Learning and being wrong.

I’m frustrated with the world as I notice that more and more people don’t seem to want to learn.  They don’t want to think or be challenged.  They want to be validated.

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And I feel like that is what much news and commentary has keyed in on.  And what has gotten us in this situation.

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Learning means gathering a great deal of evidence.  Thinking critically about it.  Putting it together with what you already think you know.  Working to piece things together to get a better, fuller, more systematic understanding of the subject.  Learning requires work.  It can be exhausting.  It requires questioning what you think you know and sometimes being wrong.  Accepting that what you thought was right, isn’t right.  And changing your thinking.  Sometimes what you learn goes against your experience.  That’s okay!  Learning should be humbling.  And learning should be a constant exercise.

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Unfortunately, we (I saw “we” as a shorthand for the broader culture in which we all live), have gotten away from this nuanced and difficult way of dealing with new information.  I’m not talking about kids.  I’m talking about grown ass adults who dismiss any information that isn’t in line with what they “know to be the truth.”  I get it.  I hate being wrong.  Everybody hates being wrong.  But admitting that you’re wrong is the only way you can ever be right again!  Information changes.  New data is out in the world every damn day.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to be open to that new information.

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Clearly, based on what I already said, that doesn’t mean that you blindly accept everything told to you or marketed to you.  But it does mean that you should take the fucking time to read shit, analyze shit, follow the fucking links, find the fucking facts.  Dig a little fucking deeper than a goddamn clickbait article title.  If you really want to feel like you know something, learn about the methods behind the article and the data shared.  And fucking stop acting like your personal experience is the last word.  I say this because it is the defense of every dumbass that I know.  “Well this is my experience.  I know because I went through this.  I don’t have to listen to these experts!”  What the fuck ever.  I don’t care.  Learn a fucking thing outside of your damn experience.  I once saw someone write “2+2=22” I now know the truth of maths!

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I partly blame media.  Over the last few years I see more and more articles with overly simplistic messages.  Clickbait titles.  Black and white data.  Emotional writing.  Writing that is meant to make you feel “right.” As in, you follow this site and thus you have this political stance and thus you will feel “right” and “validated” when you read this.  It doesn’t challenge the reader to think differently.  It makes them feel good.  It makes them feel smart because “Oh I totally knew that!”  “Well obviously.  My party has been saying this forever.”  “Ugh who doesn’t know this already.”   It gets reads and then people share the article on social media so that they can say to their followers (both like minded and different) “look how smart I am and how much I already knew.” “I have always been so right and everyone else has always been so wrong!” (this is also what gets people into conspiracy theories)

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Rarely does a nuanced, difficult to read, data heavy article get shared.  Memes with dumbed down statistics get shared.  Articles that sensationalize events get shared.  Black and white thinking gets shared and reinforced and validated.

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I want validation for this gif because it’s my fav.

People suck at science and reading information anymore.  Example:  A neuroscience article gets published on gender differences that shows differences in how boys’ and girls’ brains react to various stimuli.  Small sample size used from a homogeneous group.  Results are just this side of statistically significant.  Authors say “hey this interesting.  let’s look more at it and see if this is socialization or brain structure or both.” (i.e. please fund our next study.)  The study has not yet been reproduced.

Fast Forward to this same article being covered in a popular magazine.  This title will inevitably be titled something along the lines of “Scientists discover the roots of why Men like guns and Women like dolls!  Hint:  It’s deep within the brain!”

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It’s simple.  It’s easy to read.  It reinforces what people already want to believe.

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It also feeds into deep misunderstanding of the science behind that work and it’s applications.  It also fuels sexism and discrimination.  But no one wants to think about that part.  Their beliefs, or “knowledge,” was validated and they need go no farther.

I’m begging both writers and readers to please stop this bullshit.  Please!  Let’s get back to nuance, learning, and challenging ourselves.

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I think I’m just awful at being a human being.

The more I’m forced into Adult World the more I’m forced to realize that I”m bad at being a human being.

Really, I’m horrible.  I find human interaction absolutely exhausting.  I just legitimately DO NOT understand so many things that go into being a functional adult.  I’m learning that questioning things that are ” just what you do” get you hella side-eye.  Oh, and apparently you’re not supposed to admit how much you hate thing or try to be funny with your boss.  If your hobbies aren’t crossfit or something on pinterest, you are a weirdo.

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Instances that brought me to this conclusion:

Commiserating with co-workers about expensive travel, I said this: “I’m glad I don’t have any friends, it means I don’t have to go to a lot of weddings.”
Coworker:  “So…essentially you just said that friends a hassle.”
Me:  “Well…yeah…right?”

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Co-workers talking about weekend drinking, workouts, etc.  Then ask how my weekend was:  “Oh!  The antique shop down my street had a sidewalk sale!  It was so cool, OMG!”    *co-workers blink, then stare*

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My sisters asks me how I like my neighborhood: “It’s fucking weird.  All these people wave at me and shit and try to be friendly.  They invited us to a block party.  Who does that?”

My friend and I getting out of my car and neighbor waves “Hello:”  *awkward wave and forced smile* “quick, get inside before he thinks he can chat us up.”

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Family leaves after visiting for a weekend: begin immediate cleaning, hug dog, and tell him “it’s okay, it’s just me now.  And ice cream.”

On discussing the zombie (or other type of) apocalypse:
Me:  “I think I’d just die.”
Boyfriend:  “What?  Wouldn’t you like try to fight or save people or anything.”
Me: “No.  It just seems like it would be really hard.  Like, everything would be hard.  I don’t want to do that.”

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Debating the worth of Indian Jones movies with a history buff:
History buff:  “But Indiana Jones is like history adventure and action.  You add aliens and it’s just ridiculous Chariots of the Gods stuff.”
Me: “But all the other movies are based on religious myths.  I see religious myths and alien myths as the same….but I think that’s offensive to say isn’t it? umm….”

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Boyfriend getting ready to go out of town for weekend:
Boyfriend: “What are you gonna do while I’m gone?”
Me: “Transcribe research interviews.  Analyze.  Self-loath.”
Boyfriend: “Why don’t you go out with friends?”
Me: “…I don’t….have friends?”

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After my graduation ceremony:
Mom: “Did you want to go to that cocktail hour for your graduating class and see your classmates?”
Sister:  “You know she doesn’t.”

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When my friend comments on my back tattoo being hard to read:  “No, I like it that way because I don’t like when people comment on my tattoos and ask what they mean.”

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It’s become kind of a fun game, my utter lack of social grace/interest.  I’ve learned that if I laugh off the more offensive things that I say (only noticing how offensive they are as I get to the end of the sentence) I get people to just think that I’m a funny bitch.  This doesn’t always work and I often come off as just a bitch.  But I’ve also discovered that when I really REALLY try to be social and engage with people I’m fucking miserable.  I just don’t care.  I don’t care about the lives of 98% of people around me.  If you are my dog, boyfriend, or one of the very few friends and loved family members that are important in my life, I’m probably not going to try.

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I know when I really have to try.  I can do it for a bit at a time, socialize and be casual.  But, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s exhausting and stressful.  It’s who I am.  I’m bad at being a human.  I’m okay with that.

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