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Archive for March 4th, 2010

Global Warming Denial and Its Evolutionary Cousin

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Leslie Kaufman has a good article in today’s Times about how Creationists are latching on to the “controversy” over climate change and arguing that just as science classes treat climate change with skepticism, so should they treat evolution.

This, to me, seems like learning precisely the wrong lesson: science classes should treat neither subject with very much skepticism, as consensus on those issues is as solid as one could possibly expect. But the article does mention something which I have thought for some time: that the know-nothing movement demanding that we “debate” climate change uses the same tactics, and is likely made up of many of the same persons that demand “alternate viewpoints” to evolution be taught in the classroom.

Its no surprise that the Texas Board of Education has mandated teachers present “all sides” of the Climate Change and Evolution “debates”, but Kentucky and other states are considering legislation of similar impact, and a vocal minority would like to see such rules nationally mandated. (Ironically, the same minority that usually demands “small government”)

Meanwhile, The Times Magazine has a fantastic article by Elizabeth Green on new paradigms in improving elementary school teaching techniques. The article mostly focuses on how to teach math to an 8-year-old – a fascinating enough subject, but one which, I think, deserves less scrutiny than she gives it. If he’s smart, an 8-year-old will eventually learn arithmetic. But if he’s continually told that evolution and climate change are all massive “left-wing conspiracies”, he may just leave the classroom believing that.

Written by pavanvan

March 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Posted in culture

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Quote of the Day

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Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it.

“Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about Basketball Diaries?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory.

Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

– Roger Ebert

Written by pavanvan

March 4, 2010 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized