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Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Bow Knows

Bow knows a lot of things. But he's not telling. "Why won't you help me prove it?" No answer.

Bow selfie taken yesterday
Why would a subject not tell a researcher everything? Why isn't every student eager to show how smart he is? Why wouldn't all people who know a language want to share that knowledge with the world?

Well, sometimes it's because they feel the less strangers know about it, the better. Like the speakers of Maidu who feel knowledge is power, and they would rather their language die with them than hand it over to strangers:

Maidu Speakers Won't Share

"We believe the way you reach richness in life is through knowledge. It gives you power and it is your responsibility to use that wisely. If you pass that knowledge on, you are responsible for the outcome. If someone misuses the knowledge you give them, if they use it to hurt someone, you as the person who gave it to them, are responsible for that hurt."'
Bow seems to feel the same way. A long time ago, someone said in his presence that if people knew what he could do, they would kill him. At the time, he took it very much to heart. Today, I'm not sure that's what's motivating him to keep mum. I think he just has a very good life, and he does not want to risk changing it.

There are many others who keep their light hidden. There are students in high school who make sure they don't excel because they don't want to be geeks or losers. They intentionally keep expectations about their achievements lowered, because they don't want to be used for their minds.

Not everyone wants to prove how smart he is or share what he knows. Unfortunately, that is not true of me. I do want to share, I do want people to know.

So there's a conflict between what I want and what Bow wants.  Is there a way to prove what a subject knows without his cooperation? And if there were a way to do that, would it be ethical?


  1. Bow's restraint might be a good thing. I think he will reveal what he wants.

    1. Yes, I think that's true. It's just uncomfortable for me, career-wise, not to be able to prove anything.

  2. I was going to ask you if perhaps, Bow had overheard something that could be affecting his willingness to reveal what he knows and now you've shared that. I could understand his reluctance then. Wow, who would say such a stupid thing??
    I'm sure you've tried to reassure him, so it's interesting to me that he is holding on to that so strongly.

    1. I am not sure he actually is thinking about that, anymore. He has not mentioned it in years. It just might be that Bow does not want any big changes right now. He is less forthcoming than he was when he was younger.