From Rats to Cats


Graffiti on a wall in Smith Street, Fitzroy, in Melbourne, in 2008

This is a slightly edited version of a blog from September 7th 2018 called ‘From Rats to Cats”

'The Sounds of Silence' is a song that was written by Paul Simon between 1963 and 1964. The concluding lyrics are:

And the sign flashed out it’s warning

In the words that it was forming

And the signs said, ‘The words of the prophets

Are written on the subway walls and tenement halls’

And whispered in the sounds of silence

The graffiti ('words of the prophets') sprayed on the local suburban walls is more visual than textual, but two messages that I remember are "Each day I wake up on the wrong side of capitalism" and "Strength through superior firepower". Once I saw a scrawled plea "Free Bill Posters" under the printed sign "Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted".
Sometimes you find graffiti that is both clever and insightful, as in this "Good Rat vs Bad Rat" poster on a wall in Smith Street Fitzroy in 2008
In 2015 Amit Maini and I were looking for a title for a website based on ECGs, and for a while we considered calling it 'Good Rat - Bad Rat', using the above image. Hence the reference to 'Rats' in the blog title. In the end we called the site ECGMojo. The content in was 'live' and updated until November 2016.
What did I learn from the initial blog? If you are interested in and passionate about teaching, then adapting your teaching content for the internet is alluring: it can be like a (Dunning-Kruger) candle flame to a moth. The eager moth will most likely be burnt by some myths or realities:

Anyone can be a good teacher on the internet
Lengthy answers are always best
There’s no longer an agreed upon body of knowledge everyone needs to know [Source forgotten]
"Only two things justify the publication of a book*, viz., the author must either communicate something new, or he must have a new method of stating what is already known". [From the preface of The Anatomy of the Joints of Man - Henry Morris - J. & A. Churchill 1879] [* or a blog]

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect? This is well explained in this abstract to an article (in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 2011 44:247-296) by David Dunning:"The Dunning-Kruger Effect: On Being Ignorant of One's Own Ignorance"

“In this chapter, I provide argument and evidence that the scope of people’s ignorance is often invisible to them. This meta-ignorance (or ignorance of ignorance) arises because lack of expertise and knowledge often hides in the realm of the “unknown unknowns” or is disguised by erroneous beliefs and background knowledge that only appear to be sufficient to conclude a right answer. As empirical evidence of meta-ignorance, I describe the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which poor performers in many social and intellectual domains seem largely unaware of just how deficient their expertise is. Their deficits leave them with a double burden - not only does their incomplete and misguided knowledge lead them to make mistakes but those exact same deficits also prevent them from recognizing when they are making mistakes and other people choosing more wisely. I discuss theoretical controversies over the interpretation of this effect and describe how the self-evaluation errors of poor and top performers differ. I also address a vexing question: If self-perceptions of competence so often vary from the truth, what cues are people using to determine whether their conclusions are sound or faulty?”

Amit and I have decided to revive our Blogging partnership. The new site is called Plato's Nous, and refers to our patron cat named Nous. The term 'nous' comes from the Greek concept of 'mind' or 'insight'.
We will include most of the material from ECGMojo

LJ & AM & PN