Department Of The Most, And Most Profound, Information Contained In Four Words
I’ve Come Across In A Long Time…
…or maybe ever:
Google isn’t grad school.
Well, of course, we say to ourselves. But how many times have we fallen into the I-looked-at-this-for-five-minutes-and-now-I-get-it trap?
“The internet has fed a huge reservoir of good information, but it has also created an explosion of nonsense: technical-sounding nutrition advice about a new dietary supplement that miraculously stimulates the body to convert fat into muscle, financial jargon pushing dubious investment tips, health guidance that promises a miracle treatment your physician doesn’t know about….
Practically everywhere you look on the web, you can find technical information of dubious accuracy. This is not necessarily because we are being deliberately lied to—although *plenty* of that is going on there too—but because the internet is a free, democratic platform. This very freedom and accessibility causes many people to succumb to the illusion of explanatory depth, confidently sharing their newly acquired expertise in some technical information gleaned from reading a single article or watching a couple of videos…“
“… psychologists noticed in experiments that when people are first exposed to technical information, they usually overestimate how deeply they understand it…. The phrase illusion of explanatory depth was what researchers dubbed their finding. The phenomenon is similar to the famous Dunning-Kruger effect, which describes how people with low levels of skill in an activity tend to overrate their competence. One explanation for this is ‘hypocognition,’ that people don’t know what they don’t know…
The overconfidence of people laboring under the illusion of explanatory depth can lead to the spread of misinformation. As researchers have shown, when a person’s confidence is highest though their actual knowledge is low, they become very believable to others—despite not being reliable. And the more inaccurate people are—or perhaps the more they want to believe the validity of their perception—the more they tend to be swayed by their own underinformed overconfidence….
…Just remember: Google isn’t graduate school. Learning about novel ideas is a thrill, and indeed, many researchers believe that interest itself is a positive emotion—a source of pleasure rooted in the evolutionary imperative to learn new things…. But beware your own susceptibility to the illusion of explanatory depth. If you think you understand something technical and complicated after cursory exposure, you might be able to put the knowledge to good use in your life, but you almost certainly don’t understand it well enough to hold forth on the topic.”
( excerpts from, “Google Isn’t Grad School: Having so much information at our fingertips is useful but seductive, easily fooling us into thinking we know more than we do,”
The Atlantic, 7-6-23. my emphases. )
Are y’all falling prey to the illusion of explanatory depth by thinking you understand the illusion of explanatory depth by reading these excerpts? Tricky of moiself , eh? 
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Department Of A Recent Article Which Ties In To A Previous Blog
“On a scorching July morning, (Bureau of Environmental Services security manager) Keith Moen checked the steel barrier gate at the West Lents Floodplain, a natural area just off the Springwater Corridor Trail in outer Southeast Portland…. Moen noted a steel bollard missing at the entrance to the Springwater trail, meaning cars could again illegally drive onto the paved path and into the natural area.
As he inspected the floodplain, Moen walked past a shopping cart brimming with garbage and over a metal bridge spanning trash-strewn Johnson Creek….
…since the advent of the pandemic, the bureau’s land managers and environmental advocates have sounded an alarm about the escalating human-caused degradation of the city’s wildlife habitat zones, floodplains, rivers and streams, wetlands and wildfire hazard zones and are seeking ways to protect them…. Policies meant to address homelessness have exacerbated the damage in natural areas…. …the encampments and their detritus have kept people away from nature, especially in neighborhoods that are home to large numbers of low-income residents, people of color, immigrants and refugees, whose use of natural areas already tends to be limited.
‘The ecological damage from the camping is tremendous – decades of work, millions and millions of public dollars wasted,’ said Bob Sallinger, the former conservation director of Portland Audubon and now urban conservation director for the nonprofit Willamette Riverkeepers. ‘Trees have been cut down, vegetation has been trampled, water quality has been degraded…The amount of garbage, including hazardous waste, on these natural sites is remarkable’….
city land managers said they have seen a sharp increase in the number and size of encampments in protected wooded properties and along waterways….
