The war against critical thinking

For as much as we talk here about the anti-intellectualism of the right, I don’t think I’ve ever shared this piece of George Carlin video with you. (See below.) It’s only three minutes long, but it gets right to the heart of things. In it, Carlin says bluntly that public education in America will never get any better. The reason, he says, is that the men who pull the strings don’t want “a population of citizens capable of critical thinking.” No, he says, they want “obedient workers.” They want people just smart enough to do what they’re told. I was reminded of this observation of Carlin’s a few days ago, when I read the following, taken verbatim from the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

…We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority…

That’s real, by the way… In a world beset by God knows how many problems that could eventually spell the end of humanity, these folks apparently feel as though it’s vitally important not that we foster a culture of intellectual curiosity, but that we police our schools, ensuring that our children are not taught “critical thinking skills.” Because, really, who needs scientists who can discover ways to mitigate the effects of global warming, when all we really need is to deregulate industry, and allow the unfettered invisible hand of Capitalism to point the way toward salvation…

And, in related news, I just read today that Louisiana has eliminated all state aid to public libraries. Louisiana, you might be interested to know, is also, under their expanded school voucher program, aggressively channeling children away from their defunded public schools, and into religious schools, where they’re learning that evolution isn’t real, as evidenced by the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. Here, for those of you who don’t believe me, is a clip from the Scottish press.

…One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

As much as it kills me to say it, as I grew up obsessed with the idea of the Loch Ness Monster, it’s now known to everyone …except for perhaps the scholars behind this Christian textbook, and all of the kids subjected to it… that the famous 1934 photo of the monster was in fact a hoax, perpetrated by Christian Spurling, Marmaduke Wetherell and Colonel Robert Wilson. According to Spurling, who confessed to the hoax on his deathbed in 1994, the “monster” was in reality a toy submarine, outfitted with a sea-serpent head. But, who is to say that their lies don’t warrant the same consideration as our facts, right? This is, after all, America.

And, now, with all of that said, here’s George Carlin.

[note: For what it’s worth, the Republican Party of Texas says now that their inclusion of language concerning the importance of quashing critical thinking skills was an “oversight.” As of this moment, however, from what I can tell, it has not been removed from the party’s 2012 platform.]

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  1. Elf
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Carlin may be gone, but we now have Dane Cook to speak the truth to us.

  2. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Carlin can be very funny, even insightful, unfortunately in a post-philosophical dystopic technological age of unbelievable complexity, his cynical misanthropic atheistic schtick doesn’t cut it, whose act is actually a sad biproduct of modernity. All too often I see humans refer to him as a philosopher, which he catagorically is not. Carlin is a comedian, his job is to be on TV and make a wide swath of people laugh, not for them to engage in a dialectic which will lead to enlightenment, or one which would actually get humans to uncover the real dillemas of the age, which is totally transparent to Carlin. Philosophy isn’t funny, it isn’t supposed to make people laugh.

  3. Edward
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I’m sure there are a great many now, but, as of a few years ago, Michigan was one of only four states spending more on prisons than on higher ed.

  4. Greg Pratt
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Are you sure Thom? ;)

  5. Knox
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Being an entertainer doesn’t mean that he’s not right, Thom. I get where you’re coming from. I understand that Carlin, like the rest of them, was competing for air time on corporate-owned networks. I also see how, as with the Daily Show, it could be argued that his comedy actually hurts the cause, as it turns the whole sad affair of existence in America into a joke.(Laughter, it could be said, diffuses anger. Even if all of that is true, however, that doesn’t change the fact that Carlin is right when he says that our owners don’t want educated, critical thinking citizens. I think that’s abundantly clear. And I appreciate that someone is saying it to an audience larger than the one that reads this blog. So, I’d urge you not to be so quick to peek out over Phenomenology of Spirit, or whatever it is that you’re reading today, and turn your nose up. There are worse offenders out there, much more deserving of your score. Take, for instance, Carrot Top. And, like it or not, entertainers, like Mark Twain and Will Rogers, probably brought about more change in this country than any philosopher.

  6. mark k
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Liberals have a new leader, to bad he’s dead. LOL!

  7. Frolixo
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Nice troll Elf!

    Thom I disagree. Philosophy and comedy can easily blend into each other. Great comedians like Lenny Bruce, Carlin, Bill Hicks, and Louis CK all combined insight and wisdom to make people think and question our civilization and laugh at the absurdity of it.

