Compulsory Courses for Any Curriculum; The Science Dilemma

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

Science is pervasive directly and indirectly in every phase of modern life. While the majority are not directly involved in science, they need to understand science and how it works. It is increasingly the underlying control of social, political, and economic decisions made by them or for them. They need to understand how it works, even if they don’t make it work. This knowledge must be a fundamental part of any school curriculum.

Climate skeptics struggle with getting the majority of people to understand the problems with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) anthropogenic global warming (AGW) story. It was the theme of my presentation at the first Heartland Climate Conference in New York and many articles and presentations since. The problem is much wider because it relates to the lack of scientific abilities among a majority of the population. Based on teaching a science credit for science students for 25 years, giving hundreds of public presentation and involving myself in education at all levels from K-12, to graduate, and post-graduate, plus the transition to the workplace, I believe a fundamental mandatory change in thinking and curricula are required.

I believe abilities are an example of the ongoing nature/nurture argument. People can learn an ability, but can only achieve a high level of competence with an innate ability. For example, most people can learn the mechanics of teaching, but only a few are ‘gifted’ teachers. These concepts are particularly true of certain abilities, such as music, art, languages and mathematics. From my experience, I learned that most people with these gifts struggled with understanding why other people cannot do as they do. Often, they do not even see their ability as unique, and some deride those without their ability. On a larger scale than just mathematics, which philosophically is an art, is the distinction of abilities between those who are comfortable with science and those who are not.


Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the national percentage of students with High-Level Science Skills. Presumably, they are the ones who will pursue careers that require that level. Figure 2 shows the number of university graduates in science-related programs. By combining the data, it is reasonable to assume that approximately 15 percent of the population are comfortable with science.


Figure 2

Figure 3 appears to confirm that percentage as it shows the percentage of Undergraduates from the University of Michigan. Those graduating with a science degree include Engineers 3 percent, Mathematicians 5 percent, and Sciences 7 percent, for a total of 15 percent.


Figure 3

I was involved in many curricula fights, few of them ever resolved much. Ever subject area and discipline considered theirs essential to an education. They failed in achieving curricula useful to the student and society. This was because they were controlled by people ensuring what interested them or what ensured their job, rather than what the student needed to become an effective informed citizen. Students are not given the tools to avoid being exploited. Indeed, sometimes I think the system keeps them ignorant so it can exploit them as adults. Peoples of the Rainforest teach their children what they need to survive in the real and dangerous world in which they live. We don’t do this at any level. For most North American university or college students the experience is simply a socially acceptable and ridiculously expensive form of unemployment. Most of them learn more about life and themselves in part-time and summer jobs.

Michael Crichton, best known for his scientific novels like Jurassic Park, was a graduate of Harvard Medical School. He wrote an interesting novel, State of Fear, that used global warming to illustrate how environmentalists misuse science for a political agenda. This misuse works because 85 percent of society are unable to know what is happening. However, there are other ways to determine that misuse is occurring. For example, I am not a mathematician, but I do understand the scientific method. I knew from the start that the goal was to ‘prove’ the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis, not to disprove it. Richard Lindzen’s comment very early in the debacle that the consensus was reached before the research had even begun resonated with me immediately.

It is true that the devil is in the detail. I did not have the skills to detect what Michael Mann did to create the ‘hockey sick’, but knew from knowledge of climate history and other evidence that something was wrong. To quote Popeye as my philosopher of record, “I don’t know how’s youz duz it, but youz duz it.” It took the skills of Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick to identify how it was done. It was the nail in the coffin, but the coffin was already under construction. Worse, the coffin is still not finished.

Crichton also gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on September15, 2003. Here are his opening remarks.

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.


We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

The main theme of his talk is the political use of environmentalism as a religion for indoctrination and control. His concluding remarks state:

Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race. That’s our past. So it’s time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

I agree, but how do you resolve the problem of science being the answer when 85 percent of the people don’t understand science? I agree with Crichton about Environmentalism, but it is a wider problem. Every aspect of society is a function of science and technology that is vulnerable to political manipulation.

For me, the obvious answer is to have compulsory courses in Science. They should occur in Elementary, Middle, High School and College and University. Everyone needs to know what science is, how it works, and how it evolved. If everyone knew about the scientific method the challenges I faced in my first presentation before a Canadian Parliamentary Committee would not have occurred.

The hearing involved the issue of ozone. I did not want to attend because I knew it was pure political theater designed to exploit an environmental issue. I had no choice; it was a quasi-judicial hearing with incarceration the threat for failure to appear.

I was grouped with two other science people and we had less presentation time in total than the five “Friends of the Earth.” (Think of the arrogance of that name; if you are not in our group you are not a friend of the Earth.) I expected that bias. Biases are only problems if you are not aware of them. I also realized that the politicians knew little or nothing about science. However, the presentation of one of the scientists disturbed me most. He presented data of ozone levels over Toronto for a period when I knew there were no such measures; he particularly stressed one very low reading. I realized this was computer model generated data. He did not explain this to the politicians who thought it was real data. In a break after his presentation, I asked if he knew about the scientific method and was surprised when he said no. I decided at that point to break protocol and replace my submitted presentation with an impromptu explanation of the scientific method.

This began by explaining, as a geochemist colleague put it, that people think science provides answers. It does, but only rarely. Science works by asking and vetting questions. The questions are presented as a hypothesis based on assumptions. Other scientists, acting as skeptics, challenge the hypothesis by testing the validity of the assumptions. In other words, they try to disprove the hypothesis. I told the politicians that the CFC destroying ozone hypothesis was untested.

I then explained that a scientific hypothesis was akin to speculation based on a few selected facts. That science was constantly creating hypotheses, which in this time of environmental hysteria, received media attention but also attracted people seeking research funds. I told them I could produce several hypotheses based on a few facts that presaged global disasters. I gave one example, the potential collapse of the Earth’s magnetic field and the resulting damage to plants and animals without the protection it provided. I wanted to know what my government planned to protect the citizens.

The challenge for scientifically illiterate politicians, I subsequently found out there was only one who had BSc in biology, was to decide which of these threatening speculations warranted their attention. The current response is to fund those that will advance their career. They do this partly because of the self-serving nature of people and politics, but also, because they are ill-equipped to make a better judgment. If they knew and understood science and how it works it would be different. It certainly would be different if they knew the constituents knew.

If people knew that science involves constantly asking questions and only occasionally finding answers their understanding is measurably improved. The few acceptable answers are only those that withstood challenges and eventually made accurate predictions. All skeptics would need to do is show, to an educated mostly non-scientific public, that a hypothesis failed most challenges and produced incorrect predictions without having to involve the arcane scientific complexities that baffle the 85 percent. As I explained in another article, Aaron Wildavsky understood this when he chose only non-science graduate students, members of the 85%, to investigate environmental threats already being exploited. They found none of them withstood scrutiny.

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May 15, 2016 12:08 am

Education is actually free here in Finland and as such everyone is expected to go to university.
That plays a big part in the success.

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 12:54 am

..Nothing is FREE…Someone, somewhere, pays for it !

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 3:53 am

It is free here in Norway too. Look how much it helps.

Steinar Midtskogen
Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
May 15, 2016 4:05 am

Anything above average is considered elitism in Norway, so what’s cultivated in our schools is the mediocre.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
May 15, 2016 4:29 am

MIT is $60k per year. But it’s the hard frost killing my newly planted apricot trees right now that makes me a skeptic.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
May 15, 2016 4:48 am

Steinar Midtskogen
May 15, 2016 at 4:05 am
Anything above average is considered elitism in Norway, so what’s cultivated in our schools is the mediocre.
Where as here in Finland, society expects you to go to Uni. If you have no job, if you want any support you gotta go to school or find work, no sitting on your behind.
Education is available to everyone here, so everyone can have an elite education, which is good.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
May 15, 2016 4:50 am

Norway’s problem is then social. If it is free, then there is education equality, anyone can have an elite education. If they are not taking it up, that is a question for society as to why, Steinar made an interesting point.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
May 15, 2016 2:28 pm

Does the Finnish government realize that not everyone is suited for college? What happens to the inevitable ones who can’t keep up with the curriculum? Do they get “I participated!” degrees?

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 4:51 am

Steinar Midtskogen
May 15, 2016 at 4:05 am
Anything above average is considered elitism in Norway, so what’s cultivated in our schools is the mediocre.
Is the Dystopian left in Norway?

Steinar Midtskogen
Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 8:30 am

Mark May 15, 2016 at 4:51 am: Is the Dystopian left in Norway?
The public school is a political tool to level out social differences, and perhaps some will see that as a sign of the dystopian left.

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 10:17 am

Nothing is FREE Mark, the citizens of Finland PAY for all that “free” education with higher income taxes and fees than the citizens of other countries pay. Finland also offers “FREE” college to citizens from other countries, as long as they pay their own living expenses while they study in Finland. I wonder how the Finnish people feel about THAT….
The problem with this whole topic is that what qualifies as “science” curriculum varies from university to university and country to country, even state to state. Progressive universities are incorporating more and more “social science” into their programs, and using less and less fundamentals like the Scientific Method, and logic.
And statistics are just tools as well….they don’t always reveal “the truth” well. Let’s examine what you call “the success”:
For example, the OP talks about how many “science” graduates there are in Finland, and yet, if you look at linked article, the metrics of scientific advancement/success- journal publications, annual governmental spending towards R and D, and number of patents held on medical, tech, and scientific products-the US is still #1. We spend more, we publish more, we develop more advanced products in the “scientific” field, and we have more people with PhD’s than any other country.
Finland ranked #25. I wouldn’t call that much of a “success” myself.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Aphan
May 15, 2016 1:28 pm

There is no adjustment for population in the Scientific American tabulation, making direct comparison between the U.S. and Finland ridiculous!

george e. smith
Reply to  Aphan
May 17, 2016 6:09 pm

Well “Free” education sounds like a worthy goal. But when it is free, and the student has no skin in the game, then what does it matter what (s)he chooses to study.
If you had to come up with the wherewithal to pay for your education, you might be a bit more selective in your choice of studies.
Like maybe studying something that can earn you a living, for YOU and YOUR family.
San Francisco State University has its famous Ethnic Studies School.
Yes its a school for racism, and a disproportionate number of its students, would seem to be more desirous of eliminating racism, rather than teaching it.

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 10:27 am

Whether simply correlated or causative , Finland has long been recognized as having perhaps the highest usage of APL per capita in the world . Google “APL idioms” and you will immediately be offered “finnish apl idioms” leading to .
As Ken Iverson quoted A. N. Whitehead in his Turing Award lecture Notation as a Tool of Thought :

By relieving the brain of all unnecessary work, a good notation sets it free to concentrate on more advanced problems, and in effect increases the mental power of the race.

Works for me .

Reply to  Bob Armstrong
May 15, 2016 9:08 pm

Yay! A long time since I’ve seen any reference to APL. I’ve forgotten pretty much all I used to know of it 🙁

Reply to  Bob Armstrong
May 16, 2016 2:53 pm

:B-) The Florida state dept. of Educationism used to use APL for budget work, db management, tracking back-ups… But then my room-mate was eccentric that way.

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 10:52 am

In reply to Steinar, who knows about Jantelov, which is a fact of life in Scananavia (but not Finland?). I associate it with socialism, where equality means no one can be special. See also American Exceptionalism. I remember something from Victor Hugo (?) where nobody is allowed to be a hero — it makes the rest of us look bad.

There are ten rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, all expressive of variations on a single theme and usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.
The ten rules state:
You’re not to think you are anything special.
You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You’re not to think you know more than we do.
You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
You’re not to think you are good at anything.
You’re not to laugh at us.
You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
These ten principles or commandments are often claimed to form the “Jante’s Shield” of the Scandinavian people.

Michael 2
Reply to  Toto
May 15, 2016 2:18 pm

I disobey 8 of the 10 Jante rules. The two I obey inadvertently are: I don’t laugh at people and I doubt I could teach them anything. You can always tell a {Swede, Norwegian, etc} but you cannot tell him much.

Reply to  Toto
May 21, 2016 4:42 pm

Seems to me that this could be condensed as ” Don’t come first if you can come last, you will get more applause”

Reply to  Mark
May 16, 2016 10:57 am

In my experience, few people value what they don’t have to work for.
This is especially true of education.

george e. smith
Reply to  Mark
May 16, 2016 11:33 am

Well I would like to see a more specific break out of “Science” education, as I’m not convinced the above chart is realistic.
For starters, MATHEMATICS, and COMPUTER SCIENCE. What fraction of the result do they include, because NEITHER ONE of those subjects is SCIENCE.
They both are ARTS. Yes extremely important, and valuable, skills (marketable). But neither one involves “Observations and experiments.” So neither relates to the real universe and all that goes on within it.
Mathematics is a valuable and essential tool of scientists, and computer science is simply a mechanized implementation of some of the manipulations of mathematics.
Certainly Science, whether the physical sciences, like Physics, Chemistry, or the biological sciences would be severely constrained without mathematics, and today without the results of the computer science discipline. But they still are just tools of science; and also often the tools of mischief as well.
So I wonder where Finland and Japan figure in the statistics, if you excluded mathematics and computer science.
As for the “Social Sciences”; it seems to me they are neither social, nor scientific.
They are the idle machinations of persons who for some reason can’t bring themselves to mind their own business.

Reply to  Mark
May 17, 2016 9:45 am

If it’s free, then adding say a million or two immigrants won’t cost anything.

