PATH: BS | Edumakashun

Sam Harris' Top Ten Myths About Atheism

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[Edumakashun]
Several polls indicate that the term "atheism" has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.

Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was "not at all to be tolerated" because, he said, "promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist."

That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims "never to doubt" the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.

Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

READ MORE | 2 comments since 2007-05-21 11:44:41 | Comment on this Article

Millions Of Previously-Classified Documents Now Available

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It will be a Cinderella moment for the band of researchers who study the hidden history of American government.

At midnight on Dec. 31, hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents will be instantly declassified, including many FBI cold war files on investigations of people suspected of being Communist sympathizers. After years of extensions sought by federal agencies behaving like college students facing a term paper, the end of 2006 means the government's first automatic declassification of records.

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Park Service Considers Geology, Noah Both Plausible

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[Edumakashun]
[Science]
It would seem that the National Park Service (NPS) isn't really SURE how old the Grand Canyon is. Despite vigorous protests from both Park Service scientists and leading geological societies, a book approved in 2003 for sale in National Park bookstores--which takes the somewhat unscientific view that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's Flood--is still available despite an official promise to perform a high-level policy review of the issue. Apparently three years was not long enough to accomplish such a review, or even to begin one or make a formal internal request for one. (Hmm, sounds a bit like those "studies" of global warming that always need a follow-up study, except that those studies at least actually take place.)

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Faculty & Students Protest Proposed Bush Library

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The New York Daily News reported last month that President Bush and “his truest believers” are launching “their final campaign — an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.”

Bush is attempting to raise $500 million to build a library and think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the alma mater of First Lady Laura Bush. “The more [money] you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert,” one adviser said. Much of the money will be used to build a “legacy-polishing” institute:

READ MORE | 4 comments since 2006-12-24 01:34:13 | Comment on this Article

What Have We Learned From History: Trojan Horses

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[Beating Dead Horses]
An enterprising group of Aussies have asked the question: What have we learned from history? Specifically in the case of the Trojan War, where the Greeks managed to get their army past the gates of Troy.

So have we learned anything? Let's find out...

READ MORE | 3 comments since 2007-07-08 10:04:13 | Comment on this Article

A Truth About Thanksgiving

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[So-They-Say]
Have you ever wondered where the origin of Thanksgiving came from? Do you think maybe what is taught in schools isn't completely accurate? You're not alone. Read one person's account based on in-depth research into the history of thanksgiving.

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Noam Chomsky on the Iraq War

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[Terroir-ism]
Here's a good video of a Noam Chomsky lecture in Colorado in 2003 which outlines a lot of insightful information regarding the United States and the invasion of Iraq

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I'll Take "Why Do Kids Like The Internet" for $50 million

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[Edumakashun]
[Media]
The independent grant-making MacArthur Foundation will spend $50 million (that's a 5 with seven zeroes after it) on a five-year initiative to study how and why young people use the Web, games, and gadgets to "learn, play, and communicate." Their opening hypothesis? "[T]he richest environment for learning is no longer inside the classroom but…online and after school." So they think young folks are getting online because it makes it easier for them to LEARN?! WRONG--Young folks are getting online to express how stupid everyone but them is on their MySpace blog, watch the latest inane video on YouTube, download free music, and (primarily) to scour the internet for thousands of hours of sweet, sweet porn. There, I've saved them 5 years and $50 million.

READ MORE | 1 comment since 2006-11-09 03:23:21 | Comment on this Article

Canadian University Distances Itself From Ivy League "IQitude"

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[Edumakashun]
[Beating Dead Horses]
Emblazoned with a picture of George W. Bush (who graduated from Yale in 1968), Lakehead University in northern Ontario has set up a web site which states, "Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn't necessarily mean you're smart." as part of their new recruitment campaign.

I can appreciate what they're trying to do, but I don't think college students these days go to universities to "get smart." (On the other hand, if you're a dumbass and you think going to college will make you the most powerful man in the country, that could be quite a draw) Maybe it is more effective and less humorous in Canada? By the way, I just made up "IQitude"... Stephen Colbert eat your heart out!

