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Faith Schools





truespeed
I was watching Dawkins God Delusion documentary on more 4 last night and part of it focused on faith schools,something which i had never even thought of as an issue before,i went to a Protestant junior school as a kid,i never thought of it as a religious school,some of my friends who lived in the same street went to a Catholic junior school,again i never questioned it,in the UK for most people you are christened one way or the other and end up at the relavant schools,but why?

I don't remember any Protestant preaching,in fact apart from saying the Lords prayer and singing the odd hymn during assembly i don't remember any references to the church at all.

I also remember when i was younger seeing a school full of Pakistani/Indian kids and wondering why they went to a school for Asian kids only,at the time in my naivety it never occured to me that the reason they attended that particular school was not because they were Asian but because they were Muslim and they went to that school for the same reasons i went to a Protestant school.

On the Gods Delusion last night,for example,Dawkins revealed that anyone going to an Orthodox Jewish school is told that the world is only 5000 years old,he also went to a Christian school where other inaccuracies were being taught,based on the fact that schools are being used for religious bias and doctrine,should we allow faith schools or should they be banned?
Bikerman
I would like to see them go, but I cannot support a ban, because it conflicts with my principles on freedom of expression. I could make a case that the fact we are talking about minors over-rides the freedom issue, but I haven't convinced myself that it is so.
What I would say is that there should be absolutely no Government encouragement or approval of faith schools - currently there is both, in spades.

Here is some propoganda for my side on this issue:
LittleBlackKitten
The only evidence we have that the earth is older than it is, is carbon dating - which after a certain amount of time, becomes unreliable, as the carbon does not always break down at the same rate. One item sent to three different labs will get three different results and three different dates.

Also, the oldest tree is 5000 years old. If the earth was older, why isn't there an older tree out there?

The congo basin has 5000 years of mud depth in it. Why isn't it bigger, deeper, wider?

The sun burns at the same rate every day and has done so for it's entire existence. This has been confirmed by NASA scientists. Now, if this fact is accepted, then logically, it was once bigger. If you go back five or six thousand years, then the sun would have been bigger, but not substantially big enough to really effect earth. Now, go back millions of years, and the sun would have been big enough to touch the earth. Even if you say the earth would have maintained it's gravity and we'd be the same distance away as we are now, that size of sun would have been so hot, planetary temperatures would have been hot enough to LIQUEFY the plants and water would have been turned into a vapor. Also, that size of sun would have created a longer year - a MUCH LONGER year. I'd like to see plants and life make it through a winter lasting 33 some odd current years which would drop the temperatures almost down to absolute zero.

And if that's not enough for you, the universe itself is expanding at a logical, rhythmic rate. It won't speed up one year, and slow down the next. It will keep expanding as it has for all the time it's been there. So, accepting this fact, this means that the current expansion indicates an expansion start of around five or six thousand years. If it were in the millions, we would be much more further expanded than we are now.

And if all that isn't enough evidence for you, go soak a bone in high pressure water for a month and then get them to carbon date it. You'll get something in the millions.

Also...if you accept the theory of gravity, that it pulls down at the same rate and won't change unless you introduce some extra force and weight. Now, take the moon. While the rate of space dust is random and can't be controlled or judged by rate, we have another constant to consider. Time. If the universe and it's contents were more than 5000 years old, NASA would have experienced more than an inch of space dust on the moon. Millions of years would have made it feet deep. Not an inch or two.

And finally, if the planet were millions of years old, why is the largest mountain only 5000 years of growth?...
Afaceinthematrix
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
The only evidence we have that the earth is older than it is, is carbon dating - which after a certain amount of time, becomes unreliable, as the carbon does not always break down at the same rate. One item sent to three different labs will get three different results and three different dates.


Wrong on both accounts. Carbon-14 dating isn't used to determine the age of the Earth because Carbon has a small half-life (5730 years) and so it is only used for things around or less than about 50,000 years old. Furthermore, carbon is found mostly in living organisms and so it is used for fossils and such - not rock. We use other radiometric dating methods to age the world along with many other methods. For instance, we know that the earth is older than 6,000 years (which is what Young Earth Creationists foolishly believe) because of many factors such as having conclusive evidence that the continents were joined together (Pangea) about 250 millions years ago.

And the last part is being dishonest. Dating methods confirm each other and only very rarely give different dates beyond the level of normal scientific error (a percent or two). I know of one documented case of an extreme difference in age but the scientists were actually testing out a new hypothesized method of dating.

Radiometric dating is pretty well known and can be done by measuring how much of one element is left in comparison to what it decays to and then using a simple differential equation.
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Also, the oldest tree is 5000 years old. If the earth was older, why isn't there an older tree out there?


Actually, the oldest known tree has been dated to about 10,000 years old. It was found in Sweden.

And Bristlecone pines cannot live forever. Just because the planet is about 4.4 billion years old doesn't mean that trees need to be that old. Trees die just like us...

