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Dale's cone, spontaneous misconceptions, fraud

The bogus "Dale's cone"

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

The issue or phenomenon


The issue or pheno
The false cone
The real cone exists
The false Confucius

Model 1: random mutation. Scholarship's reasoned rebuttal of the attribution

Archiv ref: model of random meme.
Thalheimer etc. doing the scholarship => the attribution (authority) is wrong.

Model 2: Analogy to other pyramids. Theory and experiment's reasoned rebuttal of the assertion

Bloom, xref my neoBloom.
Evidence against the presupposition behind the assertions:
DrFox (even if medium, then motivation X delivery skill)
NGray: more interesting points about medium use in teaching

Ls don't know how/where they learned (so feeling of recog on seeing the cone
may be a delusion even about the reader's own experience).
(DrFox showed) it all depends on whether trying to learn, or just to be

Model 3: Spontaneous misconceptions. The educational theory of the unreasonable endurance of this error

Other cases: I hear, I see, I do.  I have to create this: doesn't seem to be
on my joke/quotes page after all.

Huge false attribs.

Viennot, SponCons as the theory of why these recur (not random bad
scholarship, but an educational reason.)
They occur in every disc.  E.g. plants feeding through their roots.


  • So model 1 establishing that there is no case to answer because therer never has been any (published, peer reviewed) evidence, and the assertions of authority are all false.
  • Model 2 establishes that if, nevertheless, we were to consider the bogus cone as a hypothesis, then these are several lines of both data and theory suggesting it is probably quite wrong and an unpromising hypothsis to research.
  • Model 3 tells us that nevertheless we are likely to see it perennially asserted because it seems to trigger a powerful though spurious resonance with our experience and attitudes.


    Why is it attractive?
    The truths it falsely seems to express?
    Cone / see, hear, do
    Falling asleep when forcing ourselves to read
    Falling asleep over TV but not blaming ourselves
    Falling asleep in conversation but not blaming ourselves
    BUT cone has no "thinking" as a mode of learning


  • Will Thalheimer:   top of website   page1   page2   page3   page4   A ppt
  • Lalley, J. P. and Miller R. H. (2007) "The Learning Pyramid: Does It Point Teachers in the Right Direction?" Education vol.128 no.1 pp.64-79


  • Niamh's report

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