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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Parents and Education

I've never once censored what my two daughters watched or read. That I never had to was based on my attitude and one single gamble. At the age of three, my older daughter wanted to watch a movie (I can't even remember which one it was now) that was definitely inappropriate for her age but that I decided probably wouldn't cause any long term emotional damage. I said, "well, you can watch it if you want, but I think you'll find it very scary, so I strongly suggest that you don't watch it until you're older." She ignored me and chose to watch it. Sure enough, she found it very scary and disturbing. After that, if I simply suggested that something was going to be well beyond her comfort zone, she would not watch or read it. She also let her younger sister know that listening to Dad on such matters was a really good idea. They're both grown now, so my days of potentially restricting content are definitely over.

On the other hand, I'm not claiming for even a nanosecond that such an approach will work for every parent, every child, or every parent/child combination. I stumbled into it and it happened to work for my family. Other parents may find it critically important to heavily restrict what their children are exposed to and they absolutely need to have the right to do that.

I think that right also applies to education. Ultimately, I think it should always be up to the parents what schools should and (especially) should not teach.

For example, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is being banned by a growing list of school districts:
Today, Mark Twain's classic - about a boy who flees his abusive father and travels down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave - is still sometimes challenged in American schools, but for nearly the opposite reason: its liberal use of the N-word and perceived racist portrayals of black characters.
A colleague of mine who's a teacher is displeased because of the book's alleged importance:
Huckleberry Finn is a significant work for several reasons:• It transformed the American novel as a literary form, using the lingua franca rather than The King's English• It documented, in novel form, rather definitively, as did other, later works, the state of American race relations, class issues, slavery, growing up, and the capacity (and incapacity) of America to accept change.• It is an engaging story.
He further thinks that teachers should be "entrusted to choose materials for their classes (perhaps in consultation with department leaders, perhaps not)." Note that parents are nowhere in his equation.

I think that's wrong. While I have a copy of Huck Finn on my bookshelves and I believe that both my daughters have read it, if parents think the book inappropriate for their children (even their high-school age children), then no, teachers shouldn't be able to override that and be able to force it down the students' throats. Especially, if multiple parents think the book should not be part of a class.

Teachers and educators are experts and should certainly provide advice and guidance as to what should be taught. Indeed, what they suggest should be taught by default. But nobody knows an individual child better than his or her parents and they should get to make the final decision on what their child is taught.

Of course, the same applies to other topics as well including things like the Theory of Evolution. If a lot of parents don't want that taught at a given school, it shouldn't be taught. It's not like the other parents can't expose their children to the topics that the school doesn't teach. They can borrow the book from the library or find a free online course.

I think this conclusion sums it up best: "We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book [Huck Finn] in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits." And that's rightfully the decision of the parents comprising the community and should not be completely left to the teachers and educators.

64 comments:

Harry Eagar said...

You seem not to understand what the issue with evolution is. Already parents have chosen -- by around 70% -- not to teach that. That's why their kids go to chiropractors; they're as ignorant as hogs.

The public policy issue, however, is whether religious nuttery should be taught on the public fisc.


erp said...

Merry Christmas Harry and rest easy, you, for one, have definitely not evolved. :-)

Howard, while I agree with you mostly, if we as a people provide free public schools, we should as a body decide what's appropriate. Individuals who disagree with the curriculum may get involved with boards of education, etc. or send their kids to private schools.

As soon as we get the feds and the states out of funding local schools and go back to community control, we can provide the kind of education we want for our kids and those who agree with our ideals will be drawn to those communities that provide that.

It worked great until the 60's when the teachers' unions grabbed us by the throat.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
I think this conclusion sums it up best: "We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book [Huck Finn] in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits."
---

I believe the operative word here is "11th".

I am alright with your view up to a point, and that's to do with age.

Wikipedia tells me 11th grade in the US means people 16 to 17 years old. That's an age where kids are approaching their mature years, and schools can very well give them a hand on learning how to deal with things outside their comfort zone. Particularly with handling the multitude of opinions and worldviews out there.

If beforehand any book outside the present norms of PC culture, but otherwise seen as great literature, is excluded, there is no hope schools will ever be anything other than the babysitting center you mock them to be.

