Are we as a society turning our backs on science? Have we decided to just throw up our hands and go back to the first half of the Twentieth Century or earlier? It certainly seems like it sometimes.
CHILI’S AND THE ANTIVAXXERS
A few days ago we heard that Chili’s, the popular restaurant chain, had cancelled its plans to raise funds for the National Autism Association. Why? Isn’t everyone against autism? Surely we can all get behind fundraising for such a worthy cause.
Except, as it turns out, the misleadingly named NAA is an antivax group. They believe vaccines cause autism, and the funds raised would have supported their unscientific, utterly unfounded belief. Chili’s, after hearing from the public, wisely decided to cancel their sponsorship.
Vaccines, after all, are one of the greatest accomplishments of modern science. They are responsible for the virtual obliteration of some diseases. They keep billions of people safe from the ravages of many diseases. They protect our children from measles, mumps, whooping cough, tetanus, and polio. They protect adults from influenza, pneumonia, HPV, shingles, and more. The science is indisputable. And yet there are people in this country who choose pseudoscience over decades of scientific research and evidence from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, and believe vaccinations cause autism. They do not vaccinate their children, leaving them and those around them at risk for diseases that had been contained or eliminated. Case in point: current measles outbreaks around the U.S. and Canada. Proof enough that we cannot drop our guard. We must vaccinate to ensure such diseases do not recur in epidemic proportions.
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND MEDICINE
Then there’s the complex issue of women’s reproductive health, abortion, contraception, and sex education in this country. We know that providing sex education and contraception greatly reduces the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies and resulting abortions, not to mention sexually transmitted diseases. We have more than forty years’ worth of statistics to prove it. And yet there is a segment of our population that has risen up to reject everything science and medicine have taught us and pass laws turning back the clock to the days of back-alley, coat-hanger abortions. There won’t be fewer abortions but there will be thousands more women facing the complications of botched abortions — infection, mutilation, and loss of the ability to bear children in the future. Much of this stems from a more active, vocal ultraconservative religious right and their seeming desire to reject science and strip women of the right to decide what happens to their bodies if they become pregnant. It’s a complete rejection of modern science and medicine in favor of religious teachings about the beginning of life and the place of women in society. It’s fine to believe what you want to believe about these things, but it’s not okay to impose those beliefs on others. Other people are just as entitled to their rights and beliefs.
What about the global warming issue, aka climate change? No matter what you call it, the science is solid. The earth is getting warmer. The polar ice caps and glaciers are melting, and sea levels are gradually rising. The issue seems to be whether the warming is a natural fluctuation in the earth’s temperature or a warming caused in a number of ways by humans. Knowing humans are at least partly at fault means we can and should do something to offset the human contribution, yet rather than seek effective ways to counter the warming, there’s a segment of the population that prefers to deny that warming is occurring at all (scientists lie, you know). They reject all the evidence, all the science and research. They are in the minority (3%, to be exact), but they are vocal. And they will continue to deny the existence of global warming even when the rising seas sweep across their beachfront properties.
EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM
Then there are the creationists who keep trying to interject “intelligent design,” a religious and philosophical concept, into our biology classrooms, to be taught along with evolution as though it were a comparable science — which of course it is not. In the past it has been generally accepted that science would be taught in schools and religion would be taught in churches. But creationism was rebranded as “intelligent design” and advocates began pushing to get it included in science classes.
These same people are apoplectic over the television show “Cosmos” and host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s failure to include intelligent design in his discussions of the universe and the origin of life. Inexplicably, they think this science program should allot equal time to creationism. Tyson does give it some time — just enough to resoundingly refute it.
He explained in the Huffington Post:
“I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn’t really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced,” Tyson said, adding, “you don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.”
WHY? AND WHY NOW?
Why there is such a resurgence of religiosity is unclear. Perhaps it’s a reaction to an increasingly troubled nation and world. Perhaps it has been provoked by the rise of the New Atheists, a rather outspoken group of atheists, agnostics, and humanists who aren’t content to sit on the sidelines anymore with their nonbelief. Perhaps the 9/11 attacks by Muslim extremists spurred a strong Christian backlash. Maybe it was President Obama’s remark about people clinging to their guns and their Bibles. Maybe it’s just a side effect of the rise of the tea party, which started as a group concerned about taxes but which happened also to be composed mostly of conservative Christians.