  8. Edward
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Too bad you don’t know the difference between too and to.

    Thank you for illustrating perfectly the subject of this post, Mark K.

  9. Tony
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The reason why Carlin talks about this is because he specifically realizes that those who understand will hear the message but most are already brainwashed into questioning their surroundings and will think it’s a famous Carlin rant.

    As a big fan of X-Files (before they decided to do movies), I used to watch the episodes with the Smoking Man and his little band of decision makers and think, “This is entertaining, but ridiculous.” As you looking at how the establishment works, you discover that it’s not that ridiculous and then it becomes a lot less entertaining.

    And, on a final note, Carlin had one thing wrong: The big media countries aren’t necessarily owned by the establishment. In fact, most of the big media guys I’ve interacted with would like nothing more than to light a fire under the establishment. Their problem is their livelihood is decided by big advertisers. Just follow the strings to find the puppetmaster.

  10. kjc
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    philosophy isn’t funny??

  11. Greg Pratt
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Tony are you kidding me? Who owns NBC?

    What is General Electric? What do they make? What do they do?

  12. Eel
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Remember, a free thinker is Satan’s slave.

  13. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Those of you supporting contemporary comedy as equal in depth to actual philosophy, or whose influence is somehow more important then serious thought betray your ignorence of philosophy, and the task of philosophy in a sick society. As Neitzsche said, one should philosophise with a hammer! Not merely for smashing that which is decrepid and rotton in the nihilistic logic of the world, but also as a tuning fork, to find hollowness and that which is resonant alternatively. If I have to worry about making humans laugh, and Neilson ratings, there is no way I can speak in depth, or think in depth, because depth isn’t humerous, it isn’t what middle Americans want. Read Plato’s “Parmenidies” and tell me how you could communicate it’s trackless depth in a TV spot.

  14. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I agree Knox, there are much worse examples then Carlin, Larry the Cable Guy for instance, but the catagories are not even close to the same thing. Aristotle has a lost treaties on Comedy, but it would not have been funny. I also agree with your assesment of the horrific Daily Show, and its deadening effects on what should be so thought-provoking, instead is this terrifically disheartening state of affairs where everyday tragedy is ridiculed. I can’t wait for Colbert’s existential vacuum to smash through his repugnant persona. The reason these comedians are seen as so wise is because the TV viewing public have no context for actual philosophy, and don’t read. Oh and today I’m reading “Hermeneutics” by Richard E. Palmer, but I’d encourage you the check Phenomenologie der Geist and tell me how it is similar in anyway to Lewis Black’s offensive and arrogant ranting.

  15. Greg Pratt
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation? I eschew ad hominem attacks unlike some of the others who have their comments posted right away. [no offense ad hominem adherents, just sayin’]

  16. Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Greg, did you use a different address? My dog once posted on here, under TeacherPatti’s Dog, and his comment got moderated. He is a smart dog.

  17. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Thom, you’re going to spend your entire life searching for that ancient enlightenment of sages, and forget to actually, ya know, live and enjoy life.

  18. Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Nah, Carlin wasn’t a philosopher; he was a satirist. I see him in the tradition of comic lecturers and iconoclastic orators like Mark Twain and Robert Ingersoll. He did good work.

    Philosophy isn’t about making people laugh, but philosophers aren’t humorless. Plato’s dialogues are lively, sometimes funny; Socrates wasn’t somber. Nietzsche wrote some fine one-liners. Diderot’s exuberant imagination sometimes bubbled over into the comic. I’m reading Bertrand Russell now (“Our Knowledge of the External World”), and he’s a world-class wit. Isn’t the search for truth part of the human comedy?

  19. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Dan, they actually happen to be the same thing, bathing in the sublime psychical milk of transcendental wisdom is probably the most alive a human can be, it may even be the purpose of human evolution. I may not be a perfect spokesman, what with my general angst, and as Gregg pointed out my often terrible rage, but for all the beautiful things in the world, many of which I have seen, I would trade the beauty of Mind for all of it. All events of this world are ephemeral, transient expirences of the finitude of becoming in being, when you learn to look past the flux of the world, then it only truely comes into focus, and becomes rich in that which is nearest.

