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Laurence Gonzales on Socrates' Take on Modern Scholarship
Laurence Gonzales won the 2001 and 2002 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors for National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Since 1970, his essays have appeared in such periodicals as Harper's, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Smithsonian Air and Space, Chicago Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, and many others.
He has published a dozen books, including two award–winning collections of essays, three novels, and the book–length essay, One Zero Charlie published by Simon & Schuster. His latest book, Everyday Survival, published by W.W. Norton & Company, is available at book sellers now. His previous book, Deep Survival, is now out in paperback.
If Socrates were here today, I think he would think the scholarship was pretty messed up. Most people don’t remember that Socrates was against reading and writing. He thought that that was a bad idea for scholarship and for learning. His method of learning was, first of all, you had to memorize everything. You had to have it in your head. And secondly, you have to walk around town talking with other people about it and they could question everything you said. They could confront you directly. He said, “Well, once you have things written down and you lose your memory ‘cause you don’t need to memorize them, you can look them up. And the other thing is you can’t question a book if you, you know, have something written down. It’s there and you can’t ask it a question and make it prove itself to you.” So he saw this as the beginning of a deterioration of learning and thinking and he was right. The thing we forget is he was right. But he missed the fact that, of course, there were many benefits of writing things down. And I always mention that in the, when the printing press was invented, the scholars have the same reaction. They said, “This is a very bad idea. We don’t like this. It’ll cost the spread of all sorts of pernicious nonsense and it won’t be checked by scholars like us so that it’s accurate.” And, of course, they were right too. There are all kinds of stuff published that’s nonsense and a lot of it is not checked and so forth and so on. They, too, miss the fact that it would be a great benefit to society. So in both these cases, these guys, these people were critical enough and they’re thinking to anticipate trouble from a technology. And what I say is that we need some of that critical thinking back again. We tend to embrace technologies sort of unquestioningly. And, in part, that’s because they’re sold to us that way by marketing. But it’s a good thing to question these technologies the way Socrates questioned the new technology of writing at that time. And if he saw what was going on today, he would probably say, “You know, this Internet is a really bad idea.” And he probably be right in certain ways. He would be wrong in certain ways and that, you know, it’s a wonderful tool for disseminating information of all kinds. He would be right in the sense that it tends to make us shallower if we’re not careful, if we don’t use it to augment our scholarship and our thinking, if instead we use it to replace our scholarship and our thinking.
Socrates would say any medium of inquiry is worthless if it's making us shallower.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.