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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dr. Sanity On Education

Dr. Sanity thinks we are making our kids "unintelligent by design":
Between what the LEFT is doing to our curriculum by inserting their peculiar "religious" beliefs into history and the arts (see the "Ten Commandments of Multiculturalism") ; and promulgating environmental "science" by indoctrinating into kids as young as 5 years old in environmentalist propaganda; and what the RIGHT is doing, equally determined to foist their Christian religious beliefs off as "science", I would have to say that if our kids learn to think and reason from school, it will be a frigging miracle.
School should be about learning, not about learning talking points. Biology can only touch on what is observable and/or testable. I have to agree with her. I am so very, very glad that I didn't go to school in this era.

I have read current textbooks that don't teach evolution as a theory, but as an axiom, and they do go astray when they present things that aren't known as known. After the last five years of human fossil discoveries, I'd say huge questions have been introduced about the evolution of the human species. Fine, teach the controversies. It will get the kids excited and involved. It's like a mystery story. What happened? Where? When? The straight-line human tree that was taught when I was in school has been blown to smithereens. The big-brain hypothesis (that brain size has an evolutionary correlation with intelligence) was outright contradicted by the hobbit find. Creative confusion. Drama. Textbooks being rewritten in front of our eyes. That's science.

But the theory of natural selection of mutations and variances has absolutely solid science behind it. Now that we can sequence DNA we have multiple proven instances of convergent evolution. What blows my mind is that now we actually have demonstrable proof of evolution working as Darwin theorized - and now we're going to try to introduce intelligent design? This makes no sense at all.

I have read of mathematical calculations that claim there simply hasn't been enough time for life to completely evolve from start to finish on this earth. Well, now we also have what seems to be likely evidence of bacteria in meteorites. Maybe the Pan-Spermia theory was right after all.

Teach the kids all the critiques, let them know it's an ongoing process, let them know that this is an unfolding intellectual drama. But intelligent design, as far as I can make sense of it, appears to be introducing a fudge factor. You can't teach a fudge factor as science. Scientific theories have to be testable. Unless I totally misunderstand intelligent design, it can never be tested because no positive evidence can ever be found for it. The day someone explains how the theory can be tested is the day it will move into the realm of science. Until then, it shouldn't be in a scientific curriculum.

Swish- 3 pointer.

What has made America unique in terms of progress, are the number of better mousetraps, built every day, in garages all over the country.

That can only happen if real education taught- not ideologically based, agendized, pseudo-intellectual,crap.
SC&A is right, there is too much crap that isn't education being emphasized in schools.
Yes, and Dr Sanity is too.

You know what? This reminds me a bit of the stuff I read on MEMRI. Not just intelligent design, but all the PC stuff, and the dumbed-down curriculum, and the foolish excesses of the self-esteem movement in some schools.
SC&A, I like the mouse-trap thing. Education is supposed to put the student in the middle of what's really going on so the student can participate. It's not supposed to leave the student tottering on a island of "let's not offend anybody".

There's nothing wrong with kindness, or teaching kindness. Sappiness doesn't do anyone any good.
Science, all science, is hypothetical. This means that absolute predictability of outcome is impossible. So let's say that scientific hypotheses are working hypotheses, that is, temporary solutions to the infinite number of problems that plague humanity.

In short, we are--and likely to remain--in the middle of things; we cannot know the beginning or the end. We must, therefore, admit that there are questions that are simply beyond the scope of science: questions about the beginning of the universe, how did it come to be. Theories like Big Bang do nothing to explain this mystery. For example, let’s assume that the BB is correct. If so, science must explain from whence it came and what contained it.

Certainly, science is good for humanity in a practical sense, that is, it helps us to survive. But it falls short in the philosophical sense. Hence, it is important not to get arrogant, for we have yet to discover why we exist and why we must die. Yes, it is true that these are metaphysical questions that have been answered in a variety of ways, mostly religious. But it is also true that these questions persist in spite of science.