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The congo basin has 5000 years of mud depth in it. Why isn't it bigger, deeper, wider?


I don't know how to respond to that because it is simply not true...
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The sun burns at the same rate every day and has done so for it's entire existence. This has been confirmed by NASA scientists. Now, if this fact is accepted, then logically, it was once bigger. If you go back five or six thousand years, then the sun would have been bigger, but not substantially big enough to really effect earth. Now, go back millions of years, and the sun would have been big enough to touch the earth. Even if you say the earth would have maintained it's gravity and we'd be the same distance away as we are now, that size of sun would have been so hot, planetary temperatures would have been hot enough to LIQUEFY the plants and water would have been turned into a vapor. Also, that size of sun would have created a longer year - a MUCH LONGER year. I'd like to see plants and life make it through a winter lasting 33 some odd current years which would drop the temperatures almost down to absolute zero.


But the sun has not always been shrinking... The sun was formed and was not always hot enough to engage in the fusion process...

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And if that's not enough for you, the universe itself is expanding at a logical, rhythmic rate. It won't speed up one year, and slow down the next. It will keep expanding as it has for all the time it's been there. So, accepting this fact, this means that the current expansion indicates an expansion start of around five or six thousand years. If it were in the millions, we would be much more further expanded than we are now.


Haha... And your evidence for that is what? The universe has been expanding for over 13 BILLION years! That's what our present cosmological model shows us...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

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And if all that isn't enough evidence for you, go soak a bone in high pressure water for a month and then get them to carbon date it. You'll get something in the millions.


No you won't... You can't just change the half-life of something that easy. Just think about that for five seconds... Think of the repercussions if you could.

One of the biggest forms of potential energy would be nuclear energy. Now the big problem with nuclear energy is our nuclear waste. Now if we were able to dramatically decrease the half-life by a factor of millions, why wouldn't people already do it? Just think of industry potential... If some company figured out how to do that, nuclear waste wouldn't be a problem because it would just decay in a matter of seconds! All energy problems would be gone and the person who figured out the technology would be a billionaire! So why hasn't anyone done this?

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Also...if you accept the theory of gravity, that it pulls down at the same rate and won't change unless you introduce some extra force and weight.

Well it's actually a scientific law... But anyways...
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Now, take the moon. While the rate of space dust is random and can't be controlled or judged by rate, we have another constant to consider. Time. If the universe and it's contents were more than 5000 years old, NASA would have experienced more than an inch of space dust on the moon. Millions of years would have made it feet deep. Not an inch or two.

Actually it wouldn't... The moon receives very little space dust and so that argument is just wrong.
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dave_matson/young-earth/specific_arguments/moon_dust.html
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And finally, if the planet were millions of years old, why is the largest mountain only 5000 years of growth?...


That is just wrong. I don't know where you're getting this nonsense. The Blue Ridge mountains, for instance, are over a billion years old...
Afaceinthematrix
Bikerman wrote:
I would like to see them go, but I cannot support a ban, because it conflicts with my principles on freedom of expression. I could make a case that the fact we are talking about minors over-rides the freedom issue, but I haven't convinced myself that it is so.
What I would say is that there should be absolutely no Government encouragement or approval of faith schools - currently there is both, in spades.

Here is some propoganda for my side on this issue:


This really, really reminds me of the church my parents forced me to go to growing up (except that they did not care about Harry Potter any more than they cared about the Wizard of Oz; in fact, my own mother bought me the first two books). They said a lot of the usual stuff said in these videos. They would push it down how we were all "good Christians" while at church but that at school we were completely different: vile, sinning hypocrites.

They would use the same tone as this annoying woman in this video. The only difference is that they would talk about evolution and the age of the earth (and I am sure you can figure out the types of the things they would say).

----------------------------

As far as my opinion on the issue: I am against faith schools. Period. While I support the freedom of speech completely, I do not feel that this qualifies as restricting free speech. My reasoning is simple. Parents can take their children to church as much as they want. They can "teach" them whatever they want about their faith. They can take them to Sunday School every week. Parents can take their children to whatever supplemental faith school/institution they want. They have every right to do that.

However, I believe that every child (except under certain extreme situations that would need to have proper approval/paperwork) needs to be educated in a state-ran public school. This means that I believe all private schools and home schools should be banned. My reasoning is that I believe that the state has a duty to insure that all children receive a quality education and this cannot be insured unless all students are educated in a school ran by the state.

So it isn't that I am merely attacking faith based schools, it is mostly that I am attacking all private schools and home schools because it goes against what I think one of the four basic duties of the government are (number one being to insure that every child receives a quality education).

