For the ignorant it is Latin for Blank Slate
For those who are still in the dark, it is an epistemological theory that human beings are born without any prior knowledge and therefore learn from their experiences and/or from what they are taught to believe.
The Romans used wax tablets to take notes. When they needed to erase the tablet for reuse they would heat the wax and remould it to give a tabula rasa.
Tabula Rasa, therefore, really means -‘erased tablet’ kind of like freeing up the RAM or disk(/tablet) space.
As is the case with any device, what matters is WHO controls it.
If the individual is in control of their own tabula rasa, they will decide what content they will believe, which content will be suspect and what they will choose to reject.
In other words they will use their own experience, perception and judgement to develop their worldview.
The trouble comes when OTHERS write on an individual’s tabula rasa either by
a. persuasion or
b. coercion or
c. a combination of both
Furthermore each of these methods might be
a. acceptable to the individual
b. unacceptable to the individual
All forms of human organization – nations, cultures, economies, societies, companies, institutions, clubs, communities seek control over the individual’s tabula rasa
Bureaucratic rationalization lends them the logical right to do so. Although this is done for the common good – it can also do evil because survival (that of the individual as well as that of the group) critically depends NOT really on WHO writes on the tabula rasa, but WHAT is written on it.
Sometimes the individual’s H0 can be superior
Which H0 – the default hypothesis – should we believe?
In a world where nobody has all the answers, all we have are hypotheses
In a world where we have to be able to act under conditions of uncertainty, Action cannot wait upon Knowledge (Bounded Rationality)
Which course of action should one pursue?
What shall we-choose-to-believe-unless-we-have-evidence-to-the-contrary?
It is important to recognize that H0 – the default hypothesis does not need proof before it is implemented.
On the contrary, it is what will be imposed, unless there is proof that it will not work. If accumulating proof takes a lifetime, in the meantime H0 will reign – maybe for a lifetime
It is therefore critical that we choose our H0 carefully.
It is critical that we be careful of what we etch onto our tabula rasa
We need to be careful who we allow access on to our tabula rasa
It is imperative to understand that organizations are responsible for the H0s they etch onto tabula rasas.
A true researcher, therefore, should not allow a default hypothesis to reign while he/she collects data and evidence to displace it.
A true case teacher, therefore, should not allow his/her answers to reign while the students seek their own answers.
User Beware! WHAT is being etched on to your tabula rasa?
Periodically erase your slate. Keep an open mind.
Dr. Siva V. Gabbita