May 15, 2016 12:09 am

its free in Germany too isn’t it?

Reply to  Mark
May 16, 2016 3:04 am

Yes, but in Germany you can only go as far as your intellect and ambition take you. If you don’t make the grade in high school you don’t get to university. If you don’t make university then you might make technical school…or not if you won’t apply yourself or if you’re just not smart enough.

george e. smith
Reply to  MikeC
May 16, 2016 11:59 am

Sounds very practical to me Mike.
When 65% of ALL US University PhD in Physics graduates, NEVER ever find a full time permanent job working in their special field of expertise, it seems like a great waste of resources.
But the 39% in the category of “Social sciences” ; which are neither science, nor social, reported in this study, seems to be the real travesty.
I was very fortunate to attend a “Technical High School”, where I could learn the basic elements of every ordinary trade occupation, as well as pursue more academic things.
So if I needed to cut, plane, bend, machine, shape, weld, wire, build, hammer, file, weigh, whatever, I could do any and all of those things, before I ever saw the inside of any University campus building.
And all of those common trade skills were invaluable, when it came to helping a startup LED company get off the ground on a shoe string, and accomplish things with at least one order of magnitude less money involved than our principal competitors burned through.
In one instance, we added a seven dollar clock motor to an ordinary $300 off the shelf Temperature controller, to achieve what our main competitor did with a $35,000 computer system. So they figured we might have four such systems, in our factory; when in fact we had 72 of them. (and we darn near decided to build 72 more (but didn’t need to))
Higher Education may be one of the greatest money wasting enterprises of all time.
And the purveyors of it, have a vested interest in keeping their gravy train rolling on.

george e. smith
Reply to  MikeC
May 16, 2016 12:02 pm

PS: NO ! It was not I who came up with the $7 gizmo. Somebody else with his feet on the ground also.

Reply to  MikeC
May 16, 2016 3:11 pm

Will confirm ges’s statistic. Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn, B. Lindsay Lowell, Michael Teitelbaum and others did studies of USA STEM job markets and found we were turning out 2-3 times as many STEM grads as were landing STEM-related jobs (year after year since at least about 1999), and have testified the same to congressional committees. Statistician and CS professor Norm Matloff looked at Intel and found they employ very few STEM PhDs…nowhere near enough jobs to avoid massive waste of STEM talent.
And his other point about academic credentials being beside the point has also been confirmed by NSF. Some 20% of practicing engineers and 40%-44% of highly-skilled computer wranglers do not have university degrees, and HS students & people with music degrees can also make very good software product developers. Florman, president of one of the professional engineering societies confirmed that the split between academics and “muddy boots” engineers was about 59-50 in 1900 and remains healthy.

george e. smith
Reply to  MikeC
May 17, 2016 6:29 pm

My “statistics” on the PhD employment success rate, was from a study done by the American Institute of Physics, and published I believe in Physics Today.
They found 30% got full time permanent jobs in their field of expertise, being paid to do what they were experts at. Another 5% got short term part time jobs in their field, but then had to basically go and find a job doing something else quite unrelated to their specialty.
The majority of the 65% ended up as permanent post doc fellows, in some institution or other.
If you do your PhD thesis on something your mentor suggests you do, because nobody else has published any papers on that subject, so you will be the first, and the most often cited.
Well you also are likelu to be the world’s leading authority on that subject, which is another way of saying you are the only person on earth with ANY interest in that.
So nobody is going to pay you to work in your specialty, unless you study how to do something useful.
PS I should reiterate this study was for Physics PhDs only. Can’t comment on any other disciplines.
Yes I know there are jobs out there where a PhD in the field is absolutely essential and mandatory. Don’t go getting the idea I’m down on PhDs. They are worth their weight in gold, in the right areas of expertise. I chose to go into industry and engineer, with my bachelor’s degree; but as a Physicist; not as an EE or somesuch. When push came to shove, I could go right back to the bare metal if need be.

May 15, 2016 12:46 am

“Ever subject area and discipline considered theirs essential to an education. ”
Should that be EVERY ???

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Marcus
May 15, 2016 1:31 pm

If you can make sense of it as written then feel free to go with that.

May 15, 2016 12:47 am

Very relevant article.
I feel students are no longer taught to look at things from more than one viewpoint and tend to take the teachers/professors viewpoint as the only true one.

Jay Hope
Reply to  mikebartnz
May 15, 2016 5:45 am

I agree, students are not taught to look at things from another viewpoint. They just parrot what their tutors tell them. And the fact that universities are accepting anyone (at least in the UK), doesn’t help. I’ve got lots of friends with science degrees, and they know f**k all about anything. One of my friends has a degree in astronomy, and she actually thinks you can see the American flag on the Moon from Earth. Her math skills are awful, and she’d never heard of a synodic period. And never mind the students, most of the tutors are crap. One well known planetary science tutor had never heard of lunar nodes! We need good science, not just statistics about which country has the most science graduates. That’s just window dressing. Call me jaded……

Mike Restin
Reply to  Jay Hope
May 15, 2016 3:29 pm

That means the 97% number is true.
They do believe!

Reply to  mikebartnz
May 15, 2016 7:02 am

The fact that so many of our students today are engaged in “Social Sciences” says it all about where all the “social justice warrior” batshit ideas are coming from–instead of an actual understanding of the natural world.

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 10:02 am

To be ‘fair’, Social Justice used to be about urban planning and community development and had little to what radicals are pushing today. It all started in the 80s as a response to decaying urban neighborhoods. Cities around the states were not much different than what Detroit or Baltimore is today. But after the work was done, many radicals of the movement created the social justice courses that we see today…They still beliveve they’re in the 80s thus all of the madness. Meanwhile, those, like my own mother who is pushing 70 years of age, have moved on to improve impoverished areas around the states while her counter parts are poisoning the minds of future generations.

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 10:24 am

Dog, the term “social justice” has been around a lot longer than just since the 1980s. It used to be about actual just societies, and it’s premises were far more pure and just than they are by those who spew the terminology today.

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 12:16 pm

I never said it started in the 80s and you should know better than to quote wikipedia which is known to be a hot spot for disinformation for politically and emotional hot spots. I was simply stating the flip side to it all.

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 12:24 pm

i mean i do state that the results of the 80s is in part responsible for the actions of those today…[trimmed] semantics…use ur intuition.
[Better to use your editor. .mod]

David Ball
Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 12:44 pm

Can someone explain “Feminist Glaciology” to me?

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 1:18 pm

Yeah, I should have waited to get home before posting…Never write posts on a phone! Uhg, what a mess…

Reply to  Goldrider
May 15, 2016 2:05 pm

“Can someone explain “Feminist Glaciology” to me?”
I’d assume it’s what happens when you drink or eat something really cold way too fast with thoughts of patriarchy?

george e. smith
Reply to  Goldrider
May 16, 2016 12:05 pm

So just what the hell is “social justice” and what is fair about it ??

Judy W.
Reply to  mikebartnz
May 15, 2016 10:25 am

Students are now taught what to think, not how to think. They are then tested to a standardized test that is politically correct on information/thinking. This is what is done at my local community college where I no longer teach because I did not conform in my teaching methods (critical thinking and scientific methods). The US students today are like robots in their reasoning abilities.

Reply to  Judy W.
May 15, 2016 2:18 pm

I completely agree.
It’s as if the entire learning experience these days is compartmentalized into finite categories from which all students must follow, a narrative so to speak, in order to achieve their goals despite the fact that more often than, it’s throws them into life long debt from which they can never escape since bankruptcy laws don’t apply to higher education…It’s truly sickening.

george e. smith
Reply to  Judy W.
May 16, 2016 12:15 pm

Well Judy, they have to have a feeling of self esteem, don’t you see. So long as they follow the correct method, that is more important than getting the correct answer.
Hey ! Earth to ‘common core’ !! ; If you follow the proper method, you ALWAYS get the correct answer. In fact that is how you DEFINE what is the proper method.
Much of ‘what’ you learn in school, is obsolete or wrong, by the time you get out of school.
BUT ! , if you learned HOW TO LEARN, in school, it doesn’t even matter if the “info” is later discredited.

Reply to  Judy W.
May 16, 2016 12:26 pm

The basic philosophy of Common Core is the rejection of the teaching methods that produced moon landings, the Theory of Relativity, science, and medicine.
They presumed to produce a superior teaching method, when all they did was confuse the students (and their parents).

May 15, 2016 1:10 am

One of the problems is that elementary and secondary school mathematics teaching is very bad. Furthermore, administrators do their best to squash good math teaching.
One example of good math teaching that many people will be familiar with is Jaime Escalante. He was the subject of the movie Stand and Deliver. He showed that math can be taught to most students, even the disadvantaged, at a high level. You would think that the administrators would get excited and try to duplicate his success. It didn’t happen.
Another example is John Mighton. He has shown that most people can learn math at a high level with his program Jump Math.
John’s observation is that most people become bad at math the same year that they have a crappy math teacher. Since math builds on itself, they are usually done forever. An important part of John’s tutoring work is to convince the students that they are smart enough to do math. Only then will they think it is worthwhile to do the necessary work.

If a music teacher were to say, “Gifted children will simply pick up an instrument and play well; the rest will become only mediocre musicians,” we would take it as a sign of incompetence. Why then do we tolerate this view among math teachers? The Myth of Ability

We have crappy math and science education because most people don’t expect better. Once we know that excellent teaching exists, we can demand it. (And, no, just mandating more testing doesn’t work.)
Excellent is available. Check out Jump Math. Check out Finland.

Reply to  commieBob
May 17, 2016 12:36 am

My dad was a math major (wound up being a lawyer), and he is very opinionated about this subject. He tutored a LOT of “mathematically challenged” students who majored in everything from music to elementary education to various sciences. In order to help these students understand the concepts, he had to come up with explanations and connections that made sense to that student, rather than regurgitating the same lesson and language that the professor and textbook provided. This meant he had to look at the math in a very different way than he naturally did.
One of the problems he has identified in math education is that the people who become (or became) math teachers were the people who understood math as it is usually taught in schools and/or had an innate mathematical talent. This is not bad in itself, but it often means that the teacher does not think about the fact that many people do not naturally think in the “normal” math language. Some teachers are able to look at math concepts from multiple sides, and translate them into language that most people can understand. The tough part about math (and science) education is finding teachers who know the subject well AND are able to communicate the material to students in a way that the students understand.

Science or Fiction
May 15, 2016 1:19 am

Finland is the country which could not afford to implement the recommendations from the OECD to reform their educational system.
Norway could afford the reformations, and reformed their educational system in 1971, 1974, 1987, 1994, 1997 og 2006.
Now Finland is on top of the scale measuring scientific skills, Norway is at the bottom.

May 15, 2016 1:24 am

Yet another great article from Dr. Tim Ball. Thank you Tim, and long may you keep giving us your wisdom.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
May 15, 2016 4:36 am

Absolutely horrid article with little wisdom.
How ironic that Tim Ball uses a quote from a fictional character based on a scientific hoax. Popeye truly knows nothing as spinach is not a great source of iron. How many decades of children were tortured into eating spinach based on this scientific fallacy.
He accuses “Friends of the Earth” of being arrogant because they think everyone else is not a friend? Can Tim give us the logical fallacy in that thought? How arrogant is it to go before the Canadian Parliamentary Committee and presume it is his job to not inform or advise them, but to teach them about the scientific method?
There are lots of other problems with this article but I don’t have time.

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 4:43 am

You actually haven’t shown one problem with his article but have shown your pathetic bias.

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 4:53 am

You show up, rant about other stuff, and dont point out the parts of the essay you have problems with.
Too much emotion, come back when you have calmed down love, have a cup of tea

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 5:18 am

We should all be grateful to ‘Dan’ for taking the time (apparently his time is very valuable and he is quite busy) to stop by to give us his informed opinion well-reasoned thoughts scintillating insight informative commentsad hom.

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 8:52 am

I stopped at ‘absolutely horrid.’
Clearly you’re one of those gen. Zs/sjw/special snowflakes that find anything and everything offensive.
If you’re so ‘triggered’, why not hobble over to one of your safe-space echo chambers instead of subjecting yourself to the tortures of reason?
Why are you even here to begin with if you’re not prepared to give a sound rebuttal?

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 11:09 am

Dan, Dan, Dan,
Logical fallacies are not your strong suit….or maybe they are, as you seem to commit so many in such a short time. Depends on the point of view I suppose.
The whole “spinach” and “Popeye” thing was not a scientific HOAX. But nice try. “Popeye truly knew nothing about spinach” because in 1870, the German SCIENTIST (chemist) Erich von Wolf accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing the iron content in spinach-giving a 100 gm serving of spinach 35 mgs of iron, instead of 3.5 mgs. That “scientific mistake” wasn’t corrected until 1937.
Popeye was introduced into an already existing comic strip called Thimble Theater in a minor role and later became it’s star. He was not created based on a “scientific fallacy” or even eating spinach.
Also, Dr Ball says that the NAME “Friends of the Earth” is arrogant, not the actual people. And I would think it highly practical, rather than “arrogant” to inform and advise the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on the “Scientific Method” if even the other “scientists” advising and informing them didn’t even know what it was. How on earth can politicians determine what is true and what is false if they have no standard to measure information with?
It’s probably a good thing that you didn’t have more time, because if your short complaint was any example, you’d just be splattering more logically flawed rhetoric all over the place and contributing nothing in the end anyway.