After the child gets home from their state-ran education, the parents can send their children to whatever religious instruction they choose...
truespeed
LittleBlackKitten you are a prime example for the argument against faith schools.
Bikerman
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
The only evidence we have that the earth is older than it is, is carbon dating - which after a certain amount of time, becomes unreliable, as the carbon does not always break down at the same rate. One item sent to three different labs will get three different results and three different dates.
You really need to stop thinking that the creationists have any honesty..let alone a point...I'm afraid this is just a typical example of creationist lies... C14 dating has been tested against many proxies. What you are referring to is creationist 'experiments' where they date igneous/metamorphic rock (which is dumb because C14 testing is used on things which were once alive).
If you deliberately set out to deceive then, yes, you can use C14 dating inappropriately to produce a false result. The same is true for most techniques. When used correctly C14 dating is extremely reliable over the time-periods it is used for. The notion that C14 decays at different rates over time is a typical creationist assumption with no supporting evidence and plenty of reasons to believe untrue.
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Also, the oldest tree is 5000 years old. If the earth was older, why isn't there an older tree out there?

Check the logic. My granddad cannot be 97 because none of his pet mice lived to more than 5...
It's what we call a Non-Sequitur - and a bad one. IT DOESN'T FOLLOW.
It is also selective. Clonal trees can live tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years.
eg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaking_aspen
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The congo basin has 5000 years of mud depth in it. Why isn't it bigger, deeper, wider?
God golly, are the creationists still pushing this garbage out? Honestly, it just makes you look very silly when you post this nonsense...
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The sun burns at the same rate every day and has done so for it's entire existence. This has been confirmed by NASA scientists. Now, if this fact is accepted, then logically, it was once bigger. If you go back five or six thousand years, then the sun would have been bigger, but not substantially big enough to really effect earth. Now, go back millions of years, and the sun would have been big enough to touch the earth. Even if you say the earth would have maintained it's gravity and we'd be the same distance away as we are now, that size of sun would have been so hot, planetary temperatures would have been hot enough to LIQUEFY the plants and water would have been turned into a vapor. Also, that size of sun would have created a longer year - a MUCH LONGER year. I'd like to see plants and life make it through a winter lasting 33 some odd current years which would drop the temperatures almost down to absolute zero.
Scientifically illiterate nonsense. If you search the threads you will find a posting where I go through the maths in details - starting with e=mc^2 and working out exactly how much the sun should have shrunk in 4.55 billion years. The answer is - just about as much as it has done.
I also calculated how much it will shrink in the next few billion years. If you want to do the maths for yourself it is not at all complex and you don't need to be a maths expert. You can construct a rough benchmark-type model by taking an estimated mass for the sun :- about 2*10^30 kg, using a standard figures for the amount of energy given off by the sun (this can be done fairly easily by taking the measured energy for a known area and multiplying it up to cover a whole sphere surrounding the sun. If you do the maths you get about 4*10^23 kW.
You then calculate how much mass is 'fused' to liberate that much energy using e=mc^2 and you then has a measure for how much mass the sun loses. That is the scientific way to do it and it produces an answer which is about 1% give or take - an answer which is entirely in-line with the general scientific model of how the solar system came to be formed, how old it is, and how long it has left.

Contrast this with what you have done.

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And if that's not enough for you, the universe itself is expanding at a logical, rhythmic rate. It won't speed up one year, and slow down the next. It will keep expanding as it has for all the time it's been there. So, accepting this fact, this means that the current expansion indicates an expansion start of around five or six thousand years. If it were in the millions, we would be much more further expanded than we are now.
Now you are just making it up. This is a blatant lie. Parroting things you have no understanding of isn't very smart because some of us have a good understanding of the concept and can tell when someone hasn't got a clue what they are talking about. Really, this is no different to lying deliberately about your past. You have, for some reason, assumed that creationists are honest, and that they have done the basic science. Neither is true.
As a first approximation, based on many years research and personal experience, any creationist quoting science will also be telling lies at some point. It is a generalisation, to be sure, but a pretty accurate one - to the extent that the exceptions are extremely rare and noteworthy.
The evidence against this nonsense is so overwhelming that the only way to arrive at that conclusion is either breathtaking, or wilful ignorance. One indicates a fool, the other a dishonest fool.

Here's what you need to do. If you want to know the answers to questions like this then ask and I'll tell you, or I will find out for you, or I will ask an expert in the field to help you.
Asking a creationist is simply asking for a lie, and now you know this, doing so again would make it dishonest as well as foolish.
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And if all that isn't enough evidence for you, go soak a bone in high pressure water for a month and then get them to carbon date it. You'll get something in the millions.
No you wont. You'll get somewhere around the correct age. Water doesn't contain much carbon and carbon isn't very soluble in water...
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/hovind/howgood-c14.html
At least now I know where you are getting this rubbish - most of it is old Kent Hovind stuff. I thought since he was convicted and sent to prison, that most creationists had realised his stuff was all made up...apparently not..
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Also...if you accept the theory of gravity, that it pulls down at the same rate and won't change unless you introduce some extra force and weight. Now, take the moon. While the rate of space dust is random and can't be controlled or judged by rate, we have another constant to consider. Time. If the universe and it's contents were more than 5000 years old, NASA would have experienced more than an inch of space dust on the moon. Millions of years would have made it feet deep. Not an inch or two.
Really - you are embarrassing yourself now.
Time is not a constant - by definition. Space dust accumulation is random but surprisingly predictable. Gravity does not 'pull down' anything - let alone at 'the same rate'. The moon dust argument was refuted 15 years ago - you really need to get some more up to date lies.
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And finally, if the planet were millions of years old, why is the largest mountain only 5000 years of growth?...
Another completely invented figure. Everest is about 60 million years old, give or take a percentage or so...

