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Monday, July 2, 2012

Here Be Monsters!

Update: About the title:  In ancient times when mapmakers didn’t know what lay beyond the edges of explored territory they would often print “Here be monsters” or “Here be dragons” or some variation of the same on the charts.  The voyage of HMS Beagle, among many other voyages of discovery, was an effort to fill in those gaps. There were no monsters, only ignorance.  There were those who cowered from the unknown, preferring to make up myth instead of seeking out the truth, and there were those who had the courage to go look for themselves.

Today, there are those, like the so-called educators described in the article below, who would erase that hard won awareness and replace it with Here Be Monsters.  These people are fearful idiots.  - Jim


 

In 1831, Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle.

Beagle’s voyage of discovery lasted nearly five years and visited many wondrous places.

Along the way Darwin formulated the genesis (sorry) of ideas that would eventually become the scientific theory of natural selection – i.e. Evolution.

Now, generally, Americans have some vague idea that Beagle visited some weird place somewhere and there were some weird birds or weird monkeys or some such weird stuff there which caused Darwin to swear unholy allegiance to Satan. More astute Americans might even be able to identify Darwin’s epiphany as having its origins (sorry) on the fabled Galapagos Islands – though the vast majority of those same Americans couldn’t find the Galapagos on a map if they were given unlimited access to an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of GPS enabled smart-phones surfing Google Earth with an infinite amount of bandwidth, but I digress. Be that as it may, Darwin spent some time there in that strange place studying rocks and birds and giant tortoises among other things.

I can understand Darwin's fascination. I've sailed to the Galapagos myself – though at the time I was studying the evolving (sorry) tactics of local cocaine smugglers and not the weird fauna which so captivated Darwin. The islands are strange and mysterious and exotic, the kind of place you’d expect to find a fifty foot tall ape who digs hot blonds and likes to climb skyscrapers, but I digress yet again.

Since Darwin’s landmark voyage and his theories have been almost completely edited out of modern American schoolbooks, it's not surprising that many Americans don’t realize that the Galapagos Islands weren’t the only place Darwin visited. In fact, Beagle circumnavigated the world on a voyage of scientific discovery like a  19th Century version of the starship Enterprise (except Darwin didn’t lose his shirt and get laid in every port, so far as we know, though he’d probably be more popular today if he had).  The ship set sail from Plymouth on December 27, 1831, under command of Captain Robert FitzRoy and voyaged first  to the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, then to the east coast of South America down to the Falklands and through Tierra Del Fuego via the Straits of Magellan. From there, the Beagle sailed north up South America’s west coast to the Galapagos. Then she turned west and made sail for Tahiti. The ship visited a number of atolls, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, more atolls, islands, and reefs, and then crossed the Indian Ocean to South Africa. The Beagle then sailed northwest to Ascension Island and across the South Atlantic back to Brazil.  Finally, she set course north towards the Azores once again and then on home to England, reaching Cornwall on October, 2, 1836.

You’ll note that although Beagle visited many lands she didn’t make a port-o-call in Scotland.

Yes, Jim, we see that, I hear you say in that puzzled yet curious tone you use when you’re wondering what the hell I’m going to do next and if it will involve the adorable human-like shenanigans of monkeys. The ship didn’t visit Scotland. It also didn’t visit the forests of America’s Pacific Northwest or Canada’s Lake Okanagan or the goatherds of Central America or the snowy peaks of the Himalayas or the mysterious and unknown Skull Island. Is this significant?

Of course.  And, really when have I ever mentioned the irrelevant for no reason other than my own amusement? OK, that’s a trick question but I think I’ve made my point here.

Now, Darwin’s role as the Beagle’s naturalist made him famous in scientific circles. He was always a workaholic, but after the voyage he became even more driven. Not long after the ship returned to England, Darwin was nearly incapacitated by stress and overwork and as a result he was repeatedly ordered by his doctors to take periodic rest breaks in the quiet countryside, which he did, sort of – predictably, most of his rest breaks turned into working vacations.

One of those breaks, a “geologizing” trip in the summer of 1838, was to Scotland.

