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Monthly Archive: February 2005

Feb 28 2005

The importance of trust in the classroom

The more I teach, the more I feel that there is an inverse correlation between the quality of learning that occurs and the number of rules that govern the classroom. At its best, teaching involves trust between students and teacher, and among fellow students. The assumption should be that we are all there to learn …

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Feb 25 2005

Creationism and moral decay

In the previous posting, I said that the reason that there is such hostility to the teaching of evolutionary theory by ID advocates and young-Earth creationists is that they feel that it implies a lack off special status for human beings, which leads to atheism, which has led to the current state of moral decay …

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Feb 24 2005

Natural selection and moral decay

In a previous posting, I discussed why some religious people found evolutionary theory so upsetting. It was because natural selection implies that human beings were not destined or chosen to be what they are. While I can understand why this is upsetting to religious fundamentalists who believe they were created specially in God’s image and …

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Feb 23 2005

The home of the brave? Or the fearful?

I have done the people of Ohio an injustice. In a previous posting, I said that sometimes it seems to me that there is no half-baked idea that originates anywhere in the known universe that does not quickly find influential adherents anxious to institutionalize it in Ohio. This was a slur on the people of …

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Feb 22 2005

What makes us good at learning some things and not others?

One of the questions that students ask me is why it is that they find some subjects easy and others hard to learn. Students often tell me that they “are goodâ€? at one subject (say writing) and “are not goodâ€? at another (say physics), with the clear implication that they feel that there is something …

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Feb 21 2005

Why is evolutionary theory so upsetting to some?

One of the questions that sometimes occur to observers of the intelligent design (ID) controversy is why there is such hostility to evolutionary theory in particular. After all, if you are a Biblical literalist, you are pretty much guaranteed to find that the theories of any scientific discipline (physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, in addition to …

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Feb 18 2005

The questions not asked

You can tell more about the sorry state of the mainstream news media by the kinds of questions that are not asked as by the questions that are. Take for example the news this week that North Korea publicly acknowledged having nuclear weapons and withdrew from the six-nation talks, saying that it wanted bilateral discussion …

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Feb 17 2005

Can we ever be certain about scientific theories?

A commenter to a previous posting raised an interesting perspective that requires a fresh posting, because it reflects a commonly held view about how the validity of scientific theories get established. The commenter says: ****** “A scientist cannot be certain about a theory until that theory has truly been tested, and thus far, I am …

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Feb 16 2005

Beware the Third-Tier Pundit Brigade

In a previous post, I seemed to be taking two contradictory positions. On the one hand, I argued that Third-Tier Punditsâ„¢ (of the Jonah Goldberg, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin variety) contribute almost nothing valuable to the public discourse. On the other hand, I argued that they should be countered. So why should we waste time …

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Feb 15 2005

Wanted: “Godwin’s Law”-type rule for science

Mike Godwin coined a law (now known as Godwin’s Law) that states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.â€? This makes sense. As the discussion drags on, people start running out of fresh or relevant arguments, begin repeating themselves, lose their tempers, reach for something …

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