  20. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh, yes Doug, philosophers aren’t humorless at all, Neitzsche, Goethe, Volitaire, Hume etc can be very witty. For Neitzsche pithiness is to be regarded above all, but there is a difference between his occasional one liners or hyperbolie, and his aphoristic antisystem with its aim of revaluating the devalued former highest values in the age of a dead god, or idealism. This descriptive philosophical apperatus can only be developed according to what Hegel would call the “seriousness of the Concept”, truth is either correspondance & meditative/poetical truth, or it is as Krishnamurti thought; a pathless land. The phrase ‘human comedy’ has nothing to do with humor, by the way.

  21. Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Dan, have you ever considered that Thom may enjoy philosophy?

    Personally, I find Neitzsche, Goethe, Volitaire, and Hume far more exciting that football, Hooters and boring barbques where fat guys stand around looking stupid.

    But that’s just me.

  22. Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The phrase “human comedy” comes from Balzac. “Comédie” has a few different associations than the English word; but also differs from, say, Dante’s use of the word “commedia.” Why do you think it has nothing to do with humor?

  23. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


    No, based on Thom’s admitted angst whenever someone brings up philosophy, i dont think that he enjoys it. I think that he enjoys the idea of it, but more for a sense of feeling superior to people that watch TV or football or standing around at a barbecue.

    ya know, the prototypical hipster.

  24. Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Really? Ive met Thom.

    Have you? You seem to know him so well.

  25. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Well I do have a degree in it if that’s any indicator, I don’t know many hipsters who’ve written lengthy philosophical papers on some of the most abstract contemporary and ancient thinkers from the East & West, read next to nothing but philosophy, and give the occasional guest lecture at university or library. I live to think, and I love to live. My angst stems in part from what I view as a real dearth of thought in the world, which is the ground of most of our contemporary problems. Do I feel superior to those who squander their lives in thoughtless pursuits? I don’t know. Do you think those obese men quietly standing around the BBQ trough really examine their lives? What did Socrates say about a life which was unexamined?

  26. Mr. Y
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    As much as I enjoyed this tangent on philosophy, I feel compelled to say the following, and bring the conversation back to a level at which I can participate fully.

    Fuck Louisiana and Texas.
    Fuck the Republicans.
    Fuck the people who are teaching kids about the Loch Ness Monster.
    Fuck the people who are defunding our public schools.
    Fuck America, which is fast becoming a joke of epic proportions.

  27. kjc
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I comfort myself by knowing that Thom doesn’t represent all of philosophy and Dan’s humanity cannot fully be expressed by his love for Buffalo Wild Wings.

    this is a thread about thinking right?

    that Descartes video is still funny .

  28. Meta
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Also relevant.

  29. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink


    I’m not trying to get into a pissing match with you about your love of quoting others and the disdain you hold for anyone that disagree with your priorities in life. I just think you take yourself wayyyyyy too seriously, and you need to calm down a little and not feel so depressed when you consider the world around you. Quoting long dead people that never could fathom the world we live in today doesnt make you enlightened. It makes you sound like the same backward hillbillies wishing the south woulda won and talking about how much better life was in the 1800s.

    You turned a post about those same hillbillies trying to teach science to children from a 2000 year old book with little basis in science into a semantic argument and a diatribe about how we need to get back to learning from 2000 year old books.

    Thats pretty depressing. I was just trying to give some unsolicited advice to maybe cheer up and think about some of the cool shit in the world we live in. enjoy yourself

  30. dirtgrain
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    A philosophy major/lover of philosophy/man who is on the path to enlightenment posts multiple times here what amounts to an ad hominem attack. Is that irony?

    Thom Elliot: “Do I feel superior to those who squander their lives in thoughtless pursuits? I don’t know. Do you think those obese men quietly standing around the BBQ trough really examine their lives? What did Socrates say about a life which was unexamined?”

    Do you have anecdotal evidence that supports what you imply here? I’ve never been to Kansas, but in the places I have been, I have found many who examine life deeply.

  31. kjc
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain, are you suggesting that fat people who eat bbq actually think?

  32. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Dan, have you ever considered perhaps there is more to life then roller coasters, Top Gun, strip clubs, and unbelievably salty fried flesh? Do you suggest that you with your phoney working class indignation, Joe the Plumber antiintellectual aesthetic, and terminal boredom know more about existence then someone like Hegel? At any time? Hegel’s errors are more profound then anything you’ll ever dream up in your most lucid moments, in a thousand of your lifetimes. Its amusing to me you equate the profundity of Plato with the ponderously dull Texas school board’s depthless interpretation of Bible, perhaps pick up a book sometime and perhaps you’ll escape your ignorent bondage and leave the cave, and move toward the light.

