Class warfare in the information age

Chuck Grimes cgrimes at
Sun Aug 27 20:21:09 PDT 2000

``...I suspect that good stories are the best teaching technique.

Again, I don't think that demonstration works very well -- especially in academic circles...

I think Paul Samuelson was the one who said, ``It takes a theory to beat a theory....''

Michael Perelman ---------------

As silly or as quaint as this might sound, the idea that stories are more persuasive than demonstrations, especially in academic circles, bothered me off and on much of the day.

Why? I think I figured it out while cycling through Tilden. The problem was the model I was using to consider a rational forum.

I had been recalling informal sessions in plant science, lunch time discussions in the lab and after dinner, laying around on the carpet drinking beer and talking. In these contexts argument or developing an idea in a given direction would usually end in a kind of speculative silence. But specific lab results and their interpretation could carry an argument or discussion over days at a time. If a particular view seemed worth it, we would take a look see---go test it. In this context demonstrations were paramount. In this kind of environment we would argue a point until it was refined enough or logically put together well enough to lead to figuring out how to test it. Then the problem would usually be left unsolved since most of the time whatever we had used as a demonstration didn't work well enough to be sure. Tricking the plants is very tough to do.

When I say we, of course I was silent most of the time, listening and learning.

Chuck Grimes

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list