Another dot in the blogosphere?

What the luck?

Posted on: November 9, 2017

Instead of priding ourselves on how well Singapore does on PISA performance, I say we also analyse what we post in social media and newspaper comment sections.

I am thinking out loud, but I am also serious. I am looking at academic measures even though online social commentary also offers insights into our attitudes and value systems.

Why did I have this thought exercise? I watched the video below about “luck” and I have been monitoring a local Pokémon Go (PoGo) Facebook group.

Video source

The video by SciShow host, Hank Green, describes how people attribute phenomena to “luck” instead of mathematical logic.

When things go their way, people believe that they are “lucky”, and when they do not, they are “unlucky”. This is the start of the slippery slope towards the belief of “luck” becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

PoGo SG group in Facebook.

In the PoGo Facebook group, I read an almost constant barrage of layfolk attributing their legendary Pokémon rare catches to being “lucky” or their string of fails as “unlucky”. To improve their “luck”, they mention wearing red underwear, carrying charms, or offering appeasements to the gods.

They persist with these lines of thought despite the occasional group member sharing resources on gameplay strategies (targetting methods, throwing curve balls, and using berries to increase catch rates). They also share the work of others who attempt to collect and analyse data to make sense of what works and what does not.

The larger “luck” group insists on unsubstantiated and blind belief. They seem to take comfort in not knowing and not trying something different. The smaller logic group is the exact opposite — they uncover new information and try to manage the cards they are dealt with.

There is no point in having world-beating PISA scores if we end up with adults who insist on being wilfully ignorant. Tests are good for just that — tests. They are not predictions of how well the students will do later in life.

Online social commentary are not complete measures either. But they offer insights into what people learn, value, and choose to apply. They provide indicators of learning that is stunted or life wide.


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