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 3:43 pm

“There are lots of other problems with this article but I don’t have time.”
You don’t have the scientific literacy or the knowledge either.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 4:36 pm

This is a reflection of the egos of the instructors and the inadequacies of institutional philosophical bases. Serious efforts need to be made to stop professors from indoctrinating students via one sided perspectives.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 4:42 pm

Sorry, somehow my comment above landed in the wrong place. I was ranting about the lack of rigorous discipline in maintaining scientifically unbiased perspective in universities these days.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 4:47 pm

Yeah, and Dan? It must be very dark where your head is at. As a Canadian I am very thankful for any guidance prof. Ball can provide my country’s politicians. They are much like yourself I fear and greatly in need of illumination.

Reply to  Dan
May 15, 2016 7:07 pm

Ate plenty of spinach thanks to Popeye and a mother who knew how to cook fresh spinach. But canned or frozen spinach turns most anyone off from spinach.
Good in a salad too!

Reply to  Dan
May 16, 2016 8:29 pm

Beg to differ re your opinion of spinach as a source of iron
Perhaps spinach does not contain as much iron as Popeye thought but as a vegetable it’s not bad.
If he really wanted iron he should have chewed on a bit of raw liver but he’d have had to be careful about vitamin A poisoning

Science or Fiction
May 15, 2016 1:28 am

“I knew from the start that the goal was to ‘prove’ the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis, not to disprove it.”
Indeed, United Nations climate panel, IPCC, was heavily biased from the very beginning
Report of the second session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 28 June 1989 e.g.
“In welcoming the delegates to the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) Headquarters … The Executive Director of UNEP, hailed the fruitful alliance between World Metrological Organization and UNEP. The firm commitment of prof. Obasi, the Secretary-General of WMO, coupled with the determination of UNEP leadership, has resulted in a partnership which is helping to unify the scientific and policy-making communities of the world to lay the foundation for effective, realistic and equitable action on climate change.”

Reply to  Science or Fiction
May 15, 2016 3:33 am

Oscar Wilde
“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”

Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 1:33 am

My view of how science is understood is of two camps.
1. The cartoon camp.
2. The expert camp.
Most all of us are in the cartoon camp when we venture outside of our narrow field of focus.
1. The cartoon camp is myself reading an article in Science mag on Astroseismology of distant stars determining its magnetic properties, or of Climate Change prognostications for the WAIS or Greenland, as just two examples. Those graphs from those examples of much reduced and interpreted data, I have zero ability to pick apart, compare with other infield subject experts, or see the real limitations that are not explicitely laid out in the text of said article. I have to take them at face value. I have to trust the cartoon depiction from those experts, of the “goes into” and the “comes out of” arrows and lines as their best depiction of the raw data and the arcane reduction process, specific to the field, they used.
2. The expert camp: My doctorate is in molecular biology-immunology. I read, ponder, and compare those researchers’ manuscripts and published papers to my own base of supposed expert knowledge. A knowledge of others in the field, the controversies, the limits of the detection technologies, the common statistics used by my field, to form an opinion of what is sound and what is on quicksand waiting to dissapear. And even within the expert camp, there are of course subspecialties with which I am reduced again to the cartoon camp unless I want to expend considerable time to learn that field’s methods. For example, for me innate immunity is not my stdy area but related, where my focus was adaptive T cell immunity. I can learn the details, but still I can use common areas of uncertainty and statistics to form opnions of the reduced data being presented. I have no doubt an expert in solar seismology can make quick estimations of a solar wind physicist’s data presentations.
Outside one’s very focused speciality, everything else is cartoons. We can view the graphs, the data plots, but all that is derived from a raw datasets that is arcane to those not directly involved in that field.
But going back to the high school level or the freshman level of science taught in colleges, the opportunities to leave fmisleading “consensus” pseudoscience cartoon depictions in legions of college kids is possible.
So we see cartoon science now in high school science texts and freshman-sophmore college text books. There is so much vast breadthe that students of science are now expected to incorporate into their memory. Essentially those science cartoons portray a message. That message is one of “consensus,” here is the consensus science in this area. You must learn it and regurgitate it on a multiple choice exam, and then you too can get your BS degree (pun intended) to join the rest of the consensus trained undergrads. Tht is not to say one can not app,y scientific principle of uncertainty and skepticism in other fields. It is just with major additional effort that say a geologist may require indepth study of atmospheric physics to understand GHG theory the way an armospheric physicist working in the field does. The rub comes from the raw data. How do you go from a fle cabinet full of raw data to 3 or 4 graphs and charts of reduced data? That distinguishes the cartoon science from the in-field scientist.
In science, we scientists must inherently trust our colleagues are not intentionally misleading us. That is where we find ourselves today in outside scientists looking at climate scientists communicating climate alarmist messages.
Too often it appears, the out of field scientist is being taken for a ride (so to speak) by the climate scientist with an agenda, an agenda to deliver a politically convenient message.
Now clearly I have admitted I am of a cartoon science category when it comes to solar science, climate science, atmospheric science, the physical sciences in general. My training is in the biological sciences. Fortunately for myself, I have a BS in Civil Engineering so diverse, broad subject areas comes naturally. So given time and study I have invested, and an understanding of underlying statistics, the cartoon science of today’s climate science is quite profoundly lacking in “science.”

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 3:03 am

Well stated joelobryan and thanks for your article Dr Tim.
As an experienced petroleum engineer (retrained electrical engineer) I needed to self educate myself when the global warming issue became front page material and I started wondering about my ethics being employed by one if the largest oil companies. I started searching the web and spent considerable time evaluating blogs such as “De Smog Blog” and “Skeptical Science”. It was pretty obvious that these and others of that ilk were biased. (Thanks to my technical education and work experience). Stumbling onto Anthony’s blog was a revelation. Thanks Anthony and thanks to the many other authors and contributors, both skeptics and AGW supporters who give this site the balance you don’t see often on the other sites

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 4:42 am

While molecular biology requires specific training, when “climate scientists” produce statistical analyses other non Climate scientists can have more than a cartoon input if statistical analysis is their thing, a perfect example of that is Steve McIntyre.
When Marine Biologists claim man made global warming is causing mass Bleaching, a layman can dig up evidence that shows the mass bleaching has other more relevant and logically based conclusions, because blaming AGW when AGW is still a hypothesis (because all evidence has other equally and more scientifically grounded explanations) means the marine biologist claiming AGW is the cause, is not scientifically supported and they know it, which denotes a complete lack of scientific principle.
A paper can claim global warming is causing more precipitation, but a layman can look at water vapor trends and see the claim is bunk.
There are many areas of climate science a layman can look at, and research and indeed show that the paper is incorrect.
Scientific study should always be logical, the process of discovery must be logical, mathematical calculations must be logical. Laymen can spot contradictions and logical fallacies, an example is Muons, using them to “prove relativity” is indeed a logical fallacy any layman can recognise, and if the scientific argument, made with scientific findings, is a logical fallacy, then the science is not logical.
Conclusions of scientific studies also are not always supported by the data within the paper. Non scientists can look at data, some do it here all the time, and can analyse data and see the conclusions are bunk.
While specific sciences require understanding often the data does not require this understanding in order to analyse it, one just needs to understand the tools used to create the data.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 9:05 am

I agree the point about Steve McIntyre. But he had to devote many hundreds of hours of study and analyses to understand a field of science outside his own area of expertise to fully debunk the Mannian tree ring hockey stick. Many outside scientists do not have the time for that. We rely on the honesty of other scientists in other fields to be honest and self police their colleagues.
And where you say:

” A paper can claim global warming is causing more precipitation, but a layman can look at water vapor trends and see the claim is bunk.”

Someone had to create those water vapor trends from raw data to debunk a claim made elsewhere.
Q: What happens when the water vapor trend graph maker is in cahoots with the other pseudoscientists to sell a narrative to maintain a dogma?
A: The layman is continued to be taken by the deception. That is why what is going on in certain agencies of NOAA, NASA, and the UK Met Office will be so utterly destructive to the entirety of those organizations and science in general when nature finally reveals the hustle.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 5:05 am

When a chemist can’t understand a chemistry paper, we have a problem.
1 – The paper’s subject will become a dead end.
2 – So few people understand it that the result is pal review.
There’s a big difference between a work of total genius, like relativity, and stuff that’s crufted up with insider jargon. The jargon problem is largely solved by working on communication skills.

RC Saumarez
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 6:32 am

I am not sure that I agree entirely with the cartoon camp. Many scientific disciplines, including physics and engineering, require a sophisticated understanding of the principles of measurement and of data analysis.
Many of us are quite capable of understanding the methodology of many climate science measurements and analysis. To say that our opinions are dienfranchised because we are not climate scientists are absurd.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 7:14 am

What turned me against the consensus was Real Climate and the censorship practiced by “leading” Climate Scientists. It was clear they were closed to any new evidence that might upset their views on Climate.
For example, why do the ocean charts, drawn hundreds of years ago to an exacting level of detail that has never been repeated, why do these charts not have a correction for seal level rise in their datum?
It seemed to me that if sea level rise was real, the first place we would see it would be in the charts that thousands of mariners rely on every day to prevent the loss of ships and lives.
The charts are drawn to 1 foot accuracy in depth, and we are told sea level rise is more than 7 inches in the past 100 years, and the charts are older than this, so why are the chart datum not corrected for this?
But Real Climate dismissed my questions out of hand, without investigation. That is not the action of scientists, it is the action of activists in lab coats.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  ferdberple
May 15, 2016 10:54 am

Like you, Real Climate and a couple of other sites like it quickly turned me against what they were preaching. They pegged my B.S. meter. I had already heard too much about past climates (e.g, Medieval Warm, Little Ice Age, etc.) which they were heavily denigrating. So, I decided to take a look at the Vostok data myself. That did it. I knew then that they were preaching and propagandizing, not advancing the science. It didn’t take me long to find Climate Audit, which was just starting up. It eventually led me here and to Judith’s site. Can’t say I can now sleep any better at night, but at least I now know other people that verify my initial suspicions and my B.S. meter is still working.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 15, 2016 11:13 am

You can teach people about the BS Meter, but some of us are born with an “innate” BS sensor that is highly developed, and we’re rather “gifted” in discerning its presence, even in small amounts. 🙂

Reply to  ferdberple
May 15, 2016 11:30 am

Some examples of BS in science:comment image

Joe Crawford
Reply to  ferdberple
May 15, 2016 12:52 pm

I was lucky, I had a manager many years ago that had the best B.S. meter I have ever seen. I had to give him several presentations for a project I was working on. He may know absolutely nothing about the subject you were presenting but within 10 minutes and a couple of questions asked he knew exactly how much you knew about your subject, and woe be unto you if you tried to B.S. him.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  ferdberple
May 15, 2016 2:47 pm

All it took for me was Phil Jones’s remark about his data, and trying to find something wrong with it. A real scientist would have said yes, look at my data, and see how I reached my conclusions, and marvel at my genius! Only a fraud tries to hide behind the curtain.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 7:04 pm

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. The scientific method is the same regardless of the area of research. Any well-trained scientist can recognize when the method has been violated or misused. Case in point, when a climate scientist calls the output of a computer model ‘data’, or worse, proof. We can recognize logical fallacies, missing data, abuse of statistics, unstated confounding factors, and lack of consderation for other possible explanations and conclusions.
More than that, we know how to read the research. Sure, there may be many esoteric papers that we simple don’t know the terminology to understand the research, but we know that if a researcher touts the growing interest in his area, and justifies it with five footnoted references, that he is engaging in self-serving BS when all of those references are his own publications.
Sometimes you do not need to be an expert in cow manure to recognize it as such.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jtom
May 15, 2016 11:00 pm

But do you have the time and background to get into the weeds of what lays between raw data and a well honed data figure for a peer-reviewed journal?
My point is that all fields of science today areadvancing so rapidly on so many fronts, that one scientist getting hit by something outside his/her field must, in most cases, take it at face value and move. It is just that climate science has such a huge social and economic cost associated with the policy prescriptives it invokes makes its critical examination by all nscientist necessary.

