Sunday, 24 July 2011

Danger: grey goo

Public awareness of Conductive Education

A yesterday I shared the following link on Facebook –  

Very, very bad online advice on opening a Conductive Education center:​923_start-conductive-ed-center​.html 
Written by online expert ANDREW BUTTON, from Newfoundland
(A real person, not
a typo!)

Today I have posted another –

Threadbare, worn, shabby, moth-eaten scraps of knowledge
Misinformation, half-truth
, misinterpretation, myth, wishful thinking...
Stitched together with threads of poor English
by a nurse in Ham
Is all publicity really good publicity?

The two items linked to have in common that they concern Conductive Education and have bobbed up quite independently on the Internet within a day of each other – and that they both comprise second-rate, uncritical nonsense that does no one any good but could harm. 

I presume that such writings earn their authors a few pennies or dimes (the second of the sites quoted above mentions incomes of $1,200 month, not a fortune nowadays but not to be sniffed at). I suspect that they misinform sincere and perhaps vulnerable people and that on a different plane each such production makes its own small contribution to the devaluation of the cause of Conductive Education.

There is an awful lot of such stuff about and one can predict only that there will be an awful lot more – exponentially so.

I shall probably amuse myself for a while taking pop-shots at these when they appear, but it would be comforting to hear shots ringing out from other parts of the forest, before such stuff really takes hold and begins to replicate...

Runaway replicators

The grey goo scenario of runaway self-replicating nano-technology has been the stuff of serious nightmares and, when Prince Charles put his fourpenceworth in, the stuff of hilarity too. It has, however, raised useful questions, as yet not wholly unresolved.

When it comes to information and awareness on a given topic (CE for example) it also offers a useful model. 

In the world of ideas, tiny organisms of not the slightest importance of their own (for example, uncritically plagiarised phrases or sentences, cut and pasted uncomprehendingly from the Internet) can assume a new significance. It is not that they have any virtue in themselves but they are easy to understand and do little to challenge common assumptions. They may therefore be superior in terms of their competitiveness to ideas that bare more relation to reality but are harder to get one's head round.

They could therefore race across the environment, so the grey-goo scenario goes, devouring and smothering other organisms in their path... Ugh!

So beware such nonsense about CE, pouring into Cyberspace, soon to be cut-and paste in its own turn, passed on and further replicated. Small beans in itself, but pity the poor innocent trying to make sense of it all.

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