However it came about, it appears that a significant segment of the population, predominantly conservative Christians, has become much more active in its efforts to promote religion over science, to deny that life rose from the sea and humans evolved from apes, that diseases can be controlled and even eradicated with modern medicine, that women’s liberation and modern science can free women to pursue productive lives of their own choosing, and that mankind is causing global warming.
Is there a fear that their religion is under siege, that it will somehow cease to exist? No one is trying to take it from them, close their churches, deny them their right to believe. The Constitution protects their right to worship as they please, to believe whatever they want to believe. The government even gives their churches special tax breaks to help ensure their continued existence.
Perhaps it’s simply the passage of time, the maturation of younger generations who didn’t experience the polio epidemic, the desperate women seeking desperate measures to end unwanted pregnancies, the rise of environmental awareness, and the darkness before Hubble’s views of the expanse and beauty of the universe around us. Perhaps it’s just the coming of age of a generation that did not experience and therefore cannot understand or appreciate what the world was like … before.
Or maybe it’s all a case of misperception and, in this case, distorted reality, thanks to journalists who think “balanced” means presenting all sides equally, whether or not they are of equal validity, importance, or relevance. Science is out there, but so are those who for whatever reason reject it, and though the true balance might be 90% science / 10% anti-science, the media, in their effort to appear balanced, give the two equal time and/or space. Maybe the creationists, the climate change deniers, etc., really constitute only 5%-10% of the population, and “balanced” media coverage only makes it appear science is being rejected and the clock turned back. Let’s hope that’s the case, because with the rise of advocacy journalism and the manipulation of our media by a small number of wealthy individuals and special interests, the truth is becoming more and more elusive.
- Chili’s makes a mess of autism “awareness”
- Antivaxxers: Your kids don’t live in bubbles
- The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion
- Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?
- Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ upsets creationists
- Creationists Demand Airtime On Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’
- How Journalism Distorts Reality
52 thoughts on “Are we turning our backs on science?”
EXCELLENT post, Susan !! – you’re speaking for me, too, word for bloody word ! My compliments !!!
Thanks. I tried to keep it civil, but there are a lot of people out there I’d like to throttle.
You succeed with the civility aspect. I couldn’t. I have to rely on there being intelligent people out there who will speak for me so that I don’t have to fulminate in rage.
I was watching a rerun of “Through The Wormhole” with Morgan Freeman the other night, and they cited statistics from around the world on the shrinking percentages of people who acknowledge an alignment with organized religions. Despite the “calming influence” religion has had, historically, on our tendency towards aggressive behavior aimed at fulfilling short-sighted goals, it is thought that shrugging off religion’s inhibitive influence on the advancements possible through free thought is a necessary part of the evolution towards becoming a truly advanced civilization.
That all made perfect sense, and I’d love to believe that the time where every decision made by the human collective is negatively influenced by the pervasiveness of religious thought is coming to an end. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much evidence of it in my personal relationships. Then again, evolution is a very slow process. Maybe the knuckle-draggers are so restless because even their limited intellects can sense the change coming!
Religion has had a calming influence? Maybe, but it’s also been the cause of a lot of wars.
As for religion’s inhibitive influence on advancement …
This brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of it:
Makes you wonder how different history might have been if that library had survived …
I think the caption on your image covers what “might have been” pretty well. Me, I can’t stop imagining scenarios where history repeats itself, again…
Brrrr, let’s not go there!
Great post, PT. It’s always the extremes that cause the problems. Most people, Christian or not, don’t favor ID in the classroom or limiting women’s reproductive rights. Unfortunately, it’s the unhappy people that get things done.
I try to tell myself that most people are sensible, but it sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes. And I do blame the media for acting as though only the extremes, the most outspoken deserve to be heard. It gives such a skewed picture of our society, and I fear too many people take that at face value.
Absolutely, PT. And unfortunately, it’s the sensational that sells.
That’s the problem these days. It’s no longer about accurate information; it’s about making money.
Well-said! I preach against the extremes all the time in my column; so much of the time it seems that the extreme-right evangelicals are trying to be the morals police and make everyone adhere to their beliefs.
A lot of it, I think, seems to stem from this odd tide of paranoia that’s enveloped so many at least somewhat rational people. I’m a Christian, but I respect the beliefs of others and don’t insist that they believe what I do, and I certainly would never ignore the realities of science. I mean, c’mon,, why would we be given intelligence if its purpose wasn’t to use it to learn more about what’s around us? Creation “science” isn’t science. Climate change is real. Vaccines and herd immunity have greatly lessened or eliminated deadly diseases.Outlawing abortion will only make it more dangerous and deadly, and the number of women who use it as birth control is exceedingly small.
