Archive for April 3rd, 2012
Everyone, no exception, must have a tribe, an alliance with which to jockey for power and territory, to demonize the enemy, to organize rallies and raise flags. And so it has ever been. In ancient history and prehistory, tribes gave visceral comfort and pride from familiar fellowship, and a way to defend the group enthusiastically against rival groups. It gave people a name in addition to their own and social meaning in a chaotic world. It made the environment less disorienting and dangerous. Human nature has not changed. Modern groups are psychologically equivalent to the tribes of ancient history. As such, these groups are directly descended from the bands of primitive humans and prehumans.
We will see that the 1.5 kilograms of bees in a honeybee swarm, just like the 1.5 kilograms of neurons in a human brain, achieve their collective wisdom by organizing themselves in such a way that even though each individual has limited information and limited intelligence, the group as a whole makes first-rate collective. Like many other biologists, Seeley sees a bee colony as not just a collection of individuals but as a sort of super-organism. Thus the brain analogy above.
A colony of honeybees is, then, far more than an aggregation of individuals, it is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole. Indeed, one can accurately think of a honeybee colony as a single living entity, weighing as much as 5 kilograms and performing all of the basic physiological processes that support life: ingesting and digesting food, maintaining nutritional balance, circulating resources, exchanging respiratory gases, regulating water content, controlling body temperature, sensing the environment, deciding how to behave, and achieving locomotion.
Read also: Honeybee Democracy
David Chalmers is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University. Chalmers is interested in the relationship between mind, brain and reality. He is best known for formulating the “hard problem” of consciousness and for his arguments against materialism. His 1996 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory was highly successful with both popular and academic audiences. In 2010 he gave the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford. These will shortly be published as his book Constructing the World . He also works on language, metaphysics, and artificial intelligence.
A conversation of George Pòr with James Quilligan on The Commons.
“Failure is a positive act of creativity,” Katie Salen said. Scientists, artists, engineers, and even entrepreneurs know this as adults. But in schools, the notion of failure is complicated.
Salen, executive director of the Institute of Play and founder of Quest to Learn, the first public school based on the principles of game design in the U.S., explained how failure can be a motivating agent for learning in her presentation at SXSW.
Any practice – athletic, artistic, even social – involves repeatedly failing till one gets the experience or activity right. We need to “keep the challenge constant so players are able to fail and try again,” she said. “It’s hard and it leads to something rewarding.”
Poor children start school at a disadvantage in terms of their early skills, behaviors, and health. Fewer than half (48 percent) of poor children are ready for school at age five, compared to 75 percent of children from families with moderate and high income, a 27 percentage point gap. This paper examines the reasons why poor children are less ready for school and evaluates three interventions for improving their school readiness.
Poverty is one of several risk factors facing poor children. Mothers living in poverty are often unmarried and poorly educated, they have higher rates of depression and poor health than more affluent mothers, and they demonstrate lower parenting skills in certain dimensions. In fact, the gap in school readiness shrinks from 27 percentage points to 7 percentage points after adjusting for demographic, health, and behavioral differences between poor and moderate- and higher-income families. Even so, poverty remains an important influence on school readiness, partly through its influence on many of the observed differences between poor and more affluent families. Higher levels of depression and a more punitive parenting style, for example, may result from economic stress and so models controlling for these factors may understate the full effects of poverty on school readiness.