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Richard Scarry Child's Book Made Politically Correct

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[Sociology]
Recognize the book? Maybe from your childhood? Well depending upon how old you are you might notice some differences between the 1963 version of "The Best Word Book Ever" and the 1990s version, namely the elimination of any reference to native indians, the old west, or other colorful characters, the complete androgonization of pronouns and career titles, and dad doing the dishes. There's a neat web site that details the changes this revered children's book has undergone in the last few decades.

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"Students For Academic Freedom" Push Neocon College Agenda

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[Edumakashun]
Right away, my BS detector goes off when I hear of ambiguously-sounding organizations like "American Freedom Coalition" or "Heritage Foundation". This latest incarnation of bogus non-argumentative pseudo-PACs is the "Students for Academic Freedom" - a Republican-funded college-based set of cell groups trying to push legislation through Congress to shut down so-called liberal professors and leftist points of view on college campuses.

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Catholic School Principal: Students Blogging Get Suspended

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[Edumakashun]
When students post their faces, personal diaries and gossip on Web sites like Myspace.com and Xanga.com, it is not simply harmless teen fun, according to one Sussex County Catholic school principal.

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Rosa Parks... R.I.P.

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Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience in 1955 inspired the modern civil rights movement, died Monday in Detroit, Michigan. She was 92.

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First Lady Forgets Hurricane Name

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[Edumakashun]
Laura Bush on CNN, making an appearance to "Educate kids displaced by Hurricane Katrina" can't even seem to remember the actual name of the hurricane, twice. Aren't you glad our leaders are so on top of this hurricane situation?

READ MORE | 2 comments since 2005-12-22 22:01:02 | Comment on this Article

Reality Suppressed: Then and Now

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[Military]
As the world prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Saturday, some American media experts see uncomfortable echoes between the suppression of images of death and destruction then and coverage of the war in Iraq today.

As author Greg Mitchell lays out in an article in Editor & Publisher this week, in the weeks following the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. authorities seized and suppressed film shot in the bombed cities by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams to prevent Americans from seeing the full extent of devastation wrought by the new weapons.

Some of this footage is set to air on the Sundance channel starting Saturday.

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Reagan's Dirty Legacy: Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Hussein and More

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[Terroir-ism]
Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, has a very insightful photo essay about the history of the creation of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, America's training of Bin Laden, support for Saddam Hussein's gas attacks on Iranians, Saudi involvement and much more. It's a concise time-line of how the United States created the very enemies that are attacking us. One year these people are "Freedom fighters", the next they're "terrorists." One minute the U.S. is funding them; the next they're making back-room deals with their former allies' enemies and leaving them to die. Very interesting stuff. This isn't editorial -- these are the details that are regarded as factual issues leading up to the current situation.

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Government Slashes Budget of Public Broadcasting

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[Edumakashun]
[Television]
Apparently citing the perfection that is commercial television, our politicians have decided that public tv and children's education is a low priority.

A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

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Kansas Seeks To Redefine "Science" To Discredit Evolution

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[Edumakashun]
Six years after Kansas ignited a national debate over the teaching of evolution, the state is at it again, poised to redefine the meaning of "science" in an effort to discredit Darwin and the theory of evolution and pave the way for creationism and religion to be fundamental principals in the state's educational system.

READ MORE | 1 comment since 2005-08-23 08:28:39 | Comment on this Article

Revised Number of the Beast: 616

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A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616.

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Berkely Grads Identity Information Stolen

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[Edumakashun]
A laptop was recently stolen from the Berkely campus that contained personal information (including SSN) for more than 98,000 graduate students (or people that applied to grad school) at the college. What's more interesting about this latest heist is that this is primarily being made public because California is one of the only states in the country which has a law requiring companies to notify the public if they have a security breach. We'd never know about these things in most other parts of the country.

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