Intelligent designers plagiarize Harvard film

November 20, 2007

Ms. Smith at ERV caught Bill Dembski of the Discovery Institute looking for all the world as if he’s plagiarizing a video produced at Harvard showing the inner workings of a cell in animation.  She’s got the videos to prove it.

Uncomprehensible. Do these guys really represent Christians?

A blog hole in our galaxy!

November 20, 2007

NASA artist's conception of black hole at center of Milky Way GalaxyJust as a huge black hole can stifle star formation, so can a blog hole stifle post formation.

Woes at work and in volunteer positions — I’ve got a huge backlog of things that should be noted here, but are not noted yet — and may have to fall by the wayside.

Things change at work soon, I hope, and that should give me more time in more timely packets to think and find the stuff that needs to be here.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for bearing with me.

Image: NASA artist’s conception of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

DDT works! (When used carefully, in IVM, and sparingly)

November 20, 2007

Discover Magazine’s site has a solid story on DDT and malaria, “Can a maligned pesticide save lives.” Among other things, the article notes that Rachel Carson was scientifically accurate in her cited concerns that DDT was killing birds, and in fact later research of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed papers has born out her worries, and provided even greater evidence of damage.

Cover of November 2007 Discover Magazine, featuring an article on DDT's continuing use in the fight against malaria, and vindicating Rachel Carson's research citations with regard to injuries to birds.

Cover of November 2007 Discover Magazine, featuring an article on DDT’s continuing use in the fight against malaria, and vindicating Rachel Carson’s research citations with regard to injuries to birds.

The article details how DDT is used in integrated vector management (IVM), where pesticides are sparingly and carefully used to prevent their target pests from evolving resistance and immunity.  DDT’s abuse had bred widespread resistance in mosquito populations in Africa and other malaria-endemic locations, forcing the World Health Organization to abandon its ambitious program to eradicate malaria in a program dependent on DDT working for at least a year.

Steven Milloy and the Usual Suspects and Comrades in Junk Science, in the War on Science at AEI and CEI will start their distortions of the Discover article any moment now . . . three, two, one . . .

Let Xerox help you thank a soldier

November 20, 2007

One of the lessons of Vietnam was that we need to honor and thank our soldiers especially when they get sent to execute bad foreign policy. So, regardless your views on current conflicts, you could perform a service, with the help of Xerox, by sending a card, from here.

No cost. Try it.

Card drawn by a kid, for Let's Say Thanks at Xerox

Tip of the old scrub brush to Brother Dwight.

Constitution survives Chuck Norris roundhouse kick

November 20, 2007

Chuck Norris’s brain waves could be picked up on a transistor radio — nobody knows because he doesn’t think.This must be a television advertising spot, but I hope it’s not rated as a public service spot, since it encourages stupidity and illegal school board actions.

(Is it my imagination, or is Norris using the same bottle of orange hair dye that Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-Mars, used in the last 65 years of his life?)

Norris is promoting the suspect curriculum of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), a group of fundamentalist right-wingers who originally promoted “Thou Shalt Not Steal” with plagiarized material. Do not trust that curriculum.

Analysis of this curriculum for the Texas Freedom Network by a distinguished Bible scholar from Southern Methodist University, Dr. Mark Chancey, showed that the curriculum as revised still presents enormous legal problems — it promotes fundamentalist Christian theology — as well as being academically flaccid. Despite an update in late 2005/early 2006 designed to alleviate some of the more egregious errors of fact, Bible fact, and plagiarism, NCBCPS refuses to release their curriculum for analysis; copies obtained from schools in Texas show many of the old problems remain (see page 61 of this document).

Errors in Norris’s claims:

  1. The U.S. was not “founded on Biblical principles.” For Texas, teaching this would lead students astray of the state’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
  2. The Supreme Court has never ruled that it’s legal to teach with the Bible as a textbook. In obiter dicta in religion in the schools cases, the Court has noted that a non-sectarian, fair teaching of the Bible as literature, or as it relates to history, should be part of a full and complete education. Specifically, the Court has never ruled that a course such as the one Norris proposes would be legal; instead, the Court has held consistently that course content that appears to be religious indoctrination as this course, is illegal, a violation of students’ religious rights and and over-reach by government. School boards may not endorse one faith over another.
  3. The count of schools using the NCBCPS curriculum is inflated. The group refuses to identify any school using their materials, but their claims in Texas were found to be inflated when compared with the materials school districts actually used.

Religion has played a big role in U.S. history. No student needs to be converted to Christianity in order to study that role. Nor does the role of Christianity need to be exaggerated.

Good Bible curricula exist, open to inspection, passed by religious scholars, approved by First Amendment and education lawyers. See the materials from the Bible Literacy Project, for a good example. NCBCPS’s curriculum, the one Norris promotes, is not that approved, educationally valuable curriculum.

Tip of the old scrub brush to “Why, That’s Delightful,” in the post “Chuck Norris Fact #277,090 : He’s an idiot”

Below the fold: Texas Faith Network’s guidelines for using the Bible in public schools

Read the rest of this entry »

Practice, even with failure, more important than talent

November 20, 2007

Every teacher needs to get familiar with the work of Carol Dweck. She’s a Stanford psychologist who is advising the Blackburn Rovers from England’s Premier League, on how to win, and how to develop winning ways.

Your students need you to have this stuff.

A 60-year-old academic psychologist might seem an unlikely sports motivation guru. But Dweck’s expertise—and her recent book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success—bear directly on the sort of problem facing the Rovers. Through more than three decades of systematic research, she has been figuring out answers to why some people achieve their potential while equally talented others don’t—why some become Muhammad Ali and others Mike Tyson. The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.

What’s more, Dweck has shown that people can learn to adopt the latter belief and make dramatic strides in performance. These days, she’s sought out wherever motivation and achievement matter, from education and parenting to business management and personal development. [emphasis added]

I can’t do justice to Dweck’s work. See this story in Stanford Magazine.

See a significant update on this article, in October 2012, here.


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