn and the way we have to learn it is really quite extraordinary. For a start the bloke at the front is gabbling away but instead of listening to him we have to make notes. Though if we do listen to him it is immediately clear that he hasn't been chosen to gabble at us because he is a compelling gabbler. He could have done with a bit of TP.

And when we turn to our reading list we get another shock. There won't be a single book in it that we would read, given the choice. By half-term of the first term every single undergraduate knows they are in for a three-stretch.
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Mick Harper
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Just to break off for a moment (I'm immersed in something else at the moment but I will get onto the real objections to universities soon) I got this from academia.edu today

The Campus (Novel) as a metaphor for rethinking tomorrow’s academia Marco Bevolo
https://www.academia.edu/59348419/The_Campus_Novel_as_a_metaphor_for_rethinking_tomorrow_s_academia?email_work_card=view-paper

An intriguing title since every campus novel I know of spends its entire time taking the piss out of academia and all its works. 'Cos they're always written by people who don't want to be there, or at any rate know they shouldn't be there 'cos they're creative people. Not that any of the novels are the least interested in the actual works of academia.

And sure enough this academic ignores the campus novel and heads off into the usual guff about higher learning. Learning, that's going to be my objection when I get round to it. That's why, I notice now, the word 'novel' is in brackets.
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Mick Harper
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Who cares if half the population get into debt, they had a good time, didn't they? And it's true, if universities are just some giant Club 18-30 spread over three years, or even a finishing school making sure the chosen many have that mild veneer by which you can tell (and you can tell) graduates apart from the lesser breeds then ... why not? I suppose, if that is the case, then properly informed consent should be required (and from their parents if they are coughing up). But they can carry on.

It's the intellectual malaise universities inject into the body politic that is the important thing.
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Mick Harper
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Universities are supposed to do two thing with the intellectual fabric of the nation:

1. Expound it. To students via lectures, seminars, tutorials, text books etc and to the nation via general books, telly programmes, Twitter etc
2. Expand it. Via specialist books, monographs, conferences etc and which would include correcting old bits.

Are universities best placed to carry out either function?. Or are they inimical to it? They've got form. Their predecessors, the monasteries, seem to have been woeful carrying out either task. They were famously obscurantist, determinedly cut off from the outside world and answered to people (orders, popes) who had no obvious interest in the intellectual sphere, and its expansion. Rather the reverse in popular repute.

The operatives themselves were not required to have intellectual skills and spent their time, it would seem, on the pursuit of all kinds of things, from prayer to cereal cultivation, that did not include things of the mind. Being able to copy manuscripts made you the average monastery's resident intellectual. Not a great return for using, some say, a third of the nation's resources.

Modern academics, modern universities, may be an improvement on all these things but...
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