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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

America's Lack of Deductive Reasoning

Most Americans are no longer able to think as well as our grandparents could. Many of us are a gullible lot, easily led by news tidbits that can be couched in such a way that they seem to make sense to the uneducated.

As I was driving yesterday, I tuned in to Rush Limbaugh's radio show. He was speaking scornfully of environmentalists who warned us 10 years ago that our seas were in danger. He pointed to a new discovery of very old sealife which scientists had thought was extinct, and told us that this discovery was proof that the "environmentalist wackos" were wrong.

Huh? All that shows is that we've developed better technology so that we are able to find things that we wouldn't have discovered years ago. For all we know, there could be even more of this ancient sealife if we weren't dumping garbage, spilling oil and toxic waste, and over-fishing. Obviously if it's ancient, it's been hardy enough to last through many thousands (if not millions) of years.

But think of what the uneducated, simplistic blue-collar worker just got from that statement: "Environmentalists said the oceans were getting sicker, but we've discovered new sealife, so the environmentalists lied and pollution isn't harming the oceans at all."

Sad, isn't it?

This is the mentality that is malleable. This is the mentality that is easily lulled into a false sense of security. This is the mentality that believes the Patriot Act would only be used for terrorists, and it wouldn't hurt us to lose some or all of our Constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights. This is a mentality that existed among the middle- and lower-class Germans in the 1930s.

25 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

Right on Saur!!!!

I am reminded of a blogger site that I used to comment on frequently but eventually got banned by the owner because she hated me pointing out flaws in her logic just like the one you mentioned by Rush. Now I just read it silently to stay on top of what those without good reasoning skills are thinking because sometimes, perhaps too much of the time, they are in positions of influence or power.

jsull said...

the germans had their guns confiscated and their educational system taken over also. Provided I can keep my guns and choose what schools and what cirriculum (sp) my children have taught to them the JS's will be ok i'm thinking. You are right about rush tho he does attempt to sway the folks. Gotta love him tho he's a catrillionair on account of it, i wish I would have been so smart that I could have taken zero education and made more than most CEO's, I do have the zero education down pat!!! The same holds true for those who are selling that the unions are good for america or the indicvidual worker, everyone except the union heads lose in that deal.
js

uncle joe said...

Rush is right sometimes and sometimes not.Right. Right?

Miss Cellania said...

Raw facts are just raw. There is an art to what you do with them... sometimes a nefarious art. You can manipulate statistics in a way to make any point you want, without ever changing the numbers. I think it was Mark Twain who said, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Anonymous said...

And try explaining the concept of syllogism to some of these people.

The Lazy Iguana said...

What are you doing listening to Rush? He has been saying the same crap for years now. To listen to his show, you have to think that climate change and pollution research is junk science, and think that creationism should be part of science class.

It also helps to be addicted to pain pills. Lets not forget that for many years Rush said that "all drug abusers should go to jail for life" and that "rehab does not work". So why did he check himself into rehab and not jail?

The bottom line is people like Rush simply do not care. They just want to make their money today. Who gives a crap if most of Florida may be under water in 50 years? By then Rush will be dead. Who cares if fish stocks are declining? By the time they are gone Rush will be dead. His formerly fat ass before he lost all the weight because of the drug addiction will be 6 feet underground - so it is not his problem.
It is someone else's problem.

So why not burn up all the oil we can today? Why not dump all kinds of untreated crap into the ocean? After all, a profit can be turned today! And we all know that these "liberal bias" scientists just want to shut down the economy because they all hate money.

Rush is a turd. Quit listening to his show or you might start to become like the typical listener. Symptoms include tooth loss, mouth breathing, sporting a mullet hair style, brain loss, general ignorance, the lack of motivation to understand anything more complex than a beer bottle, and pompous ass-ism.

EmmaSometimes said...

Creationism should be part of science class. But that debate is older than Rush and for me a bit more palatable. hehe.

Saur
I'd love it if you could chime in over at my last blog post...velly intellesting.

QUASAR9 said...

Yep, Saur
the only reasoning we are not wallowing in our own much and garbage is because dedicated environmentalists, and necessity (the mother of invention) means for the last thirty years and more we have being counteracting the damage to our environment from the previous 100-150 years.
Breathing life back into 'dead' rivers, cleaning up our chenical & petro-chemical industries, which leaked pollution openly into our rivers and oceans - and cleaning up our cattle industry and agriculture which were dumping untreated sileage and excess fertilizer into the ground, our rivers and water table.

And of course cleaning up our own effluent - now mostly recycled, and cleaning up our garbage now either recycled or 'incinerated' to reduce demand for landfill sights.

