Creationism’s stench still lingers in American education

Creationism (and it’s dressed-up-in-drag younger brother, “intelligent” design) is the black mold of education. It’s an insidious infection of the mind, an intellectual parasite. And like real-life black mold, it creates a toxic environment – for learning and critical thinking. This week, creationism again came up in American school board discussions. According to the HuffPost, the American Taliban* – the Tea Party – is behind the … (more–>)

10,000 or 20,000 hours?

Malcolm Gladwell introduced the concept of the “10,000-hour rule” in his 2008 book, Outliers. As Wikipedia describes it, “…the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.”* Gladwell does not specifically say that 10,000 hours of practice or apprenticeship will make you an expert. Like most things on the … (more–>)

Quackery and Big Bucks Infect Health Canada

Health Canada has allowed an increasing number of useless “alternative” healthcare (alternative TO healthcare in most cases) products to be sold in Canada over the last decade, despite the lack of proper (or in some cases, any) research data to prove their claims, effectiveness or safety. Most recently, however, Health Canada went further into pseudoscience and licensed homeopathic vaccines, proving that the agency has bowed to … (more–>)

Mastery: Self Help or Just Opinion?

Robert Greene’s new book has me somewhat flummoxed. It’s not at all like his previous books. The other books of his I have were all ‘meta’ books – books about what others thought on various subjects: power, leadership, war, seduction, politics.* Mastery combines biography with exhortations to raise one’s self up to the level of mastery. We are all potential geniuses. It strikes me as an … (more–>)

The Dreamtime

I don’t dream very much, Susan once said to me. We were having a talk about some crazy dream I was recalling. They’re always crazy, of course. But the conversation was about whether we dream – all of us – whenever we sleep. I argued yes, we all do. We just don’t always remember them. I remember a lot of mine, at least for a few … (more–>)

Enter Christopher Marlowe – Again

Back in the late 1990s, I wrote an essay about the “controversy” over who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare. I wrote, then, Not everyone agrees that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. The challenge to his authorship isn’t new: for the last three centuries it’s been the most popular whodunit of literature: trying to uncover the true identity of the author of the world’s greatest dramas and comedies. … (more–>)

Speaking with the dead

Can the dead speak to us from beyond the grave? No, of course not. But that doesn’t stop literally millions of superstitious people from believing they do. And some think they can use technology to facilitate the conversation. Of course, when you put technology into the mix, it simply cements the belief in place, no matter how ludicrous. And the internet has provided a platform for … (more–>)

The Secret Teachings of All Ages

“When confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed.” That’s one of the few quotable pieces I’ve found while reading through The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall. Originally … (more–>)

The Hobgoblins under the Lobbyist Bridge

Lobbyist. For some, the word conjures frightening images of nefarious trolls and ogres in Armani suits lurking under the bridges and in the woods in the dark night, snatching unwary politicians and dragging them down to whatever hell the gullible and naive descend to (a hell cleverly paved with gold and champagne flutes). The very word itself is printed in bold and in colour in some … (more–>)

Another Zen tale

Carrying on in the tradition of my last post, here’s another of the stories from Paul Reps’ book, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Before I repeat it, consider the story of Diogenes, the Greek philosopher and founder of the school of Cynics (cynos is Greek for dog, thus the “dog” philosophers). Diogenes once complained that, “Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.” I … (more–>)

On being a left wing pinko socialist

My left-wing, pro-union friends would be amused to hear me called a “leftie.” They generally think of me as right as Steven Harper. The only difference to them, I suppose, is my unwillingness to sell Canada to the highest corporate bidder (Chinese or American…). My right-wing friends think I’m somewhere between Karl Marx and the late Jack Layton. I’ve always thought of myself as a “political … (more–>)

ID’s deep roots in creationism

Proponents of creationism often try to deny that “intelligent” design (ID) is merely creationism wrapped in a fake lab coat to make it look like it’s pals with science. It isn’t. They’re not buddies, didn’t go to school together, and don’t ‘like’ each others Facebook pages. ID is merely a tawdry, paper-thin attempt to hoodwink the gullible who can’t see past the plastic pocket protector that … (more–>)

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

There’s a truly great moment in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, when Macbeth voices his last, and perhaps most moving, soliloquy about the fleetingness of life, and the meaning of what we do on this mortal coil. Life is devoid of meaning, he says, and our days are as short as a candle’f brief flame. The ignorant march onward, regardless: To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this … (more–>)

Propaganda, PR and Spin

What is propaganda? The word gets thrown around easily by people who obviously mean “anything we dislike or don’t agree with.” It’s a pejorative often used by a small group to describe anything official that any level of government puts out, no matter how benign or factual. Libertarians, for example, often grouse that government information about, say the efficacy of flu shots or the safety of … (more–>)

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