I do not intend to poke holes here for the sake of argument. I just thought I would share this discussion that I have been passively enjoying at Cognitive Dissonance, but I think it is not just trivial to note that when Nate is talking about the Science of Baking he inserted a provision “baking — that is, applying heat to food in a closed box” in his definition of baking halfway through his analogy that was absent in his original definition “baking — that is, the transfer of heat into food within the confines of a box.”
I don’t consider the addition of the requirement that the box be closed to be a critical fault to the argument. Actually I think it helps to illustrate Nate’s point that we need to nail down a common definition of “learning” before we can productively argue about what makes learning happen. We need to confine our definition to a manageable scope. We will not make any headway in increasing our understanding of learning if we spend all our time arguing that learning takes place everywhere in unpredictable ways because I cannot manage all learning or all its ways. I can talk about learning and whatever is consistent about that or I can talk about what happens in a classroom (which is a lot more than just learning) but I cannot confuse “learning” with “what happens in a classroom.” I could argue that cooking is just chemistry but then I have to deal with all kinds of chemical reactions that were not considered cooking before. Maybe cooking is chemistry involving food that is intended for ingestion.
Whatever the case let us make sure that we do not inadvertently insert small new conditions in our definition in the middle of our argument because if we do our argument will not be sound.
P.S. I should note that this is not a critique of Nate’s argument, but an illustration of his excellent point.