Community Servitude *UPDATED*

As I’ve noted before, although merely (and gratefully) comfortable myself, I live in an affluent community.  I am a Marin resident, after all.  In response to this affluence, the local middle and high schools, both public and private, have all jumped on the bandwagon to require “community service” as a prerequisite for grade promotion and graduation.  Depending on the grade level, children have to perform six to sixteen hours of “volunteer” work per year.

Just this year, our local school upped the ante by integrating community service directly into the science curriculum. In the second trimester, the students were required to choose from causes — many of which were politically correct, such as anti-nuke, pro-green, anti-gun, etc. — to research.  Although I wasn’t pleased with the menu, I didn’t mind the project.  It required the children to hunt for data, analyze the data, and write up a report, which included recommendations for dealing with the “problem” — all of which struck me as suitably academic in nature.  This trimester, however, the students are required to “act” on the report.  That is, to the extent that they’d identified a “problem” and come up with a “solution,” their third trimester grade depends upon their implementing that solution.   To that end, my child’s teacher actually signed my daughter up at an internet website to fund raise for a specific cause.

I was on the phone to the principal about five minutes after learning about what the teacher did.  I explained to him that neither my child nor I would be fundraising for any causes the school selects.  I admit that it’s a bit of a gray area politically.  California students cannot be forced to fund-raise directly for the school itself.  I’m willing to argue, though, that the prohibition against fund-raising extends to being forced — for a grade — to raise funds for a cause the school selects.  The principal was, as always, very pleasant and conciliatory, but I don’t think he quite understands the real issue behind my outrage.

What I explained to him, repeatedly, and what seemed to go over his head, repeatedly, is that I, as the parent, am responsible for my children’s social development, including whether my kids develop a social conscience.  If I want them to be spoiled, selfish brats, that’s my prerogative as a parent.

The school’s responsibility is to educate them with information.  I understand, more than most, that the information selected will necessarily have an impact on the children’s belief systems (they’ve all been green indoctrinated, regardless of the ostensible subject matter of a given class, and their American history program struggles valiantly not to be too negative about America), but the fact remains that there is still an academic gloss overlaying the traditional subject matter teaching.  This forced volunteerism, however, has nothing to do with traditional education, and everything to do with usurping the parents’ role when it comes to imparting values to a child.

As it happens, I do substantial amounts of volunteer work, so I am constantly modeling the virtues of volunteer work for my children.  We also speak about those less fortunate than we are and, in past years, my children have been expected to contribute 50% of their gift money to a charity of their choice.  I can make them do that because I’m their mother.  For a public school to make similar demands on the children oversteps what should be the boundary between a parent, on the one hand, and a public school, on the other.

The most interesting thing about all of this is that, based on my informal polling of my children and their friends, is that the school’s efforts are backfiring.  The children I know litter with impunity, never turn out lights, and can’t be bothered with recycling.  Having had green-ism force fed to them for their entire lives, they are jaded about it, and do not want to be coerced.  It’s true that, when they grow up, they’ll almost certainly hew to the Democrat party simply because their education has been aligned with that party, but they won’t be true believers.  They’ll act reflexively, without believing anything at all.  (I, of course, am working as hard as I can to stand as a bulwark against this Democrat party indoctrination, but few in my area disagree with the ideology underlying their children’s education.)

As for the enforced volunteerism, the kids are wise to that too.  I got an earful from several kids in my carpool complaining bitterly about being forced to do community service as a prerequisite for their grades.  They understand that, if you’re forced to do something, as they are because of their grades, than the activity is not true volunteer work.  Further, they consider the community service requirement an onerous burden that is to be avoided at all costs.  To that end, they routinely engage in whatever scams they can to have labeled as “community service” something that cannot in any way be considered traditional charitable work.  Thanks to mandatory “volunteer service” (or, as I call it, “community servitude”), the children I know are disinclined to do any type of volunteer work and much inclined to engage in scams and cheats.

UPDATE:  And with perfect timing comes a story about the Obama administration encouraging less actual education and more Leftist activism.

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  • Charles Martel

    “but many [italics mine] people objected to the invasion of Iraq because they thought the government was rushing into war based on faulty intelligence concerning WMD. . .”

    Cites, please.

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  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Charles Martel: Cites, please.

