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8851  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Brits -whats your impression of this story? on: October 20, 2007, 08:48:41 pm
8852  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 08:30:42 pm
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Lots of non scientists completely don't believe in Global Warming

There's a difference between dismissing or questioning hypotheticals (like man made climate change) and dismissing clear and indisputable facts (such as that the average global temperature has been increasing for some time now.) Though one can always quibble and nit pick at how those statistics are gathered; they certainly show a major trend.

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If there was legitimate evidence otherwise, they would get it published. The fact is, that there have probably been many many times more peer reviewed papers on climate change than there were peer reviewed papers in Physics in 1904.

Now I should perhaps stay silent; as I don't really know in full detail how the process of peer-reviewing papers actually works.. all I will say is that sounds like a system which is open to abuse especially if one ideology tends to be dominant among scientists. (Going back to the 19th Century, how widely accepted was Social Evolutionism again? Though I accept your point on peer reviewed papers.)

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There are plenty of things we don't know, but it is clear that humans have a significant impact on current climate change. You can argue over how much that impact is, and how accurate the models are, but that we have a significant impact is scientific fact.

For the moment anyway.
8853  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post something blatantly untrue about the preceding poster on: October 20, 2007, 08:24:40 pm
Sensei didn't once write a book possibly not entitled "Don't do what Donny Don't Does" while not serving time in prison for a crime he possibly did not commit - it might not have been child-bestiality rape and did not hunt down Gully Foyle due to constant non-searching of the official court records; which may not have existed. He was later arrested for using too much confusing negatives in one paragraph; or perhaps not.
8854  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post something blatantly untrue about the preceding poster on: October 20, 2007, 08:18:58 pm
Was once arrested for sexually harrasing a baby penguin which trying to frame someone for cannabalism.
8855  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 08:13:33 pm
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Your argument shows a grave misunderstanding of the scientific process. You can be dead wrong in science, this isn't humanities "you are always right" bullsh**t. It's one thing to question the whether the correct scientific model is completely accurate, it's another thing to put your head in the sand.

The clear scientific consensus is global warming is happening. What's not so clear is what is the best scientific model for climate change. Ice is melting faster in the Artic than predicted.

Where did I say Science was similiar to the humanities? Yes I know in the end there can only be one final answer on this issue (whether or not Humans are responsible for Global warming or not) and whatever that answer is, I don't happen to know it, but neither does everyone else on this forum and sometimes I wish that people would stop acting otherwise.

(As an aside; knowing a geologist who has worked with many soil samples, etc he told me that in previous eras there is significant evidence that the climate can change very rapidly, often for none too obvious reasons. Of course this may or may not have any relevance to the above debate. And if I was you, I would dismiss what I've just said as just some random ancedote. But still, just an aside.)
8856  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 08:08:23 pm
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Two points.

First, we are talking about the general idea of global warming, which is definitely not wrong. This is separate from a discussion of climate models, which can always be refined to be better and better.

Secondly, about science in 2007 versus science in 1887 or 1904. There are most liekly more peer reviewed scientific papers published every year now than there were total in all of human history then.

I was taking Global warming = That mankind is to blame for said hypothesis in my first post; GW is just simple shorthand and I think everyone can realize what I mean. I don't think anyone doubts that the earth is getting hotter; the question of why is another matter.

As for Science now compared to Science in the early 20th Century\late 19th well I'm sure what you said is semi accurate; but it still doesn't exclude possibility of a hive mentality - or for that matter, people just being wrong. (Or as the Scientists of Haliburton show, have a special interest in maintaining hysteria.)

Basically if you want my position it's this: I don't know whether GW (caused by human activity, etc) is real or not nor does every scientist (though the majority do) and I think the debate on this is being totally distorted by those on the both the left and right to make this scientific hypothesis fit into a mere political agenda. But furthermore and not just because of the above scientific data it would be immoral given our position not to take action to stop global warming. That is the Action meaning actually doing things and not Action the word.
8857  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 07:48:05 pm
Nice try, hack, but the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment didn't fit with the ether model, which had no evidence for it. You lose. I really hope that you aren't going to try to claim that science in 1887 is the same as science in 2007.

I really hope you don't think that science can't be influenced by outside factors today like it was in 1887 (and not just Ether; Evolutionism, anyone? Funny I should mention that in regards to science, whether modern or Victorian) anyway while I'm not an expert on this by any means Ether wasn't really disproved until another hypothetical model came along - also known as Einstein's theory of Relativity.

Of course I'm not saying that all those 928 reports are wrong; just that they could be wrong and there is some historical basis to believe that. Which is quite different.

I fail to see how I am a hack.
8858  General Politics / Political Debate / What should be taught in Schools? on: October 20, 2007, 07:34:15 pm
Whenever the issue of education is brought up on this forum it's nearly put forward as an arguement simply between Public (or state run) Schooling versus Private (Really Semi-Private) Schooling; the arguements mainly being confined to whether the Private sector should be allowed to expand in order to boost failing public schools or whether the state should intervene to financially support the public school system. What is never discussed is in the thread title (except perhaps funnily enough, if it involves Sex Education) or what exactly is the defintion of Education, or why do some kids fail and other succeed at school; Is it solely because of the personality and lack of effort of the individuals involved or has to do with something fundamentally wrong in the system of Education. This is my position.

