Noah Brier | February 7, 2022

The Executive Edition (2/6/2022)

The subscribers only weekend selects from your friends Colin and Noah

Proto WITI

I turned up this quote from friend of WITI Felix Salmon in 2012 about blogging as reading, not writing … and it sounds a lot like what we are doing! He was writing about Jonah Lehrer, who had been caught plagiarizing his own blog posts across multiple publications. Anyway, here’s Felix (emphasis mine) :

Firstly, think of it as reading, rather than writing. Lehrer is a wide-ranging polymath: he is sent, and stumbles across, all manner of interesting things every day. Right now, I suspect, he files those things away somewhere and wonders whether one day he might be able to use them for another Big Idea piece. Make the blog the place where you file them away. Those posts can be much shorter than the things Lehrer’s writing right now: basically, just an excited “hey look at this”, with maybe a short description of why it’s interesting. It’s OK if the meat of what you’re blogging is elsewhere, rather than on your own blog. In fact, that’s kind of the whole point.


On Learning Styles

Over the weekend I taught a class at University of Montana. One of the topics that came up was learning styles: the idea that some people are better suited to visual learning while others need to read the material. You’ve almost definitely been told this at some point. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there’s not much evidence to back that up. From The Atlantic:

Either way, “by the time we get students at college,” says Polly Husmann, a professor at Indiana University, “they’ve already been told, ‘You’re a visual learner.’ Or aural, or what have you.”

The thing is, they’re not. Or at least, a lot of evidence suggests that people aren’t really one certain kind of learner or another. In a study published last month in the journal Anatomical Sciences Education, Husmann and her colleagues had hundreds of students take the VARK questionnaire to determine what kind of learner they supposedly were. The survey then gave them some study strategies that seem like they would correlate with that learning style. Husmann found that not only did students not study in ways that seemed to reflect their learning style, but those who did tailor their studying to suit their style didn’t do any better on their tests.


On Subsystems

You might remember back to the Subsystems Edition on Herbert Simon and his parable of two watchmakers. Well I found this great short video from WITI favorite Tim Harford on Simon and the parable:

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