Yes, Scotland again (at this point, in your head, you should be hearing the music that heralds ominous foreshadowing).

Darwin was so, so close, but unfortunately for The Truth he confined his trip to Glen Roy, an area of the Scottish Highlands, and mostly spent his time studying rocks. And it was here that Darwin made his “Gigantic Blunder,” speculating that the strange geologic formations in the area (known as the Parallel Roads) were formed by receding oceans (instead of ice damming during the last glacial period).

That wasn’t the only gigantic blunder Darwin made.

See, if he had only ventured a bit further afield, his Origin of the Species would have looked far, far different.

Yes, if Darwin had but visited Loch Ness, all would have become clear and his entire contribution to science could have been summed up in a single hyperlink to the Book of Genesis.

You see, deep beneath the cold wine-dark waters of the loch lurks irrefutable proof that not only was Darwin nuts, but that all of modern science is wrong as well.

"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."

A plesiosaur?

A plesiosaur, a toothy long-necked aquatic dinosaur that scientists say died out sixty-five million years ago – give or take a year or so – that plesiosaur?

Yes, that plesiosaur. Alive. And living in Scotland.

Obviously if dinosaurs live among us,  not only evolution but pretty much all of science must be wrong, including science’s assessment regarding the age of the earth.  Obviously, obviously, existence of the Loch Ness Monster proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that Noah built an Ark and survived the Great Deluge and that he carried two (or five, or seven, or maybe it was fourteen) of each animal – including dinosaurs (the Bible isn’t clear, but presumably Noah kept the plesiosaurs in a giant Zip-lock bag during the voyage like when you bring goldfish home from the store).

Holy cats!

Nessie the Scottish Plesiosaur proves that Young Earth Creationists are right! Paleontology is a crock, evolution is bunk, the Earth is six thousand years old, snakes talk, trees walk, and living dinosaurs prowl the dark corners of our world pretending to be mythical creatures hidden by the vast global conspiracy of science

I know what you’re thinking: when you phrase it like that, Jim, it all makes perfect sense!

Yes, I know. It’s a gift. From the Unicorn.

The quote above is from the actual no foolin’ science class curriculum taught to kids at Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, Louisiana. Yes, that’s correct, the “school,” which is taxpayer funded (or soon will be, thanks to Governor Bobby Jindal’s efforts to bolster Louisiana’s reputation as a science and education powerhouse) and uses the fundamentalist Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Curriculum, teaches its students that the Loch Ness monster is not only real but actually disproves the theory of evolution. The ACE curriculum claims to teach students how “to see life from God’s point of view” which is a neat trick given that even the best of America’s institutions of higher learning such as MIT and Harvard can’t grant degrees in omniscience.  One presumes that ACE graduates are automatic shoe-in’s for both Glenn Beck University and a lifetime membership in the GOP. ACE also offers students a “Biblically based curriculum infused with Godly character,” which frankly scares the shit out of me given God’s track record in the character department and the fact that the ACE website also offers a course in “Sharpening Your Axe.”

What?

No, I’m not, in actual point of fact, shitting you.

This so-called school, one of many in The Birdbrain Pelican State, also uses “bible-based math books” and substitutes creationism for actual biology and science texts. The school uses an “earth science” textbook that explains what God made on each of the six days of creation.  According to the pastor-principal, the school tries to “stay away from all those things that might confuse our children” – you know, like an actual education – because the offspring of creationists, delivered via stork no doubt and having not evolved along along with the rest of us, are morons.

Folks, we’re never going to get anywhere if you keep interrupting. What is it now?

Oh, yes, that. Look, bible-math is like word problems. Let me give you an example: If Joseph starts his own ministry which he then expands into a multi-billion dollar faith-healin’ salvation-sellin’ EVILolution-denyin’ Reality TV show that is broadcast on three cable channels and carried by one hundred and forty three radios stations in twenty-seven different countries, how much can he expect to clear tax-free off the top if he tells everybody that the world is going to end? For extra credit: After he become famous and buys his own senator, when Father Joe gets caught snorting cocaine out of Rentboy’s shaved bellybutton how many liberal homosexuals will he have to condemn to hell before God forgives his transgression? (The answer is: OMG! Nazis, Nazis everywhere!).

