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It’s Creation Science Fair time!

The Twin Cities Creation Science Association is hosting their annual science fair again this weekend, at the University of Northwestern St Paul, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville, Minnesota, in Maranatha Hall. At least it’s being done at an appropriately Christian college.

Every year I note this thing, and every year I fail to attend. It’s just too depressing to see the sad little displays and the cheerful kids who are being detoured into failure. I always feel like I should go, though, just to witness it.

So I was thinking, maybe if I had a little more incentive…is there anyone else in that part of Minnesota who’d like to meet up, take a tour through the tackiness, and then get together to restore our faith in humanity with a beer or lunch? Let me know in the comments. I’d probably aim to get there around 10am, when it’s all set up and judging is going on, and be off by early afternoon. If anyone can recommend a good pub or something in that area, even if you can’t make it, it would be appreciated.


Let me add: if you look at the photos of last year’s fair, you’ll see that these are fairly typical of even secular science fairs — the only weird bit is the required inclusion of a Bible verse, and every once in a great while someone trots out some nonsense about a young earth or whatever. If you think this is an opportunity to get together and poke fun at some kids, stay home, OK?

Comments

  1. Rieux says

    Hey, that sounds like fun!

    I live in the Twin Cities, and in fact my wife and 19-month-old son (remember them?) and I will be going to our regular toddler-gymnastics class from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning in the northwestern corner of St. Paul (i.e., right next to Roseville).

    It would be fabulous to meet up with a few Pharyngulites for a science fair and lunch. If we ask them just right, said wife and son (who, BTW, has turned out to be gorgeous and fabulously smart*) might even accompany us.

    I’m at camusrieux AT yahoo.com if you need to contact me.

    (* I mean my son. My wife has been both of those things since well before I met her. As a warning, anyone coming along on Saturday is at serious risk of enduring insufferable amounts of bragging from me about Rieux Jr.)

  2. Rieux says

    As for pubs… well, there is a large group of restaurants in and around the Rosedale mall, which is the major commercial hub four miles south of the (“)University(”) in question. Some of the restaurants are reasonably good, though almost all of them are chain-y.

    Here is what Google Maps provides for restaurants near Rosedale. Specifically pubbish choices would include the Green Mill, Granite City, and Flame Rotisserie–all not-bad quality. Another option, though I wouldn’t call it a pub, is India Palace, a similarly not-bad Indian joint that my family has visited several times.

  3. Sastra says

    If you think this is an opportunity to get together and poke fun at some kids, stay home, OK?

    You could have made this your title and put it in ALLCAPS and both the religious and the anti-gnus would fail to see it. Not a single disrespectful word or challenge — and it will still be framed as ‘that time a bunch of mean atheists got together to mock little children.’

    Tough. It sounds like an interesting trip, wish I could make it.

  4. kenbakermn says

    I live pretty close. I’d be up for something. I saw this fair a few years ago at Harmar mall. Yeah, it was pretty sad. I didn’t ask the kids any questions but if the teachers were there I would have tried to grill them a little.

  5. says

    PZ, I’ve been going to the fair for the last few years and plan to be there as well this year. Last year, Mike Haubrich Greg Laden an I went to Grumpy’s in Roseville afterwards (it’s next door to Northwestern U) and I expect to repeat this year.

    Dana

  6. Rex Little, Giant Douchweasel says

    the cheerful kids who are being detoured into failure.

    That seems a bit over the top. I can’t think of very many life paths where incorrect beliefs about the origins of mankind and the age of the Earth will reduce one’s chances of success. I have a brother who’s a fundamentalist Christian (the only one in a family of atheists; don’t ask me how that happened), a young-Earth creationist–and a very good doctor.

  7. boyofd says

    Good job including the caveat at the end, and from the looks of the posters linked (most of which I can’t read beyond the title), I think you should invite the kid who made the “How to Hit the Broad Side of a Barn” exhibit out for a beer with you afterwards. He or she seems pretty witty, and the test to see how much closing one’s eyes might affect aim is actually interesting to me (even though I don’t actually go shooting or hunting).

  8. woozy says

    the cheerful kids who are being detoured into failure.

    That seems a bit over the top. I can’t think of very many life paths where incorrect beliefs about the origins of mankind and the age of the Earth will reduce one’s chances of success.

    It’s a first step in the suppression of critical thinking and a first embrace in acceptance of authority without substance. A sad start.

    I have a brother who’s a fundamentalist Christian (the only one in a family of atheists; don’t ask me how that happened), a young-Earth creationist–and a very good doctor.

