Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Equality Fundamentalism

Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau writes about a little experiment that got Arizona State University in trouble with the Department of Justice: the school gave eReaders to students -- though students were not required to use them -- and the DOJ cried foul on the grounds that eReaders are useless for the blind.

Thoreau, who is a physics professor in real life, notes:
this is going to make me sound even more evil, but screw it: Despite what the article says about the problems with “separate but equal”, when it comes to educational technology there may just be cases where we have to accept it. A powerful case can be made for the use of interactive animated simulations when teaching science, e.g. the user gives the mass and length and starting angle of the double pendulum and then the computer shows its chaotic motion. To the extent that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a picture that changes when you change the parameters is worth even more words, it’s going to be close to impossible to produce anything based on text or audio that produces the same pedagogical benefits.
Anyone familiar with American pop culture from the past fifty years or so has seen movies or TV shows featuring cartoony villains who threaten to kill the person they just kidnapped, or destroy the priceless piece of artwork they just stole; the villain's justification is "If I can't have this, nobody can! Bwa ha ha!"

I don't think today's equality fundamentalists understand that "If I can't have it, nobody can" is an expression of psychopathic selfishness, not a noble ideal society should strive to achieve.


Blogger Charles Pergiel said...

OK, this is nuts. What about pictures in text books? What about movies? What about paintings? What about people who are deaf and blind?

I don't really care for Woody Allen, but he did one movie where ballerinas had weights tied to their ankles to handicap them to the level of the most clumsy. That was telling.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Apikoros said...


That's how much of the human neo-cortex is devoted to visual signal processing. The areas where the neural architecture for sight and hearing intersect are exactly where language comprehension occurs in the brain. It looks like that could be significant, if you see what I mean?

Someone get these people the collected works of Kurt Vonegut, stat! Harrison Bergeron, anyone? I mean come on!

9:44 PM  

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