Culture

As I keep reading posts around Facebook and the web, there’s an emerging theme that I find greatly troubling. It’s a theme that partly inspired me to start this site. Increasingly, we hear these stories about “anti-vaxxers,” “climate deniers,” creationism, and the general trend of rebuking scientific discourse in this country. In all cases, there’s certainly room for healthy, genuine debate on various issues. But, that’s not what’s happening. The discussions are haphazard, sloppy, and filled with hypocrisy and irony – from both sides. Bias and generalizations take precedent over specifics and data. Individual, fringe, and questionable sources are trusted over broad spectrum research simply because it’s contrary.

I don’t blame the issues themselves, either. I like the thought that we can question virtually anything, and talk about it on the merits and value of the science and research behind it. No, what I see is much more scary in my opinion. What I see, I believe, is the result of us entering the second generation of an education system that is putting so much emphasis on teaching to tests, and is being used as a political battlefield. The result is that far too many people are becoming adults missing not just a fundamental understanding of the scientific method and how research takes place and is tested, evaluated, and agreed upon, but that they are simply not capable of critical thinking and problem solving. When people are saying “if all the scientists agree on it, I don’t trust it,” or “peer review processes are designed to squelch breaks in the consensus” – both sentiments I’ve read multiple times – we have a major problem at a basic level of understanding these processes.

In 66 years, we went from the first plane flight to landing on the moon. In the 46 years since then, we’ve stood almost still in so many ways. Sure, we’ve made many other advances in other areas, but I feel like that’s sort of symbolic of our backslide that will not get better until we address our education problem.

Scientific Literacy

Aside

I share this as a reminder that we should always question if our individual experiences and perceptions are representative of the challenges and problems of others. This is a fundamental building block of sympathy, and developing the skills and motivation to help fight the fights with and for people even though we ourselves might not suffer their plight first-hand.

Culture, Politics

Had someone share this article with me this morning, and after reading it, thought it was worth sharing. Please, take a few minutes and read this. Then take a few more minutes and genuinely consider the problems we want to address in this country, and how one solves those problems. Not in terms of ideology, but genuine problem-solution thinking. Think about how ideology factors into solution engineering, and more specifically, how ideology can be used as a means of misdirection by those in power against the voters. There’s a term for the people being described in this article – “Useful idiots“.

Culture and Congress, principle and politics – we have to learn to separate these values. Culture, religion, and morals are not something you enforce under threat of punishment. It’s something you grow by winning the hearts and minds of your neighbors through the building of virtuous models. It comes through your actions, not your votes or your wallet.

“So why am I writing you this letter? Because, also unlike my liberal friends, I’m actually on your side, in some ways. I’m an ordained rabbi, and someone deeply concerned with the vulgarization and sexualization of our society. You and I disagree about the solution to this problem, of course, but we agree that there is a problem.”
Dear Evangelicals: You’re Being Had by Jay Michaelson

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