Thursday, March 10, 2005

I hate the head nodders...

Today was the last day of EEOB 740, and today was the day I was scheduled to give my presentation on the effect of reputation on the dynamics of cooperation. It was great fun. I love giving presentations. I always like to open with a joke or two, at least one buried in the title of the presentation agenda, and I always get laughs. I love the laughs, but I often just patiently wait midexpression to continue (I think it's an artifact high school theatre? I watch my quarter-turns as well) and I worry that people don't understand that I really do welcome the laughs.

But anyway, I about picked a fight with Mr. Anthropologist in the class. This guy is full of himself. He's one of the guys who CONSTANTLY nods his head at everything the prof is saying. He looks down, smiles a snotty smirk, and does big head nods. And he frequently sings the lauds of anthropology; apparently they're experts at everything over there.

So I picked on anthropologists a bit in my presentation. (my first slide after the agenda was "Quieting the Skeptopologist") I'm supposed to be the neutral engineer, but I side with the biologists. They are embracing logic, modeling, quantitative analysis. They embrace the idea that there IS a solution, even if you have no chance of finding that solution. Mr. Anthropologist will always come up with a "BUT you could say..." objection to every point someone makes, which is fine, but because he can come up with objections all the time, he assumes that there simply is no solution... or something. It's backwards. It's anthropology.

So during the class discussion, Mr. Anthropologist had to speak up with anthropologists. He criticized people for looking down on "the power of norms." He didn't seem to understand my point. It's not that norms aren't present, but it's that they are present for a reason. Norms themselves aren't going to save us from the biodiversity crisis. Understanding the evolution of norms may give us some hints as to actually solve our problems. So I said that I wasn't cutting down on anthropology, to which he responded that I was just making fun of it, to which I responded that since I was an engineer, I was allowed to make fun of everybody (to which the class laughed).

Anyway, it felt good to give an elbow to Mr. Anthropologist.

And after class one of the evolutionary biologists came up with me after class (we were walking the same way to our cars, both feeling (perhaps not equally) bad about walking out of a conservation ecology course toward our cars) and said she enjoyed the presentation. We talked. It was a good time. So it was good to know that some people took something good away from it. (the prof also e-mailed me and said good things, so that's nice too)

So then I splurged a little, went to Baja Fresh, got a chicken fajita burrito, and came home to listen to Marketplace on NPR... And now "News and notes" is on, so I'm going to turn off NPR and start my homework. The excitement of my day is over. Math and 805, here I come.

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