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The Art of Observation and How to Master the Crucial Difference Between Observation and Intuition

The Art of Observation and How to Master the Crucial Difference Between Observation and Intuition

Why genius lies in the selection of what is worth observing.

“In the field of observation,” legendary disease prevention pioneer Louis Pasteur famously proclaimed in 1854, “chance favors only the prepared mind.” “Knowledge comes form noticing resemblances and recurrences in the events that happen around us,” neuroscience godfather Wilfred Trotter asserted. That keen observation is what transmutes information into knowledge is indisputable – look no further than Sherlock Holmes and his exquisite mindfulness for a proof – but how, exactly, does one cultivate that critical faculty?

From The Art of Scientific Investigation (public library; public domain) by Cambridge University animal pathology professor W. I. B. Beveridge – the same fantastic 1957 compendium that explored the role of the intuition and imagination in science and how serendipity and “chance opportunism” fuel discovery – comes a timeless meditation on the art of observation, which he insists “is not passively watching but is an active mental process,” and the importance of distinguishing it from what we call intuition. Though a number of celebrated minds favored intuition over rationality, and even Beveridge himself extolled the merits of the intuitive in science, he sides with modern-day admonitions about our tendency to mislabel other cognitive processes as “intuition” and advises:

It is important to realize that observation is much more than merely seeing something; it also involves a mental process. In all observations there are two elements : (a) the sense-perceptual element (usually visual) and (b) the mental, which, as we have seen, may be partly conscious and partly unconscious. Where the sense-perceptual element is relatively unimportant, it is often difficult to distinguish between an observation and an ordinary intuition. For example, this sort of thing is usually referred to as an observation: “I have noticed that I get hay fever whenever I go near horses.” The hay fever and the horses are perfectly obvious, it is the connection between the two that may require astuteness to notice at first, and this is a mental process not distinguishable from an intuition. Sometimes it is possible to draw a line between the noticing and the intuition, e.g. Aristotle commented that on observing that the bright side of the moon is always toward the sun, it may suddenly occur to the observer that the explanation is that the moon shines by the light of the sun. Read more of this post

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Beijing, Shanghai announce detailed property curbs; The two mega-cities both vow to strictly implement the 20-percent tax on capital gains from property sales

Beijing, Shanghai announce detailed property curb

English.news.cn   2013-03-30

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) — The municipal governments of Chinese capital Beijing and business hub Shanghai on Saturday spelled out detailed rules aimed at cooling the property market following the central government’s fresh regulatory plan earlier this month.

Single adults with a permanent Beijing residence registration, who have not made purchases in the city before, are allowed to buy only one apartment, according to the announcement.

Shanghai said banks will be banned from giving loans to local residents who are buying a third apartment or more, according to a government announcement.

Meanwhile, the two cities will raise down payments for second-home buyers.

The two mega-cities both vow to strictly implement the 20-percent tax on capital gains from property sales. Read more of this post

Investors wary of “slow panic” on growth after Cyprus rescue

Published: Saturday March 30, 2013 MYT 11:44:00 AM

Investors wary of “slow panic” on growth after Cyprus rescue

LONDON: World markets have reacted calmly to the twists and turns of Cyprus’s financial rescue in the last fortnight but many investors fear the economic fallout is yet to come.

They have sold European assets, rather than make a global dash for safety that could signal concerns about a euro breakup.

Euro blue chip and bank equity prices, regional bank bonds and the euro exchange rate have all fallen sharply this week but Wall St stocks set a record closing high.

Mutual fund data released by fund tracker EPFR on Friday showed that European equity, bond and money market funds all saw hefty redemptions this week even as investors continued to pile into Japanese and U.S. equity funds. Read more of this post

Need a Job? Invent It; the goal of education today, argues Harvard’s Tony Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” — ready to add value to whatever they do

March 30, 2013

Need a Job? Invent It

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

WHEN Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist, describes his job today, he says he’s “a translator between two hostile tribes” — the education world and the business world, the people who teach our kids and the people who give them jobs. Wagner’s argument in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” is that our K-12 and college tracks are not consistently “adding the value and teaching the skills that matter most in the marketplace.”

This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job — the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is being buried — made obsolete — faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education today, argues Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” — ready to add value to whatever they do. Read more of this post

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