Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hazards to navigation

Down in the Dodd Narrows is not really a place for full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes boating at the moment. There really is a lot of floating log debris out there. I put it down to the tides, which have gone from quite low, right to the bottom of the inter tidal range, to right up to the top of the beach, which floats off all the massive logs that have been resting quite happily on the foreshore for some time, now letting the currents gently waft them out into the middle of the tidal flow to lurk in wait for some hopelessly gung-ho boating individual in a hurry. No one has been sunk to my knowledge yet, but I'm sure that come the weekend there might be some dented or holed hulls.

While walking Dog, have been pondering the nature of the term 'Extelligence', which was coined by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen of Warwick University back in 1997. Although some have criticised it as being little more as a neologism, for myself, being a wordsmith of a middling sort, I'm inclined to think that all words began that way, and the field of Computing releases a flood of jargon into the English language every year, as did the Space age, the industrial revolution and every societal adaptation before and since English began to be formalised in medieval times. English is a constantly evolving language, whose main rules are often treated as little more than rough guidelines by those who claim it as their mother tongue.

My own personal definition of extelligence is 'If you don't know something - look it up'. An Internet connection can make you highly extelligent to a degree, but then you have to use your own intelligence and reasoning abilities to examine the source and compare it against other sources. To put it in the words of my forbears; 'Don't believe everything you read'. You have to learn to be discriminating instead of just regurgitating the opinons of others. A quick Google (Itself a recent word-invention) on any given topic will find the web sites and opinions of any number of 21st century snake oil salespeople selling 'health' products, promoting whatever it is they have to sell; be that Gadgets, Philosophy, Politics, Holistic Therapies, their own particular brand of hypochondriasis, Religion or cult.

Although I have a fairly jaundiced view of my own level of intelligence, and question it on a daily basis, I'm often astounded at the failures of reasoning in others, and often have to work very hard to conceal that surprise. Wife constantly chides me for 'frowning' (i.e. scrunching up my forehead in amazement) when I see or hear something that jars or conflicts with previously held reasoned conclusions.

Although having considered that, perhaps I am just cautious in navigating the hazards of mental navigation. Hmm. Cute. Back to the MSS.

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