Peter said...

I think there is a big qualitative difference between objecting to something compulsory on the curriculum and objecting to its removal (which is not the same as banning or censoring). My problem with Bret's argument is his use of "parents" as if the word represented some coherent unity of perspective. Having attended my share of parent-school meetings, I learned that every parent thinks he/she is an educational expert, "the students" out of a parent's mouth means "my child" and just agreeing on when to adjourn is a major accomplishment. It would be different if a representative group of parents rolled up their sleeves and invested the time needed to study and listen to what their peers thought and presented a position that could be said to reflect the community of parents. Tossing out defiant shibboleths about parental rights and what constitutes great literature is cheap currency if you don't walk the talk.

One doesn't have to buy into political correctness or defer to teachers and educational experts to understand why black students in a mixed grade 11 class would be uncomfortable here. If I'm supposed to factor in the wishes of parents, which I'm fully prepared to do if I can make sense of them, why wouldn't I factor that in too? And to the extent white conservative parents are heavily represented in the pro-Huck Finn lobby that thinks the book is key to educational formation, why can't they take a dose of the medicine they recommend to those who want the schools to teach sex education---tell their kids to turn off their video games and read the darn book.

Harry Eagar said...

What Peter said, mostly. As for the good ol' days erp yearns for, those were the days when children learned about how corporations were good for us, not a result I'd expect from turning today's parents loose on the curriculum.

More pernicious than Finn is the instruction in Texas that workers emigrated from Africa to better opportunities in America.

Parochial schools were no better. I was taught that the typical resident of India was a Catholic and that in Poland miners were treated badly by the communists. That latter may have been true, but somehow Polish fascism got overlooked.



erp said...

It would be different if a representative group of parents rolled up their sleeves and invested the time needed to study and listen to what their peers thought and presented a position that could be said to reflect the community of parents.

Peter, there is such a group, it's called the locally elected School Board and black kids learning how it was in the past by reading Twain is a good way to put the present into perspective which is BYW why narrative nincompoops want it removed from school reading lists.

Harry, I went to Catholic school in the Diocese of Brooklyn, one of the largest dioceses in the country and never heard any such ridiculous nonsense and the only dangerous part of putting parents back in charge is that for the past three generations they've been brain-washed by the most radical lefties extant and will need to be detoxed.

Peter said...

erp, I'm having a lot of trouble squaring Bret's argument that students should not be forced to study politically or religiously controversial subjects against the wishes of their parents with your suggestion that some general parental collective knows what is good for black students to study.

Hey Skipper said...

[OP:] I think this conclusion sums it up best: "We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book [Huck Finn] in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits."

A conclusion they could have come to only through an epic misreading of the book.


[Harry:] You seem not to understand what the issue with evolution is. Already parents have chosen -- by around 70% -- not to teach that.

Source?

That's why their kids go to chiropractors; they're as ignorant as hogs.

Lemme see. Who would I rather spend an afternoon with, people you defined as being ignorant as hogs, or your staggering, wholly unearned, arrogance?

More pernicious than Finn is the instruction in Texas that workers emigrated from Africa to better opportunities in America.
Bollocks. The Texas textbooks said no such thing.

Texas’s latest textbook controversy involves a high school edition of publishing giant McGraw-Hill’s new World Geography, in which a caption refers to African slaves who were forcibly brought to the Americas as “workers.” The company's CEO, David Levin, wrote a letter of apology to his employees Monday.

And to think you accuse others of being ignorant as hogs.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] If beforehand any book outside the present norms of PC culture, but otherwise seen as great literature, is excluded, there is no hope schools will ever be anything other than the babysitting center you mock them to be.



[erp:] As soon as we get the feds and the states out of funding local schools and go back to community control, we can provide the kind of education we want for our kids and those who agree with our ideals will be drawn to those communities that provide that.

Unfortunately, that serves to entrench poverty, and, for good reasons, has been found unconstitutional.

[Peter:] I think there is a big qualitative difference between objecting to something compulsory on the curriculum and objecting to its removal (which is not the same as banning or censoring).

---

One doesn't have to buy into political correctness or defer to teachers and educational experts to understand why black students in a mixed grade 11 class would be uncomfortable here.


