Educational Embarrassment or Intended Ignorance?

While perusing some news articles last week I again saw a story on a statue to a southern Civil War hero being removed from its display location to be hidden away in some dark warehouse.  Apparently, the driving force behind this decision was outrage expressed by students at a local college.  Of course, this entire sad situation has often derived its impetus from the younger generation and has been ongoing for more than a year to this point.  For whatever reason, this article engaged the ole ‘gray matter’ and I began to review this, to me, strange situation from the vantage point of a sixty five year old white male with a college education.

I remember being much more liberal in my ideology during my college years; I believe this is pretty much the norm.  But I also know after spending just a decade as a ‘functioning’ member of American society I began to realize much of progressive outlook was based upon idealism and lacked much basis in the reality of life in the United States.  This is not to say being idealistic is a bad thing; Heaven knows we could use more people willing to dream of better situations and work towards said situations!  But desiring major cultural and social changes without considering the ramifications be they political, cultural and/or fiscal is a fool’s errand.  And often times such dreamers deliberately ignore the facts because as John Adams said; “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  But upon deeper introspection I began to wonder if this ‘statue hysteria’ was simply a matter of youthful liberalism.

Without question I am dead set against all the destructive frenzy centered on the ‘history’ of those embodied in our statues and I believe the forced removal of these statues is tantamount to fascism.  But I’ve come to believe the driving force behind this wave of hysteria is not just based in youthful exuberance but rather in a total failure of our educational system to teach not just history but why it is important.  In a nutshell, George Santayana distilled the issue down to his famous quote; “Those who do not learn history and doomed to repeat it…”.  This doesn’t just refer to learning about human history in terms of dates and events but also understanding the culture and the mindset of those different times.  It is in this area I find our educational system has failed and failed dramatically.

Because our educational system has failed to teach this absolutely necessary perspective I cannot fault the younger generations for their reaction to statues glorifying Civil War heroes who fought to maintain slavery of other human beings.  They do not appear to grasp the fact that when viewing such statues one must remember the time and events which spawned their creation.  Of course, it was far different from today yet so many of the younger generations tend to view these monuments as though they were created only yesterday.  Without question, part of this perception is based upon the solipsism endorsed and even encouraged by so many progressives; it champions the idea that we put ourselves before the greater good and are all important and unique individuals.  By espousing this concept one is encouraged to view everything through the lens of the ‘now’ without regard for past perceptions and beliefs.  But if our educational system was doing its job these same young people would have learned about ‘historical perspective’ and why it is vital to understanding history.  And, as George Santayana noted, if we do not learn from our history we are condemned to repeat it.

If I were a conspiracy minded individual, which I’m not, I could make a pretty good case for this deficiency being deliberate and based in an attempt by the decidedly liberal colleges and teachers unions to create a generation of Americans lacking in basic skills required to evaluate historical events and outcomes.  Such a population would be unable to fathom current events as compared to those of the past allowing those in power to begin maneuvering the people towards even more governmental control of their existence.  In short, creating a new generation lacking the ability to learn from their history would make them much easier to control.  This conjures up frightening memories of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s or Russia in the 1920’s.

While I do not subscribe to the ‘world-wide educational conspiracy’ idea I can see how many other folks could do so and I cannot irrefutably shoot down the idea.  I do believe there is a conscious effort by uber-progressive zealots to undermine the analytical thinking capabilities of the ‘average’ American with the ultimate goal of creating a populace who doesn’t think through the consequences of radical changes in policies and laws.  They have solid support from American universities which are now hot-beds of liberal, progressive ideologies.  And there is something to be said for those controlling the education of upcoming generations being able to better control the same.  One of the tools now being employed to ultimately promote some of this ‘control’, often as a bludgeon, is political correctness.  I’ve written previously on the evil of political correctness and how it throttles open and honest communication under the guise of making communications more ‘civilized’.  I remain convinced that political correctness is one of the major issues facing American culture and a weapon often employed by ultra-left zealots to push their agendas.

Without question this country is facing challenging and tumultuous times well beyond the seemingly insurmountable political polarization.  If we are to move forward in positive direction we need a well-educated, critically thinking populace.  Under the current climate it is mistake to believe our universities and school systems will provide the needed education.  It remains the duty of every American to be as educated and aware as possible.  Without doing so we are sure to succumb to radical ideals with little to no basis in fact presented by those with education and an agenda.

Mt Rushmore

Do we really want to destroy this monument in the name of ‘political correctness’..?!


