The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been fighting for 40 years to keep religion and government separate throughout the United States, and no other organization is nearly as effective. You can join and help support their work for just $40.00 a year. $25.00, if you’re a student. You’ll get a subscription to their great, information-packed newspaper.
Tell them I sent you.*
*It won’t earn me any money, but tell them anyway.
Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born American cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. This guy is a genuine big-brained hominid, one of the smartest people you’ll ever know, and he writes to convince his readers that our world is getting steadily better, century after century. And he proves it with facts!
Changes can be either good or bad. However, contrary to popular opinion, cultural changes around the world tend, on average, to be good, in the sense that they bring greater happiness, freedom, health, and prosperity to more ad more people.
His two latest books are possibly the two most important books I have ever read.:
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Pinker shows that all down through history, for the past several thousand years, the world has been slowly getting safer from violence of all kinds including muggings, rape, murder, and war, freer from disease, poverty, and superstition, more prosperous, better fed, and happier. These are real cultural changes that usually happen so slowly that most of us are not even aware of them. But our lives are much better now than they were back in the “good old days” when you might have had to get your appendix cut out by candlelight at 3 AM. With no anesthetic.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a “world-class Christian college” that offers “a courageous and comprehensive Christ-centered education.” It doesn’t mention anything that would qualify her for this position, for which surely a Ph.D. and a few courses in education should be helpful.
She has four grown children of her own.
In 2001, she listed education reform as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom.” Secretary of Education is not a religious title. If it were, it would be unconstitutional, and using it for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom is strictly illegal.
Her nomination as Secretary of Education and confirmation by a 51-50 vote on February 7, 2017, was generally criticized by teachers’ unions. It was the first time in history that a vice president broke the tie in the Senate to confirm a cabinet member.
Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson claimed DeVos isn’t an educator or an education leader.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called DeVos “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” since the position became a cabinet position.
The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Michigan Democratic Party opposed DeVos’s nomination.
As Secretary of Education, she admitted she did not know how schools in her home state of Michigan were doing (Not well at all!) until told by an interviewer.
In March 2016, Betsy DeVos described Donald Trump as an “interloper” and said that he “does not represent the Republican Party.” At least, she got that right. Donald Trump represents nothing but himself.
She wants the government to pay for church schools.
But she’s a multi-billionaire and President Trump likes her!
I think this may be the guy I wrote about yesterday. Remember? The one who said, “God is watching over us” while eleven people died? Be wary of this man.
I just found this guy’s picture on Facebook and thought I ought to post it here, because you probably know him. If not, you almost certainly know somebody like him.
He’s conservative; he probably votes Republican, though he’ll tell you he’s politically independent; and he thinks the United States is a Christian nation, even though our Constitution never mentions Christ. He loves sinners–well, except maybe faggots and godless, atheistic secular humanists–and wants to save them from themselves and the world from them. He honors the presidency of the United States, but despises our President; and he loves our country so much he wants to tear up the Constitution and establish a theocracy. By force, if necessary.
He’ll tell you climate change is “the biggest fraud ever perpetrated against the American people,” even as we complete the hottest year in the history of climate studies. He’ll lie to your face and claim it’s not true that 13 of the 14 hottest years on record have been since the turn of this century and the other one was 1998. He’ll laugh about the possibility that sea level could rise enough to notice, even while small island nations prepare to be swallowed up by the waves.
He’ll say that “if you tell your kids they came from animals, they’ll act like animals.” Then he’ll claim we were all made out of dirt.
This man is a Fundamentalist. What makes him dangerous is not just that he’s so wrong about so many things, but that he’s absolutely certain he is right about them. Ask him what could potentially shake his faith in his beliefs and he’ll probably answer truthfully, “Absolutely nothing.” He is so certain, in fact, that he wants you to live your life according to the dictates of his conscience.
Saudi Arabia is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. Iran is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. North Korea is ruled by a man just as certain of his wrong ideas. America needs leaders who get their ideas and ideals from science and reason and compassion, and who understand they might be wrong about anything they believe and willing to learn better.
What Is Evolution? with Mohamed Noor, Earl D. McLean Professor and Chair of the Biology Department of Duke University.
Professor Noor is an avid researcher into complex areas of evolution, hybridization, and genetics. He is known for (among other things) helping develop “a model wherein regions of restricted recombination, as by chromosomal inversions, facilitate the persistence of hybridizing species.” In 2008, he was awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London.
He has served as editor for the international journal Evolution and associate editor for several other journals, as well as authoring over 100 publications. He has served as president of the American Genetic Association and Society for the Study of Evolution and as a board member for the Genetics Society of America.
Genetics and Evolution Classes
Noor and his group have also developed laboratory activities for high schools and colleges and a commercial kit for observing natural selection in Drosophila.He has been active in education and outreach, receiving numerous teaching and mentoring awards from his institution, and more recently teaching online genetics and evolution classes.
This is the first lesson of that course, and it leads directly to the whole series of classes. For people with a desire to understand basic genetics and evolution, watching these videos is an excellent way to learn.
With the heightened political coverage, the ridiculous anti-science popping up in my newsfeed is reaching frustrating levels. Yes, I’m talking about you, Texas.