Having re-read Huck Finn just a few years ago, so I think my memory of it is relatively intact. "Nigger" Jim is the most noble, and smartest, character in the book. Every instance of the n-word is satirizes the people who use it.

So, yes, I can see why people who have only read about the book, or read it and missed the author's clear intent, would object to the book being part of the curriculum. But that is where teachers should come in -- it is up to them to explain the book well and clearly enough to dispel those concerns.

While the Common Core might be a step to far (or, certainly in the case of math, an possibly good idea badly executed), I think US public schools should have fairly standard curricula, and that there should be widely accepted great works of American literature that absolutely deserve being taught. Huck Finn is one.

The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, to which I was subjected as a readaholic teenager? Rubbish that should have long since disappeared in the mists of time.

Don't get me started on Wuthering Heights.

erp said...

Peter, Huckleberry Finn is neither religious nor political. It's probably an accurate depiction of interaction among people in a time and place familiar to the author.

It's a threat to the elites because it allows readers in the present time to learn how things have changed mostly for the better, some for the worse.

In my own case, when I read about how women were treated throughout history, I was all the more determined to follow the lead of my sisters who paved the way for me, not only with my daughter and others girls with whom I was in contact, but with college girls who worked for me and from whom I still get an occasional note after more than 25 years thanking me for believing in them.

Peter, each person has voice in our republic, but in the end, the majority voice prevails. However, all is not lost as indoctrination is not enforced either by force of arms or the law. One can home school, set up private schools, etc.

Contrary to narrative, one size does NOT fit all.

erp said...

Skipper: Unfortunately, that serves to entrench poverty, and, for good reasons, has been found unconstitutional.

Beg to disagree. What unconstitutional? To quote the Skipper, citation please.

The current model for public school has brought poverty to epic levels and destroyed the middle class.

I wish Harry could talk to real people. A friend of mine, a couple of years younger than I, was born in what was then (before tourism and retirement communities) an obscure and poor area of Florida.

She went to a segregated school which even then was decrepit (it's still standing and has recently been renovated as a community center), but had pretty much the same curriculum as I did - minus the catechism. She and her siblings became teachers and her son and grandson are professionals.

She is gracious and cultured and her take on things makes me look like a rabid lefty.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Beg to disagree. What unconstitutional? To quote the Skipper, citation please.


Apologies. Since local school funding is a state issue, all the decisions are at the state level. Here is list of articles referring to state decisions regarding school funding.

IMHO, anything other than a per-capita funding of schools is bound to create huge problems for low income areas, and is morally indefensible.

erp said...

Per capita funding by whom?

erp said...

When ya don't have a dog in the hunt, this is what happens and there isn't enough money on the planet that these educators and do-gooders can't make disappear.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "An interesting consequence of community control [ex-orthodox youngish jews suing Israeli government]..."

I think the parents had every right and even obligation to bring up their children as they saw fit and I think the children have every right to hate their parents, disown their parents, etc., but should have no legs to stand on to sue the government.

Yes, if you allow parents complete control over raising their children, some will do it poorly. However, it will provide greater diversity and in some cases do better than the massive cookie-cutter approach that the Left pushes for.

Bret said...

A note on why teaching Huck Finn is controversial. The word nigger appears dozens if not hundreds of times. The word nigger is noted to be the single most offensive word in the English language. So offensive, that dictionary.com warns you about that before even giving you the definition. Note that it's so offensive, the article won't even print it, instead using "N-word."

For those of us who are a little older, nigger was offensive when we were young, but certainly not the most offensive word in the English language - a whole slew of obscenities beat it out by a wide margin.

It's so offensive that when I referred to the band NWA as Niggers with Attitude (which is indeed the actual name of the band), my daughters nearly had the vapors.

Again, I think Huck Finn is a fine book to read and that people ought to buck it up and deal with the work "nigger." It's only a word, after all.

However, if you can't at least relate a little bit to why a community might not want to deal with a book that contains numerous occurrences of the most offensive English word, then you're probably even more of a hard-ass than I am.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "I think there is a big qualitative difference between objecting to something compulsory on the curriculum and objecting to its removal (which is not the same as banning or censoring)."