    Welp… somehow your brother managed to compartmentalize successfully. In general, believing an impossible and contradictory belief is an inability to think critically and that’s a big detriment.

    ====
    So in those photos… what was the conclusion as to whether it actually took stalactites millions of years to form?

  9. astro says

    looking at the actual pictures, it’s clear that the required bible verse has absolutely nothing to do with the science project.

    this gets me thinking: what are the criteria for entry? why not come up with a science project designed to test some of the more obscure bible verses? like:

    – does pi = 3?
    – are bald people more sensitive to insults? bonus question – do she-bears naturally prefer eating children over other sources of food?

  10. guyincognito says

    The hardest part about attending the event would be deciding on which snarky t-shirt to wear…

  11. Rex Little, Giant Douchweasel says

    woozy @12:

    It’s a first step in the suppression of critical thinking and a first embrace in acceptance of authority without substance.

    A first step? Seems to me that most subjects are taught to young children by asking them to believe facts because the teacher says so; critical thinking comes later. Also, if a kid believes in an organized religion, (s)he is already accepting authority without substance.

    A sad start.

    Sad, yes, but hardly a “detour into failure”. Plenty of people who are religious, and/or who do little critical thinking, live successful lives.

    somehow your brother managed to compartmentalize successfully.

    What’s to compartmentalize? Far as I’m aware, nothing in creationism contradicts what a doctor needs to know.

    In general, believing an impossible and contradictory belief is an inability to think critically

    What’s impossible or contradictory about creationism? Far-fetched to be sure, but if God exists (and we can’t prove It doesn’t), anything’s possible–including the creation of the universe in six days, complete with built-in evidence to fool us into thinking it’s been around for billions of years.

  12. says

    Last Thursdayism is your excuse? Good grief.

    Your extreme disrespect for doctors is also noted. So it’s OK if they’re dumbasses?

  13. carlie says

    Far as I’m aware, nothing in creationism contradicts what a doctor needs to know.

    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, for starters.

  14. says

    I’m going to try to make it. Went last year, and it was a good time. A bunch of us went to Grumpy’s for lunch.

    The Roseville area actually has Every Single Known Restaurant Chain within the larger shopping and eating area known as Rosedale (which also a mall). Grumpy’s may be the closest to the fair, just south of the campus. Oh, yes, I see The Lorax has indicated he’s going, that’s good.

    My favorite exhibit last year was testing the Five Second Rule hypothesis. The student was great.

    Mike, Lorax and I went around to each exhibit and simply talked sciency to each student. I like to think we made a difference, even is small.

  15. wcorvi says

    Last week, Ken Ham used Danny Faulkner as an example of a young earth creationist who has made good in mainstream science. I’ve read some of DFs papers, and the same lack of critical thinking carries over into them. In one six-page paper with him in the author list, five and one half pages were just completely wrong. All the times of observations were wrong by 400 days, for example. All of the model parameters were for an entirely different star.

  16. happyrabo says

    I’d be interested in going, it’s not very far for me. Grumpy’s Bar and Grill is about half a mile away from the place – that would be my suggestion.

  17. woozy says

    @16

    Me (being somewhat less than eloquent): It’s a first step in the suppression of critical thinking and a first embrace in acceptance of authority without substance.

    Rex Little: A first step? Seems to me that most subjects are taught to young children by asking them to believe facts because the teacher says so;

    Perhaps young (very young) children aren’t expected to question and apply critical reasoning themselves but even at the youngest stages a teacher is expected to explain things. It is that there is an explanation that is of importance, sometimes even more so than the information itself. With creationism the lesson is we believe it because we believe it and we believe it really, really, really hard.

    (thinking off the top of my head) Maybe this is telling kids to believe in Santa Claus isn’t so bad. Yes, we expect children to unquestioningly believe something for no good evidence jsut because we told them so but we don’t expect them to believe it “really, really, really hard” and … oh I’m being incoherent but I’m going to need to develop this thought …(/end thinking of top of head )

    A sad start.

    Sad, yes, but hardly a “detour into failure”. Plenty of people who are religious, and/or who do little critical thinking, live successful lives.

    Um, a life with “little” critical thinking is hardly a challenging life and I’d hardly consider an unchallenged life “successful”. Perhaps a “detoured into failure” is a bit overly nuanced, but it seems appropriate for an opinion blog entry such as this. Perhaps *I* wouldn’t say “detoured to failure” but I would say they are being cheated out of a decent education.

    me: somehow your brother managed to compartmentalize successfully.

    rex: What’s to compartmentalize? Far as I’m aware, nothing in creationism contradicts what a doctor needs to know.

