Patrick King

Dublin 6, Ireland

About Patrick

Languages

English, French

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

56749
Patrick King
Posted 10 months ago
Stuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignorance
It is a good quote, though one of the most misattributed ones there is. The original is thought to be Plutarch, "For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth."
56749
Patrick King
Posted almost 2 years ago
Using technology... you're humanizing the classroom? I'm afraid...not at all
Khan doesn't just say that technology is humanizing the classroom and expect us to accept that statement. It is explained how the technology facilitates more time in the classroom for meaningful dialogue between teachers and students. Moreover these techniques are not theoretical, blended learning has already been rolled out in certain schools and the results have been staggering. The discussion of how technology can be used in education is not a discussion about smart-phones being distracting, plagiarism being bad, nor web-browsing affecting how we think. All of those issues will remain regardless of whether or not the proposed technological developments in education go forward. Just to re-iterate what Khan actually said, it was that teachers can get students to watch lectures at home in video format, in an environment where they can pause and rewind when confused. Then teachers don't have to give one-size fits all lectures in class, instead they have more time to discuss questions, go through exercises and organise project work. More time to actually interact with students instead of just lecturing.
56749
Patrick King
Posted almost 2 years ago
Should Science be Considered a Religion?
It's certainly not a debate worth getting upset about. One's position depends entirely on how you define religion and that's not a very clear subject. Most definitions say that it is often associated with supernatural origins of the world and moral codes, but neither is absolutely necessary. There is no doubt that science fulfills many of the roles that religions typically would have, most obviously, explaining natural phenomena who's cause mystified us. Another facet of science that it shares to some degree with religion is the awe it can inspire. I consider the clearest demonstration of this to be religious people watching nature documentaries and considering the immense beauty to be a confirmation of their belief, despite the documentaries being explicitly naturalistic. Finally though science does not generate divine moral codes, it does inform us about our behaviour and the origins for our morality, and through game theory we can see how best to structure codes. If science is to be considered a religion however, it must be recognized as a very special religion. One that describes the universe with objectivity, instead of a projecting our nature on to nature. It's not surprising that the question was met with hostility. On the one hand there are atheists who are sick of hearing that atheism is a religion, quite understandably, and consider this suggestion to be a hostile one. On the other hand there are those who would rather we keep discussions of religion and science separate, as non-overlapping magesteria, perhaps because of their own religious views or because they see the conflict as being unhelpful for the advancement of science. I have some sympathy for these concerns, but I think that a lot of religion does overlap with science, for unlike religion science is quite well defined, and a young-earth creationist has necessarily entered its domain. There's not much to gained from arguing terminology, I think we can all agree that science is awesome.
56749
Patrick King
Posted almost 2 years ago
Why do people who have many advantages in life struggle with ongoing happiness whilst others with far less to be happy about are happier?
Affluence breeds complacency which in turn breeds misery. I think in large part, happiness is positive feedback for activities that improve our living conditions. If our living conditions are satisfactory we are less inclined to be active in improving them, thus we are less likely to be happy. It is especially difficult for us to be engaged in constructive activities because the work we engage in in a modern economy is so detached from what we are naturally inclined to do. Our ancestors would seek food when hungry, build shelter when cold and socialise. The fruits of their labour were the actual results of their labour and they were surrounded by them. We work for money, and we are often uninterested in the work we do and its results. Those who must struggle in life are roused to action in a way that most others are not, they have challenges to overcome and overcoming them empowers them and brings them happiness. I'm not calling for a return to the short brutal lives of hunter gatherers. I think that the solution lies in creating more effective feedback mechanisms that encourage us to pursue our interests. I think gamification could be very useful as we attempt to effectively shift our interests from food and shelter to more complex concepts. Educators need to inspire students, empower them prepare them for the real world, not just pump them full of information. We should also be teaching people how to build things for themselves instead of just living with purchased possessions. There's obviously a lot more to say, about community, about greater purpose, about beauty in our daily lives. I think we'll get there though, mental health that attempts to work out what brings us contentment instead of just categorizing dysfunction will be a big step.
56749
Patrick King
Posted over 2 years ago
Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence
It's not just a point of view, it alleges to be a scientific theory and as such it should be subject to scrutiny and criticism. Though there are many ideas with merit within this talk, his treatment of group selection was weak. Every evolutionary thinker knows of the relationships between mitochondria and eukaryotes along with the cohesive nature of eusocial insects. The first case is an example of symbiosis and the second a case of a massively altered reproductive system. The opposition to group selection stems from pseudo-scientists claiming that animals like us that reproduce in pairs sacrifice their own interests for the interests of the group, in humans there is no definitive means by which we 'are all in the same boat.' The speaker never explains how humans have overcome the problem of the free-loader, because we have not fully done so. Analyzing the degree to which we have solved the problem by means of laws etc. would be an interesting talk, but that's not what this talk is. A lot of it is hand-wavy trendy psychologist speak.
56749
Patrick King
Posted about 3 years ago
Nathan Myhrvold: Cooking as never seen before
Ted's rules about pushing products and companies have always been pretty maleable, the Richard Branson interview and the microsoft virtual earth talk are just a couple of examples but you'll find many. Basically if it's cool and fits the ted ethos (of which food, science and Nathan Myhrvold are all a part) then it seems to be acceptable. I personally think that supporting cool and socially beneficial companies/products is part of what makes Ted great and gives the optimism it inspires a sense of tangibility. That said the actual show&tell of the waterproof version might have been taking it a bit far.
56749
Patrick King
Posted about 3 years ago
Daniel Tammet: Different ways of knowing
I understand that a comment on ted seems an unlikely place to find a claim as far-reaching as this that is not farcical, so by all means proceed with skepticism. There is a lot of evidence to show that he has been using standard mnemonic techniques and this is not a weak argument. If evidence demonstrates that he used such techniques it completely undermines the persona of Daniel Tammet. When it comes to the language, the test of his acquisition was by no means extensive and falsifiable, and there is no way of knowing if he learnt Icelandic before the week started. That is not to say that the man is not an astonishing hyperglot. Just as a side note the neurologists who looked at his case documented that it was clear that the brain activity measured while he was claiming to undergo synesthetic activity did not coincide with the brain activity of synthetics, (see the bbc documentary on Tammet).
56749
Patrick King
Posted about 3 years ago
Daniel Tammet: Different ways of knowing
Please do consider the claims and look at the evidence. If Tammet is indeed lying about the nature of his abilities (which seems very probable) he has a lot to prove, not just to Yan but to all those who read his book and to the autistic community who's plight he has hijacked in order to make a quick buck.