If it weren't for dedicated people and legislation, skeptics who mocked and fought these measures every step of the way would have us swimming in our own pooh and trudging thru our own garbage, breathing toxic pollution.

Mind you one beneficiary of modern socxiety and human activity has been the Medical profession and pharmaceutical industry - noe treating more illnesses, sickness and diseases than in the whole history of mankind. But we are a resilient (even if often dumb) species.

Anonymous said...

Saur: I see where you're leading with your thoughts and I agree but Americans aren't the only ones who let this kind of stuff pass as intelligent debate, you're not alone in dregs of the gene pool.

Ed: I've so been there man, getting banned from extreme right-wing places as you consistently point out the flawed thinking. It's like going back to view a car crash...

JS: glad to see that the me-me-me culture hasn't rubbed off on you...if you've got a gun and your kids have a school you'll be ok...oh dear.

Emma: creationism should not be part of anything other than joke school where people learn what a bad joke looks like.

js said...

Always looking out for the individual here DHG.

You can always count on me for that.
js

The Lazy Iguana said...

Ill go along with creationism in science class when chemistry, physics, and biology is part of Sunday School and Sermons.

Now if a school wants to have a philosophy class (my high school did, and I was in it for two years) then it could fit in there. I remember reading Saint Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard (Christian Existentialism) Or if there is a theology class then of course it would be included. The right teacher in a comparative religion class would be a great elective in high school.

But not in science class. As it is there is not enough focus on science in schools. This is why fools like Rush can "prove" everything is fine because new species are discovered in the oceans (pollution? What pollution!?!). Trying to turn science class into a battleground for theology is not acceptable.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Well, you know how I feel about the dumbing down of Americans.

It is indeed a sad, and frightening human condition.

Saur, I am wishing you and your family a very happy holiday.

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

I don't know about the seas but when I use to fish in Clearwater Bay before Island Estates and the causeways I sure caught a lot more fish than I do now.

Is that a run on sentence?

Lucy Stern said...

I think we are having a little bit of both here: Some global warming and some enviromental climate changes that happen over the years.

Why aren't the Democrats renewing the tax credits for alternative fuels? The don't want us to burn oil and gas but they aren't helping with the study and technology of alternative fuels....

Merry Christmas everyone!

Anonymous said...

I watched a program the other day about the Nigerian scammers. It totally boggled my mind that intelligent and successful business men were actually thinking these crap e-mails were legit and contacting these thieves, giving them their bank info etc! It`s a huge business there and actually is almost an honorable thing to do. Scam Americans. Even students were doing it. There are rooms full of computers where one can go and write up some fake letter!

tea
xo

Anonymous said...

Creationism should NOT be part of science class. There is no scientific evidence supporting creationism theory. There IS scientific evidence supporting evolution.

By that LOGIC, girlfriend, Scientology should be taught in science class.

Go Oscar!

EmmaSometimes said...

Matt,
hehe, that debate could go on for years. (also known as I disagree, respectfully)

Lazy Iguana
I don't listen to Rush because he annoys me. Period. Although from Rush's comments posted here, he speaks of what he does not know. His reasoning is like standing in front of a warehouse and saying there is no fire when the back of the warehouse is blazing. It's about the big picture.

When it comes to school, I believe God created all things. So, for me there is no separation of Creationism and science. I will not even attempt to further argue my case due those who are prejudice and spout hate speech when Christian belief (my religion) is involved. In other words, it's not worth it. hehe. As a side note and this now, pointedly: I truly appreciate your candor and respect when you comment. Your arguments are well thought out (as are Saurs) It is clear even though you may disagree, your respect for others and differing opinions is refreshing. I value this kind of banter...open-mindedness, and strive to do the same. ~thanking you kindly~

uncle joe said...

Go Emma! Sometimes....

The Lazy Iguana said...

Lucy - it should be noted that the Democrats do not have power yet. The new congress is not till January. The question is why the Republicans have not used their last days in power to see that these tax cuts have not been extended.

We will know more about what the Democrats will do in a few months.

Emma - it is not an attack on religion. It is just that science is science. A subject that is based on empirical evidence, observation, and experimentation. It is a constant search for the natural truth - no matter what that truth is.

Religion is a matter of faith. It exists in the absence of empirical evidence. It does not require evidence as defined by science. Religion is not searching for anything - it is as it was 1,000 years ago, and will continue largely unchanged for another 1,000 years. In other words, it is a totally different subject.

We do not teach algebra in language arts class because the focus of those two subjects are just as different.

