Thursday, November 24, 2011

Life Skills

You spend your life surrounded by people who have skills you take for granted so much that you don't consider them skills.

Then you have a moment of shock when you discover that an otherwise functioning adult does not have a skill that is possessed by everybody you have ever known.

In my head I can conceptualise the difference between 10,000 acres & 10,500 acres. I know exactly how big each is. I can do the same for square miles. I know 900 square miles from 800 square miles. But I don't expect many people outside my upbringing to be able to do the same.

But some things you believe are universal.

I can remember the stunned moment when I first realised there are adults who haven't a clue about distance, that telling them something is "a hundred miles away" meant the same to them as saying "ten miles away" or "a thousand miles away".

A bigger shock was when I realised there are plenty who have little understanding of temperature.

Today I encountered a business owner aged in their thirties, who is totally unable to read a weather map. It was nothing more than an abstract drawing to them.

To me the chart said "we're going to get under some very heavy rain in a few hours", and as it is a picture, said it much more clearly than were it to be printed here in text in the English language. A weather map is something you grow up deciphering & reading.

Or so I thought.

It seems that us country boys have some skills that our urban cousins never get around to developing.


Skeeter said...

I have a well-educated walking mate who is totally convinced that air at 11°C is 10% hotter than air at at 10°C.
To him, it is simple mathematics.
When I told him what those two air temperatures were in degrees Kelvin, he refused to believe that such a temperature scale existed.

Steve at the Pub said...

Let me guess, your well-educated walking mate isn't a science or engineering graduate?

Skeeter said...

No, he is not.
But then, neither am I.
The main difference between us is that he is 60 yrs old and I am 77.
We were taught very different things in primary and high schools.
I got my tertiary education in the air force where aviation meteorology was an important subject.
What we learned in the 1950s about how the atmosphere works, allows us to instantly recognise the AGW "science" as a total crock.

JeffS said...

Some of it comes from living in the city; it's amazing what city slickers will do in national parks, up here in the US of A. Such as viewing the critters in Yellowstone National Park as part of a petting zoo. I've witnessed this personally.

On the other hand......basic science is no longer taken seriously in the education system. The scientific method is ignored, or downplayed. The why and how of the world is relegated to sound bites on Discovery Channel, or reformatted into reality shows as entertainment, rather than a tool.

Scientists and engineers appear as magicians and wizards, able to baffle with bulls**t at will, because they certainly can't dazzle anyone with their brilliance. And people don't know any better because they think they need a degree to question the scientist or engineer (emphatically not true).

In short, critical thinking is not a common skill any more. It's one reason why I enjoy reading your blog; even the stories concerning seemingly mundane events displays a keen eye, and the ability to parse facts from fiction.

Weather should be common knowledge. But I know for a fact that it ain't, from sad personal experience with so-called professionals.

Keep up the good work! More critical thinking is needed. Maybe some of it will rub off on others.

Steve at the Pub said...

Wow, Jeff, thank you for the compliment. I thought I was just ordinary. The mayor & the cops think I am a nutter with nothing but a negative contribution to the town.

Yes, I've seen it all my life, city slickers holding the belief that if they "love" the crocodile it will "love" them back!