chapter  6
9 Pages

Toward Exemplification Literacy

T he fact that acquaintance with exemplars influences the assessment of salient phenomena as well as of comparatively irrelevant phenomena, social and other­ wise, should not surprise anyone. For millennia, humans had to render behaviorguiding judgment of general occurrences on the basis of experience with only a limited number of manifestations of these occurrences. The communication of experience eventually broadened the judgmental basis. Integration of personal ex­ perience with the experience of others, especially of many others, provided poten­ tially superior grounds for judgment. It also opened the door for misassessment, however, because the conveyance of others' experience could be distorted by the informers' communicative deficiencies or, more likely, by their selfish interest in the matters at issue. Given the severe limitations of personal experience, along with the inevitability of having to act on environments familiar to others but novel to those having to act, there was no alternative to accepting the risk inherent to re­ lying on the not necessarily reliable information provided by others.