  33. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain, how do you confront the brutally vacant pedestrian who without any erudition believes they know better then you, in the midst of a violently anti-intellectual culture which encourages depthlessness? What do you do? How do you rouse the leaden intellect to questioning? I don’t know. I guess I try to do it with a sledgehammer. I find people grotesque in their mindlessness, and because it makes no difference what I do or say, the nihilistic world will keep plummeting into the void, and Dan will have no shortage of BW3s, I’ll say what I think thank you. I’d love to meet a real rural contemplative, if you know one, let’s do lunch. Till then I’m going on my perception based on a lifetime of study.

  34. kjc
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    “I’d love to meet a real rural contemplative”

    You realize they’d think you’re an asshole?

  35. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Most people do kjc, I can’t tell you how many people despise me, how many have come and gone. Its the problem with being a thinker in a world where thought is dead. Feel better darling?

  36. Ben
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thom, it’s so great to see you write so eloquently here! I mostly agree with you. I still think it’s important that there are satirists AS WELL AS philosophers. I guess I’m hopeful that outrage or disbelief in something someone might read about or see (perhaps on that daily show) will encourage them to read more about it and get informed? I’m being hopeful, maybe naive.

    Actually, I really do enjoy Jon Stewart’s extended interviews with the more political people. He gets pretty in depth (not philosophically in the way you do) but about the role of government and such. No he’s not a political philosopher, but it was really interesting to watch him have half hour and fourty five minute interviews with Marco Rubio or someone who worked for Bain Capital who wrote a book about the economy. I never watch the entertainment celebrity interviews anymore, but I LOVE the political ones. It’s just a shame that you have to go online to watch them.

    IDK, is it possible that satire is helpful, if just to show that there are others who question things too?

  37. kjc
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    “Its the problem with being a thinker in a world where thought is dead. Feel better darling?”

    in all my philosophy classes, no one ever called me darling. so thanks. it’s possible to love philosophy without suffering from terminal uniqueness in a world of idiots. that’s my only point. and you end up judging people unnecessarily (trust me on that one, darling).

    And I don’t think you’re an asshole, so don’t count me on the list of people you offend. except for your general disdain for other humans, i don’t mind anything you have to say. i just know some mythical “rural contemplatives” and one thing they don’t do is tell you how effin’ smart they are. even Dan’s not worth going there.

  38. Stupid Hick
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Although I never agree with EOS, Dan, and mark k, if it weren’t for them the comment section of this blog would be a liberal circle-jerk.

  39. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    If I were to meet a real rural contemplative, I doubt I would have much to say at all, but would endevor to listen as hard as I can, in order to survey the trackless yonder of their Tao. I would imagine I would act in the same way I listen to my 83 yr old Indian guru, who is an emeritus professor with multipul phd in physics, philosophy, and engineering, trained by ancient vedantic guru tradition. Only chiming in to keep discussion going, or when the topic dovetails with my expertise. I seek after the wisdom of sages, this is why I breathe. As I’m sure you can tell, I loathe to be questioned on my intellect, I find it odious to list my life in defense of my thinking, and have a tendency to become shrill when challenged. I hate it myself.

  40. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    “I find it odious to list my life in defense of my thinking, and have a tendency to become shrill when challenged.“

    i find it odious that you cant realize that all you do is try to list your assets of superiority over those you deem “submental“ and ignorant. You spend all of your time defending your education and your educators. That says a lot to me.

    You immediately assume Im some fat hick who eats fried chicken and pork all day every day, just because I enjoy it on occasion. I dont feel the need to tell some anonymous person on the net about all of my accomplishments. I dont need to read 2000 years old scribs thoughts on a world they could never comprehend to enjoy my life. i guess that makes me a submental jerkoff. but at least im not miserable 24 hours per day, wishing i lived in a time when sharing information took months to years.

    the only reason i began posting here was because the only people with opposing viewpoints were immediately labeled redneck trolls. I assumed that someone like myself that is socially liberal but somewhat fiscally conservative could help bridge the gap. but i sadly misjudged the demographic here.

