You really do.
Two items about science caught my eye recently, one awe inspiring, one depressing.
First, astronomers have recently concluded that there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. After 16 years of study tracking 28 different stars near the center of the galaxy, they have found evidence, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, that all of the stars circling the Milky Way surround a black hole that has the central mass concentration of four million solar masses. If I truly understand the term “solar”, that means there is a black hole with the mass of four million suns at the center of the galaxy.
Pretty cool, eh? Wrap you head around that concept. The sun is actually 109 times larger than the earth, which means, if I did my math correctly (not a foregone conclusion, because comparing diameters to mass concentration is problematic) this black hole would equal the mass of 436 million planets the size of Earth. And it’s only 27,000 light years away!
Now for the depressing news.
In my state, nearly two-thirds of all 11th grade students recently failed the state’s science test for students at that level.
The state’s science test was given in the spring to students in grades four, eight and 11. Younger students did better than their older peers, with 82 percent of fourth-graders and 53 percent of eighth-graders scoring at grade level.
I’m not sure what to make of this statistic. Apparently, students in the earlier grades seem to be on course to finish out with a good science background, yet as they advance through the grades, their science abilities seem to degenerate.
Here’s another result that should cause some worry. In a broader survey of school students, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study indicated that:
Among eighth-grade students, nine countries had better averages in science than did the United States. The study also showed that U.S. students’ performance in science essentially has been stagnant since 1995.
American technology and industry is built on the backs of our science programs. Yet increasingly, more and more of the top students in science and math come from other countries, who attend our schools, then take their knowledge back to their own counties. Places like India, China and South Korea. I’ve written about this in the past.
There is a pervasive sense of anti-intellectualism in this country, that makes the sciences and math unattractive to our students. I believe this is fueled by the religiosity of many Americans, especially among the fundamentalists, who find a conflict between their religion as encapsulated in their bible, and science, leading them to reject science as unimportant. The recent drives in many states to infuse creationism (Intelligent Design) into school curriculums is just one sorry example of this.
With this local study, albeit statewide, we should wake up to the reality that the next generations will be wholly unprepared to meet the challenges of the real world.
I have just finished watching the movie idiocracy. A window on the Amercian future or are you already there?
We’re not watering the lawns with Gatorade yet, Sean.
It definitely is about making it a priority and selling that importance to kids. I remember that damn Vietnamese girl in my Calc class always getting the top scores but you know what? She worked harder than anybody else. I pushed myself for a month and kept pace with her but then I got an after school job so I could afford a car so I’d be cool and maybe get laid. Hey, priorities, you know? Now MAYBE if someone had explained to me how a little work then would pay off with a 6+ figure income and therefore yield me decades of high class ass, things would have been different. Like I said, ya gotta sell this science and math stuff to the kids. 😉
You gotta consider relative densities, you can’t just use size as a proxy for mass, and four million is obviously a very round number… Still, if you check out Wikipedia’s Sun entry:”Mass 1.9891×10E30 kg or 332946 Earths”, and multiply by 4E6 to get 1,331,784,000,000 planets the mass of the Earth.
PS Yeah, freaky.
PPS I love your falling snow!
American culture definitely makes science and math uncool for pre-teens and teens. Girls shouldn’t be too brainy if they want dates; guys can be brainy, but they should also be either athletic or funny if they want dates. Also, as Philly pointed out, it’s still the case that cars are required for guys who want dates, so they all get jobs instead of studying. And girls are too busy starving themselves and putting on their makeup to study.
We’ve known about the existence of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy for a long time, originally we went looking for one at the center of Andromeda, expecting not to find one in such a quiet, unassuming galaxy, and were rather shocked that they have one too. In fact, it’s looking now like every galaxy has one and they are instrumental in galactic formation.
Luckily, the one at the center of our galaxy, like most galaxies, is dormant and barely feeding at all.
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Not sure what you’re referring to. Idiocracy? Must be this one. I’ll have to check it out. If the plot summary is correct, yes, we’re getting close.