I cannot blame you for being misled. I regularly order creationist materials (they are often given-out free if you supply details). This morning I got my copy from the United Church of God of their very glossy 'Creation or Evolution' booklet. Professionally finished, containing quotes from many able and famous scientists, written in non-technical language but with enough jargon to impress, apparently reasonable and well argued. It is, in fact, a typical example of the type. It relies on inserting a lie here, a half-truth there, a few semantic tricks involving fallacious but hard to spot arguments, and a huge amount of appeal to ignorance.
I will be writing a detailed debunking of it soon for these forums, but in the meantime the best advice is the one I have consistently given : If you want to know something about science then ask a scientist. If you are persuaded that atheist scientists are part of some conspiracy then there are plenty of religious scientists who will give you exactly the same answers (and also be happy to confirm that there is no such conspiracy).

Finally,

Just a word to the wise - if you really want to be a creationist then you are going to have to renounce your psychic abilities - they take a pretty dim view of witchcraft in the fundies,,,,,

Watch out for the fundies:



PS - You should also read Indi's excellent advice in the following post.
Indi
This is not a response directly to LittleBlackKitten, although i do use that comment as a framing device. This is an open comment to anyone who has or ever will attempt to post "evidence" or aguments that they think repudiates modern science right into the middle of a group of people who know science well. It is not intended to mock or insult the poster. By contrast, it is intended to help them. i am going to give you advice that will spare you from mockery and insults.

Why would i do that? Simply because i really don't want to mock or insult people. i don't get off on making enemies - any douchebag can make enemies by the truckload; it takes no particular skill. i, like many scientifically-minded people, believe in education, and spreading knowledge. i believe that when someone asks an honest question, they should be guided toward the correct answer, not laughed at for not having it to begin with. Whenever someone says "i don't understand", then unless they are simply feigning interest in learning to waste my time, i try to help them understand.

But i, like most people, have limits. i refuse to try to keep lines of communication open with people who have no intention of communicating. And i am especially infuriated by people who pretend to be interested in seeking truth, when they are really only interested in proselytising their religious beliefs. i do not appreciate being lied to, nor having my time wasted. i am not alone in feeling this way.

The reason you will probably be horrendously flamed if you careless post your "challenges" to science is because, frankly, you are not the first to bring those "challenges" to my attention. You are not even the second. Or the third, fourth or fifth. i have seen them all, a thousand times over. i have repudiated them, a thousand times over. A thousand other people like me have also repudiated those same ****** arguments, a thousand times over. And they keep coming back. Over and over and over.

But i'll tell you what: MAYBE you have a novel argument. MAYBE you have that one item of proof that will turn modern science upside down. Maybe maybe maybe - highly unlikely, but maybe. But, IF you have that philosopher's stone - IF you have the one loose thread that when pulled on will unravel all of modern science - you can't just walk into the forum and drop it like a you're a dog taking a shit on the lawn. If you want to be taken seriously as a thinking person, you have to think. It's so obvious, it's almost tautological, but it's never done.

Here's how to properly go about presenting your argument, if you want to be taken seriously, and not laughed at and casually dismissed.

Step 1: Focus

One of the most common symptoms of people who really haven't given any thought to the things they are saying, is that they say a lot. As the saying goes: empty barrels make the most noise. When people have arguments that they know are stupid, they try to hide the stupidity of the arguments by drowning them in noise. The technique even has a name: the Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish who loved to use it. The idea is that it only takes you a second or two to make a really stupid, really obviously wrong, and really easily falsifiable claim... but it can take a diligent, honest person several minutes to correct you. So all you have to do is fire off a couple dozen turds, and the other person will either only be able to do a cursory, unconvincing correction of them all, or they will have to only correct a few and leave the rest unanswered. Then the dishonest person can turn around and say "see? they didn't answer all my points!" If you know your weapon is loaded only with blanks, the only chance you have of beating your opponent is to put it on full auto, and hopefully you'll drown them out with the noise.

This tactic is so common it is a staple. No one comes to a science group and tries to argue creationism or mysticism or any other kind of woo by presenting just one well-thought-out argument. Hells no. They come in and dump a collection of dozens of "points", which would take the science group pages of explanation to respond to. And, naturally, the science group loses patience, gets pissed off, and... you know what happens next.

So, if you want to be taken seriously, don't try to overwhelm people with dozens of points. Pick the one or two that you think are the best. Focus.