Now using the Loch Ness monster to prove creationism opens the door to some other interesting scientific proofs.

Yes, I’m talking about using a myth to “prove” another myth. So?

Look, it’s not like science, reasoned debate, or dazzling displays of logic are going to sway these chowderheads anyway. So, I say sure, let’s go all in and why the hell not?

That said, let’s check out some other elusive monsters, cryptids as they’re called, and see how they can be used to teach creation science.

We’ve already covered biology, how about World Religion Class?

Take the Pope Lick Monster for example…

 

Really? That’s how you’re going to be?

Sigh. Go on, get it out of your system, I’ll wait.

 

Done?

So, anyway, as I was saying, down in Kentucky they’ve got this thing called the Pope Lick Monster, part man, part goat, part sheep…

Stop giggling, it’s a real thing.  Look, we’re doing science here and you’re distracting the others.

Anyway, most legends of the Pope Lick Monster describe it as a hybrid man/goat with a twisted body, furry legs, and alabaster skin with an prominent aquiline nose. The Pope Licker lures the unsuspecting to their doom by appearing to be someone they trust…

Whoa.

Not laughing now, are you, Smartass? Maybe there is something to this creationism stuff after all.  If Darwin had spent time in Pope Lick, Kentucky he’d be singing a different tune (probably one involving banjos) – you spend a night in the woods there, trust me, you’re going to be praying to Jesus pretty goddamned quick.

There’s the Loveland Frog. A warty skinned humanoid with the leathery face of a toad. From Ohio. Coincidence? But, I digress.

The Loch Ness Monster as a basis for, well, I guess we can’t call it Evolutionary Biology can we? Creationary Biology then. So how about the Yeti for teaching the climatology portion of Earth Science?  You know the Yeti, Meh-Teh, Migio, Mirka, Kang Admi, The Abominable Snowman, Big Frosty – sometimes goes by the name of Steve.  Lives in Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet.  Snowman. Lives in the cold. Look, heat rises doesn’t it? If global warming was true, how come there’s snow on top of mountains? Pretty obvious that the Yeti proves Al Gore is a minion of the Devil. Hey, don’t blame me, folks, blame science.

We’ve got Dinosaur Biology and Snowman Climatology. You’ve heard of Voodoo Economics? Right idea, wrong myth.  Native Americans tell tales of the Wendigo, a creature who is the literal embodiment of gluttony, greed, and excess – think love child of Bernie Madoff and the Koch Brothers. Wendigos are never satisfied with sucking the life from just one person, they’re always searching for new investment opportunities. Ordinary people who give themselves over to greed and avarice can themselves turn into Wendigos.  Is it just me, or are we looking at scientifically biblical justification for unfettered Wall Street capitalism right there?

Sex Education Class? Well, there’s the Fur Bearing Trout of Montana…  Uh, you know, on second thought, never mind that one. That’s probably more of a Bible College level course.

Godless scientists say that Will-O-the-Wisps are nothing more than glowing swamp gas. Methane and phosgene gas from decaying plant matter bubbling up through water? Sure you can believe that, if you want to go to hell.  Just like you can believe that Obama isn’t a Nazi Muslim Kenyan bent to the destruction of the United States using captured UFO technology from Area 51 piloted by Bigfoot, or you can avoid eternal damnation and acknowledge that Will-O-the-wisps are really angels sent by Jesus to show petroleum companies where to drill the fracking wells.  Moses only saw a burning bush (and really, burning wood? Big Woop), we’ve got flaming water shooting out of our shower heads. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Darwin.

What’s left? Chupacabra International Relations? The Goat Sucker, the Chupacabra, a mangy diseased creature who haunts the Southwest, it comes from Latin America, it crosses the border at night and sucks the life from our very children. Jersey-Devil Genetics? Half man, half horse, half bat, half dragon, half devil and all bad (What? It’s bible math folks, try to keep up). Jersey-Dee is what you get when you mess with stem cells. How about Blair Witch Media Arts? Ogre P.E?  Ogres eat kids, if they can catch them. Imagine an Ogre coaching your school’s Cross-Country program, those kids will run like hell – I smell championship!   Meanwhile, down in the computer lab, we’ve got trolls…

What?