    For instance, France, Germany, Russia and China all promised to veto U.N. authorization for war until the weapons inspectors could complete their work, who were on the ground in Iraq and had found no evidence of WMD. In other words, the Americans were rushing into war before all the facts were in evidence. 
     

  • abc

    I think that the integration of volunteerism into K-12 schools is a wonderful idea, as it allows all children to see the behavior that Bookworm is modelling for her children.  A parent has a right to raise kids who don’t recognize the value of voluntarism, but they don’t have the right to insist that the public school does this…assuming  a given local community values such voluntarism, as a great many communities do.

    My experience with this issue hasn’t been as extreme, and based upon that experience, I would sympathize with Bookworm.  My kids go to a school in SoCal that the WSJ recently listed as one of the top 5 in the US.  it is private, but it is probably about as liberal as public schools in the Bay Area.  They heavily promote volunteerism, but they do not require activity on a narrow set of specific causes, which Marin Public Schools and many schools around LA do, and which I think is a mistake.  I understand the desire to teach children to develop solutions to problems, but certainly there are some conservative solutions to conservative-defined problems that can be addressed.  Doesn’t the Club for Growth need volunteers for polling data, and wouldn’t that be an viable option alongside Habitat for Humanity?

    I do think that parents should be able to maintain a legitimate belief system that is not repeatedly alienated by the school, although the school has a duty to present information that might conflict with it, and the kids are actually better having been exposed to a plethora of ideological viewpoints.  But the compulsion to pursue a particular cause, as opposed to learn information, goes beyond what is necessary to produce intelligent, fact-based, analytical future citizens.  A parent that wants to shield their child from evolution ought to be forced to pull their kid from school, given the overwhelming scientific evidence of the phenomenon and its established existence in AP course and college course curricula.  However, a parent that wants to avoid supporting Greenpeace, the ACLU and the DNC (assuming those are the three choices) should not have to pull their kids out of public schools to do that.  Hopefully, Bookworm will be able to find an acceptable substitute to the causes on offer at that school.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    None of the entities in the world cared about whether the US was rushing into war. After all, if they cared so much for that issue, CBS would never have allowed Saddam to dictate the terms of their interview in order to portray Saddam in a positive light. If objective and rational judgment was their rationale, they would have applied it to their previous behavior. France and Britain would never have been in Algiers or involved in the Falkands war. Neither France nor Britain would have leaped to the occasion in Libya if they were worried about a rush to war.

    No, given the historical behavior of the media, pundits, and national entities, what they were really worried about was Saddam being taken out by the US. They were too invested in the status quo of Saddam and too much of an enemy of the US, to do otherwise.

    The people calling for reason and deliberate judgment were never capable of reasonable and deliberate judgment on the issues of war and peace to begin with in 2002. Chirac and Helmut (who loved having feast dinners with Clinton) all would have been considered Vichy collaborators 50 years ago. How time changes.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    A parent that wants to shield their child from evolution ought to be forced to pull their kid from school, given the overwhelming scientific evidence of the phenomenon and its established existence in AP course and college course curricula.

    As can be easily witnessed, totalitarian wannabes and statists love forcing people to their will. Especially if they can sit back and let the dirty work be done by government goons paid for by other people’s money. Wouldn’t aristocrats consider this right and proper of a way to treat peasants?

  • http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/ eric-odessit

    Zach,
    Germany cannot veto any UN authorizations: she is not a permanent member of the Security Council.
    Now, back to that forced “volunteering”.  Let’s see if you can see the difference in these 2 situations (and the learning experience they provide).
    Situation 1:
    Kids have to work on a collective farm (or at some factory) as a part of a curriculum.  Alternatively, but similarly, kids have to collect scrap metal or scrap paper, or help elderly World War 2 veterans (shopping etc.), as part of their “Young Pioneers” activity.  An explanation: “Young Pioneers” was the Soviet version of Boy/Girl Scouts.
    Situation 2:
    Kids in class are dictated a letter of request to be sent to work on a collective farm.  Thus, there is a pretense that they are volunteering, except they are really not: they have no choice.  At the collective farm they are paid very little or nothing at all for their work.  All the while they see that the local villagers who are supposed to work on this farm are instead working on their private orchards in order to take the produce to a farmers’ market in the city.  That’s at best.  At worst, the locals are just drunk.
    I’ll reserve expressing my view on these 2 situations for later.  For now, I’d like to know what you have to say.
    Eric.
     

