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As a society why are we so disparaging of amateurs? Amateur musicians, artists, cooks etc.

I think that we can use enthusiasts to guide and help beginners in a much more open and flexible way. Children who are starting out on a musical instrument can sometimes feel intimidated by a professional but to see an amateur musician play purely for the joy of it and make mistakes and not be perfect could be very helpful to them. Has anyone experienced this and could this collaboration be helpful?


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    May 9 2014: i don't think society disparages beginners or hobbyists at all.

    if someone has poor skills, then it is okay to say so. they can always practice more. they can still indulge their passion and they will become better.

    live music is great - as a beginner, i made mistakes (still do) in front of people. at first, it's horrifying but I quickly learnt to get over it, have a laugh and keep going. the funny thing is, unless it's glaringly obvious, most people don't notice and even fewer care.

    i don;t know of anyone who plays an instrument who didn't learn by watching 'non-professionals'. i certainly didn't learn guitar by going to watch top-level bands and guitarists. i did the old trial and error - best way to learn.
    • May 12 2014: I learned to play violin by taking lessons from professionals. I learned biochemistry/molecular biology the same way. My heart was in biochemistry/molecular biology, so that's where I ended up. As for the silly notion that trial and error is the best way to learn, I would shoot anyone who tried to teach laboratory safety by "trial and error" and have anyone who tried to learn it that way sent for mental evaluation. There is no room for "trial and error" with some of the substances I have worked with. An "error" on such a trial can very easily mean death.

      When it's hundreds of children at a time as my responsibility as a laboratory coordinator (I'm old enough to see undergraduates as "children"), I will not permit "trial and error" when learning laboratory safety.
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        May 12 2014: there are lots of ways to learn, Bryan and it's pretty obvious to most people that learning guitar or songwriting is a completely different kettle of fish than mixing potions in a lab.

        hhhmmm...wonder how the first scientists learnt their craft..?
        • May 12 2014: The first scientists died a lot, actually, very often from exposures that we would never permit in the present day--in other words, they learned lab safety VERY BADLY. Mercury poisoning was the norm for alchemists, for example. Marie Curie from radiation poisoning due to UNNECESSARY exposure to radiation. This is why "trial and error" is now realized to be a VERY STUPID WAY to teach laboratory safety. You stated that "trial and error" is the "best way to learn", without qualification. I merely provided counter-examples that quite handily disproved the naive claim that it's the "best way to learn".
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        May 13 2014: i can only assume you believe that modern science practice owes nothing to the trial and error method.

        oh, and congratulations on being deliberately obtuse, Bryan. it makes for scintillating discussion..
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          May 13 2014: :o)

          'deliberately obtuse'

          Scott, thank you very much for this beautiful expression for English amateurs all around the world like me.

          I like it!
        • May 13 2014: No, that is NOT what I assume. I argue against the lame-brained contention that trial and error is the "best way to learn", which is WHAT YOU HAVE CLAIMED.

          You: Trial and error is the best way to learn.
          Me: No, it isn't, here are counter-examples where it is NOT the best way.
          You: You are saying that trial and error has made no contribution at all.
          Me: Stop being dishonest.
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          May 16 2014: Trial and Error is the only method for pioneers. No-mistakes but ready-to-go patterns is the method for the blind and deaf followers. But someone has to deliver the old tradition to new geniuses, we need 'deliberately obtuse' to deliver these traditions and rules from one generation to another.
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        May 13 2014: @ Bryan:

        'I would shoot anyone who tried to teach laboratory safety by "trial and error" and have anyone who tried to learn it that way sent for mental evaluation'

        And where do you sent people who shoot other people in laboratories, or elsewhere?
        • May 13 2014: You give them medals if they're doing it to save lives.
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        May 13 2014: Have you been growing up in North Korea or what made you that radical? :o)

        Sorry folks in North Korea, I am just using a highly shallow and western stereotype here to be able to keep up with Bryan ...
        • May 14 2014: Ever had a chemical burn? Anyone who would actually use "trial and error" to teach laboratory safety to undergraduates is advocating pouring acid on children. It's that simple. Only someone desperately in need of removal from the gene pool would advocate using "trial and error" to teach laboratory safety. WHY DO YOU FAVOR USING TRIAL AND ERROR TO TEACH LABORATORY SAFETY?
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        May 14 2014: I would sue any chemistry teacher for negligence in your given scenario, as I would sue you for murder.

        The method of 'trial and error' does by no means propose to ignore already gained knowledge. And I don't know what makes you even think that.

        But the reason why we know today what we know in chemistry and all other disciplines was gained by a lot of trials and a lot of errors ever since.

        The risks in encountering new phenomena in science, for instance, usually comes when our given knowledge fails to draw valid conclusions from it.

        I think it is very cheap to say today, in hindsight, that the lab safety of Marie Curie was run very badly. She was a brilliant scientist and I am very certain, that she incorporated all her knowledge in physics and chemistry in her personal safety while conducting her experiments.

        At that time, nobody just knew, that radiation energy was able to mutate the human DNA, because the concept of DNA was just about to be discovered around her time. Radiation caused diseases were completely unknown.

        So I honestly don't know if your complains about Scott's comment are serious, which would mean you are not using common sense, or if you like to play the smartass, which was equally shallow to me.

        What I do know is, that I would not wish any children to have a lab instructor who would kill another being on his own terms instead of using civilized ways to solve a conflict.
        • May 15 2014: So, you are 100% happy and thrilled with a lab instructor who tells children "figure out lab safety entirely for yourself." Nice to know that you will NEVER run a laboratory.
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        May 15 2014: quote: 'I would sue any chemistry teacher for negligence in your given scenario ...'

        Is this your understanding of '100% happiness'? Are you reading what I write to you?

        btw. I did run laboratories and anyone survived nicely.

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