Monday, August 03, 2009


Everything's Up to Date ...

Tina Brown

... is a Christian who is married to a pastor. Together, they have 7 children and homeschool 6 of them. They reside in Richardson, TX.
She also has "reviewed" The Astronomy Book by Dr. Jonathan Henry which is "written from a God created viewpoint ... and not an evolutionary one." Some of Ms. Brown's wisdom that she, no doubt, passed on to her children as she homeschooled them:

We learn about the moon's phases and how to identify the features on the moon's surface. I didn't realize there were four phases or that the moon's features had names. I may have learned it in grade school but that was a long time ago. ...

I learned that some people use the lunar calendar while others use the solar calendar and that all clocks are set by GMT which stands for "Greenwich Mean Time."

Of interest was the topic of constellations and how that most cultures recognize the same constellations as we do and that maybe it all started at the tower of Babel when all the people of the earth were in the same place. That makes a lot of sense, otherwise, why would so many people refer to the same stars as the same name that we do?
It's quite bad enough that she has presumably taught her children grade school topics when she has forgotten most of her own and obviously not bothered to systematically learn what should be taught to them. But she also cannot seem to understand her own Bible. If people had common names for the constellations and stars at the time of the tower of Babel, wouldn't they have lost them when God confounded their languages?

But the kicker is this:

I also do not agree that the sun is a star, which the author seems to believe. Genesis 1:16 says: "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." If the sun were a star, wouldn't God have said something different? I guess we'll find out one of these days.
Unfortunately, if she has her way, her children probably won't learn much either before they die.


Via John Lynch.

Nevertheless, there is some charm in Mrs Brown's naiveté. Not only she might know things that you don't know but what you believe is undoubtedly true might, in a few decades, turn out to be partly erroneous.

The wise man never feels superior to the uneducated for he is aware that his knowledge is just as imperfect.
Sorry, I don't think anything is going to change the fact that the sun is a star. Isaac Asimov had a great article "The Relativity of Wrong," on that subject.

Knowledge that is well founded is never inferior to, or even just the equal of, complete ignorance, no matter how charming.
P.S. She may well know more than I do on some subject but, if so, it is not likely to be on any subject that I will claim sufficient expertise in to educate young minds about, much less to lecture an expert on (even a crazed one like Dr. Jonathan Henry).
I appreciate your polite reply despite the fact that you're probably horrified by my words.

Sure, the sun is a star, teaching requires some culture but, still, I find that a myopic perspective is an enemy of knowledge.

You might change your mind about this matter when you get older - not really ancient, my age is enough.
If Mrs. Brown's children complete their home schooling as knowledge-challenged as she is, they will have difficulty if they try to attend real colleges and pursue careers. That's not charming. How will they judge and vote on issues regarding energy use, environmental protection (e.g., global warming), and others that require some knowledge?
You might change your mind about this matter when you get older ...

Boy, how old to you have to be? I'm already officially classified as "old fogey"?

I think if you read the whole of the blog you'll see I'm hardly myopic about the limits of human knowledge. But it is just as myopic to pretend that there is no such thing as knowledge or that ignorance is just as good as knowledge. Moreover, the kind of willful ignorance that creationists practice is worst of all. Simply not knowing something is easily cured. Not so willful ignorance.
For sure those children will be left out from the typical education path that starts in a good bilingual kindergarten and ends with an MBA. As to whether they will do something outstanding in their lives, this can't be told from the information that is given (intelligence, as you must know, is conditioned much more than genes than by the environment).

[I apologize for my weird English which is not one of the languages that I know better]
Oh, I was replying to Mark but Mr Pieret was faster than me. He does everything better!
A sad tale, for sure. I hope the kids overcome the odds.
May said
Nevertheless, there is some charm in Mrs Brown's naiveté.

Yes, there is some charm in Mrs Brown's naivete - at first glance.

The we remember the other side of that coin in the persons of Dale and Leilani Neumann. Their naive faith in the literal truth of the Bible cost their daughter her life

Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

The charm of that sort of naivete is lost on me, I'm afraid
Agreed, Ian.

It should also be said that, unless one is prepared to deny that there is progress in knowledge, then one should accept revisions as improvements rather than as mere alterations. No doubt there are many beliefs which will be rejected or revised as our understanding of the world improves, but some things are (so far as we can tell) reliable.

Put otherwise: let us entertain the skeptical challenge that perhaps the sun is not a star. The assertion, "the sun is not a star" is at odds with vast chunks of currently accepted astronomy; our beliefs about such things cannot be taken piecemeal, but are everywhere shot through with experiment, technology, and theory. So any astronomy which denies that the sun is a star is going to have to be not merely slightly, but drastically, different from the body of astronomy currently accepted.

So drastic, I think, that we cannot see our way into the mindset of someone who holds a radically different theory of the universe. Nor is it necessary that we should be able to do so in order to insure the objectivity of our best theories at any given present moment.
Mr Sachs, your argument is sensible because you avoid falling in the trap of recurring to vague concepts such as "ignorance" and "knowledge".

Are any of you mathematicians? Or experts on logical thought?
... vague concepts such as "ignorance" and "knowledge" ...

I thought Carl gave a very good definition of "knowledge" as I've been using it. And, as I said before, there is at least two types of ignorance: simply being unaware of the available knowledge and deliberately holding beliefs radically different than the closest thing we have to objective knowledge (including denying that there is anything approaching objective knowledge). The fact that such words involve Sorites paradoxes is no real objection. We can still tolerably distinguish night from day despite the existence of twilight.
I hadn't aimed at giving any definitions of "knowledge" or of "ignorance" -- just tried to point some things out about how those concepts function.

And for the record, I do teach philosophy at the college level, but I don't teach logic and it's been years since I've studied any.
Nonetheless, I think you did give a good definition of knowledge. Our best knowledge results from coherent systems of thought arising out of mutually supportive experiment, technology, and theory.
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