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Katy Burns

Katy Burns: On education, science (and more!) hysteria takes the place of reasoned debate

‘I feel like this Common Core thing is just evil. I’m going call it what it is. I think it’s evil.”

A woman from Manchester was talking to NHPR reporter Sam Evans-Brown about the Common Core standards being adopted in states throughout the country, including New Hampshire. Common Core is yet another nationally collaborative attempt at much-needed improvement in educational achievement. Which, we should all remind ourselves, is slipping ever lower in this country compared with other first-world lands.

There is – surprise! – a small backlash against Common Core in New Hampshire, and the speaker from Manchester is part of that.

But . . . Common Core is evil?

Hitler was evil. Apartheid was evil. Enslaving other human beings is evil. Torturing and murdering people in the name of religious purity – which has happened repeatedly over the centuries in virtually all religions – is certainly evil.

But an earnest attempt to come up with educational standards that could help children to be better equipped for a 21st-century world? Evil? That is just nuts.

It’s also a dandy way of foreclosing even the beginning of a rational discussion. How can one seriously debate an issue with someone who just dismisses the subject as “evil”? Or passes it off – as another opponent does – as a nefarious plot by unnamed schemers from away who want to. . . . Well, what exactly do they want? To turn our precious children into One World Government automatons?

As I recall, that was the general idea of the recent hysterical resistance to the International Baccalaureate program some schools have adopted in recent years, again in the cause of improving the way we teach our children.

This “children in peril” thing is hardly new. My

maternal grandfather, a lovely man, spent his last years warning all who would listen that the Masons were intent on “getting” his grandchildren. But at least those of us who loved him readily acknowledged that he was, to put it delicately, a touch delusional.

The current craziness generated by something so innocuous as Common Core or IB is really amazing. And it’s not just Common Core or IB. Take the mysterious Agenda 21, a feel-good voluntary United Nations program, dating to 1992, which encourages sustainable development and which has morphed, in some circles, into a draconian plot engineered by those who (again!) want an inimical One World Government to reign in these United States.

What about the totally crazy charge that Obamacare calls for death panels? Never mind that this is insanity, that it says that doctors and other medical professionals – who went through years of training precisely to preserve and protect people’s lives and health – would then cheerfully conspire among themselves to deprive those same people of their lives. It assumes, nuttily, that the U.S. government – which after all is composed of our fellow Americans – is so malevolent that it would deliberately kill the people who gave it its legitimacy.

In the same way, some of the more extreme defenders of unchecked gun rights argue that the real purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect us from our own government – presumably to save us from the very same police officers and troops they otherwise loudly support and praise. After all, who else would carry out the government’s nefarious schemes?

Such stuff doesn’t represent reasoned, thoughtful arguments. The claims are hysteria, pure and simple nonsense that – when you think about it – is a prime argument for why we need to improve our educational standards in this country.

Anti-American, anti-God

Of course, stifling debate by making outlandish claims that by their very nature defy even the idea of debate has become part of the political landscape. Opponents are anti-American. They hate America. They are socialists, communists, fascists, Nazis. They are anti-Christian, anti-prayer, anti-God!

Now, how on earth is any rational person expected to respond to a charge that he hates America? Or that she is anti-God? There is no way. See? Discussion over before it begins.

We’re looking at the political realm now, but the willful ignorance factor is hardly limited to that.

This country was founded by explorers and adventurers whose descendants became entrepreneurs, inventors, educators, artists and scientists whose visions, drive and ingenuity helped to shaped much of the modern world as we know it.

Now we seem to be timorous, fearful of the future and its new frontiers.

An example: This nation really led the world in developing vaccines that helped to make any number of perennial health scourges things of the past. Yet we now have parents – sadly, scarily, often among the best-educated – eschewing childhood vaccines, endangering not only their own children but any others they may have contact with. Clearly those spearheading this retreat into ignorance and folk remedies didn’t grow up in a world where, say, every child knew another child who had been crippled, even enclosed in an iron lung, by polio.

‘Voodoo, hokum, hoax’

Another example: The near hysteria that arises when even the subject of man-made global warming and climate change arises. There is virtually no disagreement among genuine scientists around the globe that our planet is warming at an alarming and totally unprecedented rate, changing the world as it’s been known for many millennia. And it is largely caused by human activity.

Yet it has become an article of faith, particularly on the American right, that it is – in the immortal words of that well-known apostle of science Michele Bachmann – “all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” Talk about fiddling while Rome burns! A large chunk of the American populace makes Nero look like a piker.