May 15, 2016 3:21 am

For me, the obvious answer is to have compulsory courses in Science. They should occur in Elementary, Middle, High School and College and University. ~ Dr. Tim Ball
Dr. Ball, there is a problem with that obvious answer. I have worked at all levels that you mention and I have seen enormous amounts of indoctrination. If we could be assured that we had good instructors teaching the young the way science is supposed to work then we are on the same page. But if we have left-wing social justice warriors teaching the middle school kids that science “must reach a consensus” (I swear I heard a woman say that to 8th graders) then more science schooling might just make things even worse.
My solution is similar to yours, but I would get government totally out of the education business and privatize all schools and training. Government can pay the bills for those who can not pay themselves, but government must be taken out of the schools and universities if you want even an outside chance at teaching truth in schools.
OK, what if that is not going to happen? Then we need a large group of scientists (real ones, no one named “Mann” need apply) to help produce a series of videos (and complete curriculum for classrooms) on how the scientific method works. How the scientific method has improved our lives — there are millions of great examples to pick from. How logic and observation meld together to answer questions that mankind has. How “what is so obvious” often is not reality after all.
Whatever group would fund such a documentary series, should make that series to reach various age groups (age-level appropriateness really is important), and should make the series available for the classroom teacher at no charge.
It is my belief that logic is mankind’s main tool for living a good life. Mathematics and science can teach logic but often we fail to do so and teach only subject matter and “hope they get it somehow”. Meanwhile they are reading all sorts of popular books that impart “magical thinking”. We are outnumbered my friends!
My God have mercy on us all.
PS: Yet another darn fine essay on a very important topic. How do you do it? You are an essay machine! Bravo. (sorry for the minor quibble)

Science or Fiction
Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 4:26 am

My belief is that inductivism is at the root of much evil. If I could choose only one principle to teach our youngsters, it would be to be extremely careful with inductive reasoning.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
May 15, 2016 7:27 am

Some of the biggest blunders in science have come about from reasoning out what sounds logical instead of getting out in the field and seeing what is actually going on.
It is logical that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects. There are an infinite number examples that show this is true. Yet all it took was one simple experiment to show that a thousand years of scientific belief was wrong.
This is the failing in our schools. The failing of logic. Students are taught that positive examples prove things to be true, while nature shows us that it is the negative examples that separate fact from fiction.
This carries over into our scientific reporting. Positive examples are sensationalized, while negative examples rarely see the light of day. This leads to bias and over reporting of positives. And as a result we have an epidemic of false positives everywhere we look in scientific publishing.
To the point where the more sensational the scientific finding, the more likely it is to be false.

Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 5:40 am

Then we need a large group of scientists (real ones, no one named “Mann” need apply) to help produce a series of videos (and complete curriculum for classrooms) on how the scientific method works. How the scientific method has improved our lives — there are millions of great examples to pick from.

We also need to educate people that scientists are not the high priests of knowledge. That the history of science is riddled with scientist getting it completely wrong. The student needs to understand the reason for the scientific method is that scientist are human just like you and me.
The students should understand that what the instructor teaches should not be taken at face value. The student should learn what the lab part of the course is for. To independently confirm that what the instructor has taught is indeed true. It would also be useful to present to the students a hypothesis that is wrong. Attempting to verify this false hypothesis through a lab would would reinforce the importance of believing the data above believing the scientist.

Reply to  Greg F
May 15, 2016 7:08 pm

Perhaps the first lesson should be, “Most of what we believe in science today will be considered wrong, or at least incomplete, tomorrow.”

Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 7:33 am

Berple’s Law
The more sensational the scientific finding, the more likely it is to be false.

Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 7:36 am

This has been discussed elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are rarely any volunteers. Over a year ago, myself and another individual started a web site with climate information for kids. That individual has since been unable to continuethe work, so I put up postings as often as I can. In spite of asking for contributors and input on a major blog, there have been no other volunteers.
Even assuming by some miracle such material could actually be produced, how then does one get this into the schools? I believe the Heritage Foundation in the US is trying to get a skeptical curriculum into schools without much success.

Scott Wilmot Bennett
Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 7:41 am

I would add that one of the first things revealed, when logic is taught, is that the laws themselves are a prior. They are antecedent of knowledge. They are not taught or learnt they are the “given” field and background of thought itself. The term “science” is overrated today for political reasons. Our natural inborn logic which is akin to sentience or consciouness itself, is more important because it comes before all disciplines or studies. Science and Mathematics begin with the formalisation of logic by philosophy which spawned all the natural sciences.

Scott Wilmot Bennett
Reply to  Scott Wilmot Bennett
May 15, 2016 8:38 am

A priori!
It shits me that I don’t notice typos until I’ve posted and I’m even more ticked off that I can’t edit them!! 😉

Reply to  Scott Wilmot Bennett
May 15, 2016 9:43 am

..Me too Scott, that’s why I use Spell Check !

Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 7:48 am

government must be taken out of the schools and universities if you want even an outside chance at teaching truth in schools.
I’m not sure that government is the problem. Countries [e.g. Finland, Norway, …] where education is free and the schools and universities are public score high on the science scale.
It seems to me that private schools [e.g. religious ones] are more prone to ideological distortion and bias.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 15, 2016 8:37 am

Government per se is not the problem, it is usually politics and religion practiced by the governing political class that interferes to create the problem of biased science.
Here in the US, our 1st Amendment bars the government from practising religion by forbidding the passage laws based on religions. It is clear what ancient practices of faith in an unseen diety are: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and so on. We know those are religions because they call themselves religions. What happens when a faith-based belief system comes along to control a society, but does not call itself a religion?
So the rub of today’s plight of Science is we have a very specific sub- field of science that offers a means to a very enriching end. What happens when a class of political actors turns the practice of a biased science field into a de facto religion for indoctrination based on consensus and faith? What we see happening now in the climate science practiced by our government institutions run by political actors is by every logical definition a religion.
And when the climate science hustle finally collapses, just like it would for a primitive society shaman who promised his people to stop a volcano if they would just deliver their wealth to him, the damage to reputation of all of science in the public view will be immense.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 15, 2016 2:51 pm

That education isn’t free. Someone is paying for it via taxation. Regarding your comment about religious schools being “prone to ideological distortion and bias,” well, let’s just say that “safe spaces” aren’t being implemented at Liberty University or Brigham Young University as they are at the Ivy League schools.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
May 15, 2016 4:22 pm

It is free for the student, and that is what matters.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 16, 2016 3:50 am

As an economist, you leave a lot to be desired. “That is what matters,” forsooth.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
May 16, 2016 5:05 am

As a student I would take free any time. That is what matters.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 15, 2016 5:40 pm

Public school teachers practice their loony left indoctrination side by side with their sheer incompetence. I’m no fan of religious schools either by we have to do better in education than bowing down to entrenched mediocrity.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 15, 2016 7:14 pm

No, Dr. I, the education is not free for the student either. He will be paying for it in the form of higher taxes for all of his income-producing life. ‘Buy now, pay later’ does not translate to ‘free’.

Reply to  Jtom
May 15, 2016 9:13 pm

It is free when he needs it to be free [he has no money now]. With an education, he will earn the money to pay for it. This is good and better than having to take out a big loan.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  lsvalgaard
May 16, 2016 3:55 am

May 15, 2016 at 9:13 pm
It is free when he needs it to be free [he has no money now]. With an education, he will earn the money to pay for it. This is good and better than having to take out a big loan.

Again with the faulty economics. A student loan will also be paid off after he has an education, and money to pay for it. That loan will be paid off, and it will be done. The Finnish student will be paying that student loan his entire life, and will probably pay more than a loan would be.

Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 9:31 am

I do not see how your emphasis on private schools would work considering most private schools seem to be religion biased.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  nc
May 15, 2016 5:28 pm

Why can’t we have private schools with a curriculum that is at least partly mandated by the state in exchange for certification an funding..?

Monna Manhas
Reply to  nc
May 16, 2016 6:53 am

John Harmsworth, in BC at least, the private schools do have to cover the basic curriculum. But they don’t have to teach it exactly the same way as it is taught in the public schools.

Michael 2
Reply to  Monna Manhas
May 16, 2016 9:53 am

Monna Manhas writes: “in BC at least, the private schools do have to cover the basic curriculum. But they don’t have to teach it exactly the same way as it is taught in the public schools.”
Exactly so. My children attended a charter school where somewhat traditional methods of learning are used, plenty of “drill” (practice) and re-visit previously learned concepts. Prior to that they attended the local public school where topics were taught briefly and often only one day; if you missed that day then you missed that topic forever. Unfortunately they got a bit too much “public education” and not enough remedial charter school.
My 16 year old was faced with 9*6 (nine times six) as part of a 3 digit by 2 digit multiplication. She understand it means six 9’s. Since she cannot add more than two values together, she takes the 9’s by pairs giving three 18’s. Two of them added is 36, that is added to the remaining 18 to get 54. Write the 4, carry the 5 (but they now call it “regrouping”) and start the whole procedure over again. The test will be over before she has worked a single problem. It came as a huge shock that calculators were not permitted for that test.
The younger generation doesn’t understand or accept the value of having worked the problem by estimating in your head so that you know when you’ve made a serious mistake with the calculator. Otherwise you have no choice but to accept the calculator answer.

Tom Yoke
Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 2:25 pm

MarkStoval, I was hoping someone would make your point. It is quite naive to suppose that mandated courses on science, would actually teach any science.
I’ve just put my four kids through K-12, partly private and partly public, and I’m here to tell you that many “Science” teachers are environmental activists and very little else. I think the core reason for that is that environmental activism is “virtuous” and Virtue Signaling is a helluva lot easier than mastering or teaching actual science.
In fact, many teachers and administrators seem quite oblivious even to the possibility that there is a difference between environmental activism and actual science. They conflate the two ideas in essentially every class period.

Reed Coray
Reply to  Tom Yoke
May 16, 2016 8:42 am

Tom, I agree with your belief that the core reason for why many people are environmental activists is that environmental activism is considered to be “virtuous”. People like to feel “good about themselves;” and one way to do that is to exude an “I care about the environment” attitude. Aside from their lack of knowledge of the environmental issue at hand so that a proposed “solution” may actually be harmful to the environment, the fact that other concerns may be of a higher virtue doesn’t seem to enter their minds.
As an example. I once saw a show about a black mamba that was living on the farm of a poor rural African. Somehow a snake handler got involved. Accompanied by a film crew, the snake handler caught the black mamba and “relocated” it away from people. The intent of the show was to demonstrate the “virtue” of caring about the environment–in this case, caring about a deadly poisonous snake. As I was viewing this example of “environmental virtue”, two thoughts entered my mind. First, would the same dedication to the environment have been filmed if instead of a black mamba, the threat was say a deadly spider? Probably not. The farmer would most likely have simply killed the spider. Second, what’s more important, my kid’s safety or the environmental worth of that particular black mamba? For my kid’s safety, like a deadly spider it is obviously better to kill the threat than to wait for a “threat” handler and a cinematography crew to arrive and save the day. Now I can understand the farmer’s being reluctant to “try” to kill the snake–he might get bitten in the process. But for the life of me, I cannot see the farmer’s reluctance to having the snake killed. A dead black mamba like a dead spider will not hurt my kids, a live one might. Color me unvirtuous, but I care more about my kids than any particular black mamba’s role in the environment.

Michael 2
Reply to  Reed Coray
May 16, 2016 6:00 pm

Reed Coray commented “I care more about my kids than any particular black mamba’s role in the environment.”
It helps to have kids. How many environmental activists have kids? (or have outgrown their 20’s?)

John Harmsworth
Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 5:25 pm

I pretty much agree with Markstovall but the beginnings of that possibility are already apparent in internet offerings like khan academy. At the first level, internet video lectures can protect younger kids from the blatant ignorance of many grade school teachers, especially in science related studies. At more advanced levels, the same delivery method protects students from indoctrination and improper use of ideas. Eventually, classroom teachers are just assistants to a comprehensive “education by experts” , with no reason to withhold access to competing ideas.

Owen in GA
Reply to  markstoval
May 15, 2016 8:49 pm

The main fear is “who is doing the teaching.” If those currently in the field bear any resemblance to those currently enrolled in college (at both the Bachelor of Ed and Masters of Ed level), the problem is there simply are too few teachers who can understand the scientific method or real history of science.
The Bachelor of Ed students are 90% those who found one of the “soft sciences” too difficult and decided the teacher’s education curriculum looked doable. There are very few who can even put a decent paragraph together in proper English, let alone evaluate a PDE with constrained boundary conditions.
The Masters of Education candidates are somewhat better because we have a dual degree BSc in a STEM field with a Masters of Ed that skews the numbers. Most of the teachers coming back for their MEd are only in it for the pay raise the school system offers for the advanced degrees. These “educators” can’t even use simple computer programs (I’m talking MS Word).
are they supposed to know anything when the College of Education professors are not a great deal better in many cases. I heard one talking about how he only needed to know how to teach – subject matter knowledge was unimportant! How one teaches something one does not oneself know is beyond my comprehension, because my first step to teaching something is to first go learn it myself.
I fear that Dr. Ball’s solution is a non-starter as there are simply too few teachers with the mental horsepower to pull it off, and a lack of institutional will in the education establishment to improve the situation.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Owen in GA
May 16, 2016 6:57 am

Years ago, even amongst teachers, a BEd was considered the lowest degree to achieve. Nowadays, many people do a BEd because they don’t know what else to do.

May 15, 2016 3:41 am

One could make an even stronger argument that people should be compelled to learn plumbing. After all, what use is a scientist when you’re dealing with a burst pipe?
The problem is the abuse of science, and the solution to that has to come from within that fraternity itself.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Pointman
May 15, 2016 11:03 am

Hell, plumbing is easy. As one friend told me: “There are only two things you need to know; poop flows down hill, and don’t lick your fingers.”

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 15, 2016 5:47 pm

If plumbing is so easy why are all happy to pay one $75/hr. to come to our house and show off his butt crack?

Owen in GA
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 15, 2016 8:57 pm

I think it has to do with the fact we all know the second truth of plumbing and really don’t want anything to do with putting our hands in that muck.
Also I don’t have a pumper truck and a long plumber snake handy in the back shed and really don’t want to dig a hole when I know the reason for truth #2 is what is waiting at the bottom of it. I don’t believe I am unique there.

