Saturday, March 02, 2019

Questions for November 2019

Every May, I think of what may come; every November, I think of what might fall.
This year, what falls are questions, some looking a bit traditional, some looking a bit odd. Perhaps they are like traditional Anglo weddings — something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. And here they are, for young people to enjoy mulling over.
  1. “In the acquisition of knowledge, the responsibility for accuracy lies with the user not the producer.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
  2. “Each human being is unique, unprecedented, unrepeatable” (René Dubos). Assuming this statement to be correct, what challenges does it create for knowledge production in two areas of knowledge?
  3. Shared knowledge often changes over time. Does this fact undermine our confidence in current shared knowledge?
  4. To produce knowledge just observe and then write down what you observe. Discuss the effectiveness of this strategy in two areas of knowledge.
  5. Is there a trade-off between scepticism and successful production of knowledge?
  6. “The pursuit of knowledge is not merely about finding truths; it is about finding significant truths" (adapted from P D Magnus). Discuss this statement.


Friday, March 01, 2019

St David's Day (2019)

And so it was that on the first day of March in 1886, a tall, thin, dyspeptic Anglo-Indian gentleman, late out of the wilderness of Pennsylvania, founded a beacon of truth and light in an island of the Main. There may it stand, from year to year, an emblem of grand endeavour.

That same gentleman was heard to say decades later that one main lesson of his life was that women did more of the work, and that one Blackmore did the most of all, in 1887. To her, he said, a statue should be raised if any should be raised at all.

These thoughts come to mind on St David's Day this year. For he too agreed that we should say who did the work, and all should do it well.

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