Step 2: Don't talk about stuff you don't know about

You want to know the number one thing that pisses scientifically-minded people off? Not doing your homework. Scientifically-minded people work extremely hard to understand things. When they are presented with a new claim, they go out and do the research. They look up all the arguments for and against, weigh the merits of both sides, and only then do they claim to understand something. When you walk into their midst and fire off a claim that you clearly didn't even spend five minutes checking up on... they get pissed, because you are wasting their time. And, since you haven't deigned to respect them as thinking people enough to spend even five ****** minutes looking something up, they are going to show you exactly the same amount of respect you have shown them: none. And then, the flaming begins.

Scientifically-minded people are sick and tired of dumbasses from Libterty University making claims about information theory and evolution, when they don't even remotely understand either information theory or evolution. Or making claims about radiometric dating when they don't understand the first thing about radioactive decay or radiometry. And if you didn't notice anything wrong with the previous sentence, you are too ignorant to discuss radiometric dating, because radiometric dating has nothing to do with radiometry, which you should know if you knew the first thing about what you are talking about. The post above gives a perfect example, because the claim about boiling a bone in water changing the radiometric dating of the bone is so stupid, i have been trying for the writing of this whole post to think of an analogy to demonstrate how stupid it is, but they all come out sounding too stupid. i mean, it's like saying that turning the bone over will change how much it weighs - it's that stupid.

So, if you want to be taken seriously, don't talk about things you don't fully understand. If the topic is really important to you, or if you doubt your understanding, then take the friggin time to go and learn the topic before bringing your point to us, rather than expecting us to teach it to you after you've made an ass of yourself.

Step 3: Research

As i mentioned before, whatever criticial argument you think you have, it's probably not new. Scientifically-minded people have probably heard it all over and over and over and over. Some probably even have the responses bookmarked. If you have never even heard of these responses, and have nothing to say back at them, then you're just going to look like a fool - and once again you will have pissed people off because this is information you should have been able to figure out yourself with a five minute search.

A scientifically-minded person will never engage in an debate until they have studied both sides of the argument. i mean that quite literally. Before i started debating Christians, i read the Bible cover-to-cover more than once, different translations, and i even took the time to learn a little bit of Hebrew, Latin and Greek and learned how to use concordances. i studied the history of the text - how it was put together, how it was passed down - i studied apoligist arguments... and then when i came to the debate i found myself faced with people who claim to worship this text... but haven't even read it all the way through. The same thing happens the other way, too: i studied physics as part of engineering for years, then i studied the claims of people who challenge science before i took them on, so when i came to the party i was loaded for bear... and they were just repeating the same nonsense that had been disproven years ago. To put it bluntly, if you want to debate people who live and breathe knowing, you'd better show up to the party ready for a hard fight.

So, if you want to be taken seriously, make sure you are familiar with not only your own claims, but the counter-claims, and the possible responses you are going to get.

That's all it takes. Three simple steps. If you just take those steps before you post your claims, you won't get cut to ribbons and called a fool. None of those steps are unreasonable. None of those steps are steps that scientifically-minded people do not take themselves. And, in fact, those steps should be obvious and automatic to anyone who wants to be taken seriously.
Bikerman
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
However, I believe that every child (except under certain extreme situations that would need to have proper approval/paperwork) needs to be educated in a state-ran public school. This means that I believe all private schools and home schools should be banned. My reasoning is that I believe that the state has a duty to insure that all children receive a quality education and this cannot be insured unless all students are educated in a school ran by the state.
I cannot tell you how much I would like to be persuaded by that argument. It is a GOOD argument and it is persuasive, but against it I have to consider the consequences generally - not just in the specific that I would like it to apply.

In short the problem is that it leads to a transfer of control and responsibility for education entirely to the state. If the state is benign then fair enough but* what about if the state is 1930s Germany, 1940s Soviet Union, 1950s China ? I cannot, for that reason, go along with agreeing that responsibility for the state.

I DO agree that it should be seen as a fundamental right for all children to receive a balanced education of as high a quality as can be practically delivered. I would therefore transfer the responsibility to the independent schools to illustrate that they ARE delivering such a curriculum, with state inspectors, answerable to the electorate, to enforce this and where necessary insist on changes, or even closures of schools that are judged to be lacking.

For home-schooling - the same would apply. I would have inspectors examine the teaching materials used, the experience and expertise of the parent or designated tutors, and the appropriateness and balance of the curriculum, with the power to stop the home-schooling if required.

The same argument can, of course, be applied to my proposals - a corrupt state could insist on a partial curriculum through the inspectors. That is a real problem, but I think this minimises the risk by creating a professional class of inspectors who would also have to be included in any corruption, or replaced. No solution is perfect - I think this one is better, but it could stand some tweaking...

PS - I have started to write an essay which attempts to make the case for the above by simply appealing to the right of free speech. I am not yet entirely happy with the reasoning, and you may have some suggestions which I would welcome.. It is on a site (ARISE) which I am helping to develop, with another person here. If you want to read it then I would be happy to receive any feedback. The link is below.
http://camres.frih.net/#/2010/08/children-and-religion/
The article is called 'Children Churches and Choices' - feel free to comment on the site or here, as you wish.