  • abc

    Y, am I a totalitarian wannbe and statist if I insist that my local public school teach multiplication tables?  What about the periodic table? 

  • Charles Martel

    Zach, to review:


    “but many [italics mine] people objected to the invasion of Iraq because they thought the government was rushing into war based on faulty intelligence concerning WMD. . .”


    “For instance, France, Germany, Russia and China all promised to veto U.N. authorization for war until the weapons inspectors could complete their work, who were on the ground in Iraq and had found no evidence of WMD. In other words, the Americans were rushing into war before all the facts were in evidence.”

    Two things:

    1. Countries are not people. They have people in them, but they are not people. Unless you like to take Lufthansa and look out the window at the landscape below and say, “Hi, Miss France! How’s it going, Mr. Germany?”

    2. The Security Council passed the resoution that cleared the way for U.S. action in Iraq unanimously. Apparently the countries named above later removed their objections. Note that Resolution 1441 passed on November 8, 2002, four and one-half months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Some rush to war!


     

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    eric-odessit: Germany cannot veto any UN authorizations: she is not a permanent member of the Security Council. 

    That is correct. It should say “oppose,” not “veto.” We added Germany to the list at the last moment. A veto isn’t necessary if the Security Council doesn’t reach a majority. 

    eric-odessitFor now, I’d like to know what you have to say.

    If you exaggerate the actual situation, then you can make it seem to be whatever you want. 

    Charles Martel: 1. Countries are not people. They have people in them, but they are not people. 

    Funny thing about that. Countries have leaders and other people who expressed caution about proceeding with a war without giving the inspectors time to determine the facts about WMD.  

    Charles Martel: 2. The Security Council passed the resoution that cleared the way for U.S. action in Iraq unanimously. Apparently the countries named above later removed their objections. Note that Resolution 1441 passed on November 8, 2002, four and one-half months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    The countries that voted for the resolution,which gave Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations,” don’t agree that they were authorizing war. The U.S. ambassador said that the resolution “contains no ‘hidden triggers’ and no ‘automaticity’ with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12.”

    It’s important to note that caution was the correct position to take. There were no significant WMD. The war was unnecessary, and the aftermath was devastating for the people of Iraq.

  • Charles Martel

    Zach, help me: After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, what was the number of the Security Council resolution condemning the invasion? Is it the same one as the resolution that recognized the U.S. and U.K. as the occupying “authority” of the country?

  • http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/ eric-odessit

    Zach,
    You just don’t get it, do you?  I don’t “exaggerate the actual situation”, I PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED IT!  I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in the city of Odessa, near the Black Sea.  I attended school there in the 1970s.  The letter of request to be sent to a collective farm was dictated to us by our Russian Literature teacher, who was also a class curator.  I immigrated to the USA in 1989.  By that time I was already an adult.
    We did not see anything wrong with collecting scrap metal.  As I wrote in my original comment, it was actually fun.  Different classes competed, who would collect more.  It was actually fun to win (and we were good sports if we lost).  We saw nothing wrong with helping old people with shopping.  After all, we had grandparents who lived through WW2.  Our grandfathers fought in it.  So, we could relate to other elderly veterans.  We saw nothing wrong with working in school after the end of the school year, before the start of the summer break.  We did not like it, but we viewed it as a part of life.  The reason was that this all (Situation 1) was straight forward.
    It was the hypocrisy of the Situation 2 that we hated.  It was clear to us that we were being used as cheap labor (almost slave labor).  It was also clear that nobody even cared about the work we did on the collective farm.  It was simply done, so someone could report the job as being completed.  We also saw that nobody wanted to work on that farm.
    You spent you whole life in this great country.  You have no idea what life was like in that “socialist paradise”.  And you dare to accuse me of “exaggerating”?  Essentially, you accused me of lying.  How dare you?!
    Eric.
     

  • SADIE

    eric-odessit
     
    The only thing that we can be sure of is that the z-group reads and writes English. Their capacity for understanding anything beyond their narrow personal experiences and education has now been laid to waste. I was tempted to respond to the z response earlier, but knew you would and should have the first swipe at the gutter snipe. The collective, known as the z-group, lives in a world of robotic words and automated responses that are eerily similar to “I was only following orders”.
     
    Literally and figuratively, they are beyond the ‘pale’.
     
