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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement


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How does a person become sophisticated? Why do some people become it and others don't?

I was thinking that solving any problem, even small ones, takes real sophistication, and I wondered how people become sophisticated? Why do some people achieve sophistication, and others don't?


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    Jun 6 2013: By sophistication are you thinking proficiency?
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      Jun 22 2013: yes, largely. Here's what I'm getting at. Let's say for some reason a street became covered with trash, trash on the sidewalk, trash on the parkway, maybe on people's lawns, in the gutter and street. Most people who walked down that street I think would dislike the trash, but they wouldn't do anything about it, and I'm thinking it's because they don't know what to do, they don't have the skills and knowledge, the sophistication, to know what to do. Would you agree, F? If you were one of the people who saw the trash, would you get it cleaned up, why or why not? What would you do to get it cleaned up?

      This problem is not super difficult, it's not like getting a rocket to the moon, yet I think most people don't know what to do.
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        Jun 23 2013: Oh, you mean knowing how to get ordinary stuff done by whatever procedures are most efficient in the setting.

        This depends, then, mostly on familiarity with the setting.
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          Jun 23 2013: well, I would say that a "problem" is definitionally not "ordinary stuff," that's part of why it's a problem. By "setting," do you mean the physical place where it is?

          In my fantasy scenario, you see that the elements of the scenario are very familiar, everyone has walked on a street, everyone knows what trash is. What's not familiar is seeing a bunch of trash on one street. I maintain that most people would find this irritating but they wouldn't do anything about it, they'd simply walk around the trash, or avoid the street, and just continue on with their lives. I maintain that the reason most people wouldn't do anything about it is they wouldn't know what to do, would you agree, although there definitely are actions one could do to make it better, for instance amongst the trash one would probably find empty plastic bags that are part of the trash, and one could pick up some of the trash oneself, put it in the bag, and find a trashcan to put the trashbag in. So the question is, why do most people not think to do that? Or maybe they do think of it, so for what reason might they not do it?
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        Jun 23 2013: Number one reason would probably be that one person's starting to pick it up seems inefficient in a city with trash collection and on streets without public dumpsters, combined with a sense that trespass laws might make it illegal. Another might be that conjecture that something has been happening in the neighborhood that has made it unsafe for normal trash collection functions or that people in the neighborhood would not welcome such intrusion.

        People who have lived in a city for awhile and are comfortable speaking on the phone in the language of the place might call the city/town to report the problem.

        Some people might think it is none of their business.
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          Jun 23 2013: Thank you, Ms. R. I'd never thought about those other motivations, isn't TED great?

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