Want more? Try these little gems assembled by one Blake Hounshell from surveys taken in 2009. Percentage of Americans who believe in angels: 55. Percentage of Americans who believe in evolution: 39. Percentage of Americans who believe in anthropogenic global warming: 36. Percentage of Americans who believe in ghosts: 34. Percentage of Americans who believe in UFOs: 34.

In retrospect, I guess it isn’t so amazing that someone would call Common Core “evil.”

(Monitor columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

Legacy Comments34

As long as folks are willing to accept the idea that this adminstration is telling them the truth, they will never see what the stimulus actually did. They will just say like they do with any govt program, that it needs more revenue. They do it with education. They refuse to believe that the system is broken. A leftie will not tell you what the actual unemployment rate is. They will not discuss printing money, inflation, wasting money on companies that have gone under, etc. The only way they can keep with their political agenda is to reject the fact that this admistration might be incompetent or corrupt. That is pretty obvious with the excuses they are coming up with in regards to any scandal that surfaces. There is a reason this president is like the Teflon Don. They truly believe everything he says, and the media makes sure they cover up his mistakes.

It is funny that Obama has violated more of our rights, has overstepped his Constitutional rights and has exceeded many of the oversteps that the Left found almost impeachable about the Bush administration, yet they still make excuses for Obama.

I wonder if any of these "holier than thou" Republicans (especially in the NH senate) were around when "mediscam" was the major source of funding for the NH budget? Seems no one was worried then about taking the federal money. Maybe now it is because it would be used for the reason it was meant for, to help poor people get health insurance. Hyprocrite thy name is Republican as usual.

Great column Katie!!!! All the fuss over Common Core is way off base and detracts form ACTUAL debate about its merits. It is entirely possible that Common Core is simply the newest in a long line of pedagogical "magic bullets" from educational philosophers, most of whom haven't seen the inside of a classroom in decades. But "evil?" No way. These people are their own worst enemies because they are so far-out there with their whacko conspiracy theories that most people don't take them seriously. And Common Core is something that deserves to be taken seriously and looked at long and hard before schools implement it.

Nothing new here. All Hat and No Cattle. The left made it very clear that reasonable debate is not needed from the first day President Obama was elected. The seas parted and the American Idol President was here to bring us together and fix our problems. Everyone would come together like in the 60's and have open debate and work together to fix things. Well here we are. Debate has been replaced by name calling, lessons from history have been rewritten by the left, and unlike the folks in the 60's who knew govt needed to be limited, we now have those baby boomers embracing govt as their savior. The generation that acomplished so much, are now the total opposite of what they were in the 60's. Instead they have forgotten what they fought for. They rolled over and decided that govt needs to think for them. You lost your mojo folks.

Talk about HYSTERIA .... The following is a proven FALSE statement....." planet is warming at an alarming and totally unprecedented rate. "........FACT: “The planet is no longer warming. The brief warming episode of the late 20th century completed its course in the mid 1990s, and is now extinct. These are now uncontroversial statements.” ....“IPCC Head Pachauri acknowledges ‘No warming for 17 years’

Talk about wrong! This story has been thoroughly rebutted.

even the New York Times has at last been constrained to admit what Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC was constrained to admit some months ago. There has been no global warming statistically distinguishable from zero for getting on for two decades....a FACT even the CM is too afraid to post

The IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report backcasts the interval of 34 models’ global warming projections to 2005, since when the world should have been warming at a rate equivalent to 2.33 Cº/century. Instead, it has been cooling at a rate equivalent to a statistically-insignificant 0.87 Cº/century:

death panels....DO EXIST .... Sec of HHS Katherine Sebelius representing the worst of BIG Govt refused a lung for a 10 year old....Imagine that ......Big Govt making the medical decisions over Doctors - that indeed makes death panels true as the sky is blue

OK, let's lay all the facts on the table. A 10 year old girl is one of 40 people in Pennsylvania waiting for a lung transplant. Current policy prevents children younger than 12 from receiving transplants from adults so the lung doesn't have to be cut down to size. The girl's parents wanted Sebelius to intervene and change this policy. Sebelius had refused to do so on the basis of fairness to all and in accordance with guidelines of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Sebelius to make the girl eligible for an adult lung which Sebelius did do promptly. Surely it's an agonizing situation, one I hope never to be involved in. I would probably do what the 10 year old's parents have done too--exert political and media pressure. But for Sail to say that Sebelius was making medical decisions over doctors is complete fabrication and blatant fear-mongering. In fact, on Tuesday Sebelius said: "The worst of all worlds, in my mind, is to pick and choose who lives and who dies".

