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Once again catching up

Over at Pharyngula, there’s a lot of stuff going on worth reading—if you can resist getting pulled into the comments-section debates and the religious wingnuts who love to post piles and piles of silly arguments. This guy has so many enemies that he has even suffered a DOS attack on his site; luckily, he isn’t the type to attack back in anything more vicious than this fun method… and even that, he used on himself.

But there is an issue that comes up time and time again on his site, which is whether creationism belongs in the classroom. As a very educated and intelligent evolutionist—the only position for an intelligent and educated person, really, must involve evolution at some point—PZ Myers (the blogger at Pharyngula) feels that there is no place in the science classroom for discussion of creationist nonsense. I hope I’m not putting words in his mouth in stating that: he did, after all, write that “we should not waste time on poorly formed dogma that does not rise to the standards of scientific thought”.

I’d like to disagree. Not that we ought to teach so-called creation science as valid science—no way. No bloody way. I wouldn’t give people who read that Left Behind crap an inch, if I could help it.

But I think we ought to spend more time in teaching older, discredited theories, as well as teaching the kind of critical thinking that goes into debunking such theories. We could start by teaching students something simpler, such a Medieval notions of the 4 Bodily Humors, and then walk them through why it’s a ridiculous crock of shit. We could then introduce the notion of Blood Types determining personality, a common notion here in Asia, and ask them to evaluate. Is there a proper diet for each blood type? Have them puzzle it out with logic and questions. Provide snippets of what we know, what’s been established in experiments and so on, and see what they come up with. Reward students who sensibly reject silly ideas.

We could have kids learn the older, crazy geocentric models of the universe/solar system, have them learn how to calculate the epicycles and all, until they are so annoyed that we say, what do you think is wrong with this model?

“What do you think is wrong with this model?”, in fact, should be the question that everyone is equipped to ask, with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow. When some idiot goes off on why evolution is wrong, it shouldn’t just be a small minority who senses the holes in his argument—and now, it is. Creation Science is a bullshit sham fantasy, so poorly constructed that anyone who knows anything much can shoot it full of holes without having to refer to a book. The question, therefore, is why so few people know anything much?

I suspect keeping Creationism out of classrooms is not going to better equip people against it. Rather, I suspect that integrating it into a pseudoscientific Hall of Shame will help students to evaluate it better, will help the citizens they become better resist the fundamentalist whackaloonery that pushes for this kind of crap to replace proper education.

Of course, the problem is that this debate is centered in America. In Korea, as far as I know, there is no push to exclude evolution from classrooms, even though there’s a small fundamentalist Christian minority who do things as insane as vandalizing Buddhist temples. Even they don’t go so far as to try hijack public education. So maybe this strategy would backfire in America. I don’t know.

By the way, Myers isn’t above a little fun. He linked to this page where I created a South Park version of what my students see when they pass me, standing at the local bus stop, waiting for my ride to school on the old public transt system. (Living 5 minutes away, it’s simply the best choice.)

Nice, huh? Yeah, yeah, shut up and go make your own.

One more nice link from Pharyngula: a plagiarist busted. I believe in compassion, but sometimes a hard slap is compassionate. Nothing’s more insulting that a cheater. (Which may be why the fake aura of real science attached to Creation Science bothers me so much; it’s like an attempted Trojan Horse into the world of learning and knowledge. Except it is constructed in such a way it’s obvious it’s shoddy crap.)

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