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Educating for "Sapience"

Posted: Sep 8 2013 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Evolution, Systems Thinking, Community, Solving Societal Problems, Metacognition

I've recently been digging into the writings of George Mobus on the subject of "Sapience." Mobus begins by asking himself and his readers "If we are such a clever species, why is the world the way it is, and heading in such a bad direction?"

His answer is that most humans, even very intelligent and clever ones, have too little "sapience."

"Sapience" is Mobus' term for a human attribute that is a combination of judgement (based on life experiences), moral sense (primarily altruism, thinking about the welfare of the group as well as of yourself), taking a long view of the future (strategic perspective), and systems perspective. He thinks that sapience is present in all humans, but very unevenly distributed with a few people having a lot and most people having little. More

Why Nature is Quiet and the Built Environment is Noisy

Posted: Oct 15 2009 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Energy, Perception/Observation, Evolution

Kim\'s Quiet Prius
Is this car too quiet?
The front page of yesterday's New York Times reports on a bill in Congress that would require a federal safety standard to "protect pedestrians from ultra-quiet cars," including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The perceived danger is that pedestrians would not hear the quiet cars coming and would be more likely to be hit. One proposed solution is to require that the cars make an artificial noise, a "fake vroom for safety."

This story highlights a profound difference between the built environment and the natural environment: We expect the built environment to be noisy, and we expect nature to be quiet. More

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Evolution selects for Energy Conservation

Posted: Jul 30 2009 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Energy, Evolution, Solving Societal Problems

On the national scene, the powers that be are once again squabbling over the question of should the United States meet its future energy needs by finding new sources of energy or by energy conservation. Against this backdrop has been growing in my mind the realization that evolution selects for energy conservation.

You may think this is obvious. But it isn't how I was taught in school, and it isn't how natural selection is being presented to the public today. More