     
     
     
     
     

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Charles Martel: Is it the same one as the resolution that recognized the U.S. and U.K. as the occupying “authority” of the country?

    Having toppled the Saddam government, the U.S. and U.K. had legal obligations as an occupying power regardless of whether the occupation was legal or not. Resolution 1483 did not condone the invasion. 

    eric-odessit: I don’t “exaggerate the actual situation”, I PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED IT!  I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in the city of Odessa, near the Black Sea.

    The exaggeration is comparing having children in the U.S. participate in community service as an educational experience with an authoritarian government using children for cheap labor. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The UN was and is a fig leaf, an organization constructed to check the actions of superpowers. Soviet Russia and China had two chances to veto any resolution, giving them a fig leaf’s excuse for diplomacy. NATO had 3 such chances to veto.

    Now that there is only one superpower, the votes at the UN are bought and paid for in order to check the power of the US alone. An organization designed with its goals in mind to prevent China and Russia from starting a nuclear war, is now all about stopping the US from achieving world justice.  It’s why they can vote on things like Iraq quickly, but when problems start looking like it may upset US plans, like Turkey, they back off and start sabotaging our plans. It is why when they want a war against their enemy in Libya, they can get it pretty fast.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Y, am I a totalitarian wannbe and statist if I insist that my local public school teach multiplication tables?  What about the periodic table?

    I don’t believe the Left even understands what 2 times 2 means. After all, they’re okay with multiplying the debt by 10 or so thinking it’s like paying their blackjack gambling expenses.

  • Mike Devx

    In response to abc 54:

    An entire post that I agree with!  I’m worried: Did someone on the left find out where I live and sneak into my home and inject me with something while I was sleeping?   ;-)

    <Devx frantically searches #54 for something, *anything*…>

    Ah, found it!  (Whew!)

    I don’t think that forced voluntarism is a *wonderful* idea.  The idea of “forced voluntarism” seems a contradiction though, doesn’t it?  (As many have pointed out.)  IF it is done in a manner that doesn’t promote specific sets of ideological causes, it’s not horrible…   But honestly, it seems more like an extracurricular activity if anything to me, and extracurricular activities (sports, band, clubs, etc) to the best of my knowledge are never forced – that’s why they’re called “extracurricular”.  I could even get behind the idea – if voluntarism were offered as an extracurricular activity.  Say with enough of a budget to allow local institutions in need of assistance to register as needing assistance, to help those kids out who genuinely want to volunteer and would like assistance in making choices of where and how to help out.

    And I could quibble with abc’s “evolution” argument, which he seems to present as though the entire theory of it, top to bottom, were “settled science”.  Any room for the presentation of criticisms of current evolution theory?  Or if a school decided to give time to alternative theories?   I remember in middle school, early 70s, when the Bohr atom model was presented to us as though it were “settled science” – and by then it was well known to be absurdly simplistic and only useful in providing rudimentary understanding of electron energy levels.  We should have been told that.  But the science curricula in our district where I grew up was rather uniformly bad.

  • suek

    >>The exaggeration is comparing having children in the U.S. participate in community service as an educational experience with an authoritarian government using children for cheap labor. >>

    A rose by any other name still smells the same.

    As those who oppose any mention of religious principles in schools will tell you, the school is an arm of the government. Requiring ‘volunteer’ labor is exactly the same as ‘cheap’ labor except no one is paid…meaning it’s actually slave labor. You’ve bragged before about Progressives having the accomplishment of ending child labor – yet here the Progressives are…using child labor. Except they aren’t even paying for it! So…if Capitalists pay children for labor, it’s bad. If Progressives require children to work “for their education” then it’s good. Talk about a double standard!

    (By the way – while I certainly agree that the practice of having children work long hours in factories is not good, I also think we’ve gone too far the other direction. Children have become the new “privileged” class. Work is good for children’s bodies, good for their souls, good to educate them, good to mature them. Consider the pitiful situation when we have to curtail what they eat because children – CHILDREN! – are so sedentary that their normal appetites cause them to become obese. It’s a fairly normal thing for adults – _not_ for children.)

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    abcam I a totalitarian wannbe and statist if I insist that my local public school teach multiplication tables?  What about the periodic table? 

