Perspectives and Peers 1, Introduction

Note: This is a selection from Perspectives and Peers, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

Multiple perspectives and peer interaction are two processes that have been mentioned numerous times in class. A review of the literature (assigned books, assigned articles, and non-assigned articles), as well as an interview with a man knowledgeable of both educational psychological theory and adolescents, calls the value of peer interaction into question. The same review strongly supports the value of multiple perspectives.

This paper will discuss the views of assigned books and articles, as well the differing views of other peer reviewed articles, before delving into the interview findings. In each section, both multiple perspectives and peer interaction are discussed. Afterwards, the findings will be summarized, a conclusion will be reached, and reference list and interview question and answer sets shall be attached.


Throughout this series, “multiple perspectives and “peer interaction” will be referred to. Because every author can use terms in slightly different ways, and formal definitions can be difficult to find, the words will be used in the following ways. “Multiple perspectives” refers different interpretations of a concept, a thing, or another person. A shift of perspective can greatly change what something appears to be, in the way that changing one’s position in space can transform a constellation from one shape into another. “Peer interaction” refers to sharing of multiple perspectives with someone else of approximate age, experience, knowledge, and power. Peers can be more or less equal, but should not be significantly unequal.


Perspectives and Peers, a tdaxp series:
Perspectives and Peers 1. Introduction
Perspectives and Peers 2. Books Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 3. Articles Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 4. Other Articles
Perspectives and Peers 5. Interview with the Subject
Perspectives and Peers 6. Conclusion
Perspectives and Peers 7. Bibliography
Perspectives and Peers 8. Interview with Mark Safranski

Cheeky? Maybe. Thrilled? Definitely!

The dangers of the blogosphere dialogue,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 22 May 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003280.html.

Mark Safranski of ZenPundit found this over at Tom’s blog. I’m stunned.

Yes, there is some of that in the blogosphere, and I benefit from it more than most in the efforts of people like Mark Safranski and Dan tdaxp. But Dan’s a good point to explore, because I found my dynamic with him to be very familiar, meaning one I’ve participated in from both sides countless times in my career, and a description would be instructive I think.

Here’s the generic description: One guy wants to engage another guy he looks up to. To get his attention, he makes a startling, cheeky criticism. They go back and forth, and it gets testy. Then the “elder” guy says something nice about the “younger” guy and the younger guy is thrilled. The ice is broken, and then the conversation really begins.

Ask yourself, how many times you’ve been through this dynamic with people, both where you’re the younger or you’re the older. You make a small connection, and all of a sudden the walls come down. The younger person feels acceptance, the older person feels less threatened, and dialogue takes off.

That is essentially what happened with Dan and me, but frankly, that’s also what’s happened with me and a host of “elders,” to include people like Tom Friedman, whom obviously I admire and model myself after and at whom I’ve occasionally take inappropriate pot shots (like my review of “World is Flat”) because–damn it!–I’d like him to notice me and take me more seriously. Well, Friedman sent me a couple of emails a while back, breaking the ice, and I naturally settled down. Yes, there was a Sally Field-like moment there for a minute, but that passed too.

Same thing happened with me and Dan. It’s just human nature.

My point is this: that essential transaction is hard to do in the asynchronous, one-upmanship world of the blogosphere, where the faceless crowd is constantly egging you on with “fight! fight! fight!”

Wow. This is something else.

  1. My work’s beneficial to Tom. Neat!
  2. He compared me to himself, in the context of interacting with great thinkers. Neat!
  3. I managed to do (1) and (2) in the blogosphere, which can be a hostile environment for that sort of interaction.

What else to say? Neat!

My last few days have been action packed, from getting Redefining the Gap finally published to visiting the ER. These props from Tom are — how would he say? — thrilling.

Bart Ehrman v. The DaVinci Code

Why The Dumb Vinci Code matters to America, you and I ,” by Razib, Gene Expression, 22 May 2006, http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/05/why_the_dumb_vinci_code_matter.php (from gnxp).

I’ve criticized Bart Ehrman before, so I sympathize completely with this:

Below GrrlScientist asks why The Da Vinci Code is “bad history.” I believe it is bad history because someone whose work I respect and have enjoyed has pointed out manifold errors, including in a book which covered this ground. His name is Bart Ehrman, and he is the head of Religious Studies at UNC. I’ve read two of his books, Lost Christianities and Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman went through a phase of fundamentalist Christianity, but his need to know the New Testament in the original led him to learning Latin and Greek, and a Ph.D. In the process, he became an agnostic.

For me, the biggest problem with The Da Vinci Code is that the fundamentalists are right! All the critiques that the fundamentalists make about The Da Vinci Code have a lot of truth in them, and when I’m agreeing with fundamentalists, something is wrong. It puts them on the same side as the majority of Biblical scholars, and that hasn’t happened in a long time. Instead of “refuting” scholarly debunkings of the inerrant or literal character of the Bible, fundamentalists are now drawing from the wellspring of New Testament scholarship to debunk a rival superstition.

Read the whole thing.

The whole tragedy of this, of course, is that the Code‘s predecessors, Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned were extremely good. And if you just want some literary-thriller sort of work, The Rule of Four is better too.