Are You a Visual or an Auditory Learner? It Doesn’t Matter

“there’s no good scientific evidence that learning styles actually exist… instead of trying to transform a task to match your style, transform your thinking to match the task. The best strategy for a task is the best strategy, irrespective of what you believe your learning style is… don’t let your purported style be a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure or an excuse for resignation. “Sorry I mixed up the dates — I’m just not a linear thinker” is bunk. Likewise, don’t tell your child’s teacher that she is struggling in class because the teacher is not adjusting to her learning style… We are not constrained by our learning style. Any type of learning is open to any of us.” - NYT Opinion piece by Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia.

Read More
Bruce Sheridan
The Point of Thinking

“Human cognition never evolved for accuracy… Evolution doesn’t program us for truth, but for survival. The point of our thoughts is practical — not epistemological. They’re there to improve our lives (or our chances of survival)… “Being right” is only valuable to that end, but is not the ultimate goal… By extension, we shouldn’t evaluative the content of our beliefs on whether they are “right”, but on how well they make our lives go…” Maarten van Doorn

Read More
Bruce Sheridan
Thought Experiments: Brains And Machines

There are several PhD theses waiting to be written just on the content of this report alone. Last year I read Malcolm Gay’s The Brain Electric as part of my investigation into creativity. I chaff a little at the assumption of equivalence between “brain” and “mind” often retailed by authors of books and magazine articles (and the scientists they interview), but that’s a societal laziness that better science and more careful writing can improve. Regardless, mental influence (and its neural substrate) on motor processes is a powerful indicator of the embeddedness of mind, which, once accepted opens the door to the reality of 4E cognition: mind is definitionally embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive.

Read More
Bruce Sheridan
Tech Metaphors Are Holding Back Brain Research

Today I’m working on an introduction that sets up why cognitivism (specifically computational theories that hold the mind to be brainbound) distort our understanding of creativity and learning. I have a mountain of supporting information but it’s not much discussed in popular media, so was pleased to find this 2017 piece by ANNA VLASITS published in Wired. Vlasits is not arguing that our minds can’t compute, or that a form of electrical transmission along neurons doesn’t contribute to mental function, or even that metaphors aren’t useful. At base this is about not falling into the fallacy of generalizing from the specific and always remembering that a metaphor by definition does not describe things as they physically manifest. (Post title links to article.)

Read More
Bruce Sheridan
The Myth of "Mad" Genius

Excellent analysis by Christa L Taylor, postdoctoral research associate at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, of a myth that distorts how creativity is conceptualized and underpins a simplistic essentialism threaded through formal education. Title is link to the article in AEON Magazine.

Read More
Bruce SheridanComment
The Body is the Missing Link for Truly Intelligent Machines

"...we should take the risks of rogue AI seriously. But I believe we’re still very far from needing to worry about anything approaching human intelligence – and we have little hope of achieving this goal unless we think carefully about how to give algorithms some kind of long-term, embodied relationship with their environment." - Ben Medlock, AEON, March 14, 2017

Read More
Bruce Sheridan
The Limits of Formal Learning, or Why Robots Can’t Dance

"Human learning is always social, embodied, and occurs in specific practical situations. Mostly, you don’t learn to dance by reading a book or by doing experiments in a laboratory. You learn it by dancing with people who are more skilled than you.

Imitation and apprenticeship are the main ways people learn. We tend to overlook that because classroom instruction has become newly important in the past century, and so more salient.

I aimed to shift emphasis from learning toward development. “Learning” implies completion: once you have learned something, you are done. “Development” is an ongoing, open-ended process. There is no final exam in dancing, after which you stop learning." - David Chapman, Nautilus Interview, September 11, 2016

Read More
Bruce Sheridan