--

Oh... my... god...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/science/30profile.html?ex=1125547200&en=631977063d726261&ei=5070

"One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth..."

That's one of the most worrying things I've ever heard in my life.
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 31st, 2005
ok, *that* would surely be a reasonable basis to disenfranchise someone from voting?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
August 31st, 2005
I'd go so far as to suggest it's grounds for dsenfranchising from *breathing*!
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 31st, 2005
Well the sun rises in the east, moves overhead to the west where it sets.
This repeats itself everyday, although sometimes when it's clouded i'm not sure.
Assuming this is the same sun everytime, I suppose it moves underneath the earth back to the east at night to make a full circle.
Things that make circles are known to "revolve". The sun revolves around the earth. Q.E.D.
Permalink Geert-Jan Thomas 
August 31st, 2005
Yes, very good, except that assuming the sun revolves around the earth makes the orbits of the other planets incomprehensibly confusing; assuming that they all go round the sun simplifies matters an awful lot, and makes a heck of a lot more sense. Even the Catholic church now accepts that the earth is *not* the centre of the universe/galaxy/solar system, so that fact that 20% of Americans still haven't grasped the idea is an interesting mixture of funny, terrifying, shocking, and not at all surprising... :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 31st, 2005
You find that more disturbing than one in two Americans believing that Baby Jesus created man out of mud?
Permalink a2800276 
August 31st, 2005
All this assuming that the statistics were gathered correctly. I'm doubtful of that.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
August 31st, 2005
JHC, you're actually frightening. In an article about the US educational system, all you can focus on is disenfranchising voters.

I disagree with this quote:
"We don't get the best people for teaching because we pay so little. For people in the sciences particularly, if you have some skill, the job market is so good that teaching is not competitive"

It's not just about money - there are (and always have been) a lot of good teachers. Many of them leave because of politics and stupid paperwork drills (like NCLB). In addition, we focus too much on credentials and not enough on ability.

I think one thing that could really help the school systems would be to set up a system for part-time teachers. Set up high school schedules so they're more college-like (courses taught 1-3 times a week), and have adjunct faculty. Encourage businesses to give employees flex time if they choose to teach part time (for example if I wanted to teach Monday classes and work Tues-Sat)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 31st, 2005
Here's my rant:

In the Fall of '01, I was volunteering at a local high school working in their theatre department. While I was there, they offered me a parttime "Teachers' Aide" position for a one-time payment of $300. I didn't want the money, but needed to go through the process so thay my involvement was "legit".

I ahd to go get fingerprinted... no problem it was for a background check. Then they wanted to know about my education and requested an unofficial transcript... annoying, but I understand them wanting to find "qualified" people. Then I was instructed that I needed to take an Algebra course at the local community college because I didn't have an "acceptable" math course.

ACCEPTABLE MATH COURSE? WTF!?

For those who don't know, I have a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering which means I have Calculus 1, 2, 3, Linear Algebra 1 & 2, Statistics, and years worth of engineering courses.

I was informed that since non of those classes were on their "acceptable" course list, I could not take the position... so they stopped by background check, etc and I - at the recommendation of the Theatre teacher - said screw them and proceeded to work there for three years (8 shows) and the only compensation was the director bought me dinner 2-3 times.
Permalink KC 
August 31st, 2005
Obviously that's because you did real mathematics, not the kind required by the school system :) See Feynman:

http://www.textbookleague.org/103feyn.htm
Permalink el 
August 31st, 2005
With regard to the point about money, I would have to differ Philo. Especially in a culture such as "Americanism" which tends to glorify capitalism and financial attainment, both subtly and overtly, it often *is* about the money. Those people who really wish to teach will probably not be dissuaded at the point of employment by finding out the salary.

That's an overly simple view, but people will not even grow up to consider or respect teaching if it's not in a position of respect in society. The damage is done from an early age, teachers are poorly paid, and therefore lowly valued by a society that bases assumptions on earning power and prestige.

It's a slippery slope. People grow up seeing things in a negative way (teaching, science, their impact on politics generally) and it's very hard to turn that around.
Permalink Andrew Cherry 
August 31st, 2005
NPR had an article (this morning) about a poll of Americans, over 60% of us believe Creationism should be taught in school as an alternative to evolution.

There were other stats that increased my blood pressure too.

And I thought you guys were a bunch of morons!
Permalink thompson_gunner 
August 31st, 2005
Well - I thing this could be regarded as a bit like Feng-Shui - You don't actually have a dragon living in your house but if you lay-out your house so that a dragon would be happy to live there then the resulting layout is better.

