I'm almost 65, but I like to think of myself as a modern with-it guy.
Hey, I've got an iPhone 5; I ride five miles on my longboard/skateboard several times a week; I watched the entire freaking MTV Video Music Awards (and could even understand some of the song lyrics).
But there's one thing I'm decidedly old-fashioned about: I believe in facts. This goes against the grain of some widely pervasive viewpoints.
Like post-modern deconstruction. And pre-modern religiosity. Sorry, fact-deniers. I'm going to cling to my beloved facts.
When I was a kid my mother used to buy the World Almanac every year. This was (and maybe still is) a thick fact-filled book that begged for browsing. Want a list of the world's deepest lakes, the longest rivers, the largest deserts, the tallest mountains? The World Almanac had all that and much more.
So probably my revulsion over news stories like "Next Generation Science Standards in Kentucky Draw Hostility from Religious Groups" can be traced back to my upbringing. In fact, that's probably a fact.
My mother, who raised me, was a strong lover of science. She adored facts. Also, opinions. She was deeply political and loved to argue with people who didn't agree with her conservative views.
In those days, I never felt that facts and opinions were at war with each other. Politics, religion, music, art, literature -- these were areas where everybody had their own opinion. Science, though, dealt with facts -- demonstrable, albeit ever-evolving, truths about the cosmos.
Nowadays, religious fanatics have turned this sensible way of looking upon reality upside down. They've reversed the relation of fact and opinion, getting it backwards.
The above-linked story talks about how religionists are dead-set against teaching children scientific facts about evolution and climate change.
Supporters and opponents of the Next Generation Science Standards sparred during hearings in Kentucky last week, as critics took issue with the standards’ teaching of evolution and climate change.
The new standards were developed with input from officials in 26 states –- including Kentucky –- and are part of an effort to make science curricula more uniform across the country. While supporters feel the standards will help beat back scientific ignorance, some religious groups take issue because the standards treat evolution as fact and talk about the human role in climate change.
I'm sure the religious crazies would be over-joyed, though, if schools talked about Jesus as the Son of God. Which, of course, is just their opinion. This reflects the general backwardness of religious thinking:
Solid facts about the objective external world are disparaged as mere opinions, while mere opinions springing from subjective human minds are praised as solid facts. When religious believers try to inflict this on schools, it should be recognized for what it is -- educational child abuse.
Update: Here's another example... "Fact-Haters May Dumb Down Texas Textbooks Again."
Three years later, fundamentalists in charge of Texas textbooks are again working to make sure our students come out of school as ignorant as possible. A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education reveals that official state textbook reviewers appointed by the State Board of Education are trying to take the facts out of science education.
They're trying to get "creation science" and climate change denialism injected into textbooks, less students get an adequate education.
This is literal insanity - a wholesale rejection of established fact - but our state educators aren't really interested in facts. Texas students shouldn't be subjected to the fundamentalist religious beliefs of these state education officials, but they are.
"Once again culture warriors on the state board are putting Texas at risk of becoming a national laughingstock on science education," TFN President Kathy Miller said. "What our kids learn in their public schools should be based on mainstream, established science, not the personal views of ideologues, especially those who are grossly unqualified to evaluate a biology textbook in the first place. What we see in these documents makes it imperative that the board finally establish genuine qualifications for those entrusted with reviewing textbooks or curriculum standards for our kids."