Many of the spots fall under special city zoning and are considered ‘critical green infrastructure,’ said Ken Finney, a supervisor with the Bureau of Environmental Services who oversees the natural areas restoration program. …‘We don’t see them as just empty open spaces, but as fully functioning, complex systems…They provide specific ecosystem services to our city, including reducing flooding, managing stormwater and improving water quality. They also improve the air we breathe, protect us from extreme heat and sequester carbon….‘ “
( Hidden toll of homeless crisis: Portland’s prized natural areas ,
Oregon live.com, my emphases )
Seven years ago, (then) Portland mayor Charlie Hales enacted his controversial plan to allow overnight tent camping in certain city locations. Hales’ plan, like so many policies and proposals regarding homelessness, was well-intentioned but poorly-thought out. Hales eventually reversed his policy (saying it was “misunderstood”), but – surprise – word had gotten out (“Hey, let’s hop the freight to Portland – they let you camp on the sidewalks and natural areas.“).
Does moiself risk being called heartless or NIMBY or other pejoratives by pointing out that allowing encampments in wildlife corridors is stupid, stupid, stupid? Bring it on. It’s not a contest (“Do you care about environmental degradation or do you care about homelessness? It’s one or the other.”). We are not the only creatures on this planet; all species need clean air/water to survive.
“Camp Serenity” was part of a homeless population along the Springwater Corridor Trail. Moiself remembers watching an interview  with one of the camp’s self-proclaimed “leaders,” who made lofty claims about how the camp was self-policing: “Camp Serenity/Zero Tolerance – as in no tolerance for hard drugs  – has a code of conduct. Campers choose a leader and others for chores such as security and trash cleanup.”
At the time moiself was a wee bit abashed by my cynicism re the leader’s proclamations; my skepticism was verified several months later, when I watched and read other interviews, this time with those in charge of cleaning up Camp Serenity and other sites along the wildlife corridor. Not only had residents of neighborhoods abutting the corridor been harassed and attacked by occupants of the camps, when the camps were finally cleared out the workers who did so had to wear hazmat protective gear as they cleaned up the corridor. The trash and filth – including discarded syringes and other hazardous drug paraphernalia – and damage to the erstwhile wildlife corridor/former encampment was so intense, cleanup workers were consulting EPA guidelines for advice on toxic waste site management.
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Department of Employee Of The Month
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
“We all know there are all kinds of things that religion is incompatible with — democracy, science, social equity, rational debate, blind justice. But it is sometimes thought that being an environmentalist is compatible with religious belief. That you could divorce irrational beliefs about imaginary friends, the subordinate role of women, and the importance of neoconservative government from rational concerns about the state of the planet. Sorry, can’t be done. 
To be a greenie concerned about the future of the planet, you have to, well, be concerned about the future of the planet. Religious people, even putting aside the Left Behind loonies, aren’t really concerned, because they have an imaginary friend who will look after them if they are good and pray hard and wear the right clothes…”
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May you stay free from the illusion of explanatory depth;
May you keep in mind that you don’t know what you don’t know;
May you celebrate your own term as Employee of the Month;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 I’d advise reading the entire article. You still won’t be an expert, but that’s okay.
 Whether by homeless persons or “van life” aficionados.
 On the local news, one of the network channels or Oregon’s PBS?
 And what was the definition of a “hard” drug – any drug someone else was using, but not you?
 Several years ago, MH received a particularly glowing performance review from his workplace. As happy as I was for him when he shared the news, it left me with a certain melancholy I couldn’t quite peg. Until I did.
One of the many “things” about being a writer (or any occupation working freelance at/from home) is that although you avoid the petty bureaucratic policies, bungling bosses, mean girls’ and boys’ cliques, office politics and other irritations inherent in going to a workplace, you also lack the camaraderie and other social perks that come with being surrounded by your fellow homo sapiens. No one praises me for fixing the paper jam in the copy machine, or thanks me for staying late and helping the new guy with a special project, or otherwise says, Good on you, sister. Once I realized the source of the left-out feelings, I came up with a small way to lighten them.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, www.ffrf.org
 Time for another footnote!
 From huffpo biography: “David Horton is a writer and polymath with qualifications in both science and the arts (BA, BSc, MSc, PhD, DLitt), and has had professional careers (and done research work) in biology, archaeology, publishing and farming, extending over 30 years. He has published some 100 scientific papers and a number of books on biology and archaeology. Now retired to become a professional writer and farmer, he screams often at the tv news bulletins, blogs, writes columns for local newspapers, gives talks to environmental groups, lectures occasionally in local colleges, and continues to work on his interest in the environment.”