If I have to make a choice, I’ll have to stand by science. Shutting our eyes to the realities of the world doesn’t make them disappear, and believing that you’re persecuted when you’re not being tortured or killed for your beliefs is just nuts … the only people out to get you are those who can’t stand hypocritical conspiracy theorists with persecution complexes.
OK, rant over. I feel better. 😀
Well, I’m hoping you represent the great majority of Christians out there but there are days I feel that moderate, educated people are under siege by the radical right wing. I tell myself they are not the majority, but based on the laws that are being proposed or passed and the way our elections are turning out, I really worry sometimes. I’ve no doubt the media are making the situation look more dire than it is — at least I hope that’s the case — but often it’s hard to tell. Common sense doesn’t seem so common these days.
I think it’s mostly a minority of very, VERY vocal people. When you can’t win with logic, it’s time to use volume.
I stopped going to church regularly in my teens because there was a bit too much hypocrisy among some there to suit my taste, but I never stopped being a Christian. For the most part, my church was pretty sedate, and most members would never be caught dead doing a lot of the things we see going on now. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t approve of a lot of this stuff either. But then, I don’t know what he thinks. Perhaps I should ask all these people who claim they do …
And yep, common sense should be on the endangered species list; it’s a rare bird indeed. Especially if these guys see it—they’ll shoot it down in a heartbeat. 😉
You know, Sam would have done a hellava job for you narrating this post! 😀
Provoking post that in my opinion goes some distance in accentuating the “human condition” which is a very real term that is at the core of any answer I or anyone else might care to present with regard to the many questions raised in your post.
It seems to me that answers to the questions you pose are much easier to address in the context of individuality. And individually we are all a product of our environment from birth till our death. And of course there is the cultural aspect along with religion that all becomes blended into each individual.
Another major influence since the beginning of the 20th century has been the emergence of technologies so profound as to boggle the mind of the most intelligent among us. And religion as well as our own intelligence about the things that science and technology has revealed has to be dealt with and processed on an individual basis. We all have our comfort zones and for the many, most of the questions that face us as a culture and society today make a very uncomfortable encroachment into those comfort zones.
The Christian religion and beliefs is in fact the religion that is always at the forefront of many of these type issues in this country. These beliefs have existed and been practiced for some 3500 years or so. It is probably the only part of our culture in the United States that actually has any tenure of consequence since as a country we are less than 250 years old. I am not asserting in the least that these long standing religious beliefs contain the answers to your questions or mine but I am asserting that questions arising as the world turns will always have to walk through the fire pits of religion for better or worse – at least in our lifetime and any foreseeable future.
And last but not least in my opinion is key to all of the above – “education”. We often assume that because we understand the issues that are on the table that others do also. But without education on the issues none of us will ever understand the right or wrong of it. But because you or I might put forth the effort to educate ourselves on the issues, many others see these issues as having little effect on them whatsoever leaving us in a ‘catch 22’ position or rather simply wallowing in the “human condition”. For example: All this talk about rising ocean levels… so what? I live in Arkansas in the middle of the country, what concern is it of mine that you or someone I don’t even know chose to live near the coast line? I’ve already got a full plate, you want to worry about global warming… go for it!
Personal Fact: I am not a proponent of gay marriage. In my opinion the term ‘marriage’ carries with it the connotation of procreation. So, I am immediately stereotyped as a Christian and perhaps even a religious fanatic. But to the contrary in my case, my sole opinion on the matter has absolutely nothing to do with religion whatsoever but is based solely on biology, one of the primary sciences. Civil unions, on the other hand would be quite acceptable to me personally for those in the LGBT community.
Anyway… ‘PT’ I hope I was able to add to the conversation here and not just stitching several incoherent statements together to make word count. 🙂
You hit upon the crux of the whole thing with “education.” I’ve long said that education is the solution to all the world’s problems. Name a problem of the human condition — education, or people with educations, could probably solve it. Education provides the basic knowledge, understanding, resources, and critical thinking necessary to tackle virtually anything. I realize that may sound egotistical coming from someone lucky enough to have an acquired an education, but that’s my belief nonetheless.