I knew I’d get the math and science correlations all wrong, but the end result is still the same. The sheer size of the black hole is almost beyond comprehension.
And the snow comes from WordPress. It’s a seasonal perk.
In my not too unconsidered opinion, “girls” are going to the run the world, in the not too distant future. Men have fucked things up one too many times.
Bitchy (am I getting too familiar? 8) )
I wasn’t aware of that. I guess what’s new is that it is a confirmed fact now, and not just a possibility. And the idea of something that size “feeding” is another great mental image. I’m visualizing a super-sized Jabba the Hut.
Nah, whatever you want is fine. 🙂
We’ve known about them for at least 10 years now. The BBC did a pretty good overview back in 2000 on their show “Horizon”, if you can find the one called “Supermassive Black Holes”, it’s probably one of my favorites of the series. The Science Channel shows it every once in a while if you keep your eyes open.
There is a pervasive sense of anti-intellectualism in this country, that makes the sciences and math unattractive to our students.
Add to that the portrayal of scientists in the movies. They’re often portrayed as madmen or willfully blind to the destructive power of their creations.
Some classic sci-fi examples are the arrogant Dr. Morbius in Forbidden Planet, the scientist in the original The Thing who endangers the life of everyone else on the base because he is convinced that the alien creature can be “reasoned with”. And then there’s the anti-science diatribe by Linda Hamilton’s character in T2 to the Miles Dyson character, “Men like you…” There’s tons of other examples, but those came immediately to mind.
They all feed into the stereotype of the scientist messing around with things he shouldn’t to the detriment of humanity.
I believe pop culture and materialism to be far more culpable influences in the pervasiveness of anti-intellectualism than religion. You know how atheists sometimes say believing in God is not necessary? I think that typifies many a person’s approach to intellectualism. Especially the younger generations, where far too often it’s simply not cool to be smart. Parents and other pillars of authority need to instill into kids the idea that intellectualism is something to be proud of, something that should be nurtured at all costs.
I agree that there’s a problem with the “coolness” factor of intellectual achievement, however, that merely affects individuals’ drive to pursue academics which are available to them. Religion does this too, but as we’ve seen a lot in recent years, it’s actually organized itself to limit or eradicate the availability of some academics, from sciences to sex education. If you want to quibble about culpability, I’d say Christianity is pretty culpable (and before someone goes on and on about how “real” Christianity isn’t about that blah blah blah, remember that ALL the guilty parties, including the Discovery Institute, are Christian based, so plague them with your “real” Christianity, not me).
I’ve never denied the bona fide atrocities of organized religion so save it. And I don’t really want to get into it with you on someone else’s turf, but I will say this:
Classic either/or fallacy, and what an utter joke – just reveals your anti-Christian bent. Yup, regarding the religious influences behind the spread of anti-intellectualism, ALL of the guilty parties are Christian-based. Forget all about Muslims or any other religious group that promotes anti-intellectualism, right? Please. Indeed the whole world is pink through rose-colored glasses.
Look CL, we both know you both seek to get into it on someone else’s turf and change the subject of the discussion, so spare us.
You’re correct that I’m anti-Christian here, but not in the way you assume. I hear not all Christians subscribe to the crazy ramblings of Creationism and Abstinence only sex ed, but where are their objections? Where are they when there are these ridiculous religious based objections to science and education? If the sensible ones spoke up more, then it would be harder for us outsiders to think you all subscribe to the craziness, that you’re all on the same team. So yes, I’m anti-Christian. I’m anti-Christian nutters, and I’m anti-Christian moderates who sit quietly and let the nutters speak for the group.
As for what happens outside the US CL, that’s really not my concern and not what we’re all talking about, and really, are you going to go with the ‘we’re not as bad as the Muslims elsewhere in the world’ defense?
Save it. My original comment was on topic. And you denigrate sensible believers all the same – I’ve seen it.
