But the evaluation skill must be more than just being able to tell whether the information ‘accessed’ is factually accurate or not. A more fundamental ‘skill’ is being able to distinguish between information and a sales pitch. So called information can be ‘given’ for a whole host of reasons, very few of which are simply for the benefit of the one to whom it is given. A salesman, for example, can give you perfectly accurate information, but his purpose is to sell you something, usually something you don’t need. Producing indiscriminate spenders is, of course, the goal of a commodious education, so the development of this evaluative skill—distinguishing between good and bad information on the basis of its intended purpose—is not to be encouraged.The development of such a ‘skill’ would require that we ask students to consider questions like “What is the measure of a good life?”; “Is there an order or a purpose to this life that would 7
constitute its true fulfillment?”; “What is the value of money, possessions, and time compared to the value of a fine or virtuous soul?” and to seek the answers to such questions with the fervor that is their proper due. Clearly, the development of this kind of evaluative skill would be counterproductive to an economy of profit, and would not be included in the curricula of commodious education. Thus, as we find in the article written by the Dean of Commodious Education, she manifests the symptoms of this unused evaluative skill:Practically every advertisement, TV commercial or piece of information about anything has an Internet site where you can get more information or, for that matter, buy something. Think of the uses of the Internet for learning. As a college student in apparel merchandizing, my daughter went onto the Internet and visited the sites of the French and Italian couturier houses. It would have been months before she got access to those collections in traditional print form.The connection here between “getting information” and “buying something” is telling, as is the unquestioned assumption that apparel merchandizing is an academic subject. (Like many other so called areas of study, it cannot be found in the university before about 1950. That is, it only appears in less than two percent of the history of higher learning since the Greeks. The figure goes down if you include oriental cultures.) There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that by far the most common use of the internet is not simply to “get information”—not for the sake of the learner as a human beingwho by nature (as Aristotle says) desires to know—but, rather, it is to buy and sell. Everything from batteries to bombs to babes. The most common internet suffix is.com. The sites with the most hits invariably have something to do with sports, or sex, or both.