This is an arguement Jas and Me have been having over two threads which mainly refers to the Irish system with all it's quirks; but as the system of education is so similiar across the western world I can't imagine too much will be lost in translation. It's a pity due to space I can't post all I have written so far so I will just quote this bit below and link to my other posts (which should be read to be get a better picture of my position):

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Not Directly. But in a much more subtle indirect way I would so say.

Let me put this way, each class in a school has a structure and that structure is pretty unchanged from the age of 4 to 18 in the Irish system. That structure is there is a teacher who is the centre of the class who is supposed to be font of the required curriculum (more on that later..) and then there are the children who rarely speak and "recieve" knowledge from the teacher, who generally rewards them somehow if they do well and absconds them if they don't. Now as this is seen as the "natural" way of teaching it may not be seen as a big deal, but there are assumptions in this method here which are very important to point out and it is this that is most often imparted in school as opposed to the "official" curriculum (Most Children forget roughly 80% iirc of all the content they learn in a class once it's over. But here I refer to is the "Hidden Curriculum" - what is learnt without even being recognized; the sort of training you get sitting in a similiar position for 14 years straight.)

1) Authority Figures, like Parents (Here Teachers) are genuinely seen to be the holders of knowledge, knowledge and education is what the teacher gives you.
2) In schools there are textbooks which give out this knowledge; which creates a division between the learning in "School" and "non-school" learning. Textbooks are useless when learning things outside of the school enviorment
3) All Questions have "right" and "wrong" answers which are not to be doubted as they held by the authority figure to be truth; accepting the "right" answer (regardless of whether it is 2+2=4 or to be more nebelous, a good story.) without question is the name of the game. ("The first thing you learn in school is to learn how to lie - HL Mencken) Those who are wrong; perhaps because they are just not interested in the subject or just don't have academic ability in it are often punished - a system where praise (and thus Status; especially towards ones parents who love to have straight A grade child) and derision is often given out by how much you accept what the teacher says. So it's no surprise that the least gifted (or for that matter, the most gifted) get alienated from the system.
4) Our civilisation, which is based on Questions, is not even taught in schools. It's an Authoritian system of knowledge driven mainly by an industrial set up. (Ever noticed how Schools and Offices are often alike? Or Schools and Prisons for that matter?)

Now of course here I'm really referring to the first years of Education which are formative of the rest of Ireland's formal system.

But add to this the Curriculum, We both know about the pointless endavour of Irish and the Cultural\Political reasons behind it. But let's look more closely at how each subject (and that's another thing - that division is totally arbirtary. Another thing you learn in School, History is History, Maths is Maths, English is English, Mechanacial engineering is Mechanacial engineering. And never the twain shall meet. I'm a believer in the idea to have true understanding of anything you need to understand it's history. But this form of Education I'm referring to how has nothing to do with Understanding) is taught and what is taught.

- Maths: Actually I think in the Irish system the teaching of Maths is one of the better things about it as shows coginitive ability at abstract taught and unlike most another subjects can't really be bluffed at an exam. But here again comes into my point about the division of ideas; in Maths education we never shown why Calculus? The idea of learning is divorced from function; while I'm not a fan of the idea that education should be "relevant" in Mediaspeak (in other words, made fit into a way which suits students who cram for exams) I just think that this is yet another example of the idea the system alienates students; many of whom actually are interested in knowing stuff. Not to mention that Maths must be continued till age 18; against the interests of most students. Even from the functional POV this is mass Stupidity; if Children show no ability at Maths why keep them on after say 12 once numerical ability becomes obvious; will they repent once they hit Algebra and decide to become Engineers? Don't be silly.

- History: This is a particular issue of mine; let's take the Junior Cert History Syllabus I did back in 2003 - or to be more precise the exam itself (The paper is here: http://www.examinations.ie/archive/exampapers/2003/JC004ALP1EV.pdf) to keep things simple I gave I kept to the essay questions:

Example A: Write one of three following personal accounts:
- A lord or lady of a Medevil Castle.
- A farmer in Pre-Christian Ireland
- A named Religious reformer.

This is a form of biography; but in the end of Trivial biography. Actually that's 80% of Irish schools teach is trivia. When discussing Luther or Pre-Christian Ireland the textbooks usually went into fairly detailed (for 15 year olds) information about personal lives; but they failed to show why these things matterd; why they should be taught; what is their impact today In other words; it created a totally artifical division between history and the present. The fractured nature of the curriculum (inevitable in such a short space of time) makes this issue even worse. In other words, the majority of information students learn about history is school is mainly the gather of trivia; such as say the lives of Lords and ladies - purely an academic interest - without even the idea of context. I believe History matters too much to be divorced from the modern day world like it is in school (and I won't go into how school textbooks often try to justify Irish Nationalism.. it's not that their wrong per se; but rather that they are ideological at all. But then again I'm against textbooks)

Now I'm running out of space; and I want to watch the Rugby. And I've even explained my starting point. I told you I could bore for Ireland on this topic. If you to learn what I actually stand for and put the above in a much more coherent manner that there is Neil Postman's book Teaching as a subversive activity - 40 years old but still very, very relevant. And to be brief, here is what I am for: The Socratic Method

From Here: http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=61532.0 and there is also a bit here (which started the discussion): http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=63950.msg1320166#new

Discuss.

