What is Unlearning LO10122

jack hirschfeld (jack@his.com)
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 09:15:41 -0400

Replying to LO10106 --

Ivan Blanco declared:

>We use all knowledge to evaluate new one. In fact, we know that
>new knowledge is good or bad as we compare it with old ones. I may not
>remember anything (should say everything) I have learned in the past, but
>I have not unlearned anything. I think that this ability to use old
>knowledge to define the value of new is one of the attributes that
>differentiates us from other animals, from computers, etc.

It is useful for me, when thinking about this, to consider the "ladder of
inference" as a model. I'm not so sure it can be clearly demonstrated
that we learn by evaluating new data in the light of prior knowledge, but
I can accept that as a theory. However, it does not follow that when new
data are presented that we will learn. There has been plenty of
discussion here about how mindset or "mental models" will shape how we
interpret new data.

If. for example, we have learned, as most Americans do, that white people
are better than non-white people, each piece of evidence that this is not
so may be confronted by "argument" which denies the relevance of the data.
Although some people are successful at letting go of racist ideas
(unlearning), it is usually not by reasoning with new data, or evaluating
their old ideas in the light of new data, but more often and more likely
by experiences which challenge many underlying assumptions, of which the
racist ideology is only one.


Jack Hirschfeld Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore? jack@his.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>