I'm completely talking about object to that which is compulsory.

There are so many useful things that can be taught that eliminating those things that rip a community apart is not much of a sacrifice.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "If beforehand any book outside the present norms of PC culture, but otherwise seen as great literature, is excluded, there is no hope schools will ever be anything other than the babysitting center you mock them to be."

I strongly disagree. There are so many things that can be taught (schools don't even teach 1% of useful stuff to know), that anything controversial can be eliminated with plenty of stuff to take its place.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...Catcher in the Rye..."

Single worst book I ever read. Which we all had to read because Salinger was one of the few contemporary American authors at the time. Apparently 1970s American literature was really, really bad.

Bret said...

erp "...each person has voice in our republic, but in the end, the majority voice prevails...."

That's called tyranny of the majority. Yup, I remain a serf.

erp said...

As I've noted before, the lefties are masters of semantics. What they don't want is for students to be made aware, as Skipper pointed out, that the melanin enhanced character had all the good lines. If that n-word is so offensive, why is it used in rap music and bandied about among those who claim to take offense.

Bret, it's all nonsense. Your daughters are as much victims of the culture of victimization as those being kept on the plantation.

erp said...

Bret, it's no tyranny when everyone has a chance to voice their views and vote. Anything else is anarchy. You're only a serf, if you choose to be. You can go your own way without harm or foul and many have done just that.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "... anything other than a per-capita funding of schools is bound to create huge problems for low income areas, and is morally indefensible."

I strongly disagree with that.

I don't have a problem with block transfers between states. For example, if we think Minnesota is too much richer than Mississippi, then I have little problem transferring some money from Minnesota to Mississippi.

However, I strongly think that no strings ought to be attached. Once transferred, I think Mississippi should be able to use the money for whatever they want. Education and/or health care and/or infrastructure and/or lining the pockets of politicians and bureaucrats in Mississippi. Doesn't matter.

I think that's the most moral approach. Help if you want, but don't oppress.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "... it's no tyranny when everyone has a chance to voice their views and vote. "

Hmmm. Let's think about that. For example, the Jews were able to vote well into the 1930s in Germany. The votes during that period and before indirectly set the stage for the Nazis and Hitler to come to power. Therefore, it wasn't tyranny?

Why bother with a constitution? Why not just have majority rule? The majority can be extremely tyrannical - that's why there's a constitution. Even with a constitution, internment of Japanese Americans was certainly tyrannical, in my opinion. Wickard v. Filburn was tyrannical in my opinion. Many of FDR's programs were tyrannical.

I'll just keep serfin' along, thanks.

erp said...

I didn't think I needed to mention the rule of law, one of my standards. The FF had to compromise and vote and majority ruled and that's how our country was founded.

Many people and not only Jews, didn't like what they saw happening in Germany and voted with their feet... and just who will make the decision to transfer tax payer funds from Minnesota to Mississippi and who will decide how much is enough and how much too much.

Sorry Bret. You are buying into Big Brother and it's scaring me.

Peter said...

It seems that erp and Skipper are prepared to buy into leftist ways of thinking when it suits them. If there is any traction to Bret's argument, surely it is based on the proposition that parents, not school boards, governments, teachers' unions, or even a majority of parents, etc. should decide what their children should and should not be taught, just as they should decide what they eat, how they are disciplined, etc. Obviously there have to be limits and trade-offs here---giving every parent a veto over the curriculum would be a recipe for chaos---. Ideology has limited use, but it's not much of an answer to shout the black community down with appeals to the rule of the majority. Save that for fiscal and welfare policies. We resist that argument here on many issues. There are all kinds of parenting issues and decisions we make without giving a damn what the majority thinks. Those who want to impose political correctness on the schools can and do talk about majority rule as expressed in elections. Are we going to reject all that but then talk as if the whole intent of the Founding Fathers is embodied in school boards?

Nor, with respect to Skipper, is it much of an answer to say all those blacks are misreading the book and would benefit mightily if they truly understood it. That reminds me of the forces who insist Darwinism be compulsory in high school lest the kids all become scientific ignoramus' who think Genesis is the final word in natural history and do silly things like go to chiropractors. This in the most scientifically advanced country in the world. It's tosh, and Bret is right that there are many alternatives of quality. Somehow I think the Republic would survive if Huck Finn were made optional.