    Ymarsakar: I don’t believe the Left even understands what 2 times 2 means. After all, they’re okay with multiplying the debt by 10 or so thinking it’s like paying their blackjack gambling expenses.

    suek: Requiring ‘volunteer’ labor is exactly the same as ‘cheap’ labor except no one is paid…meaning it’s actually slave labor.

    Students can be required to do all sorts of things, like do arithmetic. 

  • suek

    >>Students can be required to do all sorts of things, like do arithmetic. >>

    You really see no difference between requiring students to learn arithmetic, and requiring students to partake in projects unrelated to academics?

    What do you see as the purpose of education? No…further. Public schools. What is – or should be – the goal of the public school?

  • abc

    Mike, a couple of things:

    1. I view schools as different than democracy, especially at the pre-college level.  There is a certain level of indoctrination that occurs with all education, and so if you want to teach good habits that are socially useful, then you ought to expose kids to some level of compulsion.  This of course happens already.  If you don’t do your homework, you fail out.  You are compelled to do your homework.  You are compelled to appear at a pep rally or say the pledge (although to the extent that it has a religious phrase, there is apparently an excuse to opt out).  While there are obvious limits, compulsion is a part of learning institutions, and for those that believe that this is necessary to teach virtue, it’s not all bad.

    2. The disputes on evolution occur at a level that is appropriate for graduate level classes, where such debates occur.  Pretending that those disputes should occur in a ninth-grade biology class is beyond ridiculous, as multiple courts have rules and all leading scientific associations have argued.

  • Charles Martel

    Zach, you didn’t answer my question: In what resolution did the Security Council condemn the invasion of Iraq (empahsis mine so that you’ll better understand the exact thing I am asking)?

  • Charles Martel

    I wouldn’t have ninth graders debate evolution in a science class. I would, however, expose them to contrary ideas in a logic or history of science of class so that they could see valid and proper ways of presenting evidence. For example, in many debates about the subject there are constant appeals to authority. Those appeals may be valid, but children should be taught to see when they are not, such as when one side or the other is attempting to evade a straight answer.

    The idea isn’t to train 14 year olds in every aspect of formal logic or how to conduct a Behe-Fox debate. The idea is for children to understand how to detect fallacious reasoning or faulty logic in the presentment of any side of a debate. I realize that many people who believe in the Darwinian version of evolutionary theory simply refuse to admit that there are serious questions about their particular take on evolution. That’s fine with me—I don’t think you should try to force true believers to the podium to defend themselves. But I do think that any school worth its salt would recognize that when you have a debate still raging 152 years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” you have a ready made lesson in how cultures within a culture can clash loud and long—religionists (literalists and not), scientists (pro and con), journalists (skeptical and not), and men on the street (informed or not, believers in scientism or not).

    Teach the clash, and in so doing, give kids an idea of how societies change, what different groups advocate and fear, and the differences in thinking processes among them. But tie it together with a rigorous look at logic and the demands of the scientific method because both sides must use those tools well to advance their arguments. Most of all, teach children to know when they are being conned or left out of the loop, regardless of who’s doing the conning or omitting.

  • abc

    Charles writes:  “I wouldn’t have ninth graders debate evolution in a science class. I would, however, expose them to contrary ideas in a logic or history of science of class so that they could see valid and proper ways of presenting evidence.”

    See, that would make a fantastic high school class, just not a biology class since that is not biology.  My wife, who is a Harvard summa in chemistry and a radiologist, teaches parttime at a local private high school.  She can barely get through the entire AP biology curriculum in a year, since it is so massive.  She could not possibly include your suggested lesson, nor would anyone qualified to teach biology want to include it.  But as a senior gut class, once the AP exams are out of the way, it would be a lovely addition…

    Behe has been totally and soundly discredited, by the way.  Irreducible complexity is a bogus idea that no one in the scientific community believes in.  And the courts that have looked at the evidence have reached a similar conclusion (e.g., Katzenmiller).

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    suek: You really see no difference between requiring students to learn arithmetic, and requiring students to partake in projects unrelated to academics?t

    It is meant to be educational. You didn’t answer the question, so let us help. If there is a significant economic value attached to what students do, then it could be considered a type of theft and subject to abuse. Hanging posters about how to save energy, or putting on a play about a community issue, while under the supervision of a teacher who has no economic benefit, doesn’t appear to be such a situation. 
     
    suek: What do you see as the purpose of education?
     