I respect your ideas about marriage but would ask, if procreation is what it’s all about, doesn’t that preclude the marriage of two straight people who are beyond their child-bearing years? Or the marriage of any man and woman where one of the two is sterile? Conversely, marriage isn’t necessary for procreation. Seems to me love and commitment are the real factors (and lots of luck trying to define love.) And then there are “marriages of convenience” for monetary and/or legal reasons. So who’s to say? Seems to me only the two people involved can say if or why they want to be married. I think I would restrict marriage only to “two consenting adult human beings,” but I could be overlooking something.
Oh, and I do hope as civilization advances, we will not always have to pass new ideas through the fire pits of religion. There is much in religion that is good and kind and wise and enduring, but I think those are truths that would exist with or without formal religion, in spirituality and philosophy. It’s the errors and superstitions of religion that persist to our detriment. Apropos: “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” ― Dalai Lama XIV.
I will whole-heatedly join you in your “hope” and I agree with your concerns regarding errors and superstitions but I, in the meantime, have to hold to the fact that the “human condition” will continue to prevail. And even though there is constant friction between religion and science, religion is what continues to provide that hope we speak of so desperately needed by the human condition. Whether one believes that hope will really ever be realized or even really exists or not, well that’s just part of the rub!
Of course, in giving people hope, religion also wields control. (Personally, I think that’s how and why formal religions came to be — as a means for a few people to control the many.) But hope is where you find it, and I wouldn’t deny it to anyone.
I’m fairly sure you and I have heard most all the arguments offered up by those who hold our different positions on the marriage issue. The two parameters I stated cannot be separated from one another with regard to my personal position. You and I both know that “marriage” is not a condition of utopianism regardless of who one wants to include or exclude. Certainly the umbrella of marriage is not necessary for procreation but it is the ‘legal’ umbrella for procreation. Giving the LGBT community credit where credit is due, the legal aspect of marriage has to my understanding always been the primary goal. Always remember those immortal words of Tina Turner when having this discussion… “What’s love got to do with it… got to do with it!” 🙂
Sorry, the devil made me do that last little bit!! 😕
Heh, no, marriage is by no means utopian. We certainly agree there. 🙂
And I agree the umbrella of legality is highly desirable for both marriage and procreation, for the protection of all concerned. In fact, if it’s not legal, it’s not a marriage, is it?
(You can invoke Tina Turner any time! She’s one of my all-time favorites.)
PT, this is the best post I’ve read of yours since I subscribed and I am wholeheartedly in agreement with your views. You pose the question, : “Are we turning our backs on science?”, and I would suggest the answer is, “yes”. The obvious follow-up is, “why?” I submit that the answer is war, or rather the absence of what that word used to mean.
The last such war was Vietnam and that ended two generations ago. It was the last conflict to threaten the personal safety and concerns of the average citizen. (Remember the draft?) Since that time the body politic has been freed to gaze into its own navel, so to speak, and the current political chaos is the result. Absence of external threat has removed the principal reason for political cooperation and unleashed the passions of special interests, religion being first among those. What we have now was always just under the surface. In my opinion.
Why, thank you. That’s quite a compliment.
You know, I hadn’t really thought about war — the unifying kind. I started to say “the real kind,” but our war on terror is pretty damned real to those who’ve been killed or wounded in it. And “unifying” really isn’t the right word either, because Vietnam certainly wasn’t that. But yes, I know what you mean. And I think you may have hit on at least a partial cause. I keep telling myself that it’s not as bad as it looks, that the media is distorting how powerful the extremists have become, and that I just watch too much cable news. But sometimes I can’t talk loud enough to drown myself out …
Eliminating the draft,as Nixon did, put an end to the peace movement. We have been carrying out “interventions” and wars ever since, not strongly protested the way the Vietnam War was, because the soldiers are all volunteers and American men don’t have to fear conscription. So we civilians maintain this illusion that we are not “at war” when actually we are, perpetually.
Agreed. As long as US soldiers are fighting anywhere in the world, we are at war. I think the last “unifying” war was World War II, where the entire citizenry focused on supporting it, because the future of our nation and the free world was at stake.
It occurs to me that in my post I left out one of the most egregious examples of denying science: children dying from treatable illnesses because their parents would not seek treatment for them. If adults want to deny themselves the benefits of modern medicine, fine. But to risk the lives of innocent children too young to understand their parents’ beliefs is beyond irresponsible. I believe the legal terms for intentionally allowing or causing someone to die include negligence, manslaughter, homicide, and possible even murder.
Seems to me that your post did include the medical neglect of children because that is quite similar to the antivaxxers. Nevertheless, I do think it was worth the clarification.