I confess this drives me a little nuts. Here is a great opportunity for conservatives to say to the black community (I'm assuming many black parents agree with their kids' objections) "You find this offensive? We don't particularly, but we understand you do and that's good enough for us. You're the parents and if you aren't comfortable forcing your children to read and study Huck Finn, out it goes. Our kids will read it on our time." Instead we circle wagons and latch onto high principles that are patronizing and self-serving and that we would reject summarily if they were applied to us.

erp said...

Peter, your argument would be valid if majority run public schools were compulsory or there were no alternatives like private schools or home schooling... and BTW, the voting majority aren't running the schools, here in the U.S., they are being run by the worst lefties extant, the teachers' unions and are turning out students who not only haven't been informed of the basic curriculum of the 3 R's, but are misinformed about almost everything else.

I was stunned some years ago when the manager of a local big box store admired a watch I was wearing and when I told her it was inexpensive costume jewelry and where I got it, she said, it's not that, it's that she can't tell analog time!!!

Being made uncomfortable by history isn't a reason to stop teaching it and learning about the past is the only way we can stop repeating it. Poor blacks today are worse off if only because in the bad old days they had hope of change and now they are stuck back on the plantation and it's unlikely they'll be let out until the lefty movement is destroyed completely.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
There are so many things that can be taught (schools don't even teach 1% of useful stuff to know), that anything controversial can be eliminated with plenty of stuff to take its place
---

That very much souns like a nanny talking: "Kids, don't fight for this toy, here we have so many other ones, please!"

The good news is that, as yourself pointed out in another thread, schools are much more of a nanny center than a learning center these days, so don't worry, you won.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Kids, don't fight for this toy, here we have so many other ones, please!"

Hmmm. I think it's more like "kids, don't fight over these knives, we have so many nice toys!"

I look at amazon.com new releases for the last 30 days and there are 101,030 books released during that period. More than a million new books per year (at that rate)! Huck Finn is pretty much just the drop of water in and endless sea.

erp said...

Bret, I'm willing to bet the store that not one of those million new books can hold a candle to Twain. I rarely read anything new, especially fiction. They are so poorly written and edited, they give me a case of the vapors.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

As if truly good literature came by so easily. But as an old wise man once said...

"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards."

- Mark Twain

erp said...

Twain had the good luck to live before the unions took over the world.

Bret said...

Sheer luck would mean that a few of those million books will be pretty good.

erp said...

I guess it's possibly, not impossible, but probably, improbable. :-)

Hey Skipper said...

[Peter:] Nor, with respect to Skipper, is it much of an answer to say all those blacks are misreading the book and would benefit mightily if they truly understood it.

My presumption is that most people objecting to Huck Finn have not read it in the first place, and that the remainder either didn't, or won't, understand it.

Therefore, at a hypothetical school board meeting, given a half hour, any decent high school English teacher should be able to present a persuasive case for including Huck Finn in the curriculum.

Obviously, I am making a lot of assumptions here, including the one that after such a presentation, everyone but the willfully opposed — a small minority of my hypothetical group of parents — would agree that continuing to teach HF would be a good thing.

If any of my assumptions are unrealistic, then my hoped for conclusion fails. In that case, despite my opinion of HF, the parents' preferences prevail. There are other Mark Twain books that fill the bill for great American literature, and there are other books that a) satirizes racism and discrimination, b) is well written, and c) won't alienate boy readers.

My top pick would be Red Sky at Morning. How a book that good could be turned into one of the worst movies of all time is an abiding mystery.

[Bret:] There are so many things that can be taught (schools don't even teach 1% of useful stuff to know), that anything controversial can be eliminated with plenty of stuff to take its place.

I'm with Clovis on this one. There are very few things worth learning that aren't controversial. Can schools teach about Mein Kampf? Communism? Islam? Big Bang Theory?

[erp:] Per capita [school] funding by whom?

The residents of the state, about 83% out of state revenues, the rest from the federal gov't. All students, no matter where they live, each represent a given amount of revenue to the school district. (I think that per capita funding should be attached to the student, not restricted to only a public school the student attends.)