A little Americentric, no? At any rate, I wasn’t talking about that in the first place so get it straight and build strawmen elsewhere. I’m not discussing what goes on outside America, and unlike you, I’m not saying any one religious group is worse than another when it comes to the spread of anti-intellectualism – that’s you putting words in my mouth, aka strawmanning. I’m saying that Christianity is not the only culpable party, hence your argument fails. The plain reality is that the religious influences behind the spread of anti-intellectualism are not ALL Christians. So I’m going to mock your biased, prejudiced argument that,
What utter kookery. Again, it’s an either/or fallacy that ignores other viable options, and frankly, I’m done rebutting it. Your hatred of Christianity is so intense that it blinds you as to what other people are actually saying. Have fun building sandcastles.
Actually no, that’s not what you were saying. You said, “I believe pop culture and materialism to be far more culpable influences in the pervasiveness of anti-intellectualism than religion.” That’s quite different, isn’t it? That’s you coming in to the rescue of religion and shifting the greater blame elsewhere. I did agree with you that such things play a role, but if you’re going to assign greater degrees of culpability, well, that opens up a debate, no?
But somehow, as you often do, you shifted the debate. Now it’s whether Christianity is the only religion in the US guilty of what I claimed, acting to limit or eradicate some academics here in the US. (Just to be clear, we are just talking about the US. Perhaps that’s “Americentric” for you, but take that up with SI, since that’s what this blog post was focusing on.) Are you done with the original debate? Are you conceding it or putting it on hold for later or something? Give us a nod or something, especially when you shift the debate to a new subject. It would really help out those following along.
So ok, this new thing of yours. Well since you asked, “Forget all about Muslims or any other religious group that promotes anti-intellectualism, right?” I assumed you were referring to outside the US. Please correct me for jumping to a false assumption by pointing to examples for me of Muslim groups involved in efforts comparable to Christian groups’ efforts to limit or eradicate some academics here in the US.
Oh, and if you have any spare time, PLEASE forward me any links you have of Christian organizations, individuals, whatever, speaking out against the yahoo Christians who work to limit and eradicate academics here in the US. I don’t wish to be building sandcastles, you know.
Thanks a bunch. 🙂
I’m really tempted to just let it be, but one more go I guess.
If you’re going to take the liberty to tell your opponent what they’re saying, that’s lame enough. When you do such and get it wrong, that’s even more lame. Not to mention strawmanning. If I’ve said pop culture and materialism are far more culpable influences in the pervasiveness of anti-intellectualism than religion, such directly entails that Christianity cannot be the only culpable party.
Via admitted false assumption, who just shifted the debate outside the US? Again, please.
No, it always was. That was my argument from my initial response to you, as evidenced by the following:
Although I was tempted to tell you to do your own research since we all have access to the internet and all, how about “Turkish Creationist Movement Tours American College Campuses” reported by the National Center For Science Education? From the text regarding their Penn State stop, here in the States: “The talk, The Collapse of Darwinism and the Fact of Creation, was given by Dr Oktar Babuna — an acknowledged student of Harun Yahya… In 2007, representatives of Harun Yahya have been contacting Muslim student associations in colleges, universities, and community centers offering to give presentations. In Pennsylvania alone, I was able to track recent talks by the same group, under identical or near-identical titles, at the University of Pittsburgh, Lehigh University, Villanova University, and Temple University. A similar talk was held at the University of Buffalo on January 29 and at Albany University on February 1, 2007.
Besides myself, how about Mike Taylor, a Christian individual who directly and effectively addresses the claims of the Institute for Creation Research, a U.S. organization: “YES! I agree emphatically with the ICR that God made the Earth and created man upon it. But this verse is about who made the earth, not how he did it. It simply is not about science.”
Now, three replies to you is enough, but alas, something tells me you’ll still be unsatisfied.
How can I get what you’re saying wrong and “strawman” you if I quote your exact words?
