The Logic of Competence
The Logic of Competence
This chapter clarifies the logical relationship between the types of information an educator can convey and competence at the types of tasks that people perform. Here is a short summary of the chapter’s main claims: . . . Knowledge of many things does not require recalling “all the facts.” Competence at many tasks does not require knowing “everything.” Trying to give “all the facts” to an audience is usually a sign of inefficiency. Cues and non-declarative memories facilitate competence even when they leave people unable to answer certain fact-based questions about a task. The effectiveness of attempts to increase competence depends on what information is given to whom. For example, when the competence of a group is being measured, not all members of that group must have the same knowledge for the group as a whole to be competent. . . . To improve efficiency, educators should understand what kinds of information are most relevant for increasing knowledge and competence. To reach these conclusions, I rely heavily on two terms: necessity and sufficiency. These terms describe logical relationships between two or more items. Educators who understand these terms can better distinguish information that increases desired competences from information that has no such power. X is a necessary condition for Y if Y can happen only after X happens. For example, suppose that earning at least a million votes is a necessary condition for a candidate to win an election. Two implications follow. First, any candidate who does not earn at least a million votes cannot win the election (which means that there may be no winner). Second, any candidate who earns at least a million votes has the potential to win the election. X is a sufficient condition for Y if X happening means that Y must also happen. Suppose that earning a million votes is sufficient to win the election. Two implications follow. First, any candidate who earns at least a million votes wins the election (which implies that multiple candidates could win). Second, any candidate who does not earn at least a million votes retains the potential to win the election.
Keywords: Jury Theorem, National Rifle Association (NRA), binary decisions, chimp coin toss, consumer knowledge, declarative memory, effectiveness global view, endorsements, gun control, referendums, state-level politics, travel routes analogy
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