Relying on local property taxes to fund schools creates self-reinforcing problems. Poor areas have under-financed schools, which drives down property values, which further reduces funding available for schools. That's bad enough, but there is no denying that many poor areas in the US are poor precisely because of government policies, many on account of race.

So, as a matter of equal protection under the law, a state mandate to attend school must be equally applied to all students, and people should not be penalized for previous denial of equal protection.

Per capita funding doesn't mean there won't be horrible schools setting that money on fire, of course; that's a different problem.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "There are very few things worth learning that aren't controversial."

Hmmm. How about reading, writing, math, statistics, chemistry, most of physics, much of biology, engineering principles, a fair amount of history, etc.

Are any of those worthwhile? Are students already taught 100% of all those? If not, I'd say there's room for substitution.

erp said...

Bret, no that is precisely the same problem. The further away from the source of funds, the further away is the inclination to spend public money wisely and carefully.

I believe it was during the Carter years (at least that was true in Vermont where we lived at the time, that states began giving local districts funds to "even things out." The "good" school districts got better and the others spent the money on bells and whistles sold to them by the same guys who used to sell snake oil.

I was a volunteer and the "chief administrator" in a small local school which spent their windfall money on renovating a charming old school building into what was the rage at the time, Open Classrooms. It was complete choas, so some of the local farmers and their wives who ran the PTA fashioned drapes/curtains to close off the various grades, but of course that didn't stop the noise.

What once was a far to middling rural school was transformed into a skit on SNL.

erp said...

Bret, re: a fair amount of history ... Before you decide on that question, I urge you read the AP World History textbook. I was advised due a real fear of a brain aneurysm not to read the AP U.S. History textbook.

erp said...

The comment above about school funding was in reply to Skipper, not Bret. My apologies to both.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "I urge you read the AP World History textbook."

I have read parts of one of my daughters'. In it, I learned that the definition of "jihad" was a "peaceful striving." See Skipper, there's nothing to worry about with Muslim immigrants. My daughter's history book says so! :-)

Nonetheless, there are parts of history that aren't contentious.

erp said...

... maybe, but how will students know which are which?

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper asks:

Harry:] You seem not to understand what the issue with evolution is. Already parents have chosen -- by around 70% -- not to teach that.

Source?

That's why their kids go to chiropractors; they're as ignorant as hogs.

Lemme see. Who would I rather spend an afternoon with, people you defined as being ignorant as hogs, or your staggering, wholly unearned, arrogance?

http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/evolution-and-creationism-in-america%E2%80%99s-biology-classrooms

I found that to be a balanced assessment. There are others that suggest about 30% of students in high school receive something like an adequate presentation of evolution. Public opinion polls suggest that figure is about right.

Since I never see teevee unless I travel, and I am traveling, I was amused to see -- on a Maryland station -- an ad for what I guess would be called chiropractor-less chiropractic: No sudden jerks, just a gentle touch by a magical electrical appliance that looked something like a toothbrush.

Ignorant as hogs? I think so.

Howard said...

I'm not as concerned about creationist as I am about closet creationists. Closet creationists complain about ideas and institutions that don't spring forth whole and perfect. They tend to be highly statist control freaks. Matt Ridley even used the term in his latest book.

Harry Eagar said...

Don't think I'll read that book but the synopsis makes me wonder, who is he attacking?

Mike Huckabee? Pat Robertson? I count both as control freaks but not statists.

Howard said...

I read the book Harry. It was a bit tedious for me because Ridley is such a materialist. He definitely used the term the way I meant.

Harry Eagar said...

But who is he attacking? The idea of the organic evolution of social institutions has been a commonplace of liberal historians for 250 years now. Maybe Ridley never heard of Gibbon.

Harry Eagar said...

If this review is accurate:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/just-wait--everything-will-work-out-for-the-better/2015/12/30/31f7edda-87f4-11e5-be8b-1ae2e4f50f76_story.html

and Ridley really believes this:

'history shows that doctors would take it upon themselves to ensure that the poor were cared for.'

then Ridley is an ignorant fool.

erp said...