Had I written on your subject, I might also have included people who categorically hate government, especially the boogeyman “big” government, as evil. They are usually the first to criticize it for not doing enough when bad things happen.
I’d not thought of antivaxxers and faith healers being the same thing, but I suppose many of them are.
I disagree about including the haters of big government, though. There are plenty of reasons to hate big government that have nothing to do with rejecting science.
True, but hatred of “big” government is closely allied with the anti-science crowd. The issue should be the quality of government, not the size. I submit as a postulate that a sizable government is necessary for a well-ordered society. The term, “Big government” is a red herring implying that down-sizing it will solve the problem.
Symptomatically speaking, I saw on the news tonight that a sizable crown of armed citizens have begun gathering on the border of Nevada (I think) and Arizona in support of a scoff-law rancher who refuses, and has refused for years, to obey laws requiring him to pay rent to the government (read: the taxpayers) for grazing his cattle on public lands. This fellow looks prosperous and I suspect he may actually have availed himself of a government service from time to time, not to mention using the public roads to take his cattle to market.
We don’t want to face it that we need to scale up our institutions, not make them smaller. They need to be well regulated, not simply showered with money with no accountability. Right now, institutions are failing to meet people’s needs. This is the excuse to destroy them, as is evident with the attack on our health system. Notions of citizens’ rights, which I feel are basically about a consumerism that caters to the sovereign individual, interfere with any reasonable allocation of resources. We still want good old doc so and so to make house calls and soothe our fevered brows, when it may take a dedicated team of highly organized health providers to treat our cancer.
I’d argue bigger is not necessarily better. It’s just more bloated and less efficient. And inherent in any institution is the basic need to preserve itself (ie, jobs for its employees). The TSA is my favorite example of an institution that was well-intentioned but has grown to be bloated, inefficiant, and over-reaching.
On the other hand there are those like me who strongly dislike intrusive government, but very nearly NEVER believe that more of it will help solve anything. Ben Carson, Walter Williams Milton Friedman and me. And nearly no others.
So are we splitting hairs between government and intrusive government? Government provides a lot of services and does a lot for us that a single community or state couldn’t do for itself.
All the libertarians I have met depend on government services and may even be getting checks from the government. They could make their movement really mean something by refusing to accept government services of any kind.
Perhaps It’s unjustified optimism, but methinks what we are witnessing is a last-ditch backlash by the religionists. The U.S. for years has experienced a steady, although somewhat erratic, march forward toward true social justice. The conservative religions at the same time have seen steady erosions in membership. The exceptions are the charismatic groups that appeal to the less educated in our society, but in the big picture there are far fewer religionists in America than there were just a few decades ago.
The far righties have their backs to the wall and it’s pretty obvious from many opinion surveys that they will lose the struggle in the long run. Take heart, science and free will will win out. But it is necessary for progressives to be ever vigilant to oppose those motivated more by greed than support for right and justice.
On really good days I tell myself it’s just the shrieks of a dying minority that knows it’s being pushed into irrelevance. Then I look at all the signs that they’re increasing in number — greater visibility; more laws against women and reproductive health services; antivaxxers getting spots on regular TV shows; some really ignorant people being elected to Congress to run the country; media and entertainment that seem to cater more and more to the less educated among us by dumbing down everything … ugh.
I hope you’re right. I really, really do. (Sorry, I’m in a really foul mood today.)
@ Dick Klade,
I wish I could share your optimism about “social justice” and a decline of religiosity, but I have my doubts. There’s no question that demographics are changing but I don’t see that as necessarily a rise in rationality. People in today’s culture are more narcissistic than ever, the symptom being enrollment in the various social media. At the same time I see widespread apathy for political involvement and voting by the average citizen, even as the wealth-gap soars. If they really understood, wouldn’t there be more voting?
It occurs to me that polls showing more and more people willing to list themselves as “none” regarding religious affiliation just might be a coming-out-of-the-closet by those who previously wanted to avoid the stigma of non-belief. However, I don’t really see that as people becoming less spiritual – they seem just as susceptible as ever to demagoguery. America is becoming balkanized by single-issue movements (abortion, immigration, gun control) at the same time the unions are shrinking. I think the problem is not so much anti-science sentiment as it is an absence of the external factors that used to unite us, namely a war that makes people feel personally threatened.
The “butterfly effect” still governs and anything can happen. We need to get out the vote.