May 15, 2016 3:42 am

Social Sciences 39% and Humanities 35% Mathematics 5% Science 7% and Engineering 3%, no wonder our universities have become liberal reeducation camps. We’ve stopped teaching our children to think, and all they know how to do is “feel” what their totalitarian instructor wants them to feel. NASA is no longer hiring rocket scientists, they are hiring Muslim outreach social workers, and collectivist “consensus” building climate “scientists.” It also destroys the myth of liberals being well educated. Those majors are usually filled by the bottom of the barrel students. Participation trophy liberals may start out in Engineering, but they quickly find themselves falling into history, education, black studies, women studies majors. No one that is truly intelligent and has anything to offer society chooses those majors. Those are simply ways for liberals to get college degrees. They are dumbed down major that allow sanctimonious elitist self absorbed egotistical liberal to feel superior. It is time for complete higher education educational reform. Our students are being forced to pay $40,000/yr or more for an education that is worthless. Much of that tuition goes to fund research that is just as worthless, like climate change research.There should be a metric that measures how much of a student’s tuition goes to fund worthless research projects. Does a student really want to spend the rest of their lives paying off student loans used to fund climate research? How much of that tuition is going to be spend building transgender restrooms? Something must be done to stop the continued decay of our Universities into reeducation camps for the Communist Left.
I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me image

Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 4:17 am

Quote *It also destroys the myth of liberals being well educated.* This guy married to a cousin of mine had the gall to say to my mother how he was better educated than she was. Well my mother used to be a teacher back in the 1930/40’s and laughed her head off when he left because his grammar was so appalling. Her mother had been to university back in the late 1800’s early 1900’s which was very unusual back then.
Once a teacher always a teacher as she was always correcting me through life. I do appreciate it now that she is gone.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  mikebartnz
May 15, 2016 8:17 am

It is a common misperception. Our knowledge base today is vastly larger than it was when our parents were our age, and their parents were their age, ad infinitum.
The problem then is too many people confuse intelligence as knowledge.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  mikebartnz
May 16, 2016 7:20 am

Actually Joel I would amend your comment and say that our information base is much larger than that of former generations. But information is not knowledge – you have to evaluate it, and many people either don’t know how or can’t be bothered to evaluate the information they receive. They just accept it as fact as long as it reinforces their own biases.

Scott Scarborough
Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 7:42 am

Your chart makes no sense! It shows the consumer price index climbing from 1982 to 2007 on an “Inflation-adjusted” scale. The consumer price index IS the adjustment for inflation. So it has to be level and unchanging, by definition, on such a scale.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Scott Scarborough
May 15, 2016 6:08 pm

You must be one of those math wizards,lol. Looked at another way, you couldn’t pass climate studies! Lol!

Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 8:00 am

CO2is life
Thanks for the college cost data and explanation of how NASA is destroyed in one administration.
Knowing that College tuition costs are out of control, I am reminded that before the Feds got into loans, etc. I managed to save enough to pay my first year tuition cost in engineering school by working and saving the money from jobs while going to high school, working two nights and Saturday. I went to Drexel Institute of Technology, which was a mostly Engineering, private Co Op, 5 year program school that required industry experience/credits to get the BS Degree in Engineering that virtually had a job guarantee at graduation. .
After the first year, working 6 months per year, I was able to save enough to pay the next 6 months tuition admittedly living at home not paying .room and board. 6 months working at low pay=6 months tuition!
It is sad that today one has to take out a $200,000 loan today to accomplish what an average person could do 4 decades ago, thanks to government interference in education and corrupt colleges that are obsessed with global warming rather than the student because big brother sends them money for that waste.

Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 9:28 am

Way back in my childhood when my father was involved in all this, NASA was mainly German rocket scientists. Now look at it.

Reply to  emsnews
May 15, 2016 11:41 am

Yep. ‘Muslim Outreach’.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  emsnews
May 15, 2016 6:09 pm

Germans reached out to other peoples, too!

Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 9:00 pm

When all the high paying jobs are gone there won’t be many able to afford post-secondary education.
Student loans can’t be paid back with low wage earnings.
Tax base declines so higher education can’t be funded except in essential areas such as medical, agricultural, engineering as examples. Higher education will return to what it used to be.
Perhaps some will be able to attend night school paid for by working days.

Geoff Sherrington
May 15, 2016 3:44 am

There should be, IMO, some discussion of the word ‘professionalism’ here. It is known that many people have some inkling of some aspects of science to some level, but that does not help them much when the discussion is about a narrow, special topic. So, to progress better in Life, one can use measures of professionalism to estimate, to an extent, the value of scientific material. Particularly if the material is known to be contentious, look for fibs in the data, look for weasel words like ‘might’ rather than ‘will probably’, look out for papers with more than 20 authors unless there is a good reason for them, be a little alarmed when you see cherry picking of items like start and end dates of time series. Beware of what seem to you to be exaggerations and muse on why they might have been used. Question odd uses of general techniques like statistics and graphics and terminology, rebutting obfuscation. Why does a particular author not use normal stats as opposed to particular new methods like statistics for tree ring paleaothermometry? The old Aussie phrase is “Keep the bastards honest”.
But, above all, conduct yourself on an even higher plane. Don’t do those things that come back to sting.
The professional does not double dip on his income. Does not do overtime, is on call when help is evidently needed. Does not play underhand with rivals or public. Charges no fee if consulting to those obviously with no funds to pay. So far as is possible, treats others as equals unless/until they show they are not.
It does not matter so much if one reads a science paper that is in a different specialty. A mature author will usually welcome follow-up letters from people who do not quite comprehend the specialty.
Tim Ball makes an important point that some people excel beyond the easy comprehension of those around them. I’ve been used to regarding groups of scientists as varied as groups of golfers. There are weekend players on 15 handicaps, there are keen hard workers on 2 handicaps and now and then, an exceptional person on 2 or more below par. These exceptional people, in science, contribute a great deal, weight for weight, more than the weekenders and it is good to be able to identify them. This is often done by their past performance, just as golfers can be invited to play in the world’s top circuits.The thought – if it exists – that anyone can become a top scientist has no more validity than saying that anyone can be a top golfer. They cannot, no matter how hard they practice. However, you are not in a position to comment much on golf or science unless you know the rules and that is from education. As a minimum, re-read about the scientific method from time to time.

May 15, 2016 4:21 am

For me, the obvious answer is to have compulsory courses in Science. They should occur in Elementary, Middle, High School and College and University. ~ Dr. Tim Ball
That is only part of it. If you have teaches that don’t know math or science teaching students math and science, you don’t solve the problem. The other problem is lack of information about the product and freedom of choice.
1) School Choice is key. Parents and students must have the right to choose their school. That system works great for our universities. Competition is a great QC program.
2) Information must be made available like the US News Top Universities Reports. Other metrics are number of graduates that immediately get jobs and their average pay. High Schools should be required to have their teaches undergo testing in their fields, teachers should be hired for their specialty, not a teaching license. Mathematicians should teach math, not education majors. Consumer information laws should be applied to schools so the parents can judge the quality of their schools. Standardized test scores should be published for their schools. Liberals dominate education, liberals control all inner city schools. Black children dominate inner city schools and those schools are the best funded and worst performers. Either liberal are racists and fail to educate black children, or black children are less intelligent, or both. Someone needs to be held responsible for the failure of black children in the inner city, and the finger gets pointed squarely at the liberals.
These stats are horrifying, and they are all 100% due to the liberals fighting every education improvement offered. Liberals put the well being of the teachers and politicians over the student. How many inner city schools need better teachers? How many need gender neutral rest rooms? What has Obama done to improve inner city schools?
3) Education needs to be first focused on our Nation’s needs. We are having trouble staffing our High Tech Firms, and yet we keep cranking out Black Studies, Women Studies, Art, History, Lawyers and Education Majors. Sorry, I forgot to add climate “scientists” to that list or worthless degrees. America has enough starving artists and government employees, we need people with real educations. Because we can’t staff Silicon Valley, very wealthy people are funding a campaign of open boarders which will certainly lead to the destruction of America.A better education system here in the US solves a large part of our immigration problem. BTW, before some liberal attacks me on this issue. it is far better to export prosperity to Mexico than to import poverty from Mexico. Pressure must be put on Mexico to copy our freedom based system so that they can create wealth and prosperity at home, instead of exporting their poverty problem here to the US. Yes you liberals, that means exporting American exceptionalism and our free market system abroad. Capitalism in Mexico will greatly improve our immigration problem and the lives of Mexicans. Mexico has countless miles of beach front property, abundant oil and other natural resources. The only problem they have is their corrupt government and legal system. Export freedom, the rule of law and free market economics and Mexico will become a great wealth trading partner for the US, improving the lives of Mexicans as well as Americans.
4) Failing schools must be closed, and failing teachers must be fired. One bright spot is that Hollywood is waking up. The first year of House of Cards focuses on the corrupt education system, and the Democratic President co-ops the Republican agenda of Charter schools and teacher testing. The villain is the Teachers’ Union. The show is also good for highlighting the despicable political tactics used by the left. Mark Zuckerbeg gave the NJ School System 100 million dollars and got absolutely nothing for his efforts, absolutely nothing. Ted Turner got more for his $1 billion donation to the UN, at least some tyrant got a new palace with Ted’s money.
Mark Zuckerberg Highlights What He Learned After $100 Million Gift To Newark
“Change in education takes time and requires a long term focus.”
BTW, that donation by Zuckerberg highlights just how removed from reality their liberals truly are. They think the enemies of education are the solution. I personally hope more liberals waste their money pouring their money down the rat hole of public education. Sooner or later their stupidity will reach a tipping point.

May 15, 2016 4:33 am

Only liberals would support Anti-Trust laws for industry, but oppose those principles when applied to the public school monopoly. The concepts and principles are the same, yet liberals are willing to throw our children under the bus for their own political gain.
<blockquote<The truth about Finland’s education miracle
So there you have it: Finland does school competition, which partly explains its success in PISA. Studies show unequivocally that school choice lifts countries on both PISA and TIMSS league tables. It increases the fairness of outcomes. It decreases costs. The corollary is clear: Finland would do even better if it were to instil more choice in its education system – in sharp contrast to choice critics’ arguments.
While Finland’s centralised approach to the curriculum helps its PISA ratings, but not necessarily its performance on other metrics, this success is still in no small part due to school choice and competition. The lesson for Britain is simple: choice works. The more we have, the better.

May 15, 2016 4:40 am

Here are some real “progressive” education solutions. How un-progressive is a government monopoly? How un-progressive is socialism. How un-progressive is defending the status quo unionized educational system? Liberals are only progressive if this were 1860s Europe.
Scholar Charles Glenn noted that “governments in most Western democracies provide partial or full funding for nongovernment schools chosen by parents; the United States (apart from a few scattered and small-scale programs) is the great exception, along with Greece.”2 Or as Diane Ravitch pointed out in a 2001 article, “The proportion of students in government-funded private schools is sizable in countries such as Australia (25 percent), Belgium (58 percent), Denmark (11 percent), France (16.8 percent), South Korea (21 percent), the Netherlands (76 percent), Spain (24 percent), and the United Kingdom (30 percent).”
In Finland, the government provides funding for basic education at all levels, and instruction is free of charge.3 In Sweden, schooling is “free,” and parents are able to choose their children’s schools; funding even follows the student when they change schools.4 In Portugal, the Ministry of Education finances the public sector in its entirety, and the state subsidizes each student in private schools.5 In Germany, the Netherlands, England, Northern Ireland, and Sweden, “public funding is provided so that families can choose to send their children to schools with a religious character.”6

Robert B
May 15, 2016 4:47 am

The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda.

Your typical highschool class will have a lot of students who will not even consider a science or engineering career. It will have a few with innate talent and desire. It will also have a few who will not let you stray from a rote learning approach (mechanical or simply copying explicit instructions rather than writing). This is the real problem. Experts tell you what intelligent people would do and you do the same to be intelligent. Its safer to play along when there is a 97% consensus. With 96 people around you looking sheepish, you might not be noticed. Not the case if you’re only one of three.
Rather than science, the students need to discover that its quite enjoyable to struggle through many wrong attempts until they get it right. Its a hard thing to figure out how to teach and there is usually nobody around to help you. Worse, there is a lot of grief from other teachers rather than reward when you do get it right from those who do not appreciate it and think that you are taking away a valuable control method.
Science is a good subject to discover how beneficial it is to be able to use a process of elimination to get to the right answer but science is not what they need to learn.

May 15, 2016 4:50 am

“a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”
Since you have admitted that it is the truly “gifted” who have provided those few answers, the argument could also be made that giving that 75% social science and humanities crowd a taste is what causes them to be so easily manipulated.
Never met a true believer who didn’t believe themselves intellectually superior to all.

May 15, 2016 4:57 am

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr Ball with one caveat, without classes in logic, the science still falls foul of concept building and logical fallacies.
Science requires logic, if you are versed in one and not the other, your science can and as we have seen often becomes uprooted from reality and planted in fantasy land.

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 4:58 am

Feminist glaciology is one such example of this phenomenon

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 6:30 pm

But feminist glaciology is a logical solution to the problem of how to pass a b.s. class toward a b.s. degree for someone who arrives at university with no critical thinking skills and no desire to acquire them lest they lose the gigantic (glacial?) chip on their poor middle class shoulder.

May 15, 2016 5:09 am

People can learn an ability, but can only achieve a high level of competence with an innate ability.
[Grampa Simpson hat on] One problem is that software is replacing natural talent/ability, knowledge and skill and the software is necessarily written by “experts” in such a way as to make it inflexible regarding work methods. This of course results in more centralized control over the software users. But if you know how to write your own software (or have a choice of software), then it’s a very powerful and useful tool.
Nowadays almost anyone can mimic competence by using a computer whereas in the past one had to demonstrate competence by actually being able to perform tasks without “artificial assistance”. I often use drafting as an example of this. There is less actual detailed knowledge required to perform fairly high level functions, and that is attractive to certain types of people who may not really belong in the discipline.

