Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Keynotes and Brain Failure

I’m sitting at the Wellington Airport 3/4 through the visit and 4 keynote speeches on a whirlwind trip to New Zealand. In the lounge copy of Australia’s New Scientist magazine (Vol 206 no 2757)  I am reading a fascinating article about brain activity when engaged in prayer. Now first I should say that I don’t think many listeners to my talks are engaged in deep prayer (unless in hope that the end of the speech comes quickly) but the article identified parts of the subjects’ brains (using MNR technology) that are associated with skepticism, seem to shut down when they listened to the prayers of what they  believed were spoken by esteemed “healers”. The effect did not appear when the subjects were told that the prayers were being spoken by non believers or ordinary (non healing) Christians. It seems that people’s expectations of profound insight allowed their normal sense of critical appraisal to be shut down.

Now why I mention this is that the introductions to myself and my work before these speeches are often very flattering (and occasionally slightly embarrassing) in their complementary content. I know that the truth is often the first victim, when you are introduced by a friend, but I realize now, that perhaps some of the kind words I received after these talks, arise because peoples critical thinking capacity is reduced by the fervor of the expectation set by the introduction.

All of which leads me to advise readers to remember that all truth is relative and contextual and to be advised to not take anything for absolute truth from snake oil salesmen, Goldman Sachs executives, preachers, or distance education keynote speakers – it may just be your brain shutting down!

Similar posts
  • Is Google Scholar a Filter Bubble? A major  goal of net-based  mass media is to customize the feed that is delivered to each viewer received a unique screen that matches their interest and more importantly their likelihood of purchasing some product or viewing some paid for message.  This phenomenon was labeled as “filter bubble” by author Eli Pariser – meaning that certain results [...]
  • Quality in Online Learning Presentati... I was asked to do a video conferencing talk to a meeting of three Mexican Universities yesterday. They are attempting to come up with a common set of criteria to define and measure the quality of their online courses. Perhaps I was not the best person to ask, as I have very mixed feelings about [...]
  • Our Spanish adventure Unlike most of our voyages, this month I was accompanying my wife Susan on a trip to her conference. She registered in the 16 European Symposium on Suicide Prevention that took place this month in Oviedo, Spain. We took the opportunity to rent a car and bought a GPS with European maps (thank god!) and travelled [...]
  • Downe’s great summary article, ... The good news is that Stephen Downes has posted the  full text from a chapter he wrote for New Models of Open and Distance Learning in Open Education: from OERs to MOOCs, Editors: Mohamed Jemni, Kinshuk, Mohamed Koutheair Khribi,  2016. This is good news for two reasons – the first is that the full Springer book [...]
  • Order of Athabasca University Yesterday at Convocation in Athabasca, I was deeply honoured by my former colleagues at Athabasca by being installed into the Order of Athabasca University. Most other members have been individuals from the community who have made exceptional contributions to the University. I was the first Faculty member (other than Dominique Abrioux, who also served as [...]

2 Comments

  1. Sheri Oberman Sheri Oberman
    April 29, 2010    

    Terry, this blog could be part of a stand-up comedy routine, not to flatter you. So many a truth is spoken in jest, and truth-humour like yours relies on context.

  2. Walter Mrak Walter Mrak
    June 14, 2010    

    Terry, so many a jest introduces knowledge, opens perspective, ignites the endorphin brush fire that can be used to cook-up enlightenment on a scale unmatchable by drone data/information/fact delivery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Virtual Canuck via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 58 other subscribers

My Blog Archives

Subscribe

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • SlideShare
  • RSS Feed for Posts
  • Email

Follow me on Twitter