It’s hard for me not to see progress in social justice when we have an African-American president, widespread acceptance of inter-racial marriage, and near-total integration of women into the workforce. All of that happened in the past few decades. Also, there has been a rapid change in attitudes regarding LGBT people in most of society, including an amazing turnaround in general public acceptance of same-sex marriage.
Perhaps we Americans do not mirror longer term trends in Western Europe, but there the exodus of people from organized religion has gone on longer and been more pronounced than here. That should be at least a bit of an indication that the growing number of “nones” here is just not a few folks revealing their inner feelings but a trend that is likely to continue.
Rather than being split into factions by controversial issues, we Americans clearly are gravitating toward membership in two distinct groups. Those who oppose abortion, birth control, immigration reform, and gun control are Republicans or right-leaning independents. Those who support positive measures in these areas are Democrats or left-leaning independents. This trend seems to me just the opposite of “balkanization.” Many polls show there are more of the latter group than the former in gross numbers, but the way Congressional seats are apportioned gives the right-wingers an advantage at the moment. That is unlikely to continue, I think.
There’s nothing new about Americans failing to excercise what should be an important right in a democracy. I don’t think there’s been much change in voting percentages versus those eligible in a long time. That is unfortunate.
On my more optimistic days, that’s the way I see it, Dick. But then there are days when I really despair. In particular over women’s rights. Women have worked so hard and come so far in my lifetime, and to see so many people now working furiously to turn back the clock on those advances makes me a little crazy.
The conduct by the anti-woman people is reprehensible, but I think it has zero chance of reversing the positive trend. There’s a lot of truth in that old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” The ultra-righties are going to find out just how much truth if they persist in trying to move the U.S. back into the 19th century.
I used to think that, but laws are getting passed. And with the support of a lot of Republican women. That’s some intense religion when you’ll vote for laws that limit the free choice of other women.
Did you hear about the debate in Kentucky between Science Guy Bill Nye and founder of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham? AP article on it. I’l try and relocate it)
We’ve lost so much science ground in the past 50 years – and I will/do blame school curriculum – especially the part where they left out units on sharpening critical thinking and analysis to recognize weak arguments, illogical thinking, and propaganda methods ( religion or political – the techniques are pretty much the same.) These used to be studied every year in English and history classes from about grade 6-12.
Students don’t question now – they are taught by scripts and parrot chants and responses.
They don’t write and debate enough using research and solid information in arguments.
And we end up with – well, what we’ve got.
How smart is it to mothball all the shuttles with the space station up and running?
Focus of the country has shifted.
Leaving us to pick petty fights with each other rather than boldy going off on great adventures.
Like Jr High drama all over again…and all those annoying loud squeaky wheels getting so much attention…no wonder people are just disengaging
I didn’t watch the debate because I have it in my head that Bill Nye is for kids. Probably not fair to him, but I passed on the debate.
Kids today are taught to parrot because that’s how they pass all those tests. Teaching to the test has been a disaster for our educational system. And I remember cheering when Obama, around the time of his first election, said something really noble about returning math and science to our schools and making us competitive in those areas again.
Mothballing the space shuttles before their replacement was in place was nuts, if you ask me. Turning our backs on science as fast as we can, in as many areas as possible.
Every election-every politician says they will improve education – and raise teachers’ pay to get the best in the classrooms….years and years of foolish phrases to get elected.
Progress monitoring can be beneficial (done properly by a good teacher) but now INSANE USELESS TESTING. Multiple choice “testing” tells nothing about the kid’s abilities or understanding of information. Problem now is few teacher know how to construct short answer/essay tests – much less grade them and use the results to redirect teaching. Progress monitoring used to be done well by teachers talking with kids and asking questions daily, then adjusting teaching automatically by what the kids were retaining or able to use in discussions. We’re in trouble. Dark age…
I can’t remember the details well enough to even look it up, but he didn’t say education in general; he said math and science in particular, an area where we are rapidly losing ground internationally. But yes, all the testing and teaching to the test has nothing to do with education and everything to do with which schools get the money. Just forget the testing and delivery the EDUCATION!
Sheesh, government in the classroom is no better than government anywhere else. It rarely does anything better than it was already being done.
But Schools get a gold stars! (We’re drowning in campaign nonsense for multiple races. Dear Wendy is spouting education promises…like the Governor has much of anything to do with schools here – laughter – sobs)
Ditto on your comment!
Wonderful and comprehensive. Thank you.
Thank you for reading.