Oh, right, I’m the one being silly here.

Maybe so, but I’m not the one setting my kids up for the Darwin Awards.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to stop by the enchanted wood and talk to my Leprechaun travel agent, I’m thinking about moving to the Galapagos Islands.

Or maybe Scotland.

59 comments:

  1. Jim,
    Based on your desciption of the Pope Lick Monster, I would have to conclude that those are actually sightings of Mitch McConnell on his "Who I Screwed On My Summer Vacation Tour" of his home state.

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    1. There is a video of that very thing:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc5JchtQ_eg&feature=related

      Delete
  2. Somebody recently pointed out to me, which I really have known since reading something by Heinlein, but forgot; the Bible is geo-centric. If it is literally true, then they must be teaching Ptolemaic astronomy (which can be done but makes the math really really hard and the Bishop of Ockham would not approve)

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  3. Scotland is a good destination. The best. But don’t count on meeting any loch ness lollies. Scotland is exquisitely NOT nutty religious. And, curiously, people walk a lot and eat well.

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    1. I've been to Scotland, and to Loch Ness for that matter. A beautiful country filled with really nice people who speak an incomprehensible dialect.

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    2. Were you by any chance in Glasga'? Glaswegian is one of four dialects that the general run of Brits have a hard time understanding. I can, mostly, because I have the languages gene. I can also understand a lot of the Scots language (think Robert Burns), but I have cheated by having a Scots-English Dictionary.

      I loved the folk in Scotland, especially the folk of Islay, the Ileachs in Gaelic, "canty, and couthy, and kindly the best". I can't explain why it felt like home in Scotland, as I have no claim to Scottish or any other Celtic ancestry, including Breton (I have French Canadians in my father's line). Basque might be a possibility, way back in my mother's line, though.

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    3. saffronrose -
      I've been to both Scotland and Wales and had great difficulty understanding the locals.

      I also traveled half-dozen times to Ireland and struggled with the English of those on the west coast. I often had Irish kids from Dublin or Waterford asking ME what the kids from the Gaeltacht were saying when they were speaking English. If THEY couldn't understand their fellow countrymen, I don't know how this Yank was supposed to figure out what they were saying!

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    4. INTeresting! I do have a good ear, a gift with languages, and a long history of listening to folk music from the British Isles. When I was a year out of college, I persuaded someone I knew through a mutual friend to come with me (drive me) to a concert given by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. I had problems with one word in 10-20--generally that I'd never heard it before--where my companion could only understand one word in 10!

      I've not been to Ireland yet, but I've heard a fair number of their singers & musicians.

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    5. For what it is worth the Globe Theater in London recently produced a complete cycle of Shakespeare with multiple companies from around the world (ending in early May). The Scottish play was performed in Scots, as all of the companies worked in their native language.

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    6. Try Australia sometime. I once spent two days riding around New South Wales with a character that resembled Crocodile Dundee, complete with rattletrap truck and leather vest. He spoke nonstop, and I understood not a single goddamned word he said the entire time. Great trip though.

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    7. I did fine in Australia and all of Scotland EXCEPT Glasgow. Out of most of my conversations I understood "'Ello and Cheers!" Everything in-between was a total mystery. Beautiful country tho, and I recommend a trip to the Glengoyne Distillery.

      Karla

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  4. Creationists also cite extant non-human primates as "evidence" to "disprove" evolution, which is analogous to someone telling me that I didn't spring from my parents' loins because my father's brother's son and my mother's mother's sister's son's children still draw breath. The use of Nessie in their patchwork fairy tale is like telling me that my parents aren't my parents because my imaginary cousin from when I was 5 is actually real, living the life of a hermit in a secret room.