The fact that Sebelius can make the decision to move this girl to the top of the waiting list (or not) is troubling. Seems to me if a judge orders her to do it, she has the power TO do it..or not to.

Until you can demonstrate that there are sufficient organs to transplant into all the waiting patients, your statement is absurd. Professionals in the field have set out protocols and - Lo and Behold - the government agency in charge followed them. Any other interpretation is an emotional attempt to deny the facts.

which part of DEATH PANELS do you not understand? BIG Govt made a decision as to who lives and who dies....In this case Obama's hand picked bureaucrat ordered her death

I don't understand your entire concept of a DEATH PANEL. Please explain…….. Sebelius tried to completely stay out of the situation and let the medical community handle it but was forced to take action by a federal judge in Pennsylvania. Who's on the DEATH PANEL? Sebelius the bureaucrat, the judge, the doctors from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, Obama? Is it just Democrats? Atheists? Communists? Please explain. Where can I get more information about these DEATH PANELS? How do I get on one???

Bravos for calling out the poster above, whose distorted postings on nearly every thread amount to trolling--deliberately posting inflammatory nonsense that is either a serious distortion of the facts or simply false.

Death Panels was the term used for rationing medicine. Not everybody can get a hip replacement, heart, etc. Socialized countries approach this in different ways. Some countries like the UK put weight restrictions on surgeries. Others do it by age, no hip replacement at say 75. We do not do that here in the US, ACA will have to be rationed though in order for it to work cost wise.

Re: Medical rationing and your statement, "We do not do that here in the US..." Of course there is "rationing" in the US. We just do it by income, and to those who are uninsured and under-insured.

Agree, the girl is number one on the pediatric donor waiting list. In order for her to get on the adult donor list to first place. those ahead of her would have to be bumped. Has anybody asked them if they are willing to give up their spots? Because it would be their choice. The protocol is there for a reason, so it is fair to all. Exceptions cannot be given. Otherwise the protocol is going to become unfair and useless. Very sad story, poor kid. But Sebelius did the right thing, she had no choice.

Try again here, if I can fight back the urge to say what what many really believe. The make believe death panel and the imaginary connection to Government is ludicrous and bereft of any basis in logical thinking. This is the exact same argument and reasoning used by the paranoids at the start of the whole HMO approach to medicine 35 plus years ago. Same story different century. It was just as relevant then as now. On the issue of Global Warming, is this an issue that you really want to take a chance on. There are no 100% facts on either side, but there is substantial evidence that at least supports looking at the problem with out the lunacy of politics added in. There are two things that don't lend themselves to rational objective debate - they are politics and religion.

Here is a 3rd one for you Mauser, Name Calling. I believe you and Bruce have been called on that several times.

I think the name-calling comes predominantly from your side of the aisle. GTWT has had some good ones recently. If you are referring to my term of endearment, 'Carp Per Diem Brigade'...well, it's an accurate description of a majority of the posts from the four of you. As for using the word "troll", again, I think it accurately describes the behavior of at least one of you four. To quote from an on-line dictionary: " An internet 'troll' is an abusive or obnoxious user who uses shock value to promote arguments and disharmony in online communities. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children's tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, mysogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls like a big audience, so they frequent blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat. Trolls thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments." The bottom line: It isn't name-calling when a word accurately describes posting behavior that occurs repeatedly and over a sustained period of time.

I believe Bruce's comments have always been civil and relatively respectful. And he can back his opinions up with facts and sources too. Maybe you disagree. But one thing you cannot disagree with is that he puts himself out there. I mean his name on every post. Most of us, myself included, cannot say that. Maybe if we all had to reveal ourselves this forum would be more courteous place. Just a thought.

Want one more little gem? Percentage of Americans who think Obama is doing ok: 48

More likely is that this figure reflects the fact that your opinions are far out of the mainstream. Considering both the mess he inherited, and the fact that Republicans have stymied, slowed, or weakened nearly every policy initiative having to do with the economy, I'd say that figure is to be expected, and not out of line with figures from past presidents. Had the original stimulus been larger, or had there been a second one, and were there a genuine focus on rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, the economy would be far stronger, and the nation's unemployment rate would be lower. So long as Republicans exist in a fairy-tale land of ahistorical, libertarian/supply-side b.s., one that amounts to the Confederacy-Redux, this nation will continue its economic decline.