And as someone who used to teach, I can see where merging creationism in science class will go. Some smart ass kid will write "because God did it" as the answer to every question on a test. And then when the teacher marked the questions wrong a whole national circus would begin.

Neither subject would be well served by that.

EmmaSometimes said...

Lazy Iguana,

It is not an attack on religion. It is just that science is science.
I knew that you were not attacking my beliefs personally, and further my comment on those that did so, was absolutely not pointed at you.

Creationism is part of Christianity, I think there is no debating that. Creationism, however is not science itself but an element of it. Difficult as it must sound, faith-based beliefs of Creationism and scientific evidential beliefs *are* compatible. Just as one cannot speak the absolute phrase, "There are no absolutes" Science is not fully evidentially based. We know gravity exists although we don't ever see *gravity*. We see evidence of gravity, but never gravity itself. Perhaps we as humans are not 'evolved' enough to understand the full scope of how, what and why? Rhetorically speaking, of course.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, what is left, no matter how unlikely, is the truth."
- Sherlock Holmes/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

You say you can see where merging creationism in science class will go? And then when the teacher marked the questions wrong a whole national circus would begin.

I don't see why this hasn't already blown up, because, Creationism is part of mine and my children's religious belief's. Then I have teachers telling my children that my children's God did not make them nor did He make the world and further that we were once apes evolved over billions of years from oceanic and embryonic life forms. Teachers are telling my children the Bible is wrong. Of course, I would like these teachers to explain the errors in carbon dating, to produce evidence of even recent evolution and share with me how life began? ....and yet, my children and I are questioned for faith-based beliefs in science by these same teachers? I already have a problem with it and I'm sure I'm not alone. Heck, Christmas trees have been taken down in Government buildings for less....but that is for another post. ;o)

(sorry to hijack the comments, Saur)

Badoozie said...

oh holy mother of god...this debate over creationism and evolution is so....er....tiresome?
i can give you facts, yes scientific FACTS in regards to both "theories". instead of knocking down others thinking, i did what most logical people do, and i read up on it, a lot. and i came to the conclusion that it takes just as much faith to believe in evolution and that there is physical evidence to support creationism. so why do we keep having this conversation? hey, what uncle joe said. sometimes people are right, sometimes they are wrong. but they can't be both at the same time. but what they can be is respectful of others opinions and beliefs. i keep coming over here, and seeing a bunch of arguing about stuff, which is not helping anything or going to change anyones mind. to quote Joe Dirt "is this what you wanna be doing when Jesus comes back?"

The Lazy Iguana said...

Actually, we do not have to "see" gravity. We can measure it, and we can predict it. When objects are placed into orbit around Earth, or anything else, it is because of careful predictions about gravity. If the space craft is going too fast, a planet's gravity will not be able to grab it. Too slow and the space craft will be pulled in. Just as we can not "see" x-rays or electricity in a wire, we can measure it.

Carbon dating does not provide an exact date and time. It provides a range. The older something is the greater the range. Go back a billion years and that range may be a couple of hundred million years. Go back 200 years and that range may be only a few years plus or minus. Either way, we can tell if something is somewhat new or very ancient. The reason for the range is also known, and is taken into account. To say it is inaccurate is not looking at the whole picture. It is accurate within the range of the results.

We have observed evolution on a micro scale. The flu virus mutates yearly. Bacteria that used to respond to anti-biotics like penicillin are resistant to that drug. Bugs become resistant to pesticides. All this happens in rather short time scales. This fits in with the theory of natural selection.

Science teachers are not saying the bible is wrong. I knew many science teachers who were church going people. What they say is that there is a natural process than can explain many things. Science can explain the "how" part.

But religion is much better equipped to answer the "why" part. What is the meaning of life? Is there a higher purpose to our existence? What is "right" and what is "wrong"? How should we live our life? All these questions are beyond the scope of science to answer - but perfect for religion.

Creationism is part of EVERY religion. The accounts vary, but not really by that much. All involve a higher power, or higher powers, doing all the work. And this is fine. Not a single scientist is calling for the Bible to be re-written. And to be fair, religion should not call for science books to be re-written.

Matters of faith are just that. Faith is something you have because you believe. You do not need "proof". You do not need "evidence". All you need is faith in that for which you require nothing else. Everything else out there does not have to enter into your faith at all. So what if the Earth is billions of years old and not 6,000 years old? So what if the Earth was formed from a giant mass of space dust and rocks? If this "proof" that there is no God? Hardly.

Anonymous said...

Tell it like it is man!

Badoozie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm a nasty motherfucker, I chew on any old shit...