Scientific Truth versus Political Agendas

With the onset of the UN sponsored meetings in Paris covering climate change once again the ‘news’ – and I use this term very loosely – is abuzz with the gamut of views from outright denial to fanatical following. I have made my own beliefs around this topic clear in previous postings; I concur that the earth’s climate appears to be warming but I remain very unsure as to what part human beings have played in this scenario especially as versed with how much of this change stems from some naturally occurring geologic pattern or meteorologically based shifts. And I remain uneasy about the massive programs so many countries want to undertake in an attempt to cut greenhouse gas production; my unease stems for the simple fact regardless of what ‘science’ claims to know regarding the evolution of the earth we still have almost no understanding of long term climate cycles on our planet let alone the rhythms and influences of things like solar output cycles and shifts in the earth’s magnetic field. This entire topic remains one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds today and that is because this topic was among the first to have factual information distorted almost constantly by polar opposite ideologies and political influences. In this sense once more our lame-stream media has failed to do its job and has, indeed, done more to muddy the waters than offer any clear, concise perspectives into the climate change concerns. More than anything else we need to get worthless politics out of the scientific realm and allow science as done by scientists to continue to research this scenario.

I understand that one or two or even three years does not a trend establish and this is exceptionally true regarding weather patterns which require data from hundreds of years to even begin to substantiate a ‘trend’ yet I must admit to having seen a definite warming in the Alaskan conditions during my 27 months of living in semi-rural south central Alaska. While the increase in warmth has been observed across the calendar year it is most noticeable in our winters. A case in point has been November of 2015; we started off the month with the ongoing slightly above normal temps but we soon began to see multiple snow events which dropped around 26” (66.04 cm) of snow before a brief albeit strong cold spell settled in. As it began to mitigate we saw another snow event which dropped around 12” (30.48 cm) of new snow in this area. But right on its heels came the dreaded warm up; we saw 78 consecutive hours during which we never dropped to 32.0°F (0.0°C) and across one of those days I measured 1.19” (3.02 cm) of rain. This period decimated the 35.2” (82.55 cm) of snow pack reducing it to just 15.5” (39.37 cm) of saturated snow which with the return of more seasonable temps has now turned to slippery, rock hard ice.

While I have no long term history in this area I have spent many hours perusing the data compiled by NWS and other agencies so I do have some feeling for what a ‘typical’ Talkeetna winter has involved across the last 60 to 75 years. In addition I’ve spoken at length to many locals who have spent decades if not their entire lives in this area. Without question the general consensus is the winters of 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 were extremely warm and fairly dry. This is borne out by NWS records showing the winter of 2014 to 2015 was the warmest on record for most of Alaska with the previous winter a very close second. In my mind there are two main contributors to these mild seasons; the warmth of the northern Pacific Ocean which is currently 2°F (0.56°C) above its normal temperature and the record sized El Nino off the coast of South America. It is not just the existence of these events but the effects they have on so many other factors like air density, moisture content, prevailing winds and the Jet Stream to name but a few. While many of these areas have been studied for quite a while we still lack a true understanding of why El Nino generally causes more winter moisture in California while decreasing the moisture in the Midwest. We infer these deductions by reviewing the data collected but any attempts to explain the mechanisms by which these scenarios occur remain just theories.

And herein lies the real challenge to so many of the statements made by ‘learned’ men regarding the climate change situation; all are based on inference and/or logical positivism. While correlations drawn from reputable datum can be powerfully persuasive they remain just that: correlations or inferences which cannot be stated as completely factual without also understanding how and why they occur. Sadly so it is with so much of what has been presented to the world in general and to the American public in particular. Yet somehow the very functions which should be recognizing these situations and delving more deeply into their basis and foundation – the so called ‘Fifth Estate’ or the news media – have instead anointed the climate change believers ‘those who understand’ while writing off anyone who has doubts as being deluded, living in denial or similar vitriolic nonsense. Once again, this is what happens when politics are allowed to enter into the scientific realm. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that so many researchers rely on outside funding to continue their work of which the federal government is prominent as are the large, multi-national corporations. Politics embody having an agenda and when this mingles with the funding from such major contributors the push to support said agenda cannot be denied. This, in turn, can and does lead to results which are not ‘acceptable’ being quashed in favor of those in agreement with the funding body’s agenda. And suddenly science is no longer ‘science’…

So once more I find myself railing against the intervention of politics into pure scientific research; it is fraught with powerful potential negatives and I cannot find one positive in so doing. Far too many of today’s pressing issues are of enough import we cannot allow the ongoing research to be influenced regardless of the results. But ‘we the People’ continue to allow this to happen as though it is the way it has always been which is not true. The United States should be taking the lead in pushing for independent means of financing research free from governmental bodies or the deep pockets of giant corporations. And the heretofore useless lame-stream media should be doing their job and questioning all results, not just those that do not agree with their agendas!