Likewise, the sun doesn't really go round the earth but if by observation it appears to do so and the belief doesn't actually have any negative impact the who cares?
Permalink Ross 
August 31st, 2005
"...but if by observation it appears to do so and the belief doesn't actually have any negative impact the who cares?"

No one. Until your 6th birthday that is.
Permalink Geert-Jan Thomas 
August 31st, 2005
Here's an article on the Poll:

"64% of Americans want both creationism, evolution taught"

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050831/NEWS06/508310417/1012
Permalink thompson_gunner 
August 31st, 2005
Well, whether creationism should be taught is not what the fight is about. It whether creationism should be taught in biology class.
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 31st, 2005
I thought that they wanted intelligent design taught?

Not quite the same as creationism, but granted it's of the same ilk.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
August 31st, 2005
Intelligent Design is just Creationism in a fancy dress shop labcoat.
Permalink Andrew Cherry 
August 31st, 2005
Andrew, I said "It's not just about money"

Money is a factor, but so many people focus on the money while ignoring other (easier to fix) issues that would have as much, if not more, effect.

It takes a lot more money to get people to work in a job they hate, and administrative overhead coupled with lack of accountability on the parents can put a lot of evilness in a teaching job.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 31st, 2005
I'd agree with you on that one. It's a long hard road back though.
Permalink Andrew Cherry 
August 31st, 2005
That Richard Feynman article is probably as relevant today as it was back in 1964 (thanks, Philo). I'm not sure that most college textbooks are much better.

This brings me to the idea that perhaps it's not as much the fault of our math and science teachers that kids aren't learning very well; if they're handicapped by crappy textbooks and are forced to use them, how effectively can they really teach?
Permalink Dana 
August 31st, 2005
The same way my teachers did: hand out the books they were given to use, and then teach from utterly different material while we all stored the approved books in our lockers for the year and took home photocopied pages of problems to work out.
Permalink muppet 
August 31st, 2005
<<Dr. Miller, who was raised in Portsmouth, Ohio, when it was a dying steel town, attributes much of the nation's collective scientific ignorance to poor education, particularly in high schools. Many colleges require every student to take some science, but most Americans do not graduate from college. And science education in high school can be spotty, he said.

"Our best university graduates are world-class by any definition," he said. "But the second half of our high school population - it's an embarrassment. We have left behind a lot of people.">>


seems like its getting harder and harder to keep non-nerdy types interested in high school...?
Permalink Kenny 
August 31st, 2005
You know, I'm trying to think of something witty in the "Oh yeah?" vein to say to our European friends mocking us right now.

But I got nothing. That 20% sun goes around the Earth thing is a kicker.

I remember being in junior high (I think, maybe 5th or 6th grade) and being legitimately shocked that my aunt believed the sun was the biggest star (I mean, it looks a lot bigger than the other stars, right?).

But this is a whole 'nother league.
Permalink Jim Rankin 
August 31st, 2005
A friend told me that when he and his wife were announcing their first baby, his wife's sister said something about them having to get rid of the cat. He looked confused and asked why, and she said something along the lines of "Well, you know a cat will steal a baby's breath." Years later she insisted she was joking, but she sure didn't seem like it at the time.

Wow.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 31st, 2005
She might have been joking, as some more callous doctors do advocate getting rid of a cat when a woman is pregnant (due to some sort of parasite that lives in cat crap and is deadly to a fetuses). Of course an easier answer is for the guy to take care of cleaning the litter box and such.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 31st, 2005
Ah, no. It was pretty clear that she was just an idiot.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 31st, 2005
Good friend of mine took his fiance to the California coast for a day of relaxing. It scared him pretty bad when she asked him which ocean it was they were looking at.

He ended up marrying her. She isn't dumb, she was home schooled. She knew a lot about the Bible, a not a lot otherwise.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 31st, 2005
She must be amazing in bed.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 31st, 2005
Well, he is a *very* happy guy. And he's never made a secret of the things he enjoys.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 31st, 2005
Yeah, thought so. I can't imagine marrying someone like that otherwise.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 31st, 2005
Now now, just because she was ignorant in her youth doesn't mean she was destined to stay that way. I think she was 19 when he took her to the beach, just getting away from mommy and daddy. And she asked about the ocean because she wanted to know.

Now they read science journals together.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 31st, 2005
Well, it's good that she's learning and apparently open minded about accepting science, and all that. I think that it's unlikely she would have gotten to that point without being a minx.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 31st, 2005
Agreed. Prudes are lost causes.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 31st, 2005
Especially intelligent ones. Though to be honest, it doesn't take much intelligence to guess my intentions.
Permalink trollop 
August 31st, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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