"Knowledge is often mistaken for intelligence. This is like mistaking a cup of milk for a cow." [Anon]
"If you wish to convince people of something, it is more useful to be entertaining than to be right." [Anon]
"Change is inevitable; progress is optional." [Proverb]
"A man said to the Universe, 'Sir, I exist!'
'However,' replied the Universe,
The fact has not aroused in me
a sense of obligation.' "
"My answer to the question, 'What person, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?' - changes from time to time - but Anonymous remains at the top of the list." [Rev. Art]
FEDERAL WAY, WA SCHOOLS RESTRICT GORE FILM
By Robert McClure and Lisa Stiffler
The Seattle Post Intelligencer
Thursday 11 January 2007
"Inconvenient Truth" called too controversial.
This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."
After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a PowerPoint presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.
Hardison's e-mail to the School Board prompted board member David Larson to propose the moratorium Tuesday night. (MORE Frosty Hardison "logic" in "FALLACIOUS ASSAULTS"...)
The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.
"What is purported in this movie is, 'This is what is happening. Period. That is fact,'" Barney said.
Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, "if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that's fine, that's their choice."
Asked whether an alternative explanation for evolution should be presented by teachers, Barney said it would be appropriate to tell students that other beliefs exist. "It's only a theory," he said.
While the question of climate change has provoked intense argument in political circles in recent years, among scientists its basic tenets have become the subject of an increasingly stronger consensus.
"In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations," states a 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises policymakers.
"Furthermore, it is very likely that the 20th-century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise, through thermal expansion of seawater and widespread loss of land ice."
The basics of that position are backed by the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.
Laurie David, a co-producer of the movie, said that this is the first incident of its kind relating to the film. "I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision," David said in a prepared statement. "There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now."
The Federal Way incident started when Hardison learned that his daughter would see the movie in class. He objected. Hardison and his wife, Gayla, said they would prefer that the movie not be shown at all in schools. "From what I've seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of 'bad America, bad America,' I don't think it should be shown at all," Gayle Hardison said. "If you're going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don't think the video should be shown."
Larson, the School Board member, said a pre-existing policy should have alerted teachers and principals that the movie must be counterbalanced. The policy, titled "Controversial Issues, Teaching of," says in part, "It is the teacher's responsibility to present controversial issues that are free from prejudice and encourage students to form, hold and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination. The principal reason for that is to make sure that the public schools are not used for indoctrination," Larson said.
Students contacted Wednesday said they favor allowing the movie to be shown. "I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people's eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that's going to affect the human race," said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School. When it comes to the idea of presenting global warming skeptics, Patrick wasn't sure how necessary that would be. She hadn't seen the movie but had read about it and would like to see it. "Watching a movie doesn't mean that you have to believe everything you see in it," she said.
Joan Patrick, Kenna's mother, thought it would be a good idea for students to see the movie. They are the ones who will be dealing with the effects of a warmer planet. "It's their job," she said. "They're the next generation."
(Your editor has yet to see the film in question. We plan to view it in our living room theater in Metro Fairborn, Ohio, in the next few weeks and we'll give you a full report...)
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The Guardian, UK
Ed Pilkington in New York
Tuesday January 2, 2007
Darlene Bishop, a tele-evangelist with a nationwide following, does not do things by half. When she and her husband Lawrence erected a statue of Jesus on the grounds of their mega church in Monroe, Ohio, they made it 62 feet high. No less gargantuan are her claims about the power of prayer to overcome illness. Through a series of sermons, books and a television show, "Sisters", broadcast on religious satellite channels throughout the US and abroad, she preaches that God has the power to heal even the most deadly diseases, including cancer.
But the contention is now the subject of a court action. Four of Mrs Bishop's relatives are suing her over her claim that God cured their father - her brother - of throat cancer. He died of the disease 18 months ago.
In her book Your Life Follows Your Words, Mrs Bishop tells how she overcame her breast cancer through prayer, and how her brother was also cured. There is no mention of his death in the book, which she says is due to the fact that it was published at a time when he had been in remission for more than a year.
But the volume is still on sale through her website (price $15) under the blurb: "How God healed her of breast cancer and her brother healed from throat cancer".
Mrs Bishop's brother, Darrell "Wayne" Perry, was an accomplished songwriter whose work has been performed by big names in country music such as Tim McGraw, and by the Backstreet Boys. For a year before his death in May 2005, aged 55, he was cared for by his sister.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
A new press release by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilities (clearly an anti-Christian, pinko-communist organization) has again brought public attention to the peculiar fact that rangers at the Grand Canyon national park are officially prohibited (by the Bush administration, that bastion of scholarship and high cultural standards) from publicly answering the simplest question about the Canyon: how old is it? That's because the correct answer (between 1.2 and 5.3 million years, the latter being the date when the Colorado River changed course and began the erosion process) is unpalatable to Biblical fundamentalists.
Moreover, the Park in recent years has approved only one new item for sale in its bookstore: a creationist pamphlet sputtering nonsense about a worldwide flood that allegedly happened a few thousand years ago. As if that were not enough, the Bush administration has also suppressed a previously existing Park policy that directed the interpretive staff to make distinctions between religion and science when speaking to the public, without endorsing any specific religious doctrine (such as the geologically absurd idea of a few-thousand years old worldwide flood creating the Canyon).
A geologist commented on the controversy by saying that “This is the equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled 'Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan.'”
(Massimo: "Hey, I've been at Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, and now that you mentioned it, that strong smell of sulfur...")