  41. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    That’s right, all I do is talk about how smart I am, I never say anything else. In fact my only objective in coming here is to tell everyone what a smart guy I am every other day or so, it affirms my miserable intellectual life. Thanks brother, go ahead, don’t read Plato, smugly refer to yourself as a consumer with pride, tell me about how its perfectly fine to not read those idiots without the internet 2000 yrs ago and you can swill down some Coca Cola in front of the flickering telescreen in peace and complacency. It isn’t a posthistorical technological dystopia which callously consumes people’s lives at all, I’m just some arrogant know-it-all prick, what do I know anyhow?

  42. Dan
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    no youre not some arrogant know-it-all prick. You just wish you were. in reality, youre an arrogant dude that has inferiority complexes and you make up for them by belittling others that dont share your love of century old writing and anti-consumerism.

    Not to worry. We all have our insecurities. One would hope that further along your path to enlightenment, youll realize that you dont over come your insecurities with fake bravado and attacking others. Youll never find happiness in always wishing you were somewhere else

  43. Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I was expecting that this thread would develop in a different way. I guess one never knows how things will evolve.

  44. Greg Pratt
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    oh my.

  45. tom
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I was going to shoot for something insightful, but whimsical. Instead, I second the ‘oh my’.

  46. Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I was going to comment about the new charter high school opening in Ypsi which is only going to have 7 certified teachers. They will be relying upon volunteer professionals to assist. I don’t think there will be any one on the staff with a degree in philosophy.

  47. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Great, I get psychoanalysed by some blithe consumer who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t read! I’ll make sure to take your advice and not use my fake bravado next time you say something repugnant, ignorent, and unphilosophical, so long as you take my advice and pick up a book. I’ll make sure I won’t let my insecurites get in the way of my next guest lecture on Kant. Thanks Dan, now I am truely enlightened by your wisdom, instead of wasting all this time reading, I should have just gone to the sports bar.

  48. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Wobblie, that’s great! Just what we need, horrifically understaffed children holding-centers using volunteer teachers. I wonder if they’ll let BW3’s run the lunch counter, what a great partnership between business and govt that would be! And think of how happy the children will be, engorged and sticky with salt infused chicken sauce, ready to get out into the world and be our next generation of eaters. The fastfood, and prison industries will thank Ypsilanti for its dillegence in creating its ideal clientell, near illiterate, consumption driven shills.

  49. Edward
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    You don’t need certified teachers to read from scripts, recite the pledge, and turn on the advertising-supported in-class educational network each morning.

  50. Burt Reynolds
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I have no idea what this thread is about anymore. No offense Thom, but I stopped reading your posts months ago. Not because what you say, but rather my inability to understand them. I actually mean it kind of as a compliment. I have no idea what half the words you write mean, let alone how to pronounce them. The Old Testament is like Seuss in comparison.

  51. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    actually this new charter school in Ypsi is a special needs oriented school. Focused on kids that have dropped out of the normal schools, or have had trouble there and learning issues that have kept them behind. It’s focused on GED preparation for older under-privileged kids and kids that have been failed by the standard schools. The same NON-PROFIT organization running it has succeeding in graduating troubled kids in Brighton and Hazel Park, with many graduates enrolling in higher education.

    And any actual instruction in accredited Charter schools has to be done by certified teachers. This school is accredited via LSSU. The mlive article says the “volunteers” will work as teacher assistants for 2 to 4 hours per week.

    But sure, let’s focus on calling this is a prison for fattening up kids so that someone can get rich.

  52. Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that there are two kinds of philosophy. One represented by high intellectuals like Kant, Hume, and other scions or subordinates of the ruling class. The other is the philosophy of the masses, and is represented primarily by poets and some times scientist like Carl Sagan, such as Omar Khayam (mathmatician, and poet with a great new translation by Juan Cole) or Bruce Springsteen (a poet who has had much to say about the human experiance). You can contemplate the number of angels on the head of a pin, or you can recognize that wine, woman, and song or if you prefer sex, drugs, and rock and role is really the be all and end all of human existence. That line in our constitution about “pursuit of happiness” is another way of discribing this democratic philosophy. I am sorry Thom, after reading many of the teachers you have mentioned, it all seems so much like mental masturbation.

  53. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    oh, and I meant to ask you Thom. What device are you using to type your rants on this post-historic modernized blog? I assume it is solar powered, 100% post-consumer product made by a local non-profit and funded from kickstarter? And where do you get your internet access? Are you at the library all day and night, or *gasp* using the evil “Ypsi Wireless?”

