Comments by PScheffler

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Written on ‘Critical Thinking’ or Creationism in Tennessee Classrooms?:

in response to RickK:

As for the Kitzmiller v Dover trial, the shining lights of ID had their say in court. They had the chance to educate Judge Jones and the public. Dr. Michael Behe, who wrote that his discovery of "irreducible complexity" places him among the ranks of scientists like Newton, Lavoisier and Darwin, had his chance to illustrate the greatness of his discovery to the Judge.

He failed. His arguments failed, and his evidence failed.

The only thing that made the Kitzmiller trial unfair to Intelligent Design was that the trial took place in an evidence-based court.

Now, you may want the freedom, Lee, to teach topics in science class that fail every time they're subjected to an evidence test. But that is not in the best interest of our children.


If you REALLY wanted to teach critical thinking, you wouldn't cherry pick a few topics that YOU think are controversial (but which scientists don't). One does not teach critical thinking by picking a few pet topics and criticizing them.

A real critical thinking course would teach children how to evaluate evidence, would teach basic statistics, and would teach them how to recognize and counter common logical fallacies. A real critical thinking course would not use lobbying materials from the Discovery Institute. It would use books like:

"Don't Believe Everything You Think"
"Predictably Irrational"
"How We Know What Isn't So"
"The Demon-Haunted World"

And, a real critical thinking course would look at a wide range of topics: the existence of the supernatural, ghosts, John Edward's communing with the dead, media bias, evolution, global warming, MOND, dark matter, the historicity of Gilgamesh, Alexander, Moses, whatever. A huge range of topics are available to which children can really apply their newly improved critical thinking skills.

Methinks the same people promoting critical thinking as applied to evolution might just balk at promoting a course like I just described. Anyone who supports this bill, but doesn't support the course outlined above should question their motives.

I especially like the second half of RickK's April 6, 2011 6:37 p.m. comment about how this law creates (probably not intelligently but by accident) opportunities for teaching critical thinking in many contexts. I think if we encourage critical thinking the students will end up far better educated than if we simply try to give them all the details of what we currently think are the best theories for explaining the physical world.

Written on So Long, Hector Qirko:

Truly a gentleman and always the most tasteful guitarist. He plays what the music calls for, not to show off. I am thankful to have been able to enjoy his music in person for so long.

Congratulations are due him on the new position, and I'm sure the change will be good for him professionally, but I can't help wondering if he is another casualty of the endless budget cuts at UT.

Let's pack the courtyard tomorrow!

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