Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bryan College as Stalking Horse for Education in Tennessee

The faculty of Bryan College are standing up and willing to take a bullet in a stand that biblical interpretation and teaching must adjust to what science and unfettered critical thinking add to our body of knowledge. To do otherwise would make Bryan College an institution of lower ignorance rather than higher learning. It is time for our educational institutions at all levels to understand that Darwin's Theory on the Origin of Species is far more defined and researched that the Theory of Gravity. Failure to accept the theory of gravitation will not cause you to fall off the planet and go spinning off into space. Failure to teach evolutionary theory will, on the other hand, place a barrier of dogmatic ignorance in front of the students of Tennessee. Bryan College is shrinking into irrelevance in its embrace of unsubstantiated dogma. It is time for that to change.

After all, if an institution as dogmatic and authoritarian as the Catholic Church can adjust to the fact that, yes, the Earth  goes round the Sun and not the other way around, then perhaps Bryan can include obvious fact into its teachings as it prepares students to go out into the world.

 The Times Free Press has a piece you should read.

And this one

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Read: "We Need to Stop Lying To Our Children"...An Interview With Anne Druyan

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey will premiere Sunday, March 9, 2014 (9/10pm ET/PT) on FOX.

  Sagan’s original creative collaborators—writer/executive producer Ann Druyan and astronomer Steven Soter—have teamed with Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) to conceive a 13-part series that will serve as a successor to the Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning original series.

Anne Druyan was Carl Sagan's wife for 20 years, until then end of his life. I hope you will read the entire interview which took place in 2007 during the worst of the Bush years as America continued to erupt in a fatalistic tribalism that pits the right against the left with no one in the middle. Druyan sees the problem from a realist's perspective; It is not this person or that person, it is the failure of our society to embrace a fact and critical thinking based method to solve our problems. This is an excerpt that boils it down, but I hope you will read the entire interview and think about it.


 To begin, we need to stop lying to our children and start speaking honestly about the things we don’t know, and the things that remain a mystery to us. I think we need to be honest with our children that we die, that life is finite not infinite, and that this is it and it is really precious. If we did that maybe people would treat life as being something prized instead of as something that can be taken without concern. Also, we need a new curriculum for science and it should be like this: when children first come to school, in preschool or kindergarten, I think the teachers should take them aside and welcome them to join the generations of searchers, to induct them into the great wonders and mysteries of science as a way of seeing everything. Not 20 or 40 minutes of boredom a few times a week, but as a way of seeing everything. They should teach critical thinking to the smallest children as a type of keys to the kingdom. We should teach the story of the history of science— of the courageous men and women who have given us this precious knowledge—in a way that gives full expression to the romance and valor and imagination that was involved. And I think if we were to do that, I think it would be possible that we would not be a schizophrenic society: completely dependent on science and high technology, yet completely fearful and mistrusting of it.
Carl Sagan speaking
SKEPTIC: On your first point about lying to our children, are you talking about religion?
DRUYAN: No, I am talking about everything. Children want to know about death, and I think we lie about death, and I think that is a very damaging thing in the long run. It dooms them to a perpetual infantilism. I think our present attitude is an expression of a lack of confidence in our children: that this reality is too unbearable for them to be able to deal with. Actually, I think it is all the more unbearable because we lie so much about it. If we were truthful about it, then not only might it be less unbearable, but also it might be possible to live more fully than I think we are able to do with this burden of dishonesty.

Read it all!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Let's Stop and Remember Some Things From Last Time

War is a stupid thing. There are rarely good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. There are usually bad guys on both sides and sometimes there are good guys. The good guys are usually the ones who get killed and maimed fighting for their country, whichever one it may be. The truth teller will be vilified.

On the eve of the Iraq war I started writing an email that morphed into my various blogs. I foretold where it was going and all the lies told to lead us into it. My worst day was when John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards voted FOR the war. My second worst was when Colin Powell stood and delivered a series of obvious lies to the United Nations to justify it. My country that I have loved all my life would now stand in the eyes of the world as an aggressor nation run by soul dead adventurists and the people will know it in their hearts, even as they wallow in self denial. Worse than that, the war will be run by incompetent adventurists who caused the deaths and sufferings of millions, competent only at becoming more wealthy and avoiding a personal responsibility or price for what they have done.

This is from in interview with author, Phil Klay, an Iraq War veteran:
I have very complicated feelings about the war. There was a lot of wishful thinking. You want to talk about narratives that don't correspond to reality. There was a lot of willful blindness. It's not so much a pro- or anti-war stance as a question of competence. I saw Donald Rumsfeld selling a book of leadership tips on Meet the Press and the Today Show, and I was like, how is this possible? I understand why anti-war folk don't like Rumsfeld, but if you were pro-war you really shouldn't like him, because he messed it up and invalidated your whole world view. You should be concerned about the untold thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghans. All because of somebody being an incompetent Secretary of Defense. He refused to acknowledge what was happening, and presided over gross waste, fraud, and abuse—and Abu Ghraib. That's objectively a bad legacy. Are we really taking this seriously? Or is politics like sports teams: Even if they suck, they're your team.

That interview.