Re: Telomeres

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 23:06:19 MDT

>From: Adrian Tymes <>>Subject: Re: Telomeres
>Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 12:02:34 -0700
>phil osborn wrote:
> > Rather that simply railing against the closed-mindedness of people who
> > mostly very old or dead now, I bring this up to make a point. The key
> > element missing in the catalog of mental operations of most of the older
> > generation - those now older than 60 - was the ability to think in terms
> > systems - complex feedback and control mechanisms.
> >
> > Taking a page from Papert's Mindstorms, those of us who were lucky
>enough to
> > work with real models of such - mainly computers - have no trouble at
> > thinking in terms of systemic variables, but face a frustrating blank
> > of uncomprehension in trying to convey our insights to those who have no
> > such concrete, experiential models in their minds.
>The way around that, at least in my experience, is to communicate the
>model as a preface to the data. Sure, it takes longer than just
>communicating the data, but I've been able to get the concept of "x at
>time t+1 is controlled in part by the output of x at time t" across to
>people who barely understood the concept of "1+1=2", without spending
>hours and hours at the task. Make sure you understand the concept well
>yourself - a good excercise is to state the basic concepts to yourself
>in words an average child could understand - then focus the conversation
>on the details needed to communicate the point, and show new ideas as
>combinations of what the target already understands (including concepts
>only recently grokked during your conversation). (Proceeding from the
>basics to the advanced, never ever delving into jargon or concepts you
>have not already defined, to yourself also makes good practice for this.
>It can also help you comprehend stuff you're not quite comfortable with;
>just break down info about it into such an explanation and repeat it to

Yes, yes, I'm very familiar with all the above, really, although it is good
advice for those who haven't thought about such matters. This only works,
however, if the other party is willing to take the time to seriously listen
and try to comprehend something new. When you're the "expert," then
sometimes other people will stop and really listen. But when THEY are the
expert with decades of experience - they have usually developed some
intensely serious systems of screening out data that they've already decided
must be nonsense, and the fact that you're some 20-something amateur is not
likely to get you past the polite 30 seconds of pretending to listen. I
recall being treated as a harmless nut for suggesting to the anti-aging
luminaries of the time that the aging clock hypothesis might have something
to it in the late '70's.

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