Really? Well I can testify that doctors did just that before the compassionates took over and made healthcare available to all comers. s/off

Howard said...

Harry,

The Ridley book is ok but not great. I think it can be simplified by saying that something he understands that you don't seem to is, "result of human action but not of human design."

Harry Eagar said...

What makes you think I do not understand that?

erp, yes I know you have said that many times and it remains as bogus today as the first time. At Christmas I visited my mother, and we happened to spend one morning talking about the struggles of her father to start a children's hospital and of her aunt to get even the most basic medical care for the children in the school where she was principle. This was back in the days of Coolidge prosperity.

erp said...

Harry, sorry I can't speak about the Coolidge days. They were before even my time.

Howard said...

What makes you think I do not understand that?

Probably because of the many times you've shown yourself to be a raging positivist.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Since I never see teevee unless I travel, and I am traveling, I was amused to see -- on a Maryland station -- an ad for what I guess would be called chiropractor-less chiropractic: No sudden jerks, just a gentle touch by a magical electrical appliance that looked something like a toothbrush.

Ignorant as hogs? I think so.


Once again, no reference to what you are talking about, which makes it impossible for us to determine whether you understand what you saw, what the claims are, and whether anyone actually bought it.

But never mind that. Once again you put yourself in the position of knowing for others what is best for them.

But never mind never minding that. Apparently, not believing in evolution, or avoiding the subject entirely makes right wingers ignorant as hogs therefore chiropractic. Perhaps that's true. So right wingers are stupid en masse, and fall for things that are, at worst, harmless.

Compare to left wingers: homeopathy, anti-vaccine, mindlessly anti-GMO, thermageddon, rape culture, gender wage gap, micro aggression, evolution stops at the neckline, gun confiscation. I could add more, but the point is clear. Left wingers have fanatical religious belief in all manner of nonsense. The difference between left wingers and right wingers is that the patent nonsense infecting left wingers' brains is toxic.

By the way, while we are on the subject of ignorance, was More pernicious than Finn is the instruction in Texas that workers emigrated from Africa to better opportunities in America. you being ignorant as a hog?

Or are you being a typical lying left winger?

Harry Eagar said...

That is an amusing link to Robertson but doesn't have anything about Texas in it. Perhaps you were looking for this:

http:/www.theroot.com/articles/news/2015/10/texas_mom_calls_out_textbook_company_for_calling_slavery_immigration_and.html

You should look up Class IV laser therapy. As I say, ignorant as hogs.

erp said...

.. and speaking of hogs was this item in any of the many newspapers you scoured this morning? No. Gosh then this must be the Illuminati at work again, you know those old guys who your cohort make look like nursery school children with finger paints.

Hey Skipper said...


No, Harry, I was looking for an answer to this:

[Hey Skipper:] By the way, while we are on the subject of ignorance, was More pernicious than Finn is the instruction in Texas that workers emigrated from Africa to better opportunities in America you being ignorant as a hog?

I brought the Pat Robertson link in as a further demonstration of progressives' tenuous connection with the truth.

Bret said...

Hey Slipper: "But never mind never minding that. Apparently, not believing in evolution, or avoiding the subject entirely makes right wingers ignorant as hogs therefore chiropractic..."

As Howard has alluded to before, this is a fun illustration of how the Left are really the great and fervent believers in Intelligent Design (Howard calls them "closet creationists").

Why not allow people to find therapeutic approaches to health via the evolutionary process of trial and error, where one such approach is chiropractic? Because Intelligent Design! In other words, people are stupid to try stuff because intelligent experts can do it oh-so-much-better!

Why not allow the emergent order of an economy to evolve from the aggregate of individual decisions? Because Intelligent Design! In other words, centralized experts can do it oh-so-much-better!

Etc.

The religious right chooses not to believe one application of evolution, (biological evolution), which is the one application where it makes not one whit of difference since it either happens or it doesn't no matter what we think. The Left rejects all other applications of evolutionary principles.

Harry Eagar said...

That train left the station 110 years ago. Looking for cures from chiropractic in 2016 is like looking for predictions from astrologers.

Or perhaps you think the jury is still out on the humoral theory? If you do look up Class IV laser therapy, pay attention to what Aetna says about it.