    To teach children the skills they need to be productive members of society, including language, mathematics, science and technology, creativity, and social skills. Such education should be in addition to, not a replacement for, what the family provides. 
     

     

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Charles Martel: In what resolution did the Security Council condemn the invasion of Iraq (empahsis mine so that you’ll better understand the exact thing I am asking)?

    Don’t worry, Charles Martel. No one’s going to arrest America. The U.S. has veto power in the Security Council. 
     
    Charles Martel: … Darwinian version of evolutionary theory …

    Strawman. 
     
    Charles Martel: But I do think that any school worth its salt would recognize that when you have a debate still raging 152 years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species,”

    There is no serious scientific debate about the basics of the Theory of Evolution, that life has evolved and diversified from common ancestors by natural mechanisms (selection, variation, speciation, contingency, etc.). The debate is cultural, not scientific. Such a discussion might be included in a class on the philosophy of science, in the section on pseudoscience. 
     

  • Charles Martel

    abc, as I clearly said and you needlessly repeated, I did not suggest the [ninth grade] course as a science class but as a logic or history of science course. (But it was a great opportunity to slip in your wife’s Hahvahd summa, no?)

    As for the thorough discrediting of Behe, I’ll defer to your blanket statement that that is the case. “So let it be said, so let it be done,” declared King Mongkut/abc.

  • Charles Martel

    Zach, someday you will learn how to answer a direct question: In what resolution—proposed, debated, passed or vetoed—did the Security Council discuss, attempt, try, undertake to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

    Also, someday you will learn how to read: I was not at all debating the merits of the various theories of evolution, I was suggesting a course where in discussing the debate over it students would learn about logic, the scientific method and cultural dynamics.

    You need to see a doctor about your knee. That damned thing twitches and jerks so reflexively that it’s making me worry about you.

  • Charles Martel

    20 to go.

  • abc

    Charles, I am very proud of my wife’s academic accomplishments, and feel justified in that pride.  As for your little retort on Behe (As for the thorough discrediting of Behe, I’ll defer to your blanket statement that that is the case. “So let it be said, so let it be done,” declared King Mongkut…), does that apply to members of the flat-earth society as well?  Should the burden be on the vast majority of scientists to prove Behe wrong (which they have done)?  Or should you have to maybe establish his credibility (which you have not)?  Just wondering…

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Charles Martel: did the Security Council discuss, attempt, try, undertake to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

    As we have already indicated, of course not. 
     
    Charles Martel: Also, someday you will learn how to read: I was not at all debating the merits of the various theories of evolution, I was suggesting a course where in discussing the debate over it students would learn about logic, the scientific method and cultural dynamics.

    Indeed, you weren’t debating, but merely indicating there was a legitimate debate concerning the strawman “Darwinian version of evolutionary theory”. 
     

  • Charles Martel

    I’ll do a twofer here for the room pests:

    Zach, honesty at last regarding your reflexive take on the Security Council! Congrats.

    I give up on trying to get you to read what I wrote regarding a class on the debate over evolution. You see what you choose to see.

    abc, notice how you contradict yourself? You go from “Irreducible complexity is a bogus idea that no one in the scientific community believes in” to “the vast majority of scientists.” Which is it?

    More telling though, is your continued insistence on putting words in my mouth, a practice that has driven almost everybody here to distraction. I mentioned Behe in passing with regard to the debates over evolution. I didn’t say anything about what I think of his theories. Now all of a sudden the World’s Greatest Name Dropper has given me an assignment: Establish Behe’s credibility.

    Sorry perfesser, I don’t take orders from stuffed shirts.

  • rufus13

    It’s the involuntary servitude, dhimmitude, serfdom part of labor, that is the problem for free people. If you refuse or quit, there are negative consequences (not “no pay” since there were no material benefits promised for the doer of the activity). It’s not “voluntary” when it’s “Voluntary-Mandatory”. 

    All authoritarian cultures use work as part of brainwashing. People are much more easily propagandized and controlled when separated from familiar places and put under physical and mental stress doing repetitious tasks. 

    This is where the revolution starts. All we need are suitable and available targets.  The difference between us and Soviet Citizens is that we have the AK-47’s this time.  The beneficiaries of our efforts have yet to begin understanding how different things really are. 

    Cheers.

