Doris Lessing on Conformity and Education…

7728“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

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Looney Tunes and the case for the Humanities

The View From Sari's World

As many of you know, universities, once the defenders of the Humanities, are now setting them aside for STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) education. The argument for such studies is strong, but the growing argument against the Humanities is weak. That we no longer require critical thinking skills and strong writing skills is painfully laughable. One has to look no further than the vast amount of disinformation and misunderstanding of science we find in both the visual and written media to know this is not true. In fact, I’d argue that given that the general public is woefully ignorant and suspicious of STEM, the study of Humanities is needed more than ever. The American Academy of Arts and Science agree. In a 2013 report on STEM they note:

The humanities remind us where we have been and help us envision where we are going. Emphasizing critical perspective and imaginative…

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Pseudo-Intellectualism

Tom Wolfe by Henry Leutwyler

Tom Wolfe by Henry Leutwyler

“You’re not going to find many traditional judges who can lead you any longer, since they now wander helplessly, bemused by the willful ignorance of that bizarre twentieth-century organism, the intellectual. You’re going to have to make the crucial judgments yourselves. But you are among the very handful of those who can do it.”

– Tom Wolfe (from his commencement speech at Boston University in 2000.

(H/T to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings)

My new ebook! – Popular Science Writing

Well worth the read!

Baldscientist

I just published a new ebook!

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This is a short book about popular science writing but this is not a “How to” manual that will get you published. I am after all, rather new at this, with only one published popular science book, as you will soon see. However, I do know firsthand that success in the writing business is a quite blended mixture of education, research, ability, erudition, dedication, honesty, motivation, with a generous portion of sheer luck, among many other factors. I am merely expressing my thoughts and ideas on the matter, so again, please do not take my words as ultimate truth. Some of the things that I talk about here may be applied to both “traditional” publishing or to self-publishing; this latter one is easier than ever!

In this book I want to share some of my experiences since I have been writing popular science. This…

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The Hypocrisy of the Modern World

templeton-turing-mathWe have a lot of conveniences in our world today.  A lot of technology that we all seem to take for granted.  I suppose that’s to be expected, after all it’s difficult to be mindful of the countless systems and devices that keep our lives moving, fed, entertained, and healthy.  There are some things though that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially for the sake of the struggles certain people and groups are enduring at the hands and voices of an oppressive majority.

This past week, while the Indiana legislature reconsidered their terribly discriminatory Religious Freedom Act, a small pizza shop in Indiana got a lot of unwanted attention when the owner declared, publicly, that her establishment would not be serving members of the LGBT community.  This of course sparked heated online debate about the rights of people to be who they want to be, and the rights of business owners to do the same.

It’s really funny to me though, in an ironic way, the cherry picking that goes on in these debates.  Not only in the way the religious use certain parts of the bible to inform their argument, and as the authority for their bigotry, while ignoring other parts that just don’t matter to them personally.  But also in the way that they’re perfectly willing to overlook the influence of the thing they’re against on the technology they use, and even the services they offer.

The owner of that pizza shop used social media as her platform for spewing the hate that she and her kind harbour.  She uses any number of modern electronic conveniences to discriminate against others – cell phones, computers, the internet, social media, etc, etc – while apparently being blissfully unaware that those conveniences wouldn’t even exist but for people who were just like those she hates.

Here’s what I propose.  I say let Indiana have their horrible religious freedom laws, but let’s also deprive them of any modern convenience that has ever, in any way, been contributed to or affected by any person who would be discriminated against by that law.  No more cell phones, no more Facebook, no more TV, no more anything related to computers in any way, because if they had things the way they want them, the men and women who invented, adapted, or developed those technologies wouldn’t have existed in the first place, and thus neither would the technology.

So, let them have their cake and eat it too…in the dark, alone, with their bible.