    To become a doctor one needs to think critically and objectively. To remain a creationist one needs to deliberately suppress thinking critically and objectively (or to live a sheltered life and never think or expose oneself to the entire known body of science). Most people in a career that requires critical thinking can’t do that very well. Apparently your, supposedly intelligent, brother could. He compartmentalized.

    It doesn’t matter that the knowledge of non-creationism isn’t necessary for medical knowledge (although carlie @18 provides an clear counter-example) but that the method of suppressing critical thinking is incompatible with the study of… well, the study of just about anything. …. Fuck, I don’t think you can be a good sociologist if you are a creationist (emphasis on good).

    What’s impossible or contradictory about creationism?

    Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?

    Far-fetched to be sure, but if God exists (and we can’t prove It doesn’t), anything’s possible–including the creation of the universe in six days, complete with built-in evidence to fool us into thinking it’s been around for billions of years.

    Extraordinary and specific and counter-evidential beliefs require strong reasons. Belief that gee, the universe is really complex and somehow I think a consciousness must be out there isn’t an *extraordinary* belief (although in my opinion I think it is flaky and stupid and wrong I don’t think it is *insane*). To believe the earth is six thousand years old and the all life appeared at once in present form despite all evidence (consistent, confirming, repeating, and testable) showing that that is simply absurd with no reason than utter belief and a pathological attempt to retro-actively shove arguments not because they are valid but because they fit the belief you are trying to convince yourself to have… well, that is the anti-thesis of science.

    And, yes, it’s a detour to failure.

  18. woozy says

    Short version:

    It’s not that creationism (or astrology, or ufology, or palmistry, or ….) is incompatible with medicine (or physics, or history, of sociology, or …). It’s that the belief in these things is incompatible. Being a doctor (or a physicist, or a historian, or a sociologist, or …) requires the ability to think critically. Believing in creationism (or astrology, or ufology, or palmistry, or ….) requires suppressing critical thought. Those are contradictory and incompatible.

  19. says

    I plan on hitting the fair around 11. The judging is 10-12:30, so the presenters should still be there and geared up to talk. I figure decompressing at Grumpy’s sometime between 12 and 12:30. Hope to see/meet some of you.

  20. Rex Little, Giant Douchweasel says

    woozy @23:

    What’s impossible or contradictory about creationism?

    Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?

    No, just being pedantically precise about the words “impossible” and “contradictory”. I explained why it’s not impossible, in the strict sense of the word, however absurd it is. As for contradictory, you answered my question (it was a question) in #24. Not what I meant by contradictory (non self-consistent) but a valid answer.

    To become a doctor one needs to think critically and objectively. To remain a creationist one needs to deliberately suppress thinking critically and objectively (or to live a sheltered life and never think or expose oneself to the entire known body of science). Most people in a career that requires critical thinking can’t do that very well. Apparently your, supposedly intelligent, brother could. He compartmentalized.

    In that sense of the word (different from what I had in mind, but perfectly valid), yes, my brother compartmentalizes. But I disagree that “most people in a career that requires critical thinking can’t do that very well.” I think the vast majority of people, even those who are generally good at critical thinking, have blind spots where they suppress it.

    carlie@18:

    Far as I’m aware, nothing in creationism contradicts what a doctor needs to know.

    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, for starters.

    I’ll check with my brother next time I talk to him, but I seriously doubt that creationism denies the existence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More generally, I’m pretty sure that they know natural selection exists, and works to change the characteristics of species and groups within species over time. They just disagree about what and when the starting point was.

    . . .

    Leaving debate mode, here’s a thought. If we can’t keep creationism out of schools, perhaps we could get them to teach it not alongside evolution, but with the Greek myths. (Those are still taught in schools, aren’t they? I had them in 6th grade.) “Here’s how the ancient Greeks believed the world was created, and here’s what modern Christians believe. . .”

  21. woozy says

    If we can’t keep creationism out of schools, perhaps…

    That’s an amazingly pessimistic hypothesis. Creationism a) simply is simply and utterly false and b) supports a religious view and is thus a violation of separation of church and state. If we can’t keep creationism out of schools then secular public education is completely over.

    … perhaps we could get them to teach it not alongside evolution, but with the Greek myths.

    Well, that’s not a compromise. That’s an entirely different issue. And one that pleases no one and solves no issue.

    “Here’s how the ancient Greeks believed the world was created, and here’s what modern Christians believe. . .”

    Except that *isn’t* what “modern christians” believe.

  22. andersk3 says

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

    F. Scott Fitzgerald