Friday, August 5, 2011

(How To) Teach the Controversy

If I were a biology teacher in Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, et cetera and asked to teach creationism, I would reply that I am a science teacher. Given my loathe for science, I don’t see how this would ever be a scenario, but that would still be my reply. If the response was that I was expected to ‘teach the controversy,’ I would accept the demand without any argument.

At some point in the year we would have a class based on psychology and people’s mental needs. We would cover the urge to explain things regardless of tangible evidence supporting the explanations, with supernatural beings traditionally held responsible for most events that societies had no control over. Next we’d hit the fact that likelihood of survival is increased if one is more willing to follow the group, giving rise to the fallacy of the appeal to popularity and resistance to questioning one’s institutions. The final 60 seconds would go: people traditionally turned to religion to explain things, and the Judeo-Christian background of your ancestors used the Adam and Eve story to explain how people came to be. People were afraid to challenge this because society has never treated questioning scientists very well – particularly when the questions challenge the authority of the church. As such, the controversy prevents more serious scientific discussion. Later on, some people figured this’d be a great thing to politicize and develop into a wedge issue. In short, people are closed minded and opposed to whatever the church campaigns against. Republican strategists manipulate this in an effective manner, well aware that in the midst of adversity voters really do cling to their guns and religion. You have now been taught the controversy. Enjoy your weekend kids!

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