Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You suck because you know stuff

Here we go again...

The Education Oversight Committee voted Monday to reject curriculum standards for high school biology that deal with teaching evolution.

The school reform panel wants the Board of Education to rewrite a portion of the standards to encourage high school students to critically analyze evolution.

Scientists who support teaching evolution reject the idea of adding the phrase "critical analysis" to the curriculum. They call it an effort by evolution critics to introduce creationism and intelligent design in the classroom.

State Senator Mike Fair says the change is necessary because science is always changing.

Both the oversight committee and the board of education must agree on the standards. Monday's 8-2 vote sends the issue back to the board of education.

"Critical analysis?" I thought that going through the rigors of the scientific method WAS critical analysis.

You know, it occurs to me that what's really at the heart of the "teach both 'theories'" movement -- and indeed, the heart of the whole fundamentalist/neocon rise to power -- is outright hostility to the notion that some people know more than other people.

Scientists are treated as "elitists" or "not in touch with the common people", as if it's a bad thing to spend a lot of time studying a subject and becoming informed on it. Meanwhile, the opinion of "common people" is treated as somehow more "pure" because their minds are unfettered by specific education.

By extension, in today's exciting world of neocon rule, generals who actually study war aren't the ones who plan our wars. Disaster management experts who study disasters aren't the ones put in charge of national disaster management agencies. Brilliant legal minds who have offered respected opinions aren't the ones who are put forth as the best supreme court candidates. Instead, we get people whose major qualification is that they are ordinary people who happen to be well connected. And then people who know things are slandered and ridiculed for being snobs.

Being called "ignorant" about something shouldn't necessarily be considered an insult. I'm ignorant about cars, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. There are guys who change their own oil and diagnose their own car troubles, but I am not one of those guys. When I have car troubles, I pay somebody who works on cars for a living to fix it. I try to understand as much as I can so as not to get ripped off, but in the end there's a point where I agree with the mechanic by default because he's interested in cars and I'm not.

People who approach their lives with the perspective that everything is "faith based" hate to admit that somebody knows more than they do (other than God, perhaps). Their point of view is that no one knows everything, therefore no one knows anything, therefore all opinions are equally valid. And if you claim to know more than they do about a subject, that's an attack, and you must have a sinister motive.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the wonderful world of pomo. I've heard Christians look me right in the eye and say that there is no such thing as knowledge, that everything is a belief. It's how they deal with this pesky fact that there are people who know more than they do. Just define knowledge itself out of existence.