  54. Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    This is the best thread I’ve seen on this site in ages.

  55. Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Dan, I think you are confusing “accreditation” and “chartering authority” confused. Accreditation is a process that can take several years. Ypsi public schools were recently re-accredited. LSSU is the chartering authority, and they may be an accredited university, that does not equate with the new high school being accredited. And I misspoke, there will only be two certified teachers among the staff of 7, with 15 volunteers. They are talking about 150 students. That is one certified instructor for 75 students, and yet they maintain they will have a 1 instructor per 10 student ration(?). Many “non-profits” are internally very profitable. CEO’s and Board of Directors need compensation. I don’t know much about this company. I do know that similar “Work Force Development” organizations have flourished with the Federal Government money flowing into these privatized ventures (no worker left behind was Granholms version) . The Director of the Capital area Michigan Works pulls down over $250,00 a year. The Director of the Flint Michigan Works went to jail for diverting funds to her private needs. Since we are closing many of the “alternative” schools within the public school systems, and retraining funds are beginning to dry up, I suspect that they see the opportunity to create an additional income stream.

  56. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    That is such an unfair and untrue charecterization of Kant, the prussian sage who was the font of idealism, the creator of the catagorical imperative is anything but the house mental masturbator. Kant was a thinker of the first water, of such depth as to be perennially interesting whenever thought is free. Mental masturbation is a charge I have never understood. Clearly you’ve never taken a hit from the transcendental chalice Wobblie, somehow I doubt you dislike masturbation, and the architectonic cathedrals of thought of the Aufklarung and their systematic interrogation of the subtlest levels of thinking is anything but self gratification, which is all rock music is.

  57. Posted July 3, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I heard they finally built a Hooters in Novi.

  58. kjc
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Dan, every time you post it makes me want to give up all my worldly possessions and follow Thom.

  59. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink


    the WSC school is an hybrid of online and teacher instructed in-class learning. It is 4 hours per day, and 4 days per week of instruction to aid troubled kids to earn their GED or learn skills to be in the work force, etc. Thus it is an alternative education school.

    why you think its a bad thing for the community is beyond me. Perhaps you prefer the vacant building and the 150 youths without diplomas and GEDs.

  60. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    kjc, every time you post is makes me want you to give up all of your worldly possessions, as well. Starting with your computer.

  61. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    and Peter, there has been a Hooters in Novi for about a decade. it may have closed and re-opened or something, not sure, but it was a flagship restaurant when the glorious monument to consumerism known as Fountain Walk was built. I wish theyd open one in the old Rams Horn building in Ypsi Twp. FYI, Thom they offer free wi-fi, so you can brag about your invited guest lectures on this blog while enjoying some salt infused chicken sauce.

  62. Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Hooters has no place in a Christian stronghold like Ypsilanti Township.

    The presence of a Hooters would lead children to believe that the earth is more than 6000 years old.

  63. Eel
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Yes, because tits like that clearly took millennia to evolve.

  64. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    They could repackage the brand as “Nessies“ and then everyone would know the Earth couldnt possible be more than 6000 years old.

    “Fire Breath Dragon Wings“ could be the staple dish

  65. kjc
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    reading the reviews of John Gray’s review of Zizek’s two latest books, and Zizek’s response, I realize everyone is confused about philosophers (and about thinking). I did like this bit from Clive Barnett about what Gray gets right:

    “Far more important than internal divides, or not, between continental and analytical philosophy is the fundamental break in modern thinking associated with Marx, Weber, Freud, and the like towards what I guess we might still call social theory, or, to put it another way, not completely making stuff up, or even, thinking socially in the fullest sense. Foucault, who belongs to this break too no doubt, once wondered about why modern thought was associated with the ism-ization of proper names (that’s my gloss). But the relation to proper names, and real biographical figures, might actually be different between social theory and philosophy – its one way of telling the difference. And somewhere, the distinction has to do with the difference between investing in the pure thought of an individual, compared to learning from the interesting things someone had to say about the world in which they lived.”

    i don’t know how to bring this back to “oh no they don’t want our kids to think critically”. i already knew that. the same Republican platform claims i spend my time ripping apart the fabric of society, as if i’m that ambitious.