Do your part in the fight for science literacy and buy a copy of Sounds Sciencey for a friend!
Anyway, keep calm and science on!
Texas is my state. Most of the time, I’m proud to be a Texan. But I know that Dallas Independent School District and many others are teaching creationism and Intelligent Design in biology classes, I have to hang my head.
There is no controversy among scientists. The controversy is all among politicians and certain religious people. Evolution is real and should be taught in public school biology classes. Creationism and intelligent design are phony and should not be taught. It’s as simple as that?
97% of all scientists accept evolution as the way we and other living things got here, and far more than 99% of scientists working in biological fields. There is no controversy among them!
Women’s rights, too
When I read how our state legislature has restricted women’s reproductive rights in the last couple of years, my head hangs even further. In some ways, we haven’t progressed in the last and 65 years.
Science and women’s rights don’t necessarily go together, but they’re both important. Extremely important! Fellow Texans, we need to build a fire under our governor and our legislature and force them into the 21st-century.
In varying degrees, the same is true of the other states in our country and of our federal government. America can be great again, but not this way.
Here are both sides of the story, though a little short on facts. But that’s OK. We’ve already heard the facts about 17 zillion times in the past few days.
For some reason, Fox News brought in a lying racist who had already been thrown off the police force for racist comments and perjury to tell the school’s and cops’ side of the story. Then Megyn couldn’t keep from laughing at his dumb remarks. (For background, see here and here.)
A former police officer — who was booted off the force for racist comments and perjury — was on the receiving end of some mockery from Fox News host Megyn Kelly after he said that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was to blame for his arrest by Texas police because he was “passive aggressive.”
According to all reports, there was no passive aggression. There was no aggression of any kind. Everybody seems to agree that when he was asked about his gadget, he said it was a clock; but the cop said his answer was not reasonable. Go figure.
This kid put a few scrap electronic parts together and made a digital clock. It wasn’t very neat, but it worked.
He was proud of what he had done, so he took it to school to show his engineering teacher. If I had been he, I would have done the same thing.
His confidence in his engineering teacher was evidently well placed. The teacher expressed his approval, but advised Ahmed not to show it to anybody else. Ahmed followed his advice and didn’t show the clock to anybody else until he was required to. But it beeped at an inopportune time.
His English teacher heard a beep, asked what it was, and demanded to see the clock. She said it looked like a bomb and notified the principal, who called the police, who came and arrested Ahmed and took him away in handcuffs.
Ahmed was described as a model student who had never been in trouble before. Do you think maybe somebody besides his engineering teacher should have thought maybe he was telling the truth?
So okay, the English teacher thought it looked like a bomb. Here’s the alleged “hoax bomb.” Do you see any sticks of dynamite? Do you see any glob of clay that might have been an explosive? Me neither. All I see is a mess of wires and electronics stuff. Wires and electronic stuff don’t usually explode.
I guess maybe an English teacher — or some English teachers — just wouldn’t know. She had to use her best judgement. But Ahmed already had a reputation for building “crazy contraptions” like this.
Last year he attended Sam Houston middle school, where everyone knew him as the kid who makes crazy contraptions. His classmates brought him electronics to fix and even bought some of his gadgets. He had an identity. He was the Inventor Kid.
Ahmed didn’t invent the clock, as some have reported. Clocks were invented centuries ago. Electronic digital clocks were invented decades ago. But he built a clock, using a lot of wire. That’s all it was.
Nobody thought it was a bomb. They said it looked like a “hoax bomb.” There was no evacuation of the school. They just thought putting a really smart kid with the potential to accomplish a lot of good for our country in handcuffs it was a good idea. I disagree.
I tweeted my support for Ahmed Mohamed a few minutes ago. I do very little tweeting, so I hope I did it right.
Most of the time, I’m proud to say I’m a Texan. Sometimes I’m not so sure. I live just a few miles from where this travesty occurred. I’ll be posting more on this as soon as I can collect my information and write it up. Probably tomorrow.
University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion Wants Students To Stop Using “He” And “She.”
The University of Tennessee has a new scheme to cure what ails a world filled with “homophobia” and gender confusions by ordering staff and students to stop using the words “he” and “she” and instead use fantasy pronouns like “xe,” “zir,” and “xyr.”
As the new school year gears up, university students are already finding that indoctrination instead of education is on tap at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where some 27,000 students are discovering the new speech codes are being pushed by a “gay rights official” at the school.
The story continues:
The goal, this official claims, is to make the school a “welcoming and inclusive” place where students won’t feel “marginalized.
I’m all in favor of welcoming all genders — however many of them you think here are — and treating them equally. All are welcome here, I assure you. In fact, I’ve already stood up to be counted a time or two. Here, for example. I don’t have enough readers that I can afford to be picky. But I’m not sure I can remember to refer to you as “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.”
Sorry. I just don’t think that’s necessary; and I refuse to let it take up good space in my teeny, little braincase.
So what does this have to do with science or skepticism? Hellifino! I guess I’m skeptical it’s going to do anything but make people laugh at places of education even more, and we don’t need that.
“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” State Senator Mae Beavers, (R-17th District) said. “If you must interview a student before you greet the student, that’s not acceptance — that’s just absurd.” You know? For a politician that womanxomanzoman … that person has brains.