* I apologise for confirming Godwin's law so early in a posting, but I think that in this case it is a valid invocation of Hitler....
Bikerman
Previously reply about website split off to form new topic which can be found HERE
Mod - Bikerman
Afaceinthematrix
Bikerman wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
However, I believe that every child (except under certain extreme situations that would need to have proper approval/paperwork) needs to be educated in a state-ran public school. This means that I believe all private schools and home schools should be banned. My reasoning is that I believe that the state has a duty to insure that all children receive a quality education and this cannot be insured unless all students are educated in a school ran by the state.
I cannot tell you how much I would like to be persuaded by that argument. It is a GOOD argument and it is persuasive, but against it I have to consider the consequences generally - not just in the specific that I would like it to apply.

In short the problem is that it leads to a transfer of control and responsibility for education entirely to the state. If the state is benign then fair enough but* what about if the state is 1930s Germany, 1940s Soviet Union, 1950s China ? I cannot, for that reason, go along with agreeing that responsibility for the state.

I DO agree that it should be seen as a fundamental right for all children to receive a balanced education of as high a quality as can be practically delivered. I would therefore transfer the responsibility to the independent schools to illustrate that they ARE delivering such a curriculum, with state inspectors, answerable to the electorate, to enforce this and where necessary insist on changes, or even closures of schools that are judged to be lacking.

For home-schooling - the same would apply. I would have inspectors examine the teaching materials used, the experience and expertise of the parent or designated tutors, and the appropriateness and balance of the curriculum, with the power to stop the home-schooling if required.

The same argument can, of course, be applied to my proposals - a corrupt state could insist on a partial curriculum through the inspectors. That is a real problem, but I think this minimises the risk by creating a professional class of inspectors who would also have to be included in any corruption, or replaced. No solution is perfect - I think this one is better, but it could stand some tweaking...

PS - I have started to write an essay which attempts to make the case for the above by simply appealing to the right of free speech. I am not yet entirely happy with the reasoning, and you may have some suggestions which I would welcome.. It is on a site (ARISE) which I am helping to develop, with another person here. If you want to read it then I would be happy to receive any feedback. The link is below.
http://camres.frih.net/#/2010/08/children-and-religion/
The article is called 'Children Churches and Choices' - feel free to comment on the site or here, as you wish.

* I apologise for confirming Godwin's law so early in a posting, but I think that in this case it is a valid invocation of Hitler....


I think that if there was a situation where the state was harvesting undesirable fears then one of several things may happen:

- There would be education rebellion from the lower levels starting at teachers and parents and then maybe principals, etc. Because really, the state has very little control over what actually happens in the classroom. The only way they can be completely sure is if they have a state employee in each classroom at all times (and then what is the point of teachers? Have the investigator teach the class) or video tape classes. Since these generally do not happen, teachers can teach what they want except during investigations. And if someone comes in on a surprise visit, it's not that hard, for example, to change mid-sentence from something like, "The Earth was formed roughly 4... And God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago!" Really, it is up to students to inform their parents of any wrongdoing by teachers in a classroom and then the parents need to complain to the school. I think teachers know that students can complain to their parents and so they take caution in what they say. But in nazi state or something similar, parents can protect their children by going to the teachers and hoping to get them in on a rebellion.
- The other thing that could happen, if the state is seriously considered about indoctrining children, is that the state could ban homeschooling altogether for their malicious purposes. Then your point doesn't really work there...


Furthermore, I feel that your point actually only counters my belief that private schools should not be allowed. I do not think that it works for homeschooling. This is why: private schools can hold hundreds of students (as many or more than a public school) and so sending investigators to check it out consumes no more resources than a public school and is just as efficient. Homeschooling generally deals with one student or one family (siblings) of students and so if the percentage of students being home schooled gets too high (it's rising in the U.S.) then it becomes an incredible drain of resources. Let's say that the number reaches 10% in the U.S... Then that's about 6.4 million students. Let's also say that it's an average of 2 students per home schooling situation. Then are you really going to want to have to pay for 3.7 million investigations when if the average school had 1,000 students (my high school had about 2,000 students... but I don't actually know what the average is so I will cut that in half) you would pay for 6,400? There would need to be be extra fees associated with home schooling to cover that...