Reagan had to work for 8 years with both houses of congress firmly in Democrat hands - ....kind of makes Obama look like a political weakling considering he had a democrat controlled Congress

Last I checked, the House was in Republican hands. And speaking of Republicans, I don't suppose you've noticed what Bob Dole has said about the current iteration of them? The obstructionism and foot-dragging is all on one party--the party of "No", the party of angry white men, the party that will be, if current trends continue, one of permanent minority status. For the sake of the country, it can't come soon enough.

Reagan got to work with Democratic majorities who believed that the function of government was govern. Obama gets to work with an actual Republican majority in the House and a virtual Republican majority (thanks to the unprecedented use of the filibuster) in the Senate who only know how to obstruct and impede and appear to believe in nothing except opposition to whatever the President supports.

Obama had a working majority in Congress for just a few weeks over the first two years of his presidency.

OK, let's reason this one our using your logic. Would you say thepouat wealth redistribution is mainstream or our of the mainstream? What about approval of Obamacare, is the majority out of the mainstream or in the mainstream. Now, let's say that a Republican president takes office and the first order of business is tax cuts followed by a very of popular policy drilling and utilizing all of our natural resources for energy. Democrats would (choose one) a) go along so that they don't obstruct the president, b) try to slow his agenda down because they don't agree with it, c) obstruct all efforts to go along with the president, d) a only, e) b & c above. Democrats held the House at one point for over 40 years.....Supply side? The issue is that it works but people have to "work" to make it work.

Logic? Your thought experiment is a false equivalence. First, you suppose that a majority would reject the ACA in favor of what you prefer. Which would be what, exactly? Republicans/conservatives ran against Obamacare by claiming it would hurt Medicare. If anything, the ACA is seen as not going far enough in the direction of single payer. When it gets to the specifics of the ACA, most Americans like the reforms, just as they like their Medicare. And that's precisely why the right is fearful and fear-mongering as it kicks in--they're afraid it will be successful. As for "drilling and utilizing all our natural resources for energy", that would first require undoing 40 years of environmental laws and policies. A shortage of energy is NOT the reason for the slow recovery of our economy, nor are environmental laws--which you would apparently undo. Nor is cost an issue--when adjusted for inflation prices have been stable for decades. As for more tax cuts, and voodoo/supply side economics: here the record is quite clear. It is more than coincidental that lowered marginal income tax rates, along with other "reforms" to inheritance and capital gains taxes, allow 1%ers like Mitt Romney to pay a smaller % of income than most middle class Americans. To what end? They're not the job creators-- put money in the hands of the middle and working class--they create jobs by creating demand for goods and services. There's an inherent limit to how much the rich can spend--the rest they hoard or secret away in foreign tax shelters. The shrinking middle class, worn-out infrastructure, 1 in 4 children in poverty, 40% of the nation's wealth owned by the 1%, who live increasingly isolated from the rest of us--these are some of the legacies of policies begun at the end of 1970's, and implemented with a vengeance starting with Reagan. Until Obama, Republicans held the Oval Office for 20 of the past 28 years. Much of the credit/blame for our present predicament is 30 years worth of conservative, Chicago school economic theory, willingly implemented by Republican presidents and abetted by centrist Democrats.

Probably should have had some shovel ready jobs first... eh?

Your comment gets back to the fact that conservatives deny reality--in the hard sciences and in the dismal science as well. The economic data is clear: the stimulus worked; it simply wasn't large enough to do what it was intended to do. That it wasn't larger was thanks to Republicans. You could have looked it up, and seen for yourself the positive effects of the stimulus spending on the economy, at a time when the private sector was not spending. But then, that would have required subjecting yourself to some cognitive dissonance, in the form of reality. And reality, we know, has a liberal bias. So much easier to simply spin the same deniosphere nonsense.

Reply to Bruce below..I suppose time will tell if the stimulus will be viewed as a success. When the bill comes due, those responsible for paying it might not see it as favorably as you. That it wasnt large enough, republicans, or any other reason that it wasnt the success it should have been in your view, probably wont be discussed as much in 20 years or so. I suspect what will be discussed is Obama came into office with a $10 trillion national debt and left with $20 or more trillion.

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