8859  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 07:15:42 pm
For anyone to wishing to debate Education it has been to moved to a different thread: here

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The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

Case closed.

The 1904 worldwide Physicists convention thanks you for proving the existence of Ether. Move along now.

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I don't agree with your second point about 'smear claims.'

Certain people do have an agenda to make it look like there is not a consensus on a scientific theory when there really is-- oil corporations say that there are plenty of credible scientists who don't believe in man-influenced global climate change, and creationists say that there are credible scientists (mostly pediatricians, probably) who don't believe in natural selection

Yes I have no doubt that certain interest groups are trying to manipulate facts to pull the situation in their favour; that I am in no doubt of. What I am critical of is tarring all skeptical scientists with the same brush.

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Sorry this is completely off topic, but I do want to post in response to your thoughts about Global Warming.  I think what you're saying is certainly an opinion that a lot of people hold but don't share because, like you, they feel they might not be the best qualified.  But i has become much more than a science issue and I think every person is at least someone qualified to say something about it, since if true, will affect each and every one of us.

I totally agree.. ish, I was merely referring to how the debate is being conducted. I am being critical of those who seem to put their faith in some "scientific consensus" or use the potential findings to gain political points.
8860  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Senior clergy asks president to maroon all gays on an island on: October 20, 2007, 04:59:36 pm
This thread is funny because of this article I found on the internet:

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Int'l Rights Group Accuses Bush Admin. Of Funding African Violent Attacks On Gays
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 10,  2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(New York City) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Thursday that it has uncovered evidence that the Bush administration has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

In a letter to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, IGLHRC criticized the funding and asked for assurances that future will not be used to support homophobic organizations anywhere in the world.

The IGLHRC said it began an investigation into the groups following a series of events in Uganda this summer.

At an August 16 press conference, Sexual Minorities of Uganda - a coalition of LGBT groups - launched Let us Live in Peace Campaign, calling for understanding and respect of sexual minorities. (story)

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and is punishable by between 14 years and life imprisonment. Last year, the Ugandan Parliament passed a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriages illegal.

The Let us Live in Peace campaign was met with an increase in hate speech by religious groups.

The primary instigator of the backlash, said the IGLHRC, was Pastor Martin Ssempa, leader of the Makerere University Community Church and spokesman for the Interfaith Family Culture Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda.

Ssempa organized an August 21 rally in Kampala at which more than one hundred demonstrators, including several government officials, demanded official action against LGBT people.

Ssempa has called homosexuality, "a criminal act against the laws of nature," and has said that, "there should be no rights granted to homosexuals in this country."

According to the U.S. Embassy in Uganda's website, Makerere University Community Church received a grant under a program designed to provide funds for AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs in Africa.

Ssempa and his coalition, which includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals, have threatened the safety of Ugandan LGBT rights activists by posting their names, photos and addresses on a website.

With support from conservative organizations such as Family Watch International in the United States, Ssempa has launched attacks not only on homosexuals but on Uganda's women's rights and HIV activists as well, the IGLHRC said.

"The U.S. government's funding is meant to alleviate suffering and support effective AIDS initiatives in Africa, not to further blame and stigmatize already marginalized groups," said IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick.

IGLHRC said it provided Ambassador Dybul with evidence of grants made by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Makerere University Community Church.

The IGLHRC also said it found that the Uganda Muslim Tabliqh Women's Desk has also received a grant under the President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to implement HIV programs in Masaka District.

Recently, Muslim Tabliqh youth announced a plan to form an 'Anti-Gay Squad' to fight homosexuality in Uganda.

On 28 August 2007, Sheikh Multah Bukenya, a senior cleric in the Tabliqh Organization, was quoted during prayers at Noor Mosque in Kampala as saying that his followers are "ready to act swiftly and form this squad that will wipe out all abnormal practices like homosexuality in our society."

PEPFAR is a $15 billion Bush administration fund to fight AIDS in Africa.

According to IGLHRC's 2007 report, "Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS Programming is Failing Same-Sex Practicing People in Africa," less than U.S. $1 million targets HIV programs for men who have sex with men in Africa, despite strong evidence that HIV has a disproportionate impact on LGBT communities throughout the continent.

According to IGLHRC, the complicated PEPFAR sub-granting process lacks transparency and makes it difficult to track the funding.

"What we do know, is that few PEPFAR dollars are being used to fight HIV among gay men in Africa," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Specialist for Africa.

"Not only have African men who have sex with men been largely ignored with regard to HIV prevention services, but avowedly homophobic organizations are receiving funding for programs that will only further stigmatize homosexuality. This has to stop."

IGLHRC has called for increased transparency in the distribution of U.S. government HIV/AIDS funding internationally and a commitment by U.S. administrators that organizations espousing hate speech will not be funded.

