Teaching crypto to newbies (was: incompat.)

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Mon Dec 1 09:05:24 CET 2008

David Shaw wrote:
> How much harder is it to bring reality to a situation once someone 
> has "fed" the misunderstanding?

Should we forbid high schools from teaching Newtonian physics?  The
notions of absolute space and absolute time are gross misunderstandings
of reality.  How much harder is it to bring reality to physics once a
well-meaning teacher has fed these misunderstandings?

We use Newtonian physics to teach the scientific method.  Students are
taught to observe, to hypothesize, to create models, to test them, and
so forth.  Once the students have a good grasp of the tools, the teacher
says "... oh, and by the way, Mercury's precession is off.  Hmm.  Maybe
we should look into that." [*]

Similarly, I think there's value in developing the skill of "given these
trust axioms, what actions should we take?" first, and then challenging
people to re-evaluate their axioms.

That said, reasonable people can certainly disagree on this -- we left
objective fact behind us a long time ago, and are pretty far into the
realm of personal opinion.  :)

[*] Well, _good_ physics teachers do, anyway.  (Thank you, Professor

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