Reply to  PiperPaul
May 15, 2016 8:15 am

I have always thought spell checker makes people worse spellers. In my field, IT, people are often atrocious spellers

Reply to  Mark
May 15, 2016 10:30 am

I have always thought spell checker makes people worse spellers.

In my case it has been quite the opposite which may be due to the way I use it. Rather than typing something out and then going back to fix all the mistakes with the spell checker I fix each mistake as they happen.

george e. smith
Reply to  Mark
May 17, 2016 6:57 pm

Spell checkers just demonstrate just how small is the vocabulary of Microsoft Word.
I have to turn it off or it would have a heart attack just red underlining words it doesn’t know.
And the grammar thing is even worse. It thinks that if the same word comes twice in a row, then it must be a mistake, so it wants to erase the second instance.

May 15, 2016 5:31 am

It is true that the devil is in the detail. I did not have the skills to detect what Michael Mann did to create the ‘hockey sick’, but knew from knowledge of climate history and other evidence that something was wrong. To quote Popeye as my philosopher of record, “I don’t know how’s youz duz it, but youz duz it.” It took the skills of Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick to identify how it was done. It was the nail in the coffin, but the coffin was already under construction. Worse, the coffin is still not finished.

The obvious flaw in the Hockeystick was identified in the recent Climate Hustle and The Changing Climate of Global Warming. The flaw is so obvious that two independent sources immediately recognized the flaw.

May 15, 2016 5:34 am

“The key to science” ….Most have probably seen this Feynman video, but for those who haven’t:

While reading Dr. Tim Ball’s great essay this immediately came to mind.

May 15, 2016 5:45 am

I asked if he knew about the scientific method and was surprised when he said no. I decided at that point to break protocol and replace my submitted presentation with an impromptu explanation of the scientific method.
This began by explaining, as a geochemist colleague put it, that people think science provides answers. It does, but only rarely. Science works by asking and vetting questions. The questions are presented as a hypothesis based on assumptions. Other scientists, acting as skeptics, challenge the hypothesis by testing the validity of the assumptions. In other words, they try to disprove the hypothesis. I told the politicians that the CFC destroying ozone hypothesis was untested.
I then explained that a scientific hypothesis was akin to speculation based on a few selected facts.

Once again, this documentary was before its time. This clip highlights how anti-science climate “science” is.

Bruce Cobb
May 15, 2016 6:29 am

The most important ability is to be able to think and reason, without fear of not being part of the group (whichever group we identify with). That takes both courage and character. I don’t know that schools can impart that, but as it stands now, they seem to be doing the opposite.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 15, 2016 11:52 am

That’s a hard lesson to learn, if even possible for many people. Several times in my career I’ve been on a few development projects where apparently I was the only one that knew the project was in deep trouble, headed the wrong direction, or just plain impossible to build, and in one case recognizing that the company was headed for chapter 7/11. It gets pretty uncomfortable when you have everyone you work with telling you how wrong you are. You even start questioning your own sanity at times. Thank the Lord for single malt scotch and entertaining bars.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 15, 2016 6:50 pm

Just be thankful, Joe that your vision helps avoid many problems and gives an opportunity to get out the door before the roof comes down.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 15, 2016 6:47 pm

That’s why politicians are so insidiously evil. They are mostly people of mediocre intelligence, low character and infinite ambition seeking power in an arena where no one even acknowledges that the truth is not relative. That’s why it attracts so many lawyers. Relative truth has it’s place in social interactions but has no place in science (relativity excepted,lol)

May 15, 2016 7:04 am

I think most people can figure things out, if given enough information.
The problem is many people only get one side of the argument. If they got both sides of the argument, I think they could understand the issue, and come out on the correct side of it.
A majority of polled Americans still don’t think AGW is a cause for concern, and most of them are not scientists.
The explanation for this is they don’t see any of the gloom and doom predicted by the Alarmists, and so discount the claims.
It can’t be because they are getting both sides of the argument, because most of them are not. They are only getting the Alarmist side. But they have figured it out anyway.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  TA
May 15, 2016 7:54 am

The problem is, many don’t see enough harm done, policy-wise, to vote accordingly. There is still that disconnect.

May 15, 2016 7:12 am

Anybody that has read this far does it for a reason, a thirst for knowledge.
Or maybe I’m biased.

May 15, 2016 7:37 am

Just a note on acronyms: When I see WAIS, I think of the IQ test. I did look up what WAIS was in climate science. Acronyms are necessary, I know, but they are not always clear.

H. D. Hoese
May 15, 2016 7:40 am

I was in a science department, and to varying extent the whole university, that made the transition (circa 1980) from emphasis on largely teaching to largely research (more of a business), some at first with my help. I recall the concern (shock?) of humanities scholars. I suspect they saw that it took away from time needed for thought and It may have corrupted humanities more than science. Our janitor said it was when the bigots moved in. I did not understand what was happening as I do now, but I did within a few years start teaching majors about logical errors.

Jim G1
May 15, 2016 7:43 am

There is no simple answer. As with climate, this is a multivariate issue. As an old engineer and now a substitute HS teacher we are dealing with:
Lack of discipline instilled in the home and then allowed in the schools = laziness as a result,
Poorly prepared/educated teachers,
Liberal bias in educational as well as most higher educational institutions,
Tha polarized US society where students come to school with minds already closed by their parents,
Liberal/and or just ignorant media dissemination of false science/information,
Government use of education to indoctrinate,
Educators’ fear of skepticism on the part of students as skeptics are more difficult to control,
The cheapening of advanced degrees ie anyone can obtain a degree in anything with enough time and money,
The over concern with students feelings of “self worth” and little concern for instilling goal driven desire,
You can all add your own variables to this list.

Jim G1
Reply to  Jim G1
May 15, 2016 7:53 am

And of course some propensities in students are genetic with the good traits coming from your family and the bad from one’s spouse.

Reply to  Jim G1
May 15, 2016 8:09 am

LOL, that’s what my wife says all the time.

Reply to  Jim G1
May 15, 2016 1:19 pm

Jim G1 wrote: “Lack of discipline instilled in the home and then allowed in the schools”
I think this is a huge underreported problem in our schools. The kids can’t learn if the classroom is constantly disrupted by undisciplined kids acting out. The teachers spend all their time trying to keep order instead of teaching.

Reply to  TA
May 15, 2016 7:47 pm

I think very soon we will see lawsuits initiated by the parents of good students against the parents of disruptive students for depriving their children their right to an education. Since the schools and teachers are not allowed to effectively discipline students, they should not be blamed.

Rage against the dying of the light
Reply to  Jim G1
May 15, 2016 2:48 pm

At last. Someone who has the semblance of a grasp of the essential points after so much trumpeting of the innate superiority of science over the likes of history.
I was educated in the 60s in a country that that had escaped the joys of comprehensive education up to that point and became one of those History and English majors so despised in this thread. After teaching those subjects for a few years and growing increasingly aware of the advance of political correctness in these and other fields, I returned to university and have taught Mathematics for the last 30 years. However, I do not regret for one moment any of the education I received.
If a few more people, especially the allegedly educated, knew their history properly, they would understand why immigration has become a problem, why teachers are almost as ignorant as their students, why education has become a propaganda tool, as well as a great many other things about current events.
And if a few more people, especially scientists, could read, speak and write their mother tongue competently, perhaps they would not have to get their papers edited by professionals to eliminate their gobbledegook, non sequiturs and foggy thinking.
Furthermore, there are, in the private sector especially, many mathematics teachers who strive to inculcate clear and logical thinking and presentation in their pupils as well as a delight in the subject and an awareness of the extent to which it underpins modern life. It is the multivariate nature of the situation that serves to mute their efforts.

Reply to  Rage against the dying of the light
May 15, 2016 9:22 pm

How many universities even teach real English or history now-a-days? This is what posters are complaining about.
Education failure is across the board!

Jay Hope
Reply to  Rage against the dying of the light
May 16, 2016 1:01 am

I agree, history is a really important subject, and should be included in any science course.

May 15, 2016 7:43 am

The most important teachers are parents. School indoctrination can be neutralized by dinner table conversation every day. We made sure that our children supported every claim they brought home from school with an example from their own world experience. Didn’t take long for them to start separating the wheat from the chaff all by themselves. And it empowered them to think for themselves because they had confidence in their ability to think critically and logically.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  RealDeal
May 15, 2016 7:58 am

Indeed. I was going to say something along those lines as well. My dad gave us a desk placard which said simply THINK. He was a metallurgical engineer, and was good at solving problems.

Tom Halla
May 15, 2016 7:56 am

Good discussion of a recondite subject. My own modest proposal (re Swift) to improve elementary education would be to eliminate Education as a major, and remove administrators with such a major.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 15, 2016 7:01 pm

I think the institution of education from k-university is the rare example where I would advocate tearing it up and starting over.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 15, 2016 8:04 pm

After thirty years in research I retired and considered teaching middle school science. There are two widely used tests, one on subject knowledge and one in the pedagogy, which must be passed for a teaching certificate. I took both, cold.
The subject knowledge test could be passed by a smart high school student. Despite having but one course in education some forty-three years ago, I passed the pedagogy test as well. I have to wonder how much teaching and learning takes place in acquiring a degree in elementary education.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Jtom
May 16, 2016 5:23 pm

Not much. I am blessed to have advanced degrees.

Pamela Gray
May 15, 2016 8:11 am

Belief trumps data. It is the rare person who does not bring some kind of preconceived belief to the Science table. Take the science of learning. Yes, it is now a biologic science. Functional MRI demonstrates the reading brain, as it does the brain that has failed to learn how to read. There is now evidence for an area of the brain that stores written language symbol recognition.
As a direct result, somewhere in the future we may be able to take regular pictures of the brain to measure how well the brain is learning. And I think the ramifications of that future terrifies many educators so much that most remain stubbornly resistant to these learning science developments.
But make no mistake, one day we will be able to objectively measure learning paired with educational strategies and weed out what works and what doesn’t in the development of reading, writing, and math skill. It may even be possible to objectively weed out ineffective teachers who cling to ineffective curriculum or instructional methods.
What I can tell you for sure is that the science of education is not making much headway into schools, where bias and belief against objective research is strong. I have been yelled at for bringing research to the discussion, by both colleagues and administrators, and have even been dismissed for being too educated (I kid you not). So I guess it is time for me to throw in the towel, admit defeat, and go fishing.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Pamela Gray
May 15, 2016 12:12 pm

I’m not sure if it still holds true, but many years ago I was taught that they had already determined where many functions were located in the human brain, but that all of that was garbage when it came to left handed people. Their brains were just too scrambled to figure out. Being left handed, I figured that gave me a good excuse for a lot of my improprieties.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Joe Crawford
May 15, 2016 1:05 pm

This is new research and it is the same for both right and left handed humans. Primates use the same area to recognize written symbols.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
May 15, 2016 1:29 pm

Pamela Gray wrote: “This is new [brain] research and it is the same for both right and left handed humans. Primates use the same area to recognize written symbols.”
I saw something the other day where they had located the area of the brain connected with writing, and it was in the very same area as the human speech center. The thinking about why they were colocated was that humans first communicated by gesturing with the hands, and then learned to talk later and the same brain area services both functions.
I have a loved one who had a stroke last year and the damage was centered in his speech area, so I found it interesting that his writing ability was also located there.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  TA
May 15, 2016 2:43 pm

Reading the brain. Well worth a watch.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Pamela Gray
May 15, 2016 7:18 pm

So Pamela, I have to ask where ideas such as “the new math” in the 60’s or “whole language English” in the 80’s came from if they were not scientifically derived. If they were so derived, how did that garbage get past the gatekeepers? It seems to me as a student evolved to a parent that the lunatics, even the “scientific” ones are running the asylum. The curriculum is mediocre (not sufficiently demanding) , and is taught by much,much more mediocre teachers. I know in the U.S. teachers aren’t paid that well, but they are well paid in Canada and the results are not significantly better.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  John Harmsworth
May 16, 2016 6:48 am

Russian advances in engineering (aka Sputnik) caused a re-look at our mediocre math program. The “New Math” was simply an attempt to increase its rigor, asking teachers and children to step up to more difficult concepts that went beyond (but included) memorizing math facts.
Whole Language was a concept thought accurate before MRI’s came along. Dr. Dehaene speaks to that issue in several of his lectures and research. Because good readers seemed to instantaneously read words, it was felt that decoding and instant reading were two different processes, with instant reading superior to decoding. Brain research now shows that both decoding and instant reading occur in the same exact area of the brain. It is theorized that in good readers, letter-sound pathways fire at the same time for all parts of the word, making it look like whole language reading.
Research not only discovers new things, it corrects previous misunderstandings. That is its normal course. I would be far more worried about a stagnate understanding of how things work, than one constantly evolving.