This gem of a statement had me laughing this morning, so I have to thank you for that, and no, I’m not laughing simply because this is silly since I quoted you word for word. No, I’m laughing because… wait for it… you’re the one who’s guilty of doing what you yourself say is lame. LOL! Here, I’ll break it down:
• You came in and asserted pop culture and materialism were more culpable
• I agreed they played a part but seriously disagreed with who was more culpable
Got that? Great, because then you went on to waste two comments arguing “I’m saying that Christianity is not the only culpable party, hence your argument fails.” What argument of mine would that be? I never said Christianity was alone in the blame. Sooooooo, Who strawmanned who? LOL!
Anyway, thanks for some of the links. Had you in fact done what you were tempted to do and tell me to go research your claims, you’d be doubly lame, for it’s the responsibility of the claimant to provide evidence to warrant their claim (there’s a great lecture series available from The Teaching Company on Argumentation you might be interested in which explains claims, warrants, and so forth really well). That’s you, btw. You made the claim there were other religious groups doing what Christian groups are doing in this country.
Now the Turkish lectures are interesting, but they’re just lectures, right? Do you have any actual activism examples? You know, a Muslim organization blocking evolution and/or forcing Creationism be taught in public schools? Maybe some Hindus on a school board eliminating sex ed in favor of Abstinence only education? Maybe some pseudo-science institute lead by Jains seeking to have their “science” graduates’ degrees recognized so they can then go teach in public schools? Take your time. See if I were you, I would have gone with something easy like point to some Jew at the DI. That would have worked, but then Christians sort of pretend Jews are part of the team, right? You know, that “Judeo-Christian” team. Well I’m sure there must be at least one non-Christian, non-Jew on the payroll at DI.
Oh yes, and thanks for mentioning Mike Taylor. You and Mike, is that it? Man, you two have your work cut out for you with the flock. Good luck with that.
Seems I just cannot help myself, but I wonder if you’re just drawing me into further debate to disprove my point about not wanting to get into it. Either way, I must admit where you are quite correct, yet I can’t let your demonstrably incorrect denials stand.
You first told me I was shifting the debate, yet,
Did you not clearly append words to my original words that did not exist? Who shifted the debate, then? Note: “…elsewhere in the world.” Did you not shift the debate to an international scope when no such scope was present in my original argument? If yes, strawman #1. If no, defense please. Secondly, did I give any indication in my original argument that “we’re better than Muslims?” If yes, defense please. If no, strawman #2.
Further, it doesn’t matter if you quote my exact words when you deny their intended meaning. When in the context of the religiously culpable, I said,
did you not say,
Did you say that? Yes or no? If yes, then no, the two claims aren’t quite different. Does not that pop culture and materialism are also culpable entail that Christianity is not the only culpable party? Yes or no? If yes, then such was what I was saying and strawman #3. If no, explain.
That’s correct, but unfortunately it’s also strawman #4. I didn’t say you said that nor did I mean to imply such. You did concede that pop culture and materialism were also culpable. That’s correct, and I was aware of that from the getgo, evidenced by the fact that if I felt you were denying the culpability of anything but Christianity in the absolute sense, I would have sought to further prove my case that pop culture and materialism were also culpable. Note such did not occur, because we obviously agreed on that point. My secondary point was to address your biased argument that ALL culpable religious groups are Christian-based:
Now, I could’ve been more clear and added the qualifier of ‘religious’ between ‘culpable’ and ‘party’, but such does not entail a strawman when I was well aware of your previous concession, and the context of my statement had directly to do with culpable religious groups. At most, I guess I could apologize for lack of absolute clarity, but the above context is clearly the religiously culpable and I understood your argument all along – or I would have bickered with you that, yes, pop culture and materialism are in fact also responsible. Such arguments were not forthcoming because they weren’t necessary, because you conceded such from your opening sentence to me and I felt no need to rebut the general idea that Christianity is the only culpable source.
Perhaps above, then, you meant to state that of the religiously culpable influences, ALL of them are Christian-based? The qualifier of ‘religious’ does not appear in the above (original) statement and its opening context is about culpability – not religious culpability. You simply say, “If you want to quibble about culpability…ALL the guilty parties…are Christian-based.”