Shock! etc.
8861  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 04:58:22 pm
My main problem with the global warming debate is that some people, especially in the media, like to make it out that there is a consensus. It's true that in the scientific community certain aspects of global warming theory are widely held as true, but there is not a consensus on many of the specifics such as how much is natural and how much is man-made and the overall effects. I'm fine if people simply have a differing opinion on the subject than I do, but I don't like it when people pretend there's a consensus that doesn't exist.

True.

But I also hate the fact that certain ideologues try to rubbish that said widespread view without any scientific knowledge so they defend their previous ideology.

I also hate the fact that enviormentalism is often in my mind associated with a form of Societal masochism, perhaps neo-Puritianism comes to mind? Though that's something I shall have to expand upon.
8862  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Is the mainstream media biased against Ron Paul? on: October 20, 2007, 04:55:14 pm
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Statically they are ahead in the polls and Im not a person that believes you should give someone at 20 percent and someone at 1 percent the same amount of time

Why not?
8863  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: October 20, 2007, 04:19:29 pm
South Africa won.. Yay!

Now you may be wondering, But Gully what does that have to do with Consumerism?.. Well.. Quite a bit.

The decisions we make as adults are conditioned by the events and surroundings of our childhood; of which School is clearly an important part (but how important is difficult to determine) and as I have shown imo the two most vital things one learns in school is 1) how to adapt to the social structure; a classroom is like an office, an industrial plant, etc in it's hierachial structure those that succeed are often those who play best to the system (not neccesarily the most intelligent; not even always the most book smart) and 2) the distinction between what is important and what is not is based on trivia (such as the lives of Lord and ladies of manors) and not in any way connected to the tangiable world outside.

Therefore this feeds into consumerism and alienation felt often by those of lesser class as well; okay I don't think it's the main factor for the rise of consumerism or alienation but it does exist. Any system which rewards the ability to think inside the system is almost incestuous; outside ideas are dangerous.. and as schools don't teach the ability to question the world around the students or even engage in it in a serious way then it creates an enviorment of distance between "intellectualism" and "the real world"; which is seen to be highly desirable and whose status in which is often marked by material goods.

Here I quote Postman twice, as he is more eloquent than me on this topic:

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In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.

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In plain, what passes for a curriculum in today's schools is little else than a strategy of distraction... It is largely defined to keep students from knowing themselves and their environment in any realistic sense; which is to say, it does not allow inquiry into most of the critical problems that comprise the content of the world outside the school (...one of the main differences between the "advantaged" student and the "disadvantaged" is that the former has an economic stake in giving his attention to the curriculum while the latter does not. In other words, the only relevance of the curriculum for the "advantaged" student is that, if he does what he is told, there will be a tangible payoff.)

And many more here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Neil_Postman#Teaching_as_a_Subversive_Activity_.281969.29

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Our levels of electoral turnout aren't bad. We have free and open elections at multiple levels and regular referenda to boot. We have the rule of law; solid Constitutional protections; and human rights legislation.

Sure, I'm not delighted with the current crop of politicans - but the people giveth and the people can taketh away. I don't think I can agree that our democracy is 'degraded'.

You are making the fatal (and very common) mistake of confusing elections with Democracy; Democracy is about debate and there is almost none of that in Ireland right now. The business of elections is dominated by Media machines and other Financial interests which often try and shy away from what is known as "The issues" and when "The issues" are confronted by any party it usually ends that all the parties nearly speak from the same hymn sheet.

Watch Questions & Answers much? Then you know what a joke "debate" in this democracy consists of. And if we don't have debate and discussion among the populace about where we are going and what is our function as a society and how it should be ordered than all we doing is handing power over to (an often morally bankrupt) Political class which wields power as is it's will. Which is what has happened all over the western world; and is growing more and more Authoritian. And whatever opposition there is tends to come from extremism (of both left and right) and from Waco-type conspiracists.

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Is Irish culture dumb?

Anne Enright has just won the Man Booker Prize, just two years after John Banville. Not all that long ago Seamus Heaney won the Nobel for Literature. Of course, I would be writing for quite some time if I was to even just list highly rated Irish writers from times past and indeed present, be they poets, novelists, playrights, etc. We're not lacking in terms of filmmakers, musicians or comedians either. Beyond the arts, we have a strong sporting culture; our own language and our own 'take' on another.

I think as a nation we stand out and this is strongly helped by a strong sense of cultural identity.

You are again making another mistake; using high culture as a barometer. When I meant culture I refererred in general to what the average person does with his life outside of the parameters of work, etc - what does (s)he do, what is his\her reason to be and how is this shown in a mass context?. A book by Jordan outsold all the man Booker entries combined in the UK; should I don't think that Enright entirely defines what I am describing.

What I am describing though is mainly RTE and the tabloids and the aforementioned consumerism, and no I don't try to be some patrician who looks down upon the habits of the plebs as inferior to my own (actually that last bit of that second Postman quote is very relevant here.) and I would not consider myself the most "cultured" person myself; far from it. But there are certain cultures which are compitable with democracy and those that are not; Ireland's present values (or even historical ones; replace consumerism with "The Catholic Church") Imo are not compitable to the true idea of Democracy.