Now the obvious objection to this is that state is already saving money by not having to educate these students themselves since the parents are taking care of it... Although I don't know if this is true because I am pretty sure that the government has to assume that everyone is going to go to public schools when planning so the money has sort of already been spent on facilities and teachers... Unless you can convince me otherwise...
Bikerman
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I think that if there was a situation where the state was harvesting undesirable fears then one of several things may happen:

- There would be education rebellion from the lower levels starting at teachers and parents and then maybe principals, etc. Because really, the state has very little control over what actually happens in the classroom.
Not so. In China during the 'cultural revolution' the state had very close control over the classroom - on pain of pain.
Quote:
The only way they can be completely sure is if they have a state employee in each classroom at all times (and then what is the point of teachers? Have the investigator teach the class) or video tape classes. Since these generally do not happen, teachers can teach what they want except during investigations. And if someone comes in on a surprise visit, it's not that hard, for example, to change mid-sentence from something like, "The Earth was formed roughly 4... And God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago!" Really, it is up to students to inform their parents of any wrongdoing by teachers in a classroom and then the parents need to complain to the school. I think teachers know that students can complain to their parents and so they take caution in what they say. But in nazi state or something similar, parents can protect their children by going to the teachers and hoping to get them in on a rebellion.
Didn't happen in Germany, Soviet Union or China...
Quote:
The other thing that could happen, if the state is seriously considered about indoctrining children, is that the state could ban homeschooling altogether for their malicious purposes. Then your point doesn't really work there...
Yes, that is a possibility - but it forces the state to pass legislation at least...
Quote:
Furthermore, I feel that your point actually only counters my belief that private schools should not be allowed. I do not think that it works for homeschooling. This is why: private schools can hold hundreds of students (as many or more than a public school) and so sending investigators to check it out consumes no more resources than a public school and is just as efficient. Homeschooling generally deals with one student or one family (siblings) of students and so if the percentage of students being home schooled gets too high (it's rising in the U.S.) then it becomes an incredible drain of resources. Let's say that the number reaches 10% in the U.S... Then that's about 6.4 million students. Let's also say that it's an average of 2 students per home schooling situation. Then are you really going to want to have to pay for 3.7 million investigations when if the average school had 1,000 students (my high school had about 2,000 students... but I don't actually know what the average is so I will cut that in half) you would pay for 6,400? There would need to be be extra fees associated with home schooling to cover that...
No, I would cut that down immensely with one single change - anyone homeschooling has to demonstrate their teaching credentials and fitness to teach. The onus is on them, not the state, and they would have to attend an interview with a state insector to be arranged....one inspector could easily handle many home-schoolers since it would require an interview lasting maybe 30 minutes for each....
deanhills
Indi wrote:
A scientifically-minded person will never engage in an debate until they have studied both sides of the argument. i mean that quite literally.
Interesting guidelines. I am curious. What is your definition of a scientifically-minded person? Does it mean that all people who are not scientifically-minded, need to become scientifically-minded first in order to engage in a successful debate? In my experience knowledge is important, but more so skills in debate. You can get "scientifically-minded" people who have very poor skills in debate. They may have all the knowledge, but are not able to put it across successfully. Whereas someone with a gift for debate, who lacks a scientific background, could give a "scientifically-minded" person a good run for their money.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
A scientifically-minded person will never engage in an debate until they have studied both sides of the argument. i mean that quite literally.
Interesting guidelines. I am curious. What is your definition of a scientifically-minded person? Does it mean that all people who are not scientifically-minded, need to become scientifically-minded first in order to engage in a successful debate?

That depends how you measure success. If you measure it as getting the most votes/support then yes, a person with no scientific awareness or ability can win a debate. It doesn't mean that they were right, of course. You may find a charasmatic speaker who can persuade people without recorse to evidence and considering alternatives, but the scientifically minded person won't be persuaded.

In short - yes, people who are not scientifically minded should seek to remedy that fault, I believe, just as illiterate people would be well advised to learn to read/write.
The artist who is scientifically literate can always eschew rationality as a deliberate choice. A scientifically illiterate artist has no such choice.
Klaw 2
Indi
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
A scientifically-minded person will never engage in an debate until they have studied both sides of the argument. i mean that quite literally.
Interesting guidelines. I am curious. What is your definition of a scientifically-minded person? Does it mean that all people who are not scientifically-minded, need to become scientifically-minded first in order to engage in a successful debate? In my experience knowledge is important, but more so skills in debate. You can get "scientifically-minded" people who have very poor skills in debate. They may have all the knowledge, but are not able to put it across successfully. Whereas someone with a gift for debate, who lacks a scientific background, could give a "scientifically-minded" person a good run for their money.

Only if you think the way to win a debate is to impress the audience.

If, on the other hand, you think the way to win a debate is to make the best case for your position, then you damn well better get the knowledge you need to to do so. An idiot who speaks eloquently and charismatically is still an idiot.

i don't believe that debates are like gladiatorial or sporting events, where the goal is simply to gain more "points" than your opponent so you can walk home the "winner". i've always thought that treating debate like a sport with "teams" and so on is completely idiotic, and just ends up creating sophists, not intelligent people. i believe that debates are dialogues between opposing viewpoints with the intention of all parties arriving at the correct viewpoint in the end of the debate - which may or may not be the one of the viewpoints the participants came in with. Someone who has a "gift for debate", but no knowledge of what they're talking about, is about as much use in a real debate as a dog that can bark loudly; they may drown out the real debaters to the point that those people can't get their cases across to whoever is listening, but they're really not helping anyone or anything, including themselves.
deanhills
Thanks Indi, I'm still curious however how you would define a scientifically-minded person. So if someone is religious for example, do they still get that description from you? Or are they a lost case to start off with in your opinion?
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:

If, on the other hand, you think the way to win a debate is to make the best case for your position, then you damn well better get the knowledge you need to to do so. An idiot who speaks eloquently and charismatically is still an idiot.