  66. mark k
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “why you think its a bad thing for the community is beyond me. Perhaps you prefer the vacant building and the 150 youths without diplomas and GEDs.”

    Dan the uneducated are the Democrat voting base. Kind of like chains on the plantation.

  67. Posted July 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Read this thread backwards. It makes it even more awesome.

  68. Dan
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Im still waiting to hear about your transcendental milk based electronic device that you post on here from. Id like to start a farm of these transcendental mammals and develop a sustainable electronic business

  69. Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Dan, you’re pretty sad.

  70. Dan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Peter, you’re pretty sad.

  71. Posted July 4, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s possible that any of you are as sad as I am. I am, after all, the person who started this thread so that we could have a substantive discussion on the right’s assault on critical thinking.

  72. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Dan: “the only reason i began posting here was because the only people with opposing viewpoints were immediately labeled redneck trolls. I assumed that someone like myself that is socially liberal but somewhat fiscally conservative could help bridge the gap. but i sadly misjudged the demographic here.”

    Yes, you did misjudge. Your “somewhat fiscally conservative” weasel-words don’t fool anyone. We KNOW what you are. Freaking toothless dumb hillbilly right-wing neo-fascist tea-party whackjob. Go back to the nazi and KKK chat boards, where you belong.

  73. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick: “Although I never agree with EOS, Dan, and mark k, if it weren’t for them the comment section of this blog would be a liberal circle-jerk.”

    No, it would be a place where We could really accomplish something — free at last from disruption by far-right cranks.

    I feel Mark’s pain at the lack of a “substantive discussion on [sic] the right’s assault on critical thinking.” But how is it possible to have such a discussion, with this pestilential cloud of right-wingers flitting about, constantly harassing and obstructing the conversation? This forum needs a good old-fashioned purge.

  74. Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Are you suggesting a Mark Maynard Dotcom Death Squad, Alan?

  75. Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I suggest more critical thinking.

  76. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    PS: Thom: thanks for setting Dan straight. Who are we to argue with anyone tutored by an 83-year-old multiple-PhD’d emeritus professor Indian guru coming from an “ancient vedantic guru tradition” [sic]? The Vedanta wisely instructs us to uncomplainingly accept our karmic destiny, and stay in our place — and in the case of most on this forum, that place is the lowliest of low, with the worms. It is a shocking reflection of nihilistic modernity that anyone would question this, or object.


  77. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    mark: “Are you suggesting a Mark Maynard Dotcom Death Squad, Alan?”

    Summary execution would be a tad stringent, mark. No, I think the angels of our better nature would dictate something milder. Perhaps 20-30 years hard labor in the arctic circle. Let malnutrition, infection and disease take them, naturally.

  78. Dan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Good posts alan. But its hard to eat barbecue with no teeth. And peter is the most racist poster here, not me.

  79. Dan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    And alan, I like it better when you post as thom

  80. Posted July 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Most of Peter’s professional work is done in rural Africa, trying to save people from infectious diseases. If he’s a racist, he’s the worst racist ever.

  81. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Obama supporters cannot be found guilty of racism, Dan. All Obama voters get a small stack of Get-Out-Of-Accusations-Of-Racism Free cards, upon exiting the polls. They can be redeemed as needed. Peter will now have to present and forfeit one of his cards. I do hope that he doesn’t run out, between now and November.

  82. alan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Who is “thorn”?

    Nice handle, in any case.

  83. Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Aside from the fact that Pete isn’t an Obama supporter, and hasn’t said anything even remotely racist, you raise a great point. Now run back over the Rush Limbaugh website and copy something else.

  84. Dan
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink


    Peter has repeatedly equated criminal activity and black people. It’s at least a little bit racist.

  85. Meta
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Jindal’s voucher program for religious schools in Louisiana, check this out.

    In Louisiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal pushed for a voucher program that would allow state funds to be used to pay for religious schools. It’s unconstitutional, it’s a way to use taxpayer money to fund someone’s faith, and it was a bad idea to begin with.

    But it passed.

    Now, one of the state legislators, Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Watson), just made a shocking discovery, though: Christianity isn’t the only religion!

    Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

    “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

    Read more:

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  1. […] country’s unsurpassed greatnessBy Mark | July 4, 2012Following up on our conversation about the purposeful dumbing down of America, I though that I’d share this tweet, sent out today by renowned American astrophysicist Neil […]

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