There are so many competing sources of information and distraction now that the idea of a “common culture” is nonsense - Thor 21 May 2017


Background Discussion


1. This is an extra edition of EH to get us back into the original date sequence. Following that, on June 25, there will be a another meetup on the topic of “Leadership”.

2. Many of the topics we choose can diverge in a dozen ways, depending upon the questions we prepare about them before we begin to explore the questions. That is, it depends upon the imagination, interests and background knowledge of the people who attend.

3. Our upcoming topic on Sunday, "Sharing a common culture" is a nonsense idea in 2017, is really a reflection upon the amazingly complicated lives we lead, wearing many hats, and what might or might not hold it all together at a community and national level. For example by giving an “Australian culture quiz” to immigrants seeking citizenship the wise ones in government feel that they have nailed into the brains of these wannabes essential qualities of the Australian way. Hmm.


Focus Questions [from Thor]


1. Is there such a thing as a World Culture, or a menu of world cultures?

2. To what extent do people actually choose their culture or cultures?

3. How does cultural participation in 2017 differ from that in earlier generations?

4. Do we use different signals to judge people across cultures compared to people within our own culture (or sub-culture).

5. As a readiness test for Australian citizenship the Australian government gives candidates a quiz on common knowledge and values (supposedly) shared amongst Australians. How sensible is this? Why/why not?

6. I’m almost allergic to TV, but read online world newspapers daily. I attach very little credibility to the memes and selective information found on social media like Facebook? How different, really, will my cultural universe be from those who expose themselves only to TV, and millenials who learn little outside of their smart phone social media accounts?

7. When I first entered universities in the 1960s there was still a ‘literary canon’ and a general ‘cultural canon’ (a collection of great literature & ideas) which every educated person was expected to be familiar with. Now in 2017 there are more people alive than in all the previous generations of humans combined. In every specialized field each year there are thousands of books, reports, films, recordings and so on published – more than any human can take in. What is it that we can now be expected to share?

8. Sometimes it is said that members of each trade and profession from every corner of the planet will probably have more in common with fellow professionals than they do with the fellow citizens of their particular countries. Is this true? In what way?

9. The scientific and technological revolutions of the last 300 years could not have happened without the use of scientific method (the impartial use of null hypotheses to test hypotheses under conditions which must be replicable). The evidence is overwhelming that very few non-scientists understand or even know about scientific method. This means there are at least two classes of people, mentally : the scientific and the users of magic. Will it be possible to keep a sustainable, stable culture containing both of these types, or will there be a kind of ‘civil war’ between them?

10. If most of us actually live in a web of different cultures in different parts of our lives, what is it that actually keeps a society functioning as some kind of whole?






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