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  5. Here in middle Tennessee there are people who view those ACE textbooks with suspicion, while others are plotting to get them as standard issue for the public school system via vouchers. The concept of teaching actual science in biology class is lost on some of them, which is why they want laws requiring teachers to give equal time to creationism through "Intelligent Design", or as I call it, "The Evolution of Ignorance".
    If you suggest they might want to whip out their checkbooks and send their little darlings to memorize bible verses at Jesus R Us Academy instead of ruining what's left of the public school system, they look at you as if they're planning to gather wood and burn you at the stake as a heretic.
    The good news around here is that most of the more dangerous clods are gathered in the state's legislature where we can keep an eye on them.

    Makes it easier for the rest of us to move around in relative peace.

    Nice post.

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  6. ...at this point, in your head, you should be hearing the music that heralds ominous foreshadowing...

    Yes, but you're talking about Scotland, so that means bapgpipes and I don't know if bagpipes can make ominous foreshadowing music. Then again, some would argue if bagpipes could make music at all.

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  7. ACE? Don't you just love reverse-engineered acronyms? Sounds so much better than the Decelerated Universal Nowledge Christian Education. (I know, I know, I was in a hurry)

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  8. Brother B. Jindal is also going to make sure that the highly educated rug rats of the big swamp are not encumbered with an excess of health care.
    But..what can you expect from someone who spent his college days performing "exorcisms" on random female classmates.
    As bugs would say.."what a maroon...."

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  9. Uh, Jim, just how much caffeine have you had?

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  10. Darned good thing you didn't mention the Aussie bunyip to them thar idjits. Cuz, you know, like, them bunyips are real critters too also doncha know *wink*

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  11. Just cause you might have a dinosaur form today doesn't disprove evolution -- idiots.

    http://homepages.wmich.edu/~kaldon/classes/11-04-2011-Rood-Hall-Coelacanth-D1H-24-120-45mmX.jpg

    Dr. Phil

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    Replies
    1. Aren't alligators and crocodiles very similar to their ancient ancestors as well? Sharks too?

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  12. Can I just go straight to the Cliff Notes edition of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Curriculum?

    For my class project I will stick Play Do fins, horns and a plastic Jesus wearing a miniature Turin shroud on the back of an iguana. I will take close up photos to prove that not only did man and thunder lizards coexist, but Jesus domesticated the beasts. Plus it will knock Darwin out of the park cause he was DEAD WRONG about iguanas and those sun blasted rocks off Ecuador.

    I figure I can hock 8 x 10's for $5 at the next pancake breakfast. $10 for pics signed by Jesus himself.

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    1. There is nothing but Cliff's Notes in the ACE cirriculum.

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    2. But, but...my dashboard Jesus glows and everything! Nothing says 6ooo years BC like a 2 foot lizard with prosthetic horns and a saddle. I must admit that my theses might have been cribbed from the most excellent Christo-scientific documentary "Dinosaurus". This exceptional film throughly debunks the cretinous claims that man and dinosaur did not co-habitate in the pre-Columbian Caribbean.

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  13. I can easily find the Galapagos, the Ryukyus, was able to recognize a photo of Shuri Castle over 30 years after I was there (and yes, I ate at the Teahouse of the August Moon), been to Guam, and I know how to find most towns in back county San Diego.

    I haven't been to Monkey's Eyebrow, but know how to find it. You?
    How about the towns of Marrowbone?

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    1. I haven't been to Monkey's Eyebrow, but know how to find it. You?

      Ditto, and speaking of small towns in SD county, I've had apple pie in Julian, does that count?

      Delete
  14. "The Marching Morons" wasn't supposed to be a cookbook, Fanged God damn it.

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  15. Sometimes I wish you made this shit up.

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  16. The Loch Ness monster IS the Jesus. Likes fish, can hold his breath for fucking ever. He would come up and pose for photos and say howdy, he really would, except he's so mortified at what us humans have done in his name he'd rather just lie down there deep in the leaf mould and the mud.

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  17. Well, you may have been to all the fancy places, but *I* have lived in Louisiana. Absolutely none of this surprises me.

    We used to say that you can't really blame them though, since they live down stream from the entire United States.

    JC

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  18. The Texas Republican Party has met to determine their platform. According to sources, the platform is against teaching "higher order thinking" in school curricula.

    Rationale? It may conflict with "students' fixed beliefs" and "undermine parental authority".