But a charismatic idiot will always win over the audience vs. an inarticulate genius... Unless the audience is also very intelligent, which is rare.
Indi
deanhills wrote:
Thanks Indi, I'm still curious however how you would define a scientifically-minded person. So if someone is religious for example, do they still get that description from you? Or are they a lost case to start off with in your opinion?

A scientifically-minded person is a person who lives by the same type of ideals that science does. In other words, a person that seeks knowledge, and does their best to make sure that the knowledge they have is not flawed. But as hard as they try to make sure that their own beliefs are not flawed, they tried doubly hard to make sure that the facts they spread - the things they try to teach others - are not flawed. To be mistaken is bad, to be the cause of mistakes in others is worse. That is why, whenever they "publish" beliefs or claims, they make sure that they have had done their damnedest to ensure those facts or claims are correct and justified. To do this, they not only work hard to keep errors out of the facts or claims, they reveal all of their sources and reasoning so that others can check their work, just in case they made a mistake.

The long and short of it is this. A scientifically-minded person:
  • Will try to learn something new whenever possible.
  • Will research new topics on their own - not take the word of self-proclaimed "experts" until they can confirm those experts really do know what they are talking about.
  • Will not pretend to have answers they don't have.
  • Will question everything.
  • Will challenge any claims or beliefs they come across that they believe are false.
  • Will be ready to have their own beliefs challenged at any time, and use the challenge as an opportunity to test those beliefs.
  • Will listen to opposing viewpoints, and consider them seriously.
  • Will change their beliefs if the evidence indicates they should.

Can a religious person be scientifically-minded? Of course they can. Historically, most scientifically-minded people have been religious (simply because most people period were religious). There are plenty of modern examples, too - obviously Collins springs to mind, as he always does when this topic comes up. i disagree with his beliefs, but i can't deny the man has integrity, and a keen scientific mind: i just don't believe he is applying it to that one specific part of his worldview. The key thing, though, is when the evidence contradicts his religious beliefs, he goes with the evidence, and that's worthy of praise.

i wish more religious people would be scientifically-minded, but the problem is that not only are they not, they are determined to go the opposite way. In fact, they even claim it as a virtue! They are proud of the fact that their beliefs are unshakeable regardless of the evidence! They have no interest whatsoever in learning or discussion, and only pretend to in order to get some floor time: they pretend they want to debate their beliefs, then just completely ignore the other side, just so they can get a chance to speak so they can proselytize. Most religious leaders fall into this category, unfortunately, as do most religious "thinkers" who engage in public debate. There's a simple reason why that is true, too: scientifically-minded religious people are smart enough to realize that their religious (as opposed to philosophical, political, economic, scientific, or other) beliefs are undebatable, or wouldn't stand a chance in a fair debate, so they don't pick a fight they know they can't possibly engage in fairly, let alone win. Scientifically-minded religious people will not hesitate to engage in debates on science, politics, etc. because those are the areas they have applied their scientifically-minded sensibilities to. Those are the areas they've researched critically and are prepared to defend. But with religion, they got nothing, just beliefs, and (from the list above), won't pretend to have answers they don't really have.

ocalhoun wrote:
Indi wrote:

If, on the other hand, you think the way to win a debate is to make the best case for your position, then you damn well better get the knowledge you need to to do so. An idiot who speaks eloquently and charismatically is still an idiot.

But a charismatic idiot will always win over the audience vs. an inarticulate genius... Unless the audience is also very intelligent, which is rare.

To repeat myself: i don't care about winning over the audience. i care about making them (and myself) more intelligent.

If your goal is to get a bunch of fools to swallow your flawed reasoning, in my opinion you can't "win" the debate. Even if you succeed, all you've done is harm yourself, and the audience.

On the other hand, if your goal is to compare and contrast opposing viewpoints to find out which (if not both) are flawed so that you can hopefully arrive at the right answer, you can't lose a debate.

As for the audience, if they are incapable of thinking critically, and are just going to side with the more charismatic person regardless of the strength of their position... frankly, ****** them. They're not worth wasting time on.

Instead, i will dedicate my time to repeatedly and savagely slaughtering that charismatic person's position, over and over, in the most embarrassingly humiliating ways possible. What that will do is sow the seeds of doubt, and make it less and less comfortable for people to believe the charismatic person's position. No one, no matter how charismatic, can fight the kind of doubt forever. It will take time, but slowly, one person at a time, the cognitive dissonance will be broken, and the audience will shrink. The thing with reason, is that once you have it, you can't ever fully ignore it again; once faith has been broken in favour of reason or evidence, it never really grows back.
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