Then why did you ask in the first place if you had an answer to your own question?
Again, I apologize, but you strawmanned me first and four times at that, and actually added words to my argument that did not originally exist in your very first response to me.
Will you apologize for your far greater oversights? If yes, accepted, and I’m done here. If no, expected, and I’m also done here.
When I said,
The intended meaning is NOT that I also strawmanned you. The intended meaning is that you strawmanned me and added words to my argument from the getgo, from your very first comment to me.
A fiery temperament, a cloud of obfuscating verbosity, and a hearty ‘Hi-yo, Strawman, away!’
Your strawman claims are a joke. Your shifting arguments are equally comical, and the shear verbosity of each enterprise is astounding.
• You came in and asserted pop culture and materialism were more culpable
• I agreed they played a part but seriously disagreed with who was more culpable
(Btw, that word above was “agreed”, not “conceded”.)
From there, you went off-road and I tire of trying to bring you back. Have fun out there, and come back when you’re done, or don’t. Whatever
I figured you wouldn’t admit any error whatsoever, even though you’ve added words to your opponent’s argument that did not exist in the original statement. Did you add an international scope to my argument that did not exist in my original words? Yes or no? Did you accuse me of saying Christians were better than Muslims in regards to the religious proliferation of anti-intellectualism? Yes or no? If you’re so confident you’re correct here, then answer both of these questions truthfully. Really, why not?
I’ve apologized to you for my minor oversight, and anyone who’s really looking should be able to see that yours (plural) are anything but minor. Why you can’t or won’t simply own up to them I have no idea, save for it might be slightly embarrassing in front of all your buddies. Honestly.
The international scope was an assumption I made to try to make sense of your counter that Muslims or any other religious group was also guilty of what I charged Christian organizations with. I honestly could not believe you could possibly suggest such a thing for here in the US and indeed, when pressed for evidence you could only offer some touring Turks giving lectures, so I’d say my assumption was warranted.
I’m not even sure what that sentence means, but since I know I never said “proliferation”, I’ll answer no.
So I think you need to look up straw man, because I’m not sure you know what it means. Do not collect go, do not collect a fruit basket or any points.
“Do not pass go”. Sorry.
I know what a strawman is. It’s when you attack an argument your opponent has not actually made. I never made the arguments you attacked.
So that’s effectively a “Yes.” I realize you thought it was justified, but the fact is, whether you think you’re justified in an incorrect assumption about your opponent’s argument or not, stating the incorrect assumption is strawmanning.
You answered “no” even though I correctly paraphrased your statement:
All in the thread. I’m trying to be real and reason with you here. Mistakes such as these don’t mean I’m any better than you, or that what I believe is any more correct than what you believe. If you were to somehow come to grips with reality here, I would think highly of you for admitting your oversights. Such would be a good thing that would suggest maybe *you* (as in Philly, not all skeptics) are not all about pride and this ego trip of being correct. Such would make your philosophy more appealing to me.
Clearly you don’t know what a straw man argument is if you can’t tell the difference between a mistaken assumption and a straw man. Also, in your zeal to score, you completely ignored 12 January 2009 at 12:50 AM: “I assumed you were referring to outside the US. Please correct me for jumping to a false assumption by pointing to examples…”
Rather than try to correct me, you’ve been screaming “strawman” like a mental patient ever since. Is this what you call “being real”? Anyway, I’m waiting for evidence to warrant your assertion. My guess is you’ll provide none, since there is none to provide, which is why you’re dicking around screaming “strawman” because it’s impossible to back up your ridiculous claim, which makes my false assumption ever more warranted, and makes you sound even more crazy when screaming “strawman”. You’re a regular perpetual motion machine of hole digging, aren’t you?
So are we ever going to get back to the original topic? How much longer before you appeal to SI, then shift around a bit more, then make some pseudo apologies, and then awkwardly try and befriend me? Do I need to pull up past threads here to establish a pattern of your behavior, young man? Can we just cut to the part where I give you noogies and call you a rascally little scamp and we have some soder pops?