    I have been a public school teacher in Texas for 15 years. I have managed to survive Bush Jr. as governor who ushered in state tests, then managed to bring it to a school near you via NCLB. We have operated on shoestring budgets, had our pay frozen for 2 years while our insurance increased, all thanks to Rick Perry and his "reward the rich, starve the public" policies.

    I have closed my classroom door (as have most of us) and taught our students, to the best of our abilities, to be insightful, reasonable THINKERS.

    Don't know how much longer I can hang in there.

    Veronica

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    1. They want a country of Forrest Gumps. Good-hearted, easily manipulated, obedient.

      Any other country in the western world, a party that opposed teaching kids how to think would be toast. Any other country.

      Delete
    2. Veronica,
      I am offering words of encouragement from a fellow teacher in the north (that feels we are headed in the same direction in our public schools-wouldn't want anyone but the rich to get a decent education, would we?). Please keep up the good fight.

      Delete
  19. I used to think that homeschooling was just the province of evangelical reactionaries. Now, however, I'm beginning to think that it may be the only way to ensure that our children actually learn how to think and not just parrot the propagandistic pap that passes for "education" on the regressive side of the American spectrum. The blog Leaving Fundamentalism (http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/) has a lot of info on the ACE and its deficiencies.

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  20. What seems to be missing in this conversation is the inherent threat to our national security represented in the guise of a religious debate.
    At one time in our history, we were the most technologically advanced nation on this planet. Now, we're not. Now, because of the inadequacies of or educational system, we cannot even produce adequate cashiers. Not to mention, scientists, mathematicians, physicists and any of your choice of neccessary skill sets that contribute greatly to our strength as a nation. Can we really combat biological warfare attacks on our nation (which WILL happen, trust me) when our "biologists" don't understand biology, when our "biologists" don't understand the basic building blocks of life on this planet? We teach our children that human life is a cosmic experiment by a mad sky fairy and guess what? Welcome to "The Stand".
    How can we have the most advanced aircraft, seagoing vessels, and soldiers when there is no valid science?
    These people and these educational practices are a clear and present danger to our future and our security. We must stand against this in every way, at all times. The stupid should not be allowed to rule the earth.
    One final note, one of my navy jobs was as a recruiter, it sucked but it was fullfilling. I NEVER met or tested even one homeschooled kid who could pass the ASVAB. NOT ONE. Ever in 3 years recruiting.

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    1. I weep for my grandchildren.

      My grandson just graduated from high school a few weeks ago with a 3.5 GPA. I was (somewhat predictably) very proud of that fact. And I was recently honored to be invited to accompany him to the recruiters office as he investigated the possibility of serving his country.

      I found a site online that offers free practice ASVAB tests and sat down with my grandson as he tackled the practice test.

      115 questions.

      He was unable to answer 4 out of 5.

      Not "he incorrectly answered …"

      Unable. As in, he could not even comprehend the questions, let alone hazard a guess at a correct answer.

      So I sat my grandson and and his 14 year old sister down with last Saturday's newspaper, and neither could read or comprehend the articles on the front page.

      They are both products of what I assumed to be a pretty good public education. And my grandson is eligible to vote in the up coming election.

      I just recently discovered that I have some remedial work to do.

      I weep for my grandchildren, and feel an incessant and compelling urge to keep apologizing for the world which we are bequesting them.

      Lucy

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    2. wow, I had looked at ASVAB tests years ago, but I googled up a practice test on the ARMY site... 43/45 but I disagree with one of their answers.

      This isn't that tough a test, but not everything in there is taught in schools, especially some of the mechanical things related to cars.

      As long as these kids are willing to let grandma teach them, or expose them to what they haven't learned, they have a chance.

      Delete
    3. Good on you, Lucy. I hope the grandkids do you proud. They've got good genes. :)

      Fun thing I discovered: If you take the ASVAB as a means of testing the testers, and skew your results by answering as wrongly as you can in any specific direction, you'll still get a "good" score, but all the recruiters will avoid you like the plague except for the TLA ones.

