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ERIC Number: ED219296
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Specialized Meaninglessness: A Source of Truth in the Technical Age.
Thompson, Mark E.
This essay discusses how technical processes can deceive us and how college educators and social scientists must be especially sensitive to the dangers of technology when conducting research and proposing applications from research. As technology and bureaucratic controls have grown, so too have the demands for specialized knowledge in many areas. A particular technique or knowledge becomes quite meaningful for people within academic disciplines or specialized work environments. While technique attempts to bring efficiency to all matters, it also brings a specialized meaninglessness. With serious, sometimes threatening tones, educators and workers attempt to puff themselves up with the rhetoric of their activities. For example, when humans create technical forms of work to support other technical operations, they usually adopt a supporting language to bolster their existence and inflate their status. Psychologists have created such a language for themselves. Often times, a self-destructive process of isolation sets in. Another problem of concern to educators brought on by this specialized meaninglessness is "what does our research data mean and how should we use it?" For example, it is now possible to read about two or more economic theories based on sophisticated data tabulations which explain with great self-confidence that the national economy will be going respectively in two or more directions. Who is right? There are two major areas of concern here: contrived manipulation and the inability to get and understand all available data. Researchers are always dangerously close to a specialized meaninglessness because they can never have command of all possible situations or circumstances. (RM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A