As I was sitting perched atop my mouse and monitor compiling this week's blogs, someone sent the following link on the Texas GOP's state party "platform," and when I read it, I both laughed, and sighed:
Now, of course, anything coming from the Washington Post is, to my mind, as suspect as anything coming from the Washington Times, for obvious "party political reasons." The real problem here isn't just with the ludicrous stance against critical thinking, and there is no other way to read the platform statements than that, but with the implicit assumptions of the response from "the other side."I submit that, if it be true that there is little, in practical results, that distinguish the Republithugs from the Dummycrooks in the realm of politics, that there can be little to distinguish them from each other in other fields in which they are influential, education being one of them. The danger, as I see it, on both sides, has been the push for "degree-ism" or "authority-ism" or "expert-ism."
Back in my college teaching days - from which I managed successfully to escape - I observed the rot of American education first hand, in all its galloping, glorious, intentionally-planned dumbed-down ignorance, an ignorance that, given the demonstrable influence of Dummycroookery and all its attendent cultural and political "philosophies" within American education, would be hard to deny. So I will kindly thank the Washington Post and its experts not to lecture the Republithugs about critical thinking skills. After Horace Mann, Wilhelm Wundt, and John Dewey and all the parade of carnival barking Doctors of Education since then, it's a marvel that anyone in this country can think at all, about anything.
Students would write papers about the "treaty of Versigh" ( kid you not), or would maintain that Germany won World War One(which concluded in 1914), that the Army of Northern Virginia was commanded by Ulysses S. Grant (I kid you not), and, according to one of my college-approved textbooks, that Josef Visarionovich Djugashvili (whose real name was never mentioned in the text), was a Georgian peasant and former seminarian who rose to become the Russian ruler and a "statesman." No mention of the pogroms, forced famines, deportations, or purges, thank you very much. And much of this vast parade of nonsense was written for me by card-carrying members of Dummycrookery, or, in the case of the pre-approved Russian history textbook from which I had to teach, was approved by card-carrying members of Dummycrookery and Ph.D.s in Edubabble at that (the so-called "doctors of education" who specialize in everything but the content and thought forms of particular disciplines). All this reminds me of the statement of C.S. Lewis, that "method is the fleshpot of those who live in metaphysical deserts."
Let us rest assured that there is a secular fundamentalism of the left in this country just as there is a religious one on the right, and people are correct to complain of it. It is a fundamentalism that expresses itself in "degree-ism" or "expert-ism", the naive assumption, inculcated in our society from a very early age, that unless one has a "degree in something" one is not permitted to hold opinions about it, much less disagree with that subject's "degreed experts."
Don't believe me? Then consider: would the history or biology departments of the critics of the Texas GOP have room for those who would draw attention to megalithic structures, such as those at Tihuanaco in Bolivia, which show clear, and ancient, signs of technological construction that cannot be reproduced today? Would they admit of the implications of such a structure (much less all the others around the world, including the Great Pyramid)? Or would they continue to enforce their "critical thinking" and their dogma that it was all done by copper saws, plumb lines, and serried ranks of Hollywood extras (to cite the observation of Peter Lemesurier on the Egyptological explanation of the Great Pyramid's construction). And even if they did admit the possibility, would they then admit the inevitable logical implication that such technological prowess in ancient times might also indicate a similar degree of sophistication when it comes to genetic engineering, and the highly suggestive statements in ancient texts that suggest it? Would they even allow such ideas to be aired openly in a classroom? Or include them in a textbook? I very much doubt it.
In short, the very rise and rapid growth of what we have on this website, and what others elsewhere, have called the alternative research community, is really nothing but a response, an inevitable response, to the fundamentalisms of academia, whether that fundamentalism be dominated by preachers, or professors. It is the inevitable response of those dissatisfied with standard explanations whose explanatory power appears to be increasingly vitiated; it is the inevitable response of those seeking to engender new hypotheses and better explanations. Like science itself, there will be more false starts than genuine, more bad ideas than good ones, but like science, no progress can be made unless there is the openness to allow such ideas, bad or good, to be aired and discussed in the first place, and to do so without the sneering ad hominem and lack of courtesy and gentility that has become such a commonplace "methodology" in American education in both camps.
No... I smell a great big steaming pile of hypocrisy and horse puckey in the Washington Post's complaint. They are right to complain, but their implied antidote is just as bad...
...See you on the flip side.