I think, of all the ideas ever thought, evolution via natural selection is the most susceptible to the Dunning-Kruegr Effect. That is, its kernel can be stated so simply that people think that -- having heard the two-sentence version -- they understand how it goes without further inquiry. Darwin did not think it was so simple.

But here's a question for you. If the status of chiropractic theory is unsettled, do you consider any theories of any kind settled? I know that Carson considers conservation of angular momentum controversial still, but I hope he and his religious nut friends are not piloting any airplanes.

Bret said...

In evolution, the jury remains "out" on things that aren't terribly harmful (or helpful) for a very long time, possibly forever. Not a big deal.

Some theories are more settled than others. Some theories are more useful than others.

You're still, in my opinion, completely misinterpreting what Carson said. But whatever.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] But here's a question for you. If the status of chiropractic theory is unsettled, do you consider any theories of any kind settled?

That you ask that question means you have missed the point entirely.

Let me help you, with an example from real life. Back in Anchorage, my across the street neighbor was also a pilot, flying for Cathay Pacific. So we hung out a fair amount.

Once he told me he had just gotten back from the chiropractor -- I can't remember if it was neck or back pain -- and told me how his visits there produced much greater relief than anything MDs could offer.

Several things struck me. First, I was skeptical, since I don't have a particularly high opinion of chiropractic. An opinion, I might add, that is utterly devoid of any first hand knowledge. Second, that if I was to have voiced my skepticism, I probably wouldn't get invited over for drinks anymore, because who the hell am I to tell him he is an idiot or a liar? After all, unlike me, he had only first hand knowledge to go on.

Another thing strikes me here: Looking for cures from chiropractic in 2016 is like looking for predictions from astrologers.

You do know, do you not, that for a great many conditions, looking for cures from medicine in 2016 is like looking for predictions from astrologers?

---

BTW, I can't help but notice the crickets in response to More pernicious than Finn is the instruction in Texas that workers emigrated from Africa to better opportunities in America.

So, just like Tea Partiers chanting "Let him die", and Carson claiming Mannatech products cured his prostate cancer, plus many other instances, we have yet another addition to Harry's Big Bag of Bollocks.

Why? I can make a couple guesses. First, as a veteran journalist, you are true to your profession and don't suffer allegiance to facts the way the rest of us mortals must. Or, you are so ideologically blinded you can't spot how something you are trotting out on the screen is waaaaayyyy to good to be true.

erp said...

Hey watch what you say about astrologers, I bet I can tell you all what your signs are just from your comments.

I have to bet more than one of you, but not Harry, are born under the sign of Aquarius.

Harry Eagar said...

'You're still, in my opinion, completely misinterpreting what Carson said.'

If you ever explained what you think he meant, I missed it. Please repeat.

Bret said...

Harry,

Here's the first part of Carson's quote (I assume this is the one you're referring too):

"In physics we have something we call angular momentum and it is preserved, "

Looks right to me.

He then is simply mistaken in its application when he goes on to state, "so it should be preserved in any orbit of anything that is affected by gravity around a planet, which means everything has to traverse in the same direction."

Being mistaken in the application of a theory or principle is much, much different than challenging the theory itself. For example, as a roboticist, I use mechanics/physics a lot, yet even still I make a conceptual mistake occasionally. That doesn't mean I'm challenging the theories, just that I've made a mistake. So sue me!

I see nothing in what Carson has written above that he's challenging any theories other than the big bang theory and given that he's definitely a creationist, that's not surprising.

Hey Skipper said...

"so it should be preserved in any orbit of anything that is affected by gravity around a planet, which means everything has to traverse in the same direction."

He isn't completely wrong:

When a galaxy or a planetary system forms, its material takes the shape of a disk. Most of the material orbits and rotates in one direction. This uniformity of motion is due to the collapse of a gas cloud. The nature of the collapse is explained by the principle called conservation of angular momentum. In 2010 the discovery of several hot Jupiters with backward orbits called into question the theories about the formation of planetary systems. This can be explained by noting that stars and their planets do not form in isolation but in star clusters which contain molecular clouds and when a protoplanetary disk collides with or steals material from a cloud this can result in retrograde motion of a disk and the resulting planets.