  • abc

    Charles, I fail to see the contradiction.  No one in the scientific community takes Behe and his discredited theory serious.  And I ask whether the vast majority of scientists, a subset of the entire scientific community, should be required to establish facts while you make unsupported claims.  Those do not contradict each other.  Stop playing semantic games.  Either you produce uncontroverted evidence that Behe is right, or you should not bring up his name as a serious voice on the topic of evolution.

  • abc

    And Charles, I would like to mention Bozo the Clown’s name in passing with regard to this debate as well…

  • Charles Martel

    abc, you don’t realize that you are Bookworm Room’s Margaret Dumont, do you?

  • Mike Devx

    Evolution is a digression on this post of Book’s but I’m enjoying it enough to add another comment.    (Feel free,by all means, to skip right on past!  I’m enjoying the start of this break from work, including probably too many comments here in Book’s thoroughly enjoyable domain; I’ll slack off soon I promise, too many other things looming on my plate…)   And yep, here I’m talking evolution, not Darwinism.

    Irreducible complexity is an interesting enough *idea* to at least mull over.   I don’t consider it a competing theory myself, as (to the best of my limited knowledge) it has no backing data.  And it’s going to be *very* difficult to provide backing data for, under scientifically controlled, experimental circumstances.

    As has been said, the Cambrian Explosion is bedeviling scientists, and I don’t believe current theory has successfully accounted for it (yet).  The explanations for it seem to me closer to the level of rigor associated with irreducible complexity, in that backing data for actual proof of the explanations is lacking.

    I’ve been lambasted – well, at least roasted and basted – for bringing up another concept, that the rate of genetic mutation combined with the process of natural selection is mathematically impossible to stand as part of evolutionary theory.  Now, since my college background is partly in mathematics, that claim made me sit up and say, in my best Keanu Reeves mode, “Woah.”  So I was quite interested.  I haven’t yet been able to track back to find any actual mathematics – heck, I can’t even find the set of articles I was reading at the time – but I’m still interested.

    The claim, though, goes something like this:
    1. The physical mechanism of how evolution occurs is via genetic mutation.  
    2. Genetic mutations occur singly, not in combinations, and in single organisms, not across entire species.
    3. The vast majority – the *huge* majority – of genetic mutations are harmful, not helpful. And they often result by themselves in death.
    4. Therefore the rate of genetic mutation that would lead to natural selection benefits or other benefits within the theory promoting speciation can be supposed to be X.  (Can’t remember the number, damn it.)
    5. When you extrapolate this over the billion (?) years of evolution, and you consider the sheer number of such mutations that would have to occur to cause the visible level of speciation found today and in the fossil record – they threw in their own “Y” number, which again I can’t remember) the mathematics just don’t hold up.  And according to the articles, the mathematics was not even close.

    So perhaps you can see what fascinated me.  I’m not claiming this as a theory or even (yet) as a legitimate criticism of current theory.  And the articles were hardly rigorous in explaining the nature of the “debate”.  You’ll have to excuse me for watching for it, though.  There are huge holes in the points I’ve just written, of course, including any number of posited values for “rates” that would need to be solidly backed up with data.  I do not find the chain of reasoning to be pure nonsense, though.  (Feel free to again reiterate the claim that merely paying attention to this makes me a blithering idiot – I don’t mind.  In the best sense of “black vs white Western dichotomous thinking”, the claim that this makes me a blithering idiot certainly does make ONE of us a blithering idiot in the end!)

  • Charles Martel

    I think it’s unfair to idiots to always have them blithering. Can’t they do other things, too?

  • abc

    Mike Devx, Stephen Jay Gould developed a theory known as punctuated equilibrium that has become the mainstream understanding of mutation rates under evolutionary theory.  It actually accounts for the Cambrian explosion, and I’ve never heard anyone propose a mathematical model of mutation rates that undermines it.  You’ll have to source the theory and data, but until I see some kind of data and explanation, I will continue to maintain that the Cambrian period also can be explained under the existing theory. 