Michael 2
Reply to  Pamela Gray
May 16, 2016 10:41 am

Pamela Gray wrote “The New Math was simply an attempt to increase its rigor, asking teachers and children to step up to more difficult concepts that went beyond (but included) memorizing math facts.”
As practiced here in the mountain west memorizing math facts has been abandoned. Common Core is even worse in that regard. My daughter was taught something called the “Egyptian method” of division which is woefully inadequate and unnecessarily complicated, but designed for people that never learned addition facts and the “times table”.
“Whole Language was a concept thought accurate before MRI’s came along.”
Leading and bleeding a whole generation of Americans that can read only words they have memorized, but even then they cannot memorize a word that has not been revealed to them. It’s a catch-22. One fellow at church had no problem reading “repentance” but got stuck on “wine”; he had no idea what the letters w, i, n, e in that combination and order meant or sounded like.
But he wasn’t actually “reading” the word “repentance”. It is just a shape to him, a pattern of ascenders, descenders and its length. It might as well be a Chinese pictogram.
To read English, you memorize the sounds of the 26 letters; it’s a bit more complicated than that but nothing like memorizing Chinese characters. “Roughly 600 Chinese characters are pictograms (象形 xiàng xíng, “form imitation”) — stylised drawings of the objects they represent.”
“Literacy requires the memorization of a great many characters: educated Chinese know about 4,000.”
(IMO:) People that actually read words tend to enjoy reading books. Those that don’t, don’t.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  John Harmsworth
May 16, 2016 9:17 am

I had a geometry teacher in high school back in the ’50s, early ’60s that had a friend on the board that was developing the new math. Apparently the first work they did was to redesign plane geometry. For the first semester he taught us from notes he received as they were developing the course.. It started with 15 undefined terms. From those it defined more term, then stated postulates and proved theorems. It was fun developing a clear, precise language.
The second semester we had to go back to the text book. But the language of the text was so imprecise it drove us nuts trying to understand what it was trying to say. We found we had to refer back to the proof of a theorem and then translate it to the language of the new math before we could understand it. I still to this day find it difficult interpreting much of the spoken and written English.

B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 8:12 am

Wow. As a counter argument against Mr. Ball, I am dumber for having read this article. More science based education would be great. However, it is well documented that learning and acting on that knowledge is very strongly related to emotional connections. The “environmental religion” as Mr. Ball calls it simply taps into that part of the human experience to effect their desired ends.
Representing science as only the scientific method is also extremely short sighted. Science is so much more. Like the work of Dr. Mann or not, global climate change, and specifically warming is simple math. More energy coming into our atmosphere than leaving equals higher temperatures. Higher temperatures equal expansion of most materials.
Ironic that the denier (skeptic) is using the same deceptions he accuses others of using to promote his own agenda.

Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 8:40 am

B. Rehm says:
More energy coming into our atmosphere than leaving equals higher temperatures.
Global temperatures remained flat or declined for most of the past twenty years.
Sorry for the failure of your conjecture.

Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 9:05 am

Warming alone does not prove humans are contributing. For that you need models, amplifications, etc, etc, etc, all which contain uncertainty and often fail to accurately predict. Or really a good theory based on observations alone, which is going to be difficult since most of science seems to believe statistics and models are reality. Reducing climate science to “it’s getting warmer because more energy comes in than leaves” means nothing except it’s getting warmer.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 9:33 am

Except that Earth’s climate depends on short and long term energy imbalances whereby more energy is stored [exhausted] than exhausted [stored], thus creating the necessary pendulum energy to keep an atmosphere around. A constant equilibrium system would eventually die out.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 9:39 am

“global climate change, and specifically warming is simple math”
Wow. Talk about dumb. If only, and you wish. Maybe try reading.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 10:06 am

“… I am dumber for having read this article…”
Doesn’t sound like getting dumber is possible.
“…Like the work of Dr. Mann or not, global climate change, and specifically warming is simple math…”
That sentence required simple grammar, and you botched it royally.
“…More energy coming into our atmosphere than leaving equals higher temperatures…”
That’s not really the issue. The issue is how much of an effect man has on warming/climate, what level causes problems, what means of action to take (or not), etc. The narrative of global warming/climate change skeptics isn’t that man can never influence climate with greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a strawman argument raised time-and-time again.
“…Ironic that the denier (skeptic) is using the same deceptions he accuses others of using to promote his own agenda…”
Geez, now the Holocaust “denier” rhetoric comes out of your back-pocket. You’re a real winner.

Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 11:29 am

B. Rehm,
How hilarious. You think that global climate change, “and specifically warming” is simple math? When you say things like that, I have to agree that it’s highly possible that you were as dumb as you could possibly be before you read the article.
“More energy coming into our atmosphere than leaving equals higher temperatures. Higher temperatures equal expansion of most materials.”
Well that sure does sound simple! So by all means, PLEASE present the “simple math” from which you determined with undeniable accuracy that there was “more energy coming into our atmosphere than leaving it”. We’d all LOVE to see it.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 7:25 pm

Well B Rehm, if you’d rather have a simple, but incorrect analysis from a known liar, then you should stick with that. If I draw you a straight line attached to an even simpler lie, would I win?

Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 8:14 pm

Thank you for your corroborating evidence that science and logic are not being taught adequately.

Reply to  B. Rehm
May 15, 2016 8:47 pm

@ B. Rehm: Your self-admitted dumbness is duly noted, as is your feeble attempt at a put-down of Dr Ball by referring to him as plain Mr.

May 15, 2016 8:38 am

When discussing the state of education one needs to look at what is being taught today. That is the level of complexity or depth of the material, in Jr. HS, HS, and College.
I retired as a manager in nuclear engineering at a nuclear power plant 10 years ago. Recently I was looking at taking one of the “free” MIT on-line courses to keep my mind occupied. Reviewing the course outline and the text, I was flabbergasted. This upper level course (junior/senior) in Chemistry looked just like the course I had in HS. At first I thought Hav I remember that much? I had the old HS text as it was given away because the school was purchasing new texts. I dug out the Chemistry book,1950 publishing date, and the depth of fundamentals was noticeably higher. The only thing the MIT course offered was more topics. Thus Less Depth and More Topics. Wondering what was going on so I looked at the Physics courses. In 1962 I was taking Physics for my Engineering requirements. The text used was “Modern College Physics” by Richards, Sears, Wehr, and Zemansky, 1019 pages, and we covered it all! Look for it on the internet. Compare it to the pablum offered as physics today. I even compared the level with math courses at two universities nearby – same downgrading.
My sister is professor at a college in FL. Upon noting the downgrading of complexity I asked her what gives? Am I imaging this? Are the courses easier today than 50 years ago? Her reply was [paraphrased – not exact words] “You are absolutely right. Not only are they easier, essentially every student passes. Mid terms and finals are often take-home and done as a group – nothing is said about the fact that 8 – 10 papers are all exactly alike!” She had been informed that “We are teaching them to learn, not knowledge. And, in the work place you will normally work in groups. Why is working together on an exam any different than working together on a report need by the company” [Her managements attitude/words, not hers.] She also added that she teaches an “AP” Biology and “AP” Science course at the nearby HS. And like me has observed that the Biology course is at the exact same level as the Biology course that was required at our HS for all “Pre-College” students. The only thing that was added was that they bisected a frog.
So basically, Education, Grade School, HS, College, in an effort to be more inclusive, diverse and available to all has been dumbed down to the point that you now get the equivalent of a 1950 – 60’s High School College Prep education in your first year of College. Note that (most) US High Schools no longer have two or three tracks. That is College-Prep, Business, and Technical (blue collar) any more. All are trained as if they are going to college. Makes no difference it their IQ is 80 or 180, they all get treated equally – that is all get trained at the level of the slowest [Other words are more appropriate but not used so as to not get censored.]
Soon, the SIFY story of the robots taking over will be true, and the population will be to d..b to do anything about it.

Reply to  usurbrain
May 15, 2016 9:20 am

here is insight into big part of the problem you present in the U.S. –
not just Shrillary’s dreams, but liberal dumbing down for control

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 15, 2016 1:40 pm

Common Core standards do not dumb down educational levels. In fact they reverse it. They just don’t reverse it back to the 1910’s when few children made it to the 8th grade exit exam. And your article refers to a curriculum mandate. Common Core is not curriculum. There is nothing in the standards that speak about curriculum. Unless you are a highly trained theoretical teacher (Masters or higher in learning theory and pedagogy), you must have in front of you some kind of store-bought curriculum published by just a few textbook publishers in order to get your students to the point of being able to demonstrate mastery. Else crickets will chirp and kids will start throwing spit wads your way.
If I were an administrator, I would embrace Common Core but I would turn a skeptical eye on store bought curriculum, instead insisting that my staff be well-trained Masters or above instructors versed in neuroanatomy, learning theory, student engagement practices, pedagogy, and the use of valid and reliable measures of mastery.

Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 15, 2016 8:34 pm

I’d feel a whole lot better about this if educators framed it rather than Governors.
I too am an educator …

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  usurbrain
May 15, 2016 10:17 am

The dumbing-down started with grade-inflation at places like Harvard, Stanford, and Cal during the Vietnam War.
To defend some college courses: covering more topics does mean less depth all other things equal…except that at the college-level, the student is expected to operate more independently. You can’t have it both ways – complaining a college course uses the same text as a high school course, then complaining the college course covers more material than the high school course.
You are correct that too many high schools treat their students as college-bound. Many cities have gone to “magnet” programs to solve the issue of “tracks”…elite college-bound students go to one, trade students to another, arts to another, etc.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
May 15, 2016 8:16 pm

I’m not sure about the U.S. but in Canada high schools education is full of “electives”, while senior algebra, chemistry and physics are noncompulsory. Thus, when students of modest ability (everybody gets a chance), arrive at university, the education has to start from behind.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
May 16, 2016 3:18 pm

, point of clarification.
You said –>> You can’t have it both ways – complaining a college course uses the same text as a high school course, then complaining the college course covers more material than the high school course.
I said –>>
I dug out the Chemistry book,1950 publishing date, and the depth of fundamentals was noticeably higher. The only thing the MIT course offered was more topics. Thus Less Depth and More Topics.
I was an instructor in the Navy. With the implementation of Transistors, one of my assignment was to develop a 4 week course (8 hours a day) on “Advanced Transistor Theory” for non-college, HS diploma only Sailors. The aim was to give them the knowledge needed to troubleshoot and repair the new transistorized equipment. Basically, I took an existing college level course (text used at UConn at the time) and developed lesson plans and training material and help from an Army Technical manual with out the calculus. Thus the course was taught using only Algebra and some Trigonometry. The colleges/universities haven’t decreased the level to that point, however, they sure are approaching that level. I noticed important, but difficult to understand/teach concepts are left out and not taught. That is my point of “Less Depth.” Often the student is given the knowledge of HOW it works, but not WHY it works that way.

Jim G1
Reply to  usurbrain
May 15, 2016 11:55 am

“Soon, the SIFY story of the robots taking over will be true, and the population will be to d..b to do anything about it.”
More likey, soon the movie “Idiocracy” will become reality. It already is in Washington DC.

Ian L. McQueen
May 15, 2016 8:58 am

In the talks that I have given on the subject of climate, I have boiled it down to a conflict between facts and beliefs. Facts are based on the scientific method. Beliefs are too often based on consensus, another term for which is “everyone knows” (and unfortunately, they don’t).
Ian M

Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
May 15, 2016 11:46 am

Ian McQueen,
That’s it exactly. It explains why skepticism is essential.
Believers are never skeptics. That would be a contradiction. Climate alarmists are never skeptics. If they were, they wouldn’t be climate alarmists.

George Steiner
May 15, 2016 9:43 am

And how exactly does science work?

Reply to  George Steiner
May 15, 2016 11:32 am

Here’s a brief overview of how science works. Enjoy!

Science or Fiction
Reply to  George Steiner
May 15, 2016 2:08 pm

The one minute video clip in this comment is to the point:
J. Philip Peterson May 15, 2016 at 5:34 am
“The key to science” by Richard Feynman
Based on Popper´s writings I would say:
What characterize the strive for knowledge, is the manner of trying to prove wrong, in every conceivable way, the theoretical system to be tested. The aim is not to save the lives of untenable systems but to expose them all to the fiercest struggle for survival. A system is corroborated by the possibility for proving it wrong and the severity of the tests it has been exposed to and survived – and not at all by inductive reasoning in favor of it.

Science or Fiction
Reply to  George Steiner
May 15, 2016 11:40 pm

I would recommend you to go to the source. The first 26 pages of the The logic of scientific discovery contains the essence of Karl Popper´s scientific method. It´s easy reading from the Master himself. Enjoy some soothing reading.
It would be nice to hear what you think of it. 🙂

Michael Jankowski
May 15, 2016 9:49 am

Of course, lots of university students in the US in science, math, and engineering are from foreign nations. Some stay here when they’re done and others return overseas.

May 15, 2016 9:59 am

There is an university where I live that has an environmental science program. The program is chaired by an associate professor who also writes a science column in the local paper. Now the science column can be informative for a layman like me at times but gave up reading it for his constant AGW, CAGW bias.
Here part of the course outline,
The Environmental Science Bachelor of Science degree is an interdisciplinary degree in which students take a core curriculum along with an area of specialization. The core curriculum is designed to provide students with knowledge of the fundamental biological, chemical, physical and applied aspects integral to the field of environmental science. In addition, students receive exposure to many of the human dimensions that underlie environmental issues. This approach ensures a uniform preparation among students and allows for the development of a diversity of expertise necessary to address the complexity of present environmental problems and future unanticipated ones.
Did you notice this, “In addition, students receive exposure to many of the human dimensions that underlie environmental issues”. Would I not be correct in saying somewhat biased. They are training scientists in dogma.