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I do think that changes should be made to second level education in the country in a number of areas, but one stong point in favour of the points system is that it is a completely objective, impartial system. It's nice to know that it doesn't matter who you are in terms of your family background or class or where you're from or whatever - the CAO computer will treat everyone the same. But I'll certainly agree with you on the lack of definitive correlation between points and intelligence, something that I surprised time and again in college.

It's Meritocratic only in theory. Anyone whose ever been to a Rugby school on the Southside of Dublin can tell you this easily. Grind Schools, anyone? (Which I despise as they are the opposite of education; though I'm not complaining about how I got a B in leaving cert Classical studies thanks to attending one. Hey, if the system is there to be abused and you have the means..)

Anyway in terms of Class most of the real problems already begin once the baby is out of the womb; never mind schooling.

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Secondly, I don't think many Leaving Cert exam setters would claim that their papers test 'intelligence', they test knowledge in a particular subject area. One's intelligence per se isn't officially tested, but then why should it?

It only tests the ability to regurgitate trivia. Which is sometimes mistaken for intelligence.
8864  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post something blatantly untrue about the preceding poster on: October 20, 2007, 03:38:06 pm
Has a shrine to Bernd the Bread in his bedroom where he and the bread discuss the best way to find out Gully Foyle's address and Real Name in order to go to Dublin in order to avenege a grevious insult made on the Trondheim family name.
8865  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: October 20, 2007, 03:34:12 pm
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I think the aim of producing a potential workforce is a legitimate one. It's quite simply necessary for our economy to function. Literacy and numeracy rates are very high. Over half of our young people now go on to third level education. Advancement through the education system is now reasonably meritocratic. I think these are all positives.

I never said they weren't positive; just that we should aspire to more than that. It depends on whether we wish to see ourselves more as a society driven by ideals or purely by economic concerns; all goverments over the past 150 years or so have chosen the latter. Though personality from experience I think it's waste of time to have about half of the student population in education after the age of 14 (to pick a rough estimate).. and if we keep the current situation as it is I don't think employers will complain too much on missing out learning Intregal Calculus or Bismarck's Foreign Policy.

But I don't think have such an industrial like system of Education is good for Children or inevitably for Society as a whole. Also those Literacy and Numeracy statistics you state are very relative; how do you define those terms? (I not saying that Ireland has a bad standard here or anything; but statistics in this tend to vary alot on criteria.)

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I don't think that it's the education system which is responsible for the rise of consumer culture or conspicuous consumption.

Not Directly. But in a much more subtle indirect way I would so say.

Let me put this way, each class in a school has a structure and that structure is pretty unchanged from the age of 4 to 18 in the Irish system. That structure is there is a teacher who is the centre of the class who is supposed to be font of the required curriculum (more on that later..) and then there are the children who rarely speak and "recieve" knowledge from the teacher, who generally rewards them somehow if they do well and absconds them if they don't. Now as this is seen as the "natural" way of teaching it may not be seen as a big deal, but there are assumptions in this method here which are very important to point out and it is this that is most often imparted in school as opposed to the "official" curriculum (Most Children forget roughly 80% iirc of all the content they learn in a class once it's over. But here I refer to is the "Hidden Curriculum" - what is learnt without even being recognized; the sort of training you get sitting in a similiar position for 14 years straight.)

1) Authority Figures, like Parents (Here Teachers) are genuinely seen to be the holders of knowledge, knowledge and education is what the teacher gives you.
2) In schools there are textbooks which give out this knowledge; which creates a division between the learning in "School" and "non-school" learning. Textbooks are useless when learning things outside of the school enviorment
3) All Questions have "right" and "wrong" answers which are not to be doubted as they held by the authority figure to be truth; accepting the "right" answer (regardless of whether it is 2+2=4 or to be more nebelous, a good story.) without question is the name of the game. ("The first thing you learn in school is to learn how to lie - HL Mencken) Those who are wrong; perhaps because they are just not interested in the subject or just don't have academic ability in it are often punished - a system where praise (and thus Status; especially towards ones parents who love to have straight A grade child) and derision is often given out by how much you accept what the teacher says. So it's no surprise that the least gifted (or for that matter, the most gifted) get alienated from the system.
4) Our civilisation, which is based on Questions, is not even taught in schools. It's an Authoritian system of knowledge driven mainly by an industrial set up. (Ever noticed how Schools and Offices are often alike? Or Schools and Prisons for that matter?)

Now of course here I'm really referring to the first years of Education which are formative of the rest of Ireland's formal system.

But add to this the Curriculum, We both know about the pointless endavour of Irish and the Cultural\Political reasons behind it. But let's look more closely at how each subject (and that's another thing - that division is totally arbirtary. Another thing you learn in School, History is History, Maths is Maths, English is English, Mechanacial engineering is Mechanacial engineering. And never the twain shall meet. I'm a believer in the idea to have true understanding of anything you need to understand it's history. But this form of Education I'm referring to how has nothing to do with Understanding) is taught and what is taught.