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Massimo Pigliucci's Blog
LACK OF EDUCATION CAN KILL YOU; EXTRA EDUCATION LENGTHENS YOUR LIFE
Friday, January 05, 2007
At least, that's the finding of several studies reported by the BBC and the New York Times. According to the BBC, a disturbing 27% of people in Britain are convinced that the likelihood of them becoming affected by a major sickness is a function of “fate,” not of how they manage their life style. Predictably, among smokers the percentage goes up to 50, an obvious example of denial in action (I know first hand, since my father died of smoke-related cancer a few years ago, and often blamed his bad luck because, you know, there are people who smoke into their 90s and are fine). Interestingly, people with high income (and, presumably, better education) are less likely to blame fate (14%), while people of low income are much more likely to do so (43%).
The article in the New York Times reported several findings over the last few years suggesting that the single most important statistical predictor (and, more controversially, causal factor) of longevity across the globe is education. One study at Columbia University used historical records from the United States to track the effect of increases in the number of compulsory years of schooling in different States through time: on average, an additional year in school was equivalent to an additional 18 months of life span. Not bad, even if you have to endure a bit more calculus and English lit.
Education is statistically more important than any other single factor, including – rather surprisingly – race and socio-economic status, and the results have been confirmed in several other countries around the planet. The most intriguing suggestion made so far to explain the effect is that it has to do with people's ability to forgo immediate pleasure for future gain, rather than with simple knowledge of health matters. For example, in the United States pretty much everyone, regardless of race and wealth, is by now aware that smoking has deleterious health effects, and yet the rate of smoking is much higher among low-income people. It is certainly intriguing that at least one federally funded research study showed that among middle-aged people, less education is in fact directly related to difficulty in thinking ahead.
So, Aristotle was right, after all: it is the educated person who is most capable of steering her behavior toward the golden mean (away from excesses) and to overcome humanity's inherent problem of akrasia (weakness of the will). Rather than “seizing the day,” it is much healthier to think ahead and go to the gym.
A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF SCIENCE:
Miners, Midwives, and "Low Mechaniks" (Paperback)
by Clifford D. Conner
(A Marxist View of Science...)
PC Baloney, August 29, 2006
Reviewer: Donald B. Siano (Westfield, NJ USA)
Clifford D. Conner has a viewpoint on the history of science that is downright wrong. His thesis is that there is "a much, much greater contribution to the production and propagation of scientific knowledge on the part of anonymous masses of humble people--the common people--than is generally recognized or acknowledged." That Newton didn't sit on the shoulder of giants, but rather "stood on the backs of untold thousands of illiterate artisans." To arrive at this rather startling picture, he starts by defining science extremely broadly as "knowledge of nature and the associated knowledge-producing activities."
About the first half of the book is about the pre-scientific revolution, and covers in detail all of the "scientific knowledge" attained by hunter-gatherers, early agriculturalists, polynesian navigators, that Sub-Saharan rulers of Egypt, the polynesian navigators, and so on. No doubt these people acquired much "knowledge of nature" and therefore had among them anonymous, illiterate masses of scientists, he argues.
One problem here is that he uses "science" in a way that makes his case so obvious it borders on the tautological. Most people today when the refer to "science" means something scientists do: it involves systematic collection of data, measurements and quantification, tables, charts, graphs, equations, models, laws, and generalizations; controlled experiments and observations with complex scientific instruments; and publications in peer reviewed scientific journals. It is done by known, highly educated individuals, who publish their results--an elite.
What he is really trying to do, he freely admits, is to show that the great elite heroes of science, like Newton and Galileo, were actually not so great. Did you know, he winks, that Boyle, who supposedly discovered Boyle's Law, actually had a technician! And that Henry the Navigator was not only not a navigator, he rarely set foot on a ship! Gee, even Tycho Brahe's observatory was actually built by artisans and craftsmen, now lost to history!
Then we get down to Conner's real problem: his account of the scientific revolution reveals that the elite "great" men are not only men, but they are white Western men! And therefore they are not only sexist, they are racists to boot. And not only that, the exist as at the peak of a hierarchy who exploit the real producers of progress for their own, dubious glory. And not only that, much of the science they produce makes for a society that is unequal, destructive, and even pollutes the environment.
This is just so much boring, politically correct, baloney, told mostly in a sophomoric impenetrable "academic" style so turgid only dead Marxists could appreciate it. Pass it by.
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Frosty Hardison, a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the Al Gore film, "An Inconvenient Truth" to the Federal Way School Board in a suburb of Seattle...
It's people like Al Gore, in both the Democratic and Republican parties and any other person on earth (no matter their political affiliation) that continue supporting the liberal biased politicians and judges legislating from the bench - that endorse gay marriage, kick Jesus Christ out of public schools and say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas - that are speeding the curse and effect along. (did you see the play on words there? Cause and effect — curse and effect?)
The thing people should really be on the watch for instead of global warming, is a red celestial body (comet or asteroid) that will appear as a cross in the sky. That event will happen long before global warming makes a serious and noticeable impact into the lives of people on earth. People en mass do not want to hear of such things though, as they do not wish to be held accountable for the things they do here.
I present this potential solution: One way this WORLD could make a dent in what has already transpired, would be to build several huge nuclear power plants in the polar regions and install several freezer coils at the edges of the polar glaciers to begin expanding the size of the ice and begin making more ice. What are the odds of that happening? There is your "INCONVENIENT TRUTH".