May 15, 2016 11:13 am

My high school science class, around 1980, was really at an elementary school level. Several other classes were also at a very low level. The dumbing down of education was well under way by then.
On a separate topic, joelobryan May 15, 2016 at 8:37 am said;
Government per se is not the problem, it is usually politics and religion practiced by the governing political class that interferes to create the problem of biased science.
Here in the US, our 1st Amendment bars the government from practising religion by forbidding the passage laws based on religions….
…What happens when a faith-based belief system comes along to control a society, but does not call itself a religion?
The 1st amendment interpretation you offer is not the interpretation intended by its original authors of the establishment clause. Rather, you are referring to the re-definion of the words by the Supreme Court. The irony is that those who support the government’s establishment of the atheist faith in things like science curriculum, have the ability to do so, according to the original writers of the constitution. But, it manages to get other views excluded by the schools, by using the redefinition of the establishment clause.
-Joe Dunfee

May 15, 2016 11:37 am

It is past time for science to be a mandatory course at all educational levels. For all college students an introductory science course should be required that includes the history and philosophy of science as well as the basics of the scientific method (you know, the real one, that starts with ‘the scientific method works by disproof, not by proof). All science majors should be required to take a similar, but more intensive course.
Also,from the MasterResource website, a quote from Socrates, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

May 15, 2016 11:54 am

Key points:
1) What did Obama do in 8 years to improve education? Nothing.
2) What did Obama do regarding education? Ended the DC voucher program.
3) What happened to tuition over the past 8 years?
Facts are liberals have absolutely no answers or solutions for education because they are beholden to the very organizations that are destroying it.
Best way to improve education:
1) Hire experts to teach in their areas of expertise. No more teaching certificates. I have an MA and Dr degree and can not teach in the public school system, but I can and have taught at the universities.
2) Teachers must pass qualifying board exams. If they claim to be professionals, they should be held to professional standards.
3) Professionals don’t and can’t unionize.
4) Incentive pay for better teachers. Bad teachers get fired.
5) Teachers must show a population adjusted improvement for the students that they teach. Teachers that teach in bad neighborhoods would be compared to other teachers teaching the same children.
6) School choice is mandatory.
7) Proper metrics about each school and teacher would be published so parents can make informed decisions.
8) Public schools must be willing to lease unused property and rooms to private schools.
9) Cost saving mechanisms must be instilled in the system, where a parent that choose as less costly school can pocket some of the cash in a 529 college saving plan. The private school my son attends costs 1/3 of what is spent on the public schools. If you gave me a $15,000 voucher, I would spend $5,000 on the better private school, $5,000 could be returned to the State/Local Gov’t, and $5,000 could go into a 529 College Savings Account for my son. That is now obscene the spending on public schools is. You can literally pay for a college education with the waste spent in the public school system, and the education they provide is pure garbage.

Reply to  co2islife
May 15, 2016 8:27 pm

For college costs: No college or university increasing the total cost of tuition and mandatory fees more than the CPI of the previous year will be allowed to participate in the government student loan program for five years.

Gunga Din
May 15, 2016 1:43 pm

If something is “free’ on a nationwide level, then some are profiting in someway. (“Profit” isn’t always measured in dollars and cents.)

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
May 15, 2016 1:52 pm

And what science are they being taught? Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” with any rebuttal being failed?
I don’t know. Do you?
PS I remember in grade school back in the 60’s (vaguely) an article about Finland with it’s scarce resources turning to recycling on a major scale.

May 15, 2016 2:26 pm

Mr. Ball,
First, I think this, like the many presentations I’ve read (or watched) of yours, is excellent. Thank you.
“Climate skeptics struggle with getting the majority of people to understand the problems with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) anthropogenic global warming (AGW) story.”
It seems to me, nobody special, that part of that difficulty stems from terminology used as “shorthand”, to describe those who are skeptical of there being a climate crisis, as alleged by the UN. Folks keep hearing that some people deny or are skeptical of climate, when in truth, it’s the crisis aspect that those some (most here) are skeptical of.
According to polling I have seen, so are the vast majority of people at large, since concern about climate change consistently ranks at or near the bottom, when people are presented with a list of potential concerns. That, to me, indicates folks in general are skeptical that there is a climate crisis.
Therefor, I suggest you (we) insert the word ‘crisis’ into the shorthand label (or just use ‘skeptics’ when using it mid discussion, as you did in that sentence I quoted). This would, perhaps, get some unconcerned people to realize they are, by definition, also climate crisis skeptics . . .

May 15, 2016 2:28 pm

I teach geology classes at 3 different colleges to non-science majors. I have a sneaky way of teaching them some basic chemistry, math, and physics that they need for some of their lab exercises. They actually pay attention and get macho about it. When I teach climate change, I use some of John Coleman’s slides 🙂 – I start with “How did all this global warming stuff start in the US?” When I teach energy resources – I draw from Donn Dears book, “Nothing to Fear” and I teach them how to evaluate energy resources from an “economics” point of view. Face it, non-science majors will never get into the nitty gritty of science training. It turns them off. But you can get them into thinking about certain topics in a more comprehensive way.
Unfortunately, teaching jobs have become so political and the big trend that I see lately is for schools to get federal money for “sustainability” classes and “green” projects on campus. Science departments are keen on getting into that. I think we should steer clear of adding more fuel to the fire. Luckily for me, I can always refer back to “what do we see in the rock record?” and I keep the politically charged issues light. The students make posters on the theme of energy, mineral, and water resources of our state and they find out how much fluff there is out there. I even have them reading their electric bills (though I don’t tell them to) and they know the difference between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours.

Reply to  loisannjohnson
May 15, 2016 2:39 pm

Teachers like you give me hope.

Reply to  dbstealey
May 15, 2016 6:23 pm

You might want to teach some basics of United Nations Agenda 21. Look up Rosa Koire…

May 15, 2016 4:53 pm

The limited frame of reference encouraged by the scientific method is constraining and inconvenient. The conflation of logical domains and intellectual processes has progressed with each generation.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  n.n
May 15, 2016 8:39 pm

And it’s responsible for most human progress.

Reply to  n.n
May 16, 2016 4:12 pm

“The limited frame of reference encouraged by the scientific method is constraining and inconvenient.”
Not as constraining and inconvenient as the results of creating policy based on misconception. Bringing down civilization because it’s too inconvenient to think or to ask questions is no rational solution.

May 15, 2016 5:12 pm

The first one to find out that poor children could be taught advanced mathematics–and cheaply at that–was Joseph Lancaster in the slums of London in the mid-1800’s. His secret was getting the kids to do most of the work by working in groups together, with a reward system not so different from today’s stickers. This became the basis of the American One-room schoolhouse that once made America the greatest country on Earth. With the replacement of this system with the current usual “Taylorian” sysetem, starndards declined, not only in academics, but discipline, Socialization in the best sense of that word, and civic character. A great deal of what is wrong with America (and even Europe) today can be found in that change.
An excellent 3-page introduction can be found at

May 15, 2016 10:23 pm

Henry Bauer argues that what students need to understand science as citizens is not science courses, but courses in the sociology of science, otherwise known as STS–Science and Technology Studies.

May 16, 2016 2:41 am

Thanks to a singularly persuasive geography lecturer at an adult education college in the eighties, I was a true believer in man-made global warming. My epiphany occurred a few years ago when I realised that not only was I actually in possession of the information needed to disprove the theory but that I had known this for over forty years. When I was a boy, I had read the Icelandic, so I knew that the Norse had grown crops in Greenland which do not grow there now because it is too cold. Therefore, it was warmer then than it is now. From Peter Connolly’s discussion of where Hannibal crossed the Alps (with its citation of H Hubert Lamb’s work on the snowline) I knew that it was warmer in Roman times than it is now. Archaelogical work showing that the Romans grew vines as far north as what is now Lincoln in England, where they don’t grow now, confirm that it is colder now than it was then.
I had had all this information for decades yet failed to make the connection because I had compartmentalised ‘science’ and ‘literature’ and ‘history’ etc in separate little boxes in my mind. When I broke free of this box mentality, I was easily able to understand John L Daly’s ‘The Hockey Stick: A New Low in Climate Science’.
My point is, we do not all need to be ‘climate scientists’ to understand what is happening, or what is possible or not possible. But we do need an approach to education that widens the frames of reference in which we consider science. For example, somebody above suggested that Mathematics is an art, as well as a science.
Well, consider the two times table. Is this not a poem displaying a perfect example of the artistic technique of incremental repetition whereby as in each verse one item is altered, the conclusion to that verse is changed?
Consider an algebraic formula, eg: a2 + b2 = c2
Yes, it is Pythagoras’ Theorem, but is it not also the instructions for drawing a picture?
For most people, I suspect it is this box mentality that is the problem.

Brian H
May 16, 2016 2:44 am

It would be sufficient if it was widely understood that science can disprove bad guesses, but never prove good ones. “I knew from the start that the goal was to ‘prove’ the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis, not to disprove it.” so that goal is doubly hopeless — proving a bad guess.

May 16, 2016 5:13 am

What should be mandatory is a class in criminology where all the variations of a “confidence game” are presented. Then a seminar to demonstrate how high-pressure sales and marketing tactics reliably manipulate people to make choices against their best interests. CAGW: the scam and the scammers.

Reply to  mairon62
May 16, 2016 8:17 am

I like it!

Reply to  mairon62
May 16, 2016 4:45 pm

YES! Manipulation is an underhanded crime and it currently features at all levels. Yes, I DO call it a crime and I have certainly suffered under it. For years. It is only through recognizing it that one can begin to disconnect from the levers that these low-lifes create and then manipulate.
Guilt by far is the worst “charge” thrown at us by these people. I want to see guilt-just-for-existing thrown out and healthy human pride given back to our kids. They deserve so much better than what they are getting.

May 16, 2016 11:12 am

I can tell you that the germans schools are not anymore waht they are 25-30 years ago!If you know we had normally 3 different school types 1 for the elite,1 for the middle,1 for people who mostly work after the school at Mechanics,Backers etc.-back in time most so called “MAsters in jobs like Mechanics where on the badest school,but they where smarter than the most people who are today on the “Elite School called Gymnasium!”-after the Gym. you can do a Studium-and a lot of people are to stupid for it-back in time it was not like this.
I knew a guy who Study but he dindt knew Math what 30 years ago every 11 year old kid knew!HE sayed:I didnt study Mathematics!
One girl from the Gym. sayed she didnt learn anything for life,but heard 10 years in every hour about Nazis…(25 years ago we learned nearly nothing about nazis).
Also today in the Gym. when they must do a Test in 9 Class for the so called ABITUR-they get ALL INFORMATIONS fo rthe TEST WITH THE TEST!!!You must only read and understand than you know the answer!!!
They made a test with the kids like t was back in time-and nearly nobody knews the answer!You didnt must learn anything today at the so called “Elite School Gymnasium”.Thats a joke!The only thing they can do are Journalists or Gender Activists or stupid things like this.
Also today we have nearly NO MORE Teachers for GERMAN who know all the rules for german or made no mistakes!!!A Germanist sayed his Students cant write more than 3 phrases without mistakes!
40 years ago nearly all people wrote a better german with nearly no mistakes!Even child who was on a special school for slow learning people.
Germany is f…. up!

May 16, 2016 3:16 pm

There are nice big “Scientific Method” posters available on-line for about $2 apiece. Maybe if parents sent their children to school with posters for their teachers, it would remind both the teachers and the students of the essentials.

Michael 2
May 16, 2016 5:46 pm

Karl asserts “Common Core has nothing to do with teaching methods.”
Your mileage seems to vary.
Or this incredibly convoluted successive approximation method in Common Core:
Now here’s Carney explaining the new way subtraction is taught:
They key to (new way) is realizing this subtraction problem is asking you to measure the distance between 474 and 195. You do that, in turn, by measuring the distance between landmarks (easy, round numbers). It’s turning math into a road map. [I wonder how many third graders are comfortable with road maps?]
So 474-195.
Starting point is 195. How do we get to 474? Well, first we’ll drive to 200.
(1) 200 is 5 from 195 (involves its own subtraction!)
(2) 400 is 200 from 200 (involves an addition)
(3) 474 is 74 from 400 (involves a subtraction)
(5) 74+200 = 274. (involves addition)
(6) 274 + 5 = 279. (involves addition)
What was the old way?
Start at the right column. I see at a glance that 5 cannot be taken from 4, but it can from 14.
You’ve “borrowed” a 1 from the next left column. You’ll be doing it again for the 10’s column.
The problem becomes
3 16 14
-1 9 5
If you want to get technical and accurately portray values in the process it becomes this:

Reply to  Michael 2
May 16, 2016 9:26 pm

The old way is the good way. It is the quickest and wisest….

May 17, 2016 7:29 am

In his little book `The Art of the Soluble` (1972) Peter Medawar put it in a different but similar way: “Just as the spread of compulsory education created a market for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly of tertiary education has created a large population of people often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have not been sufficiently educated in these fields for them to undertake analytical thought”..
James Gleick in Genius` (1996) pointed the way to improvement by adapting Richard Feynman`s acceptance of “the primacy of doubt, not as blemish on our ability to know, but as the essence of knowing”.

May 17, 2016 7:29 am

An interesting illumination as to how Science has become infected with PR;

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