- Maths: Actually I think in the Irish system the teaching of Maths is one of the better things about it as shows coginitive ability at abstract taught and unlike most another subjects can't really be bluffed at an exam. But here again comes into my point about the division of ideas; in Maths education we never shown why Calculus? The idea of learning is divorced from function; while I'm not a fan of the idea that education should be "relevant" in Mediaspeak (in other words, made fit into a way which suits students who cram for exams) I just think that this is yet another example of the idea the system alienates students; many of whom actually are interested in knowing stuff. Not to mention that Maths must be continued till age 18; against the interests of most students. Even from the functional POV this is mass Stupidity; if Children show no ability at Maths why keep them on after say 12 once numerical ability becomes obvious; will they repent once they hit Algebra and decide to become Engineers? Don't be silly.

- History: This is a particular issue of mine; let's take the Junior Cert History Syllabus I did back in 2003 - or to be more precise the exam itself (The paper is here: http://www.examinations.ie/archive/exampapers/2003/JC004ALP1EV.pdf) to keep things simple I gave I kept to the essay questions:

Example A: Write one of three following personal accounts:
- A lord or lady of a Medevil Castle.
- A farmer in Pre-Christian Ireland
- A named Religious reformer.

This is a form of biography; but in the end of Trivial biography. Actually that's 80% of Irish schools teach is trivia. When discussing Luther or Pre-Christian Ireland the textbooks usually went into fairly detailed (for 15 year olds) information about personal lives; but they failed to show why these things matterd; why they should be taught; what is their impact today In other words; it created a totally artifical division between history and the present. The fractured nature of the curriculum (inevitable in such a short space of time) makes this issue even worse. In other words, the majority of information students learn about history is school is mainly the gather of trivia; such as say the lives of Lords and ladies - purely an academic interest - without even the idea of context. I believe History matters too much to be divorced from the modern day world like it is in school (and I won't go into how school textbooks often try to justify Irish Nationalism.. it's not that their wrong per se; but rather that they are ideological at all. But then again I'm against textbooks)

Now I'm running out of space; and I want to watch the Rugby. And I've even explained my starting point. I told you I could bore for Ireland on this topic. If you to learn what I actually stand for and put the above in a much more coherent manner that there is Neil Postman's book Teaching as a subversive activity - 40 years old but still very, very relevant. And to be brief, here is what I am for: The Socratic Method

8866  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: 'Social Suicide' Thread on: October 20, 2007, 02:21:15 pm
Seinfeld is one of the most boring pieces of trash in television hisotry.

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You are a horrible, horrible person.

Also can someone tell me what's so great about Lord of the Rings; quite simply one of the most boring and tedious books in existence. And the films were of average quality which (like Star Wars) just happened to have the "OMG" factor which made them successful.


It takes a real interest in fantasy to really enjoy fantasy.  It takes an interest in linguistics, culture, fantasy, politics, and war to really enjoy The Lord of the Rings.

If you thought Lord of the Rings was drawn out and tedious, read some of the other books by Tolkien!!  It begins to look like a Biblical chronology after a while:

Then Beomir begot Geomir who had two daughters, Grosstit and Nippley, who were deemed quite fertile and begot several children of their own with the brothers Inmostjab and Shallowjab.  Then along came a massive spider-like creature named Fangsnmurder and devoured a small island nation of innocent Elves.

As a matter fact I do like fantasy; actually LOTR put me off fantasy for years such was my hatred of it. I prefer Michael Moorcock as a matter of fact.
8867  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 06:17:21 am
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I suppose it depends on what you expect/want out of an education system. Our system wasn't developed with the aim of producing a large number of citizen philosophers certainly.

Well Obviously. I don't want "Citizen philosophers" - Citizens yes, the basis of our modern civilisation is the idea of constant questioning and participation with the processes which dominate the world around us (the most Irish people do in that regard is vote; if even that and most don't vote on the basis I've just mentioned.) yet the ability to ask questions is not even taught in school. I don't want to spend too long on this as this distracts from the basis of this thread (Though I *Could* bore for Ireland on this topic.) but it seems pretty obvious that the why Global warming is debated has it origins in the way these things are taught in School.

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It's more a matter of teaching basic skills with the hope of ending up with at least the semblance of a capable workforce. In primary school the focus is on literacy and numeracy (and on Irish - but this is for cultural and historical reasons more so than for any educational benefit - which isn't to deny that there may be educational benefit to it). In secondary, this process continues with more developed literacy and numeracy skills, languages, and some vocational subjects (sciences; accounting; woodwork; tech graphics; home ec; etc.).

And I think, by and large, the system reaches its primary objective - it does produce a capable workforce.

I didn't say that the system doesn't work in what it's aims are. Just that it's aims are alot of crap - I don't like the idea of entire generations being processed in this way so that they work for some business and consume more. Is there any wonder therefore that our Democracy is so degraded and our culture is so mind numbingly dumb?

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Almost quite ancillary to that process, it does allow for a certain amount of 'education' in the meaning which I think you intend, but this is almost circumstantial as it's not really the intent. And with the development of the 'points race', education in this sense will only be hindered as both student and teacher must focus on a fairly rigid structure which becomes much more a test of memory than of intelligence.

