Monday, January 31, 2011

When Education Doesn't Help

Over a Fox "news", they now have a video up of Obama's chief science adviser, John Holdren, pointing out that those that deny climate change are in need of some education.

In reality, climate change and global warming is entirely a scientific question. We can collect data, compare it to models, make testable predictions, and everything else that is done in science. And as Holdren points out, the conclusions are in; overwhelmingly, we know the climate is changing and we're a big part of that, not the sun, not natural cycles here on Earth.

But while this should be a question of scientific merits, it's not been and I thin Holdren fails to recognize it. Look at the section in which Fox listed this clip: They don't list it as science. They list it as "politics". And to go further, Fox poisons the well from the get go, calling Holdren a "Czar", likening him to a dictator.

This is all too familiar. It's the exact same tactic that the ID/Creationist camp has been trying to take with their anti-science; remove the science and make it about "worldviews", or "academic freedom". Sadly, this is a very strong strategy for them. Especially so when you have a large portion of the population from which they're drawing their support not only being anti-science, but anti-intellectual. Reading through the comments is exceptionally depressing. It's a long list of people calling schools "indoctrination".

As a teacher, I can easily say the exact opposite is true, and that's part of the reason I have problems with the current movement in educational circles. Presently, we're obsessing over trying to teach students critical thinking, especially in science. There's so much emphasis on that process (which is the opposite of indoctrination), that we're losing out on passing along the basic facts on which all higher order thinking rests, that students may be able to follow the process, but they completely lack the knowledge base from which to even ask an intelligent question to solve. All we're giving them is confusion.

So what we have is a bunch of uneducated anti-intellectuals who sneer at the facts and treat them as negotiable, "political" points, or dueling "worldviews". They're not. But until we get these clowns to accept that, there's no amount of education in the world that can change their minds.