Thursday, August 18, 2005

Plato's Cave

I was cruising around on the Internet today and spent some time looking at science-oriented sites that I enjoy reading. My grasp of science is not high, because I did not take very many science classes in high school and did not *have* to take any hard science courses in college, and therefore chose to take courses that would give me credits in my double major and minor fields (French Language/Lit, Spanish Language/Lit, and American Government). This is something I later regretted, as was my decision at about age 16 to stop at Algebra II and never take higher math.

Because of this lack, I often struggle to understand scientific concepts and I am trying to encourage my kids not to go for what's easy for them (verbal oriented stuff, just like me) and keep on with their interests in science and math.

This is all an explanation of why I enjoy science blogs; I usually learn something new from them, given there is such a wealth of information in that area, a lot of it pretty basic, that I did not learn in school.

However, I did take two years of basic biology and am deeply interested in the U.S. "culture wars" between scientists and Creationists regarding the theory of Evolution. I happen to be a religious believer and practitioner. Yet, to me, the spiritual belief in some sort of organizing principle/force (God) does not contradict the theories that have developed in scientific query through the system of experimentation, analysis of results, and analysis of available evidence. There obviously has been a lot of evolution between the past and the present, and evolution continues today, and the principles developed by evolutionary theorists are used to design new medicines and to understand genetics and to do many other things that contribute to our current civilization. Being against it is unbelievable to me.

By clicking on some links, I found an article by a scientist mocking a guy named Vox, who happens to be anti-evolution as well as apparently believing that U.S. society, economy and culture went South when women started entering the urban workforce in the 1970s. The scientist had a lot of response from this guy Vox's fans who read his website. One in particular started into the evolution argument.

Now at first it seemed this guy was just your regular silly Internet troll. He used bad spelling and grammar and used terminology wrong (calling a regular insult an "ad hominem" for example) and kept the discussion veering off in weird directions. Then he admitted to being 14 years old, and the scientist and his buddies, probably feeling bad for being harsh on him near the top of the thread, began carefully and soberly responding to his arguments against evolution. They were really trying to get him to understand, feeling wrong for merely mocking a young person like this, I imagine (they did not actually say this, though - the tone of their posts just changed).

At the very end of the thread, the kid said he had to go play a baseball game, at which point his younger sister got on and angrily told the people on the website to stop making fun of him because he was a very smart 14 year old and she was 13 and they were home schooled and evolution was evil and they were good Christians.

I felt like crying. Why is it legal for parents to keep their kids this ignorant? Not only the fact the kids don't understand science and what it is, and think that to understand it is bad, but that they can't write, spell, use grammar correctly, or use terminology correctly. What are their parents teaching them? As far as I could tell, very little. It also seemed they had done very little reading and considered the idea of reading articles that they were told about to be beyond the pale. I started that post thinking it was kind of funny, but ended up feeling so sorry for the kids I was close to tears.

Here is the link at Dispatches from the Culture Wars if anyone is interested in the story.

The only thing that is keeping me from total depression is the hope that these people are making up their identity and are not really young, impressionable teens locked in their house by their religious fanatic parents and not allowed to learn basic science (or spelling or anything else).

Update! Yay! Yes, it was just an internet troll who is not really 14 1/2. Thank Goodness. Also, which is not so good, he apparently posts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting... worth my time.