No doubt about that on any of the points you've mentioned; Personally I still consider it a great achievement of mine that I just didn't give a Sh!t when coming onto my Junior and Leaving certs unlike all those "Daddy wants to me to do Medicine" types (For the Americans here; getting into a Medicine or law course in Ireland has obscene requirements; The Leaving cert exam is the final exam taken at the end of your final year at Secondary school which alone determines how one makes it into college.) who were usually I found were rather notable of their airheadness despite their getting 500+ Points. The people I would consider most intelligent in School who were often the ones you didn't at all give the system any respect while still playing an active role in the school and had a genuine curiousity about "The Real World" (So not the Rugby Jocks).

In short, Exams are the dumbest possible way in the history of mankind to test intelligence.
8868  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Observations on Global Warming. on: October 20, 2007, 05:32:05 am
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I'm certainly not preachy on the subject nor do I recall ever condemning anyone's expressed views on the subject, but I tend to accept what appears to me to be the consensus position among what experts there are in the area - that the planet is undergoing climate change and that man is contributing to this effect. What the ultimate change will be and just what contribution man is making to this, I can't pretend to know, nor does it seem that there is a great deal of agreement on this issue.

I tend to support movement away from fossil fuels towards alternative energy sources as much because the fossil fuels are finite energy resources which may come under significant strain in my lifetime as much as because of any environmental factors - though I would give credence to the better safe than sorry view.

I would agree with this. The Arguement against action seems to mainly driven for political reasons (see point #3) - I never said that GW was a lie or a hoax; I just said there was room for doubt but I tend to sympathize with the "Better safe than sorry" view against those "conservatives" who say we should do nothing because GW is a hoax led by Al Gore, blah, blah, blah

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Ah, now here I do have some disagreement. I think there are logical reasons why a company would seek to deny global warming even if they believed it was happening and would hinder long term profits. Companies don't necessarily think in the long term (certainly not in the term lengths such that global warming would hinder them) - because the company's direction is set by director's with short to medium term profitability goals. And, of course, if the company by its nature (e.g. oil production) would be damaged in the short term if it became accepted that man made factors were driving significant climate change, necessitating radical lifestyle change to accomodate the fight against such change - then it's rational for company's to actively seek to deny it. (An analogy may be there somewhere with the denials by tobacco company's for so long about the health implications of smoking.)

I never said there wasn't a campaign against GW led by certain companies; it's just that it is against the companies long term interest to create "pseudo-scientific" data. Though I must admit your analogy is pretty appropriate.

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You are right that history has shown that 'rogue scientists' are oft proven right - they are however moreoften proven wrong. In an age when our lives are more dependent than ever on scientific developments in many aspects of our everyday living, if a significant majority of scientists (in the relevant field) tell us that there research leads them to believe something, I'll tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Again, I never said that GW wasn't true or the Scientific consensus is incorrect. But I was merely pointing out that the idea of some all-knowing Scientific consensus is itself anti-science.

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I'm not sure if your conclusion necessarily follows logically from the preceeding statement here.
I'd comment further here but the effect fot hat may be to derial the initial subject matter, so I'll hold for the time being.

Wait a minute, you still expect consistency in thought and completeness of mind and no going off on Tangents from me? Have you been reading my posts at all? Tongue

I'm actually quite curious on what you have to say this; simply because you are the only one here who went through the same education system as yours truly. (Well not quite, I went to a Rugby school on Dublin's Southside - A fact which will shame me till the day I die.)
8869  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: 'Social Suicide' Thread on: October 20, 2007, 04:47:12 am
I hug trees. I pull staples off of bulletin boards for no particular reason. I don't have a television and am thus completely ignorant of various TV shows. I loathe sports, especially football. I spend my Friday and Saturday nights staying up until odd hours doing various sorts of homework instead of "normal" activities. Speaking of normality, I use the word "normal" in the context of orthogonality much more frequently than how "normal" people generally use the word "normal".

Also, I hate politics. Oh, burn.

I suppose that the mere mention of my academic pursuits would automatically entail social suicide, though.

FF.
8870  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Last Irish war of independence veteran dies (well, two weeks ago..) on: October 20, 2007, 04:29:47 am
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Attempted to assasinate Eoin O'Duffy.

Ah yes, that alone almost absolves of everything else wrong he did.

I've got to admit that the way he stuck to his principles was somewhat admirable; even if I disagree with all of those said principles.

8871  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: Is Senator Craig a homosexual? on: October 19, 2007, 08:43:28 pm
Bumping this thread after a year for the obvious reasons.
8872  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post something blatantly untrue about the preceding poster on: October 19, 2007, 08:42:02 pm
Was once eaten alive by killer Dingos.
8873  General Politics / Political Debate / Observations on Global Warming. on: October 19, 2007, 07:44:59 pm
This is a sort of personal blog-like post about a couple of things I've noticed about the global warming "debate" on the internet, this is not directly aimed at either right or left nor is this directed entirely at this website alone as I have noticed this perception on most websites and on every medium.
Perhaps Here I should point out as someone whose formal science Education finished at 16, I admit complete ignorance of the scientific details and arguement. I don't know whether Global warming is actually a total myth, a natural occurance or a manmade disaster but that isn't my point here. My post has to do with how the issue is being perceived.

