Thursday, 18 June 2015

Point of View Affects How Science Is Done

I have just discovered the article Point of View Affects How Science Is Done which was published by  Douglas Medin, Carol D. Lee and Megan Bang last September and find it interesting from a number of points of view.

In suggesting that Gender and culture influence research on a fundamental level it uses as examples studies of social relationships in primate groups and how male and female observers have noticed different aspects of what the animals they observe are doing. This suggest that in considering how the human brain has evolved one must be careful about how one thinks about the effects of human society when making comparisons with both primate societies and those of surviving hunter-gather groups.

The ideas are also relevant to the problems I had developing CODIL in the 1970s and 80s - as described in Algorithms aren't everything. The problem I had were that those working at the forefront of the computer industry considered themselves to be a particularly intelligent elite ("you have to be clever to be able to program a computer") designing systems for the slow-minded plebs. In contrast my approach was that ordinary people understood what they wanted to do - and that to help them you needed to be humble and start by assuming they knew more about their wants than you could ever know. This made it difficult to get support for my work from the computing establishment.

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