      Pro Tip: don't try this if you're not interested in hearing from TLAs at random intervals going forward. - just another tip from your ol' pal Mugsy

      Delete
  21. I am a public school teacher and I hear all the time it's not about the money. Money's not the reason education is failing, and that's flat out wrong. Big textbook publishers cater to Texas and their crazy version of history, science, what ever topic, and the rest of the country has little choice but to adopt the new curriculum. Big money is involved in any new textbook adoption, and mandated in cycles in most states. Vouchers and public financial support for private education as some kind of innovative new way to educate students drains off more. Private schools can teach from what ever curriculum they choose so we get the (insane) Texas school board dictating curriculum to support their crazy view of the world for public school students, and private schools running off willynilly teaching creationism as biology. I am with the teacher from Texas above, I close my door and hope I can inspire kids to be critical thinkers who someday will say "what in the hell were they thinking back then?".

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  22. Hello America, Happy Birthday, welcome to the tubes. As in, going down the.......

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  23. Sure, it's ironically amusing that some textbooks are attempting to use a mythical creature to "disprove" evolution, but in a way that's the easy stuff to deal with. More disturbing to me is that there are widely promoted textbooks containing the following:

    "God used the ‘Trail of Tears’ to bring many Indians to Christ."

    "Only ten percent of Africans can read or write, because Christian mission schools have been shut down by communists."

    "The [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross... In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians."

    Not only is the basis of science being rewritten, so is history and politics. Reality is fading fast.

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  24. "God used the ‘Trail of Tears’ to bring many Indians to Christ."


    Wow. Really? There's a textbook that says that?

    What did he "use" malaria for then?

    Why bother to send the kiddies to school at all? Why not just waterboard them until they parrot back the daily hate speech and be done with it?

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    1. But wait, there's more:

      “It cannot be shown scientifically that man-made pollutants will one day drastically reduce the depth of the atmosphere’s ozone layer.”

      “God has provided certain ‘checks and balances’ in creation to prevent many of the global upsets that have been predicted by environmentalists.”

      The Great Depression was exaggerated by propagandists, including John Steinbeck, to advance a socialist agenda.

      “Unions have always been plagued by socialists and anarchists who use laborers to destroy the free-enterprise system that hardworking Americans have created.”

      Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential win was due to an imaginary economic crisis created by the media.

      “The greatest struggle of all time, the Battle of Armageddon, will occur in the Middle East when Christ returns to set up his kingdom on earth.”

      [Found in A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press textbooks]

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    2. They don't want to educate, they want to gumpify.

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  25. Being born, raised, and educated in the state of Louisiana (right next door to Westlake, in fact), I would like to say that how I ever escaped with an open mind or any amount of worldly insight, is beyond me. The state of public education there is a joke.

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  26. Here Be Dragons! That's what I've seen on old maps. Now I'll have to go look for monsters.

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  27. One final note on the ASVAB. Recruiting an all volunteer force for our nations armed services is a 18 hour (or more) a day job. Even when you met your goals for a particular month, there was always the next month. The ASVAB was the most important tool in our toolbox, you knew who had what it took in the smarts department and who couldn't make the cut. The problem was that the kids who had good critical thinking skills, math competency, a good grasp of english and mechanical aptitude ( the 4 main parts of the ASVAB) were scoring well on the SAT and the ACT as well. A lot of them were going to college. Period. That was competition we Service recruiters could not overcome. So we were trolling the depths for the smart kids who were (shall we say) economically disadvantaged. College money was our hook. The kids who had the money from mom and dad were off the table from the git go.
    Just so you know, the passing average of High School graduates was only 34 %. Only one out of 3 who took the full ASVAB would make a passing score of 31. Navy requires 31. Army same. Air Force required a 45. Marines could get you a waver down to 28, but only if you met the physical requirements.
    And let's not even BEGIN to talk about childhood obesity and how few kids could pass the height/weight standards when they walked in the door. Oh, and you could not have EVER taken Ritalin. Ever.

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  28. I'm beginning to think that America deserves whatever it gets -- which will be Third World status in a few years (certainly within a generation). We will be grateful for the cheap manufacturing jobs that the world's superpowers -- China and India -- send us.

