"Every time we teach a child correct usage of an external symbol, we must spend as much time teaching him how to fission and reassemble external grammar to communicate the internal. The training of artists and creative performers can be a straightforward, almost mechanical process. When you teach someone how to perform creatively (i.e., associate dead symbols in new combinations), you expand his potential for experiencing more widely and richly."
1) Why is the moon sometimes out during the day?
2) Why is the sky blue?
3) Will we ever discover aliens?
4) How much does the Earth weigh?
5) How do airplanes stay up?
"I say to the grown-ups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them."
Bill Nye, Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Deny Evolution (via Big Think)
Among the 435 members of the House, for example, there are one physicist, one chemist, one microbiologist, six engineers and nearly two dozen representatives with medical training. The case of doctors and the body politic is telling. Everyone knows roughly what doctors do, and so those with medical backgrounds escape the anti-intellectual charge of irrelevance often thrown at those in the hard sciences. Witness Senator Bill Frist, Gov. Howard Dean and even Ron Paul.
This showing is sparse even with the inclusion of the doctors, but it shouldn’t be too surprising. For complex historical reasons, Americans have long privately dismissed scientists and mathematicians as impractical and elitist, even while publicly paying lip service to them.
One reason is that an abstract, scientific approach to problems and issues often leads to conclusions that are at odds with religious and cultural beliefs and scientists are sometimes tone-deaf to the social environment in which they state their conclusions. A more politically sensitive approach to problems and issues, on the other hand, often leads to positions that simply don’t jibe with the facts, no matter how delicately phrased. Examples as diverse as stem cell research and the economic stimulus abound.
Politicians, whose job is in many ways more difficult than that of scientists, naturally try to sway their disparate constituencies, but the prevailing celebrity-infatuated, money-driven culture and their personal ambitions often lead them to employ rhetorical tricks rather than logical arguments. Both Republicans and Democrats massage statistics, use numbers to provide decoration rather than information, dismiss, or at least distort, the opinions of experts, torture the law of the excluded middle (i.e., flip-flop), equivocate, derogate and obfuscate.
Dinosaurs cavorting with humans, climate scientists cooking up the global warming “hoax,” the health establishment using vaccines to bring about socialism – it’s hard to imagine mainstream leaders in other advanced economies not laughing at such claims.
And creationism should be taught beside (or in place of) evolution, according to some conservative science teachers I know. Absurd.
“These results were not a complete surprise,” said Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research at Pew, in an interview with the Huffington Post. He said they can be mostly attributed to “the difference between Democratic and Republican parties with respect to issues.”
The wide ideological and partisan gap among scientists may have been exacerbated by the Bush administration, which often disputed broad scientific consensus on topics such as evolution and climate change.
[Hitchens] was a master of the extended peroration, peppered with literary allusions, and of the bright, off-the-cuff remark…
He also threw himself into the defense of his friend Mr. Rushdie. “It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved,” he wrote in his memoir. “In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual and the defense of free expression.”
“I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive,” he wrote, “and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me.”