Call it unreason, irrationality, illiteracy, unawareness, or any other name you like. It is a disease that is afflicting our society with unprecedented potency, and is being spread by professionals, including some Nobel Laureates. This site is dedicated to the exposure of the agents of this disease.
Hello, my name is Sadri Hassani. I am a retired physics professor with almost four decades of teaching experience. I have seen first hand the continually declining literacy – especially science and math literacy – of my students. Simultaneously, I have witnessed the exponential shrinkage of the (hard) science shelf of my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. In a consumerist society such as ours, as the population becomes less and less literate, (hard) knowledge becomes less and less available, which in turn reduces the literacy of the public even more. And as a teacher and a concerned citizen this vicious circle of ignorance worries me.
One of the causes of the downfall of literacy – the one that has received least attention – is the unfortunate participation of professional scientists in stoking the flame of illiteracy. I am not only talking about physicists and medical doctors who mix physics and Eastern mysticism into a tempting, potent, intellectual poison, but more importantly, about great scientists, including Nobel Laureates, who fervently publicize metaphysical ideas that are the antitheses of the very science to which they once contributed so admirably. I consider these attacks on rationality the most dangerous and have set one of the main goals of this blog to their exposure.
The word “skeptical” in the title does not connote debunking urban legends like Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, or even Santa Claus, although refuting them falls under the overall mission of the site. The skepticism is targeted at the mushrooming education fads which spring up to avoid the hardship – both on the part of the teacher and the student – of the real education. At the elementary level, with its current fun-and-play curriculum, the fads are successful, as nothing can fail! But at the high school and introductory college level they completely fail. However, instead of abandoning the failed ideas, the adherents of various educational crazes keep tweaking one fad into another because they don’t want to abandon the convenience of their painless methods. One is reminded of the multiplicity of deities in Hinduism where the number of idols has mushroomed to over 300,000 because the believers refuse to give up the whole idea of worshiping an idol!
Despite the second word of its title, you don’t have to be an educator to benefit from or contribute to this blog. In some sense, we are all teachers and learners at the same time. Just look at the success of home-schooling: a continually increasing percentage of students admitted to Ivy League universities are home-schooled. And “tiger” moms and dads are not following the latest education fad to teach their kids calculus and differential education.