    Why? Because we have rejected what made us great -- education. Instead, we've embraced ignorance and hatred and simple-mindedness. As Republicans embrace the lunatic fringe of their party, they're engaging in the exact type of behavior they accuse communists (Democrats) of -- strict adherence to the party line, with no free thought allowed.

    I'm reading "The Coming of the Third Reich" by Richard Evans, and it's scary how the social and political climate of Germany in the years after WWI is so similar to the climate in the US today, with open hatred fueling "debates."

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    1. I will look at 'The Coming of the Third Reich', however if you have not read it, may I recommend 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich', the author was there. Just finished a re read and it is still scary. I'm waiting for a state, probably Michigan, to outlaw non-Republican parties.

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  29. Jim

    Don't know if you saw the Washington Post article on this. Apparently, in Louisiana, several church-run schools are participating in this voucher program, however the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans withdrew their application after local lawmakers had a collective coronary about the idea of accidentally funding Islamic education and madrasas.

    http://wapo.st/LzOVle

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    1. Hilarious and typical of this crowd. Freedom of/for religion means freedom to be a Christian (whatever that means). What is humorous if ominous, are the plethora of various Christian sects and sub-sets emerging from the slime to seize a piece of the voucher/taxpayer funded "education" pie.

      The Louisiana story indicates that many of these school's "curriculum" comprises sitting the "students" in front of a TV and playing Christian "education" videos all day long. No reading or writing, no math, science or actual education at all. In the end God will sort them all out. But the damage to our nation from the pernicious failure to teach young Americans to actually think, may be irreversible.

      With NCLB, home schooling, 'Baby Jesus' vouchers and role models like Santorum, Joe Walsh and Sarah Palin, will we ever be able to recover objectivity, logic and critical responsiveness in our country?

      My answer is: 40 acres in Oregon to grow my own food and livestock, a defendable water supply, a fully stocked pantry and library and long fields of fire. If USA regains it's balance, I end my days well. If USA goes down the toilet, I still end my days well. Make the effort to ensure that the choice is your own.

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  30. So what does this all say about the recent proof that primates were using fire some 300 thousand years before the first human? Perhaps that was because they were afraid of the 50 foot alligator that roamed the sewers of "New York", or the Candy Man of Chicago. It begs for study and a proper dissertation.

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  31. Jim, I'm a High School student. I've been reading your blog ever since your abortion post that was greenlit on Fark. I'd like to take some time to finally tell you that I love your writing.

    Oh, and guess what state I live in. And then guess what state I grew up in. I currently attend a school named after the Great Compromiser, if that helps. And I went to a Catholic school and South Louisiana. I thank God that he let me come out of that place without being like my 5th grade teacher, who sincerely believes that reading Harry Potter books will cause a hole to Hell to open up in one's closet so that demons may come out and torment you on a nightly basis, because the Vatican totally said that not only did all this happen (including an exorcism), but that it's all J.K. Rowling's fault.

    Now, don't mistake this for me being offended (except for that bit about the banjo. I've been living in this state for 5 years, and have not once heard a banjo, thank God. We have better taste in music than that, at least here in Lexington), but just remember, the vast majority of Louisiana students are not completely brainwashed into denying science. You can argue that many of them are brainwashed to be Catholic, but they are moderates who understand that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally. My best friend, a kind of devout Catholic (who has spent all his life in Catholic school, and suffered through 5th grade with me), is planning on attending college to be a chemical engineer. So just keep in mind, despite the best efforts of the school system and Gov. "No-more-state-funding-for-libraries" Jindal, free thought and belief in science will not disappear completely; the nutjobs in charge of the mentioned schools are the exception, not the norm.

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    1. Nothing wrong with good banjo picking. Check out some Earl Scruggs.

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  32. Okay, Jim, you have gone too far. My name is Stephen but I go by Steve, and although some of my conservative friends (and a few others) have called me Abominable, I am not a snowman! So lay off the Yeti jokes around me. I'm sensitive, you know. I am going to hide in my Minecraft mine now and hope this whole thing blows over in another 6000 years.

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  33. I have it via an irrefutable, unimpeachable authority that the Pope Lick Monster's surname is Jindal.

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