Category Archives: Ideology

If scientists want to educate the public…but is that the right question to begin with?

Yesterday, Chris Mooney published an article in Washington Post, If scientists want to educate the public, they should start by listening. It has already received many comments on the site, as well as on Chris’ blog posts here and here and here. It will be followed by a longer paper tomorrow, at which time this link will work and you will be able to read it.
The blogosphere has not remained silent, either, with responses by, among others, Orac, Pal MD, Evil Monkey, Isis and P.Z.Myers. Most of them, as I do, agree with the article about 3/4 through, and are, as I am, disappointed in the ending.
I actually don’t have much to add to this discussion as this one is just another chapter in the discussion of Chris’ book “Unscientific America”. As usual, most commenters focus on one or two aspects of his (and others’, e.g., Randy Olson’s) argument, though the argument has many layers and components.
I don’t have much to add because it is hard to add much to what I have already written at length and in great detail, trying to address and combine all the components in a 30-page (when printed out) post. So, if you are a little confused about what Chris says and about the responses by others to Chris, you may find my old post informative. Here it is: What does it mean that a nation is ‘Unscientific’?
Update:: More reactions by Chad Orzel, Evil Monkey, Andrew Revkin, Joe Romm and Chris Mooney.

Don’t Be a Sucker (video)

A 1947 movie made by the Department of War – as current today as it was then:

You can download the video or watch it bigger here.

Preaching to the choir


I got this video from Orac’s blog where an interesting comment thread is developing. This also goes against those who lament the “echo chambers” but those tend to be the same people who write HeSaidSheSaid articles every day – they live in a binary world where only “who wins the two-horse horserace” matters and anything more sophisticated than that is ‘elitist’ and to be ignored as ‘outside of mainstream’ which – the mainstream – they, the savvy Villagers with nice hairdos on TV, get to define.

Spring Awakening

On Friday, the Bride of Coturnix, Coturnietta, a friend of hers and I went to DPAC to see ‘Spring Awakening‘. As you may already know, this is a rock adaptation of an old play located in late-19th century Germany, following the growth and maturation of a group of high school students surrounded by a disciplinarian and authoritarian adult world, in which sex is taboo (so they have to learn on their own, feel guilt about it, and suffer consequences) and strict, dogmatic religion trumps every attempt at independent thought or questioning.
I have not seen the play before, though I have heard the soundtrack a million times, but the Bride of Coturnix has seen the original cast on Broadway and says that this rendering was excellent. I agree.
Yes, there is a moment of partial nudity on stage at one point. And a stylized masturbation. And a stylized sexual intercourse. And a kiss between two gay men. And a botched back-alley abortion that kills a girl. And an accurate portrayal of cowardly, insecure adults making up for their own shortcomings by preventing and punishing every youthful act that challenges their power, their standing on the top of the hierarchy, their mad use of religion to enforce that hierarchy, and their own unease with sexuality.
Which is the point of the play.
Which is why it is exactly the young people who are the target audience of the play. The warning on the DPAC website – “Parental Discretion is advised. Mature content, including brief partial nudity, sexual situations, and strong language.” – is there more to satisfy the conservative, authoritarian, cowardly, sexually insecure, adult curmudgeons in our own current society than a statement of fact. Or a real warning to young people to stay away.
The funniest moment for me was when, at the end of Act I, the old man in front of me got up and said how scandalized he was, asking why there was no warning that this was R-rated! Hmmm, I guess a curmudgeon like that does not go online to see the warning either. And he missed the point of the show – that his style of curmudgeonness is exactly what the play is exposing for what it is: hypocritical and dangerous. It is people like him who are NOT the target audience of the play – it is the young people, being warned about folks like him.
There are some good reviews in Durham Herald Sun and Raleigh News and Observer, and even better blog posts by Theatre North Carolina and Ginny Skalski (who wrote it from the perspective of a lucky person who got to sit on the stage).
On the other hand, do not trust Byron Woods of Independent Weekly for your theatrical reviews. It appears he is incapable of arriving on time (compare this to this – half the reviews are about how he was late, and complaining about it as if it’s not his fault), and is more intent on appearing savvy (remember the ‘Church of the Savvy‘ inflicting the media in general?) and slamming a play than telling something informative to the readers – compare his reviews to everyone else’s review of the same play (another example, other than Spring Awakening, is last year’s Fiddler on the roof, compare this to this).
You can find DPAC on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, as well as check out their blog.
The touring ensemble of ‘Spring Awakening’ also has a blog, a website and a Twitter account, a fan forum, as well as MySpace and Facebook pages. That’s the way to promote the show!
DPAC had some variation in quality of shows this year (expected for such a new place), but ‘Spring Awakening’ was right at the top. If it comes to a theater near you, go and see it.

Essentialism beyond just animals

How religion generates social conservatism:

You could make a reasonable case that pencils have a purpose, but pencil shavings just exist. But what about elephants? Religious people and children are, of course, more likely than non-religious adults to say that animals exist for a purpose. But what about men and women? Black people and whites? Rich and poor? Arab and Jew? Do these exist for a purpose? And is it possible for one to become another? Gil Diesdendruck and Lital Haber of Bar-Ilan University in Israel decided to find out what children think.

I thought McCain-Palin rallies looked familiar….

…and now I remember where I saw them before:

How Should We Call Them?

How Should We Call Them?A follow-up on last night’s repost (originally from April 06, 2005)…

Continue reading