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07 December 2016

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Dear Jordan, The following links provide access to several articles covering the subject of agnotology, which focuses on culturally induced ignorance and it is not surprising that social media is responsible:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnotology

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance

http://www.skepticalscience.com/New-paper-agnotology-scientific-consensus.html

Agnotology is the brainchild of Robert Proctor from Stanford University and the articles are indeed quite interesting.

The problem is not just confined to PNG. Every time I walk into the food hall in the basement of Queens Plaza on Queen Street mall in Brisbane it resembles the set of an Oprah Winfrey show. Most of the occupants are incapable of stringing a sentence together without using the term mate and are more interested in what colour dress Kim Kardashian is wearing today.

If you mentioned George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Hardy or Charles Dickens, dark fog clouds would come rolling in.

Thanks Chris. The love for books and reading must be instilled in children at an early age.

Stanley and Phil, great idea. Probably next year when we return from Christmas vacation.

That's a good idea Stanley. Perhaps Jordan can bring some of the other authors in Port Moresby with him. Maybe Baka Bina and Emmanuel Peni and some of the poets.

Jordan, this is absolutely true. In am currently studying at the University of Papua New Guinea. What you are saying is just what we, the university students are doing.

We are really addicted to cut and past methodology. We cannot write our ideas and post in the face book and other social media sites.

Even in doing our major assignment all we do is just simply cut and past without even acknowledging the sources the information have been extracted. By doing so we gravely commit the academic crime of plagiarism.

To make it worse, most of our lazy lecturers do not even read and check thoroughly our assignments. They just awards marks just by looking at the cover rather than the contents. This is profoundly affecting the quality of university learning standards.

If this is not rectified, it can deteriorate the standard of learning in the universities. Consequently, the university graduates will be less competent and ineffective in contributing to the development of our beautiful country, PNG.

Jordan thank you for enlightening and reminding me about the importance of reading books rather thank wasting time facebooking.

Jordan I kindly ask if you could please make an appointment and come to UPNG and share your insights with us.

The problem that Jordan has mentioned is not unique to PNG. Across the world, far too many students seem to get through the education system without ever acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills.

By basic literacy I mean the capacity to easily read and understand newspaper articles or not too complex forms.

The inability to read and comprehend demanding and sometimes difficult writing necessarily means that a person is excluded from properly understanding important ideas and information. As a consequence, they are poorly placed to do well in our increasingly complex world.

Of course, on a day to day basis, verbal fluency is more important than literacy and so it is possible for the functionally illiterate to negotiate their way through life relatively easily. This is why the true extent of the problem is not more obvious.

My ancestors spent their lives engaged in the hard and dangerous work of tin mining. If the men survived much beyond 45 years of age they had done pretty well.

When, in the late 19th century, the chance arose to educate their children they seized it with fervour and desperation. Literacy and numeracy were a means of escape from a generational poverty trap.

Now, my extended family is full of university graduates doing highly skilled and highly paid jobs. One of my cousins rose to become Chief Commissioner of Police in Victoria. My daughter recently graduated with Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics.

None of this would have been possible without the ability to read and write with great fluency.

As Jordan rightly points out, the key to such mastery is early exposure to books, not to Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat.

A wise parent will to their very best to encourage their children to become voracious readers. For most of us, this was, is and remains the key to have a rewarding and prosperous life.

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