Re: JP Barlow, Ph.D, Social Engineering

Ira Brodsky (
Mon, 23 Sep 1996 18:53:14 -0600

Kathryn Aegis wrote:

>My dear Eugene, I do not equate tolerance of grey areas with mental
>Bart Kosko expresses this in a way you could perhaps relate to:
> "All facts were matters of degree. The facts were always
> fuzzy or vague or inexact to some degree. Only math was
> black and white and it was just an artificial system of
> rules and symbols. Science treated the grey or fuzzy facts
> as if they were the black/white facts of math. Yet no one
> had put forth a single fact about the world that was 100%
> true or 100% false. They just said they all were."

As a parent with two school-age children (showing my age), I find this
quote disturbingly familiar. The idea there are no black and white facts
-- or that facts just clutter your mind -- is extremely popular these days
among educationists.

The world is filled with black and white facts. They really are facts, and
they really are 100% true. To deny this is a sign of mental laziness,
because facts must be studied, remembered, and understood. Saying
everything falls into a grey area saves yourself a lot of work and makes it
impossible for anyone to test your knowledge -- because there is nothing to
pin down.

Here in the People's Republic of Wilmette (Illinois) we constantly hear
about the evils of "rigid facts" and "rote memorization" from public school
teachers. Meanwhile, our kids are not being taught to spell, they are not
being taught basic math tables ...and business at Sylvan Learning Centers
is booming. Meanwhile, our teachers claim they are teaching our children
"how to think" -- not just filling their minds with contextless
information. But from what I have seen, "how to think" means "what to
think." There is so much political indoctrination going on, I must spend
considerable time debriefing my children.

Yes, there are "grey areas." Mostly, I think this is because either we
haven't yet ascertained the facts, or you are discussing a complex issue
for which no one fact is dominant.

Throw out "black and white facts," and you throw out concrete knowledge.

Ira Brodsky
Datacomm Research Company
Wilmette, Illinois