Religion, too, is theoretical, in the strict sense. Indeed, philosophers have offered a number of logical proofs for the existence of God. So let’s not be hasty because we discovered a few fossils and know of the existence of quasars in our infinite universe.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that Intelligent Design is not a competing scientific theory; it just raises questions about those things that cannot be explained by science. This is reason enough to allow it into the curriculum, with one caveat, that it not be taught as a religion. That way, the students get the benefit of discovering the flaws in both systems, for neither one is absolutely true or absolutely false. If taught correctly students will come to understand that one is closer to the truth than the other.
How can intelligent design be taught as anything but religion or philosophy? It conforms with absolutely no portion of the scientific method, so it can't be taught as "science." At least the Big Bang theory is taught as a theory with SOME scientific basis (expansion of the universe from a roughly central point, motion of the galaxies in relation to one another, etc.). And it's also not taught as a set-in-stone axiom, but as something that is proposed, yet not proven to completion. No one's even begun to attempt a proof at intelligent design that follows any sort of scientific basis.

What's more, intelligent design is entirely insusceptible of proof by scientific processes, because by its very nature it presumes a being that exists outside of the laws of science. Thus, a "proof" of intelligent design according to the "scientific method" would be to disprove the scientific method. It's like using math to teach spelling and grammar.

The "logical proofs" for the existence of God offered by the "philosophers" mentioned are along the lines of "we can't conceive of him, therefore he exists," which is pretty much anything but "logical" and far from "proof." So let's please not start to put religion on a par with science in terms of its provability.

Your statements about science and religion both being hypothetical, and therefore are of equal scientific weight, are misplaced. Scientific theories, when proven wrong, are replaced by new theories. Science is all about proving and disproving, moving from one explanation to a more logical explanation. Science proposes, then attempts to disprove with all resources available before stating a proposition as fact. Not so with religion, which does not seek to disprove its propositions, but seeks to maintain them without proof -- the "leap of faith" that is so important.

No, you can't put intelligent design in a science classroom. Teach it as religion, teach it as philosophy, teach it as politics even, but not science.
Ulyesses - You are right about science being hypothetical, but one of the dividing lines between science and philosophy or religion is that in the scientific method, hypotheses must be testable. There are areas to which science simply can't penetrate.

The horrors that result when you divorce science from testability are obvious. I don't want science to become less than science. That's why I am saying to teach all that's unknown and questioned about the evolution of life here on earth, and it is a lot.

As to physics, one of the big jokes of our current time is that the queen of sciences has presented a cosmogony that is getting closer and closer to "Fiat Lux". Religion and science aren't incompatible, in my mind. However, for the good of both they must remain separate disciplines.

If we were to allow a supposition such as Intelligent Design to be taught as science, then we would be breaking the correlation between evidence and deduction upon which western science rests.

This is all the more worrisome because some of our recent "public" science is trying to do the same thing by claiming that it is morally responsible. This is a disaster. Last time it happened we ended up with social Darwinism (bad science) and millions of deaths (bad morality).

The universe is not truly infinite as most people understand the word, if modern physics is correct.
Boomr - well, well stated.

Intelligent design might be a humanly reasonable hypothesis, but it must remain outside of the borders of science unless someone proposes other than a negative proof.

"It could be true" is not a valid scientific hypothesis unless someone can suggest a way in which "it" could be studied and/or proven.

To put it in another way, when I was a baby there was ample fossil and biological evidence that the continents appeared once to have been connected. However, this remained unaccepted in the scientific world until the mechanism of plate tectonics was discovered.

Science's essence is that it is a self-limited realm of thought. The limitations are undertaken in order to allow a rigorous and mutual method of efficiently discovering objective facts. Once you throw away this limitation, science will dissolve into an arcane metaphysics.

To me it seems that both intelligent design and the theory that global warming should be an unchallengeable hypothesis are bordering on Soviet Lamarckism. Do we really want to end up there? It was a total dead end.
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