I was schooled in Adobe Lightroom, have been mystified by Daniel Dennett's Competence without Comprehension, and played with Prepared Learning.
Prepared Learning (and Martin Seligman)
I was not planning in putting this rocktacular photo up but once I found it, how could I not? This is Dr. Martin Seligman in full 1970s kit. Anyway, we approached Martin Seligman again in one of my classes to look at positive psychology’s gifts. I’m pretty familiar with positive psychology through all the popular psychology books I’ve read over the past decade or so but it is a different world completely exploring the original works in actual journal articles. Reading Seligman’s articles is a different beast from reading his book Flourish. I love his book. His articles are bananas. I was looking up what he is known for and he did some pivotal work before he stumbled upon positive psychology. Apparently, he helped put together Prepared Learning. This is a wild concept where we are primed to make associations with fear or optimism or taste than other things. The best example is that we can learn to be afraid of snakes as children after only one negative stimuli or event but it might take a lot longer to be conditioned to be afraid of a Power Ranger doll. The idea is that natural environmental threats can flip the switch in our brain faster for a reproductive or general survival reason. The Power Ranger is new and novel and we don’t know how to respond. We have to tap into a cognition (which Kahneman says is very difficult and requires a lot of mental energy and focus to do – so we usually avoid doing so) to categorize the Power Ranger as dangerous, safe, or neutral. This makes a lot of sense intuitively – we evolved to be able to be cautious of snakes and spiders. I don’t know if it scales up but you can think of the cognitive dissonance apparent in why we allow guns, vehicles, and sugar with little to no regulation but have waged a massive genocide against wolves and sharks when the rate of injury and death from both is so unequal.
Competence without Comprehension
Daniel Dennett came out with a new book called From Bacteria to Bach and Back and it is an ass-kicker. My favorite of his so far. Dennett is called one of the four horsemen. Along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, Dennett uses his profound intelligence to explore and explain the mysteries of life. Sidenote: I just learned that there is a fifth member who was supposed to be at the same conference where all of these guys were speaking at and where the label was coined; her name is Ayaan Hirsi Ali and she is a Somali born Dutch-American. I digress: as a philosopher, Dennett’s talent is logical jiu jitsu. As a philosopher of science and neuroscience especially, he digs deep into the big questions of evolution, free will, determinism, consciousness, morality, and language with a technical expertise that is barely understandable by my feeble brain but fascinating nonetheless. I’m trying to make sense of his logic and am not fully there yet but one of his terms is Competence without Comprehension and I love it. It is a powerful shortcut to explain complex concepts.
In looking this up, there is not an easy shorthand for it (which makes me think of a rad project) but I did find an awesome blog by a Dutch psychologist. Coert Visser started the blog called Progress-Focused Approach and I love his beliefs: http://www.progressfocused.com/p/some-things-i-believe-and-expect.html
Regarding Competence without Comprehension, Visser pulls together the following statements on his site (http://www.progressfocused.com/search?q=+comprehension):
The other powerful example Dennett uses to discuss consciousness emerging from a system: he mentions CERN and how the thousands of scientists need not and indeed cannot explain the entirety of the project they work on yet each of them is creating new knowledge by their skillful and necessary contribution to the whole. Each scientist has extensive competence but only vague comprehension and yet the outcome is elegance. There is strength in this tool to explain systems theories, evolution through natural selection, and the feedback loops involved.
I’ve been using Lightroom to edit and collect my photos for two years now. It was recommended by Dave Pirazzi of Colorado Lagoon fame and I took his advice unquestioningly. It was brilliant advice. I am self-taught and youtube-taught. And while I knew I wasn’t using it to the full power and I didn’t understand what a lot of the toggle bars did, I was competent enough to create decent photos. Then I met a photographer Jeff Sarvis who asked me: “But did you know there is a right way to use it, an order in which you’re supposed to use Lightroom?” No, Mr. Sarvis, I did not. He was amazing enough to invite me over to his house for an afternoon and walk me through it. 3 hours and several pages of notes later I was exhausted. I had to eat 2 chocolate chip cookies and have a cup of mate to get my brain functioning again. He taught me so much about it and answered all the questions I didn’t even know I had. For the sake of simplicity I am going to note down the simple steps for a normal photo (not an HDR, a specific touch up, or graphic design project):
Genius. I started a whole new Catalog so I could start fresh with this new information. I am so excited.