1) It's quite clear to me (and I don't know about anyone else) that the global warming debate has nowadays has almost nothing to do with Science; science is just background to which seems at times to be little more than the old "Free market: good or not?" debate (see point #3) . Whenever GW is brought up it seems to bring out the sort of people with my level of scientific training showing bar charts and graphs of CO2 emissions and weather changes (or whatever) in order to "prove" something - how much people in the world could honestly say they are informed enough to make an honest assessment of this issue (a couple thousand maybe?).

Side note: the science of Climatology in the modern sense was pretty much invented in the 1970s in order to investigate the strange levels of climate change going on in that decade (and to cool fears of Global cooling or the nascent Global warming idea) and so to claim that scientists themselves would have a fantastic knowledge of climatic changes would be false (though one thing we do know is that Climates have changed very rapidly in the past; with no apparent reason. But that's going outside my field.)

2) The smear claims by "the left" against Scientific sceptics of Global warming goes against the Scientific method - under this theory all these scientists are little more than quislings hired by powerful corporations to put out knowingly false information to woodhink the public into doubting the "Scientific Consensus" on Global warming so that these corporations can continue polluting without any fear of action against them. Ignoring that in the long term this really doesn't make much sense, why would a business, any business, want to deny something which could seriously dent (to put it mildly) it's long term profitability - after all we are talking about the near future here?, there is one seriously act of groupthink going on here - The idea of all knowing Scientific consensus which holds all the knowledge is somewhat unfalliable and that rogue scientists are easily explained. This is a strange idea, for a start history has shown over and over again that a vast majority of scientists tend to be wrong until proven otherwise - So using this logic light would travel within a mysterious substance called the Ether until Einstein came along and created a "new Scientific consensus" or that Earth really was the centre of the universe and the Sun circled around it, until that damn Gaillieo chap showed otherwise (an Idea which in it's day was far too dangerous for the guardians of truth - here being the Catholic Church - to handle.) The idea of Science is based around constant questioning of the physical properties of the world and so the idea of a "consensus" is itself against the idea of Science as it accepts a widely held universal truth, like well, the idea that sun revolves around the Earth. (This is also why, btw, rejecting the idea of god is also unscientific.) This is of course not to say that the majority of Global warming scientists are wrong (but it is very, very wrong to state that the only ones who doubt Global warming are corporate scientists.) but that the way of thinking of this issue is totally skewed.

3) The Desire to do nothing (or to wish it away) about Global warming is driven by ideological and not practical goals; this is mainly the "conservative" or "libertarian" position. I've long noticed how the greatest spectics on GW tend to those who would have their ideologies washed away should the dire prophecies come true - such as well, "libertarians" and "conservatives". While those who accept the Scientific consensus are those who would have their ideologies confirmed by it, such as "liberals", "socialists", all forms of "anti-Capitalists", etc. This is because fundamentally the issue is seen as one rooted in the Economic system; due to the doctrines of Capitalism and free market competition there is increased enviormental pollution, etc in order to gain efficiency so to gain profit. And if only we instead had one provider of services, energy, etc than there would be less businesses to cause enviormental damage and so on (And that's the simplified "centre-left" view, I haven't even mentioned the Neo-luddites, or for that matter on the other end, the Al Gorists.) but instead of saying this out loud the "liberals" resort to scientific evidence they often know little about in order to back up this prejudice. Those of the "right" do likewise in order so they could defend the free market against accusations that it has failed somehow. As GW in a very concrete sense is still a few decades away; should it be true - then it is still seen as an abstract issue; with forces such as those of the much reviled "Meeja" hyping up the issue and with people like Al Gore sparking 'awareness' (though this has been a debate for almost 20 years now.) and is still thus seen as a way of making political points over "the other side" than an actual attempt to do something lasting. Though it should be pointed out here I'm mainly referring to people on the internet like us; not the politicians or scientists.

Side note: Another thing I happen to notice is that those who tend to be most in favour of "action" against GW among my age group tend to have learnt about it in school (this is certainly true in Europe) and tend to be politically minded - showing once again the stupidity of relying on schooling for one's education (Actually a school is the last place someone will ever get educated) and that the idea that the "yoof" ignore what exactly they learn in school (or at least the level of it) is complete nonsense. In the school I went to, the attitude to GW was so PC it was almost offensive and yet among the more intelligent people I know there is a much stronger acceptance of GW than those I would consider less bright. Perhaps because we have strange notion that Intelligent equals "ability at school"?

More to come.. but space.
8874  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Would it be best for the Democrats if they don't quite win back Congress? on: October 19, 2007, 05:25:59 pm
This thread is ridiculous, as if all this Politics stuff was just a minor stage show which had obviously no effect on people's lives - I'm tired of people justing their politics like fashions and rooting for them like Sports teams. It's ridiculously immature.
8875  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: What's the last movie you've seen? on: October 19, 2007, 01:27:14 pm
What'd you expect from a big budget Hollywood summer flick. Enjoyable.

Your review contradicts itself.

Strongly Agree.
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