DAMN IT! I WASN’T PLANNING ON WRITING TODAY, BUT – – –


how can I not?

This morning, while performing my morning ritual of “coffee and newspaper”, I read an article in our local newspaper which threatened to re-boil my just swallowed coffee! It was a commentary on the news: “SAT Scores are the lowest since SAT Tests were first given”.  The author’s thesis, for the reason for the decline in SAT Scores, was the provocation that resulted in the prompt and unavoidable rise of my gastric temperature. Her thesis, simply put, is: (Easy access to “information” via the Internet greatly reduces the need for memorization of “facts”. You can always look it up. Except when you can’t. Then what? For instance, during an employment interview, or, for that matter, while taking a test designed to measure your subject knowledge.). I want clarity here – I agree with the author’s thesis!

My concern has as its roots the experiences of my life since I graduated from High School in 1950. Since that event, I have obtained a BSc. degree in Physics, worked as machinist, aerospace Engineer, Test Director, Laboratory Manager, and am now an Emeritus in all. I have learned well the principle that one should not make “Global statements” based wholly on “local knowledge” – I am going to do it anyway!  CREATIVITY ONLY COMES FROM A PREPARED MIND!  If you will excuse my “random rants”, I will try to explain why I believe excessive reliance on the Internet for factual needs leads to lazy, unprepared minds.

The invention of logarithms for use in calculations is one of the great gifts to Humanity. This invention led to the use of the Slide-rule – another great invention. The Slide-rule is easy to use in calculations but it does not keep track of “orders of magnitude”. These the Slide-rule user must keep track of “on the side”. Over the years there developed a method for “setting up” a Slide-rule calculation that minimized the chances of error and made determination of the “order of magnitude” of the result easier. The “set up” and use of the Slide-rule requires the user to have intimate knowledge of the calculation being carried out and, if the user is wise, an “order of magnitude” estimate of the result. I believe the use of the Slide-rule engendered in the minds of the users the very valuable habit of estimating results beforehand and then use the estimated result to answer the question: Can I believe the obtained result? Years ago I adopted the name “Sanity Check” for this habit. As in: Have you done a”Sanity Check” on that result? Sadly, today’s answer will be negative, if the question is even asked. This simple habit of requiring a “Sanity Check” on “results” before use has been lost. If you don’t believe me, try straining the credulity of some of the “younger set” by informing them of an outrageous thesis supported by your proffered “facts”. You cannot do it; they will believe anything. I hope I do not strain your credulity by my assertion that the loss of the “Sanity check” habit is due to excessive reliance on the internet. But, that is what I believe.

Examine the internal workings any peer-group and you will discover a hierarchy of rankings of the peer-group members based the perceived value of each member’s contribution to the reason for the peer-group being formed. The rankings are  informal, determined by the peer-group members, and are rarely given voice by the whole of the peer-group. However, I will give names to some rankings I have observed in use within my peer-groups. The highest valued ranking is that of: ” The Go-To Person” followed by “Team Player”, “Quick Study”, “analytical Mind” , “Creative Thinker”, etc.. The lesser valued rankings are: “Follower”, “Lost The Bubble”, “Loner”,  “Slow Learner” , etc.. The absolute bottom ranking is “Does Not Do Their Homework”. I will expand on the latter ranking; the rest you can guess. The ranking I place at the bottom indicates a person who in never ready to take part fully in the peer-group’s activities because of a lack of mental preparation as shown by their need to look-up almost everything. Today I see this same need by the Many to look up EVERYTHING on the Internet almost comical. Have you ever tried to converse with a person who, upon being enquired about this or that, saying not a word, thumbs your enquiry into the, conveniently at hand, Internet capable device, waits a moment, and then holds the device up so you can read the “answer” for yourself. I have! Is this not evidence of a lazy, unprepared mind?

I will readily confess to being addicted to “AH-HA!” moments, mine of course. They come less often now, are of lesser import than those of my pre-Emeritus life, but appreciated none the less now than before. These moments for me have always followed trying to resolve a “problem” without result and then setting it aside. It seems to vanish from my conscious mind; I forget about it. However, I believe it still resides in my subconscious mind. There the “problem” is worked, using the bit and pieces of my life experiences that must litter the place, to fabricate a “solution”. When the “solution” is ready, it appears, unannounced, in my conscious mind – my “AH-HA” moment has arrived! (Forgive me the poetic license; I don’t have a clue about what’s going on down there.) My point is this: In order for the Mind to be creative, it must have within it the “raw materials”, from which creative thoughts are fabricated, at the time of the creative process. Can you imagine the”sub-conscious mind” sending this message to the “conscious mind”: Ref. your recent request for a creative solution for “the problem”. Please make enquiry of your Internet sources of delivery schedule for the creative solution raw materials ASAP. As you know, there has been a shortage since the beginning of our association. Regards, S.C.M.                       (I rest my case.)

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