  • BrianE

    Stephen Jay Gould developed a theory – abc

    “John Maynard Smith, one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, recently summarized in the NYRB the sharply conflicting assessments of Stephen Jay Gould: “Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by non-biologists as the pre-eminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists.” (NYRB, Nov. 30th 1995, p. 46). No one can take any pleasure in the evident pain Gould is experiencing now that his actual standing within the community of professional evolutionary biologists is finally becoming more widely known. . . But as Maynard Smith points out, more is at stake. Gould “is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory”—or as Ernst Mayr says of Gould and his small group of allies—they “quite conspicuously misrepresent the views of [biology's] leading spokesmen.” Indeed, although Gould characterizes his critics as “anonymous” and “a tiny coterie,” nearly every major evolutionary biologist of our era has weighed in a vain attempt to correct the tangle of confusions that the higher profile Gould has inundated the intellectual world with.* The point is not that Gould is the object of some criticism—so properly are we all—it is that his reputation as a credible and balanced authority about evolutionary biology is non-existent among those who are in a professional position to know. *These include Ernst Mayr, John Maynard Smith, George Williams, Bill Hamilton, Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Tim Clutton-Brock, Paul Harvey, Brian Charlesworth, Jerry Coyne, Robert Trivers, John Alcock, Randy Thornhill, and many others.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jay_Gould

    I know, I know– the dreaded Wikipedia source.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Mike Devx: 1. The physical mechanism of how evolution occurs is via genetic mutation.

    Point mutation is only one of many mechanisms of variation, and variation is only one aspect of evolutionary theory. 

    Mike Devx2. Genetic mutations occur singly, not in combinations, and in single organisms, not across entire species.

    That is incorrect. For instance, the average human has more than a hundred mutations (though most are probably unrelated to one another in function). However, you are right that they occur in individuals and have to spread into the future composition of the population.

    Mike Devx
    3. The vast majority – the *huge* majority – of genetic mutations are harmful, not helpful. And they often result by themselves in death.

    The vast majority of mutations are neutral, or nearly so. However, of those with phenotypic effects, most are probably deleterious. That’s expected, of course, because most structures are already optimized. They are on local fitness peaks. 

    Mike Devx: 3. The vast majority – the *huge* majority – of genetic mutations are harmful, not helpful. And they often result by themselves in death.
    4. Therefore the rate of genetic mutation that would lead to natural selection benefits or other benefits within the theory promoting speciation can be supposed to be X.

    If there were a simple mathematical disproof of evolution, then there would be a consensus to that effect within the mathematical community, and of great concern to evolutionary biologists. In fact, the situation is just the opposite. Mathematicians have been inspired by evolutionary theory, and emulating the process to solve problems within their own field. 

    To relate this to our subject, this is an example of a meme which is easy to debunk, but is adopted within a social group. Simply look in the mathematical literature for a consensus that evolution is impossible. Instead, you will find just the opposite. Evolutionary algorithms are very powerful tools, and are used to explore many complex spaces beyond the capabilities of other methods. 

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Zachriel: To relate this to our subject, …

    Oops. It does relate  to the  “Vested in the herd” thread. 

  • suek

    >>If there is a significant economic value attached to what students do, then it could be considered a type of theft and subject to abuse. >>
     
    What’s minimum wage these days?  $7.50 per hour?  If they are required to do 40 hours, that’s about $300 worth.  Maybe not a huge amount…but then if your school has an enrollment of 500 or so, it amounts to $150,000.  Is that significant?
     
    You might be considering that because they’re children and have no skills that minimum wage would be too high – but try using that excuse if you’re a businessman and want to hire a  16 or 17 yr old who has no skills.  Or of course, you might consider the child labor laws.  I don’t think schools have a waiver.  If they did, they could require miscreants to do maintenance chores instead of suspending them.  They’d learn stuff doing maintenance as well.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    suek: What’s minimum wage these days?  $7.50 per hour?  If they are required to do 40 hours, that’s about $300 worth. 

    They should be paid to solve long division! Who knew? People get paid to write essays, too. Those two-bit words add up!  If the kids put together a thought-provoking play about a community issue, they should probably be paid scale.  Don’t want a problem with the union.

    Children have been doing community-oriented projects for generations.
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4629595058_11c4bb6c87.jpg

    It’s not as if kids are being forced to work 14-hour days in factories in order to eat, or the teachers are hiring out the students and keeping the money, like a chain gang. Students can choose their projects so that they can experience just a bit of the real world rather than simply reading things in books or listening to the teacher drone on. Going to the nursing home to visit the residents or dressing up as a ham for a school presentation isn’t tyranny. It’s ridiculous to conflate an educational experience with forced child labor. 

    suekI don’t think schools have a waiver.  

    A clue! 

  • Charles Martel

    Did Zach get a writer? His latest stuff is pretty good!

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