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A Nation of Idiots

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 3:52 AM

Via Bruce Schneier's Security Blog (link to the left) comes this item from the U.K. - David Spiegelhalter, a professor at Cambridge, has this idea of teaching 'risk literacy' to students, so that they are better equipped to interpret data such as a news report on a new wonder drug.

Um, Professor? It's called critical thinking, and it's been on the decline for decades. It's why there are sites dedicated to urban legends, because people can't recognize simple tip-offs. It's why we're drowning in 'experts' in the media, and why critical review of government has been reduced to the 'talking points' of a given side.

And when we're having trouble teaching the little tykes to spell and handle basic maths, what makes you think we can teach them prob/stat as a way of improving their critical reasoning skills?


Speaking of which, the local airwaves are currently featuring ads for Huntington Learning Centers, a tutoring service. These ads show schoolchildren bemoaning their homework and studies, then telling us what these comments really mean, such as 'reading is too hard' or 'I had a bad report card.'

Now, I have the benefit of a good education, but it seems to me that if we're pushing these kinds of services - if our schools can't teach, and our students aren't going to class prepared to learn - we're doing an abysmal job as parents and educators.

Can't spell. Can't use punctuation, capitalization, or correct grammar. Can't formulate complete sentences. That's not 'average American,' that's pushing the edge of functional illiteracy.

I'm sorry, but we need to start being honest about our schools and education system, instead of niche marketing to a bunch of crappy excuses. There is no reason why America should be struggling in this regard.


So Citigroup takes $45 Million in bailout monies, but has the wherewithal to purchase a new corporate jet for $50 Million.

The excuse is that two older jets, each valued at roughly $27 Million, are being sold off, and that the contract was originally signed in 2005 and would cost millions to cancel. (Really? Someone's going to buy a used jet in this economy?)

In other words, you ignored the signs of impending economic doom and went ahead with your plans and perqs and bonuses, just like the rest of your corrupt buddies.

Update: Apparently, the Obama Administration has spoken the folks at Citigroup, who have now issued a statement saying there will be no new aircraft purchased.


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