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Monday, October 19, 2009
My Morning in ExileSo I go to the science museum with the kids yesterday. They have this feature where, via a gigantic lever, a person can lift up a full-sized car. My five year-old daughter and four year-old boy think it's awesome. When they ask me how they could lift a car, I tell them that the thing attached to the car and the rope is a lever, and that while the reasons are kind of complicated, it's basically a machine that helps people move heavy things. They accept that, later talking about "the machine that helped them lift a car." A few minutes after the kids used it, some full-grown adults of the redneck persuasion lift the car. Overheard: "there's gotta be some trick to this thing." Also overheard was a sentence that had "one of them optical illusions" in it.
Question of the day: are we sliding back into a dark age in which science is viewed as magic -- and in some cases sorcery -- or did we never truly leave the dark ages in the first place? Now, on to more enlightened fare:
Bread. Apples. Very small rocks. Cider. Gravy. Cherries. Mud. Churches. Lead! Lead!
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:13pm
Nice Basement Tapes reference.
Posted 10/19 at 12:29 PM
Simon DelMonte said...
I think we never quite left the Dark Ages. Science remains as impenetrable today as it ever was, which is entirely the result of an education system that, even in the years after Sputnik, never quite figured out how to demystify science for the masses.
Be thankful, if nothing else, that the people you were seeing were there at all.
Posted 10/19 at 12:30 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Good point, Simon. I mean, they coulda been home watching football or burning witches or something instead of paying good money to go to a science museum.
Posted 10/19 at 12:33 PM
Strap yourself to a tree with roots.
Posted 10/19 at 12:40 PM
Troy Patterson said...
18% of americans think the Sun revolves around the earth. 23% can’t name any scientist when asked.
I don’t think it is “never quite figured out how to demystify science for the masses”. I think it is an assumption by the masses that they don’t need to understand this stuff to get through life.
How many times have you heard someone say they don’t need calculus to get a job some where? It’s the same for many scientific fields that people fail to see the need for general scientific understanding.
Posted 10/19 at 12:48 PM
Being a native rural Vermonter for my entire life; much of which has been spent near “full-grown adults of the redneck persuasion”, I can safely tell you that we have not, in fact, left the dark ages behind us.
Posted 10/19 at 12:50 PM
While it’s not specifically a rule written as such, doesn’t the logic go:
For an out, the ball has to beat the runner to the bag. Since they arrive at the same time, the ball didn’t beat the runner, ergo the runner is safe?
Posted 10/19 at 12:51 PM
On to more enlightened fare, indeed.
Posted 10/19 at 01:03 PM
Ahmet Hamdi Cavusoglu said...
Appreciate the Holy Grail reference at the end ... and something like that event at the science museum makes you think.
The way it appears, scientific thought has become the new church of society, with a limited amount of people able to truly digest the scientific information, and those same people disseminating it out to the masses that understand the science a bit less (vs. clergymen reading the bible in latin and translating the ‘word’ for the masses).
At least we beat out >90% of people believe the sun orbits the earth and scientists are considered evil witches and wizards during the Dark Ages. So how about the Dim Ages instead?
BTW, this comes from a self-proclaimed engineer/scientist, or at least one holding a degree.
Posted 10/19 at 01:04 PM
Ahmet Hamdi Cavusoglu said...
Finally, I am in no way, shape or form implying that no one can learn to understand math and science. Just that there IS a knowledge barrier that must be learned, and sadly we (as a society) are failing in some parts to help everyone get over that ‘hump’.
Posted 10/19 at 01:07 PM
John Willumsen said...
While I do think that the statement, “I think it is an assumption by the masses that they don’t need to understand this stuff to get through life” is accurate, I think that this assumption arises from a flawed education system, and part of that is a failure to demystify science (and math and statistics, and logic, and art). I don’t think the human brain is particularly well-suited to logical thought and clear, reasonable contemplation of the things that we come across in life. I do think that people can learn to embrace a logical, rational way of thinking, but they (we) need to be educated into such a mode of thought. I think of it this way: the human brain is like a computer whose hardware isn’t really made to perform a certain function (in this case, logical thought), but if you load the proper software (a good, well-rounded, dynamic education) then it is perfectly capable of performing the task.
On another note, having been born and raised in NYC and having been a Yankees fan since early childhood, I think I can safely say that Yankees fans as a whole are not Teh Greatestt fans Everrr!!!! (Just listen to sports radio in NYC, or easier still, check out the responses on NBC.) With the caveat that it’s fairly useless to try to speak about a universe of people as large as “Yankees fans,” let alone the entire population of NY, I would say this: Yankees fans are much like New Yorkers in general, vocal, irascible, impassioned, and self-centered. This means that they are loud and happy in victory, impatient and rude in defeat. More importantly, I don’t know where this meme of “Yankees fans are so knowledgeable” came from. Accepting the flaws of anecdotal evidence, allow me to present what just happened in my office: two Yankees fans just walked by discussing today’s game; fan 1 says “well the problem is Jared (sic [well, aural sic, if that makes sense])Weaver is better than that other Weaver.” Fan 2 says, “Oh, is this guy the guy who was on the Yankees way back?” Fan 1: “No, that guy’s his brother.” So our more informed fan’s analysis is “he’s better than Jeff Weaver” and our less informed fan’s analysis is “who are we talking about?”
Posted 10/19 at 01:19 PM
Jason B said...
PBS is running a series with “the best of” each of the Pythons. Graham Chapman’s was on the other night, with some nice commentary from the others.
IFC is also in the midst of some behind-the-scenes Python stuff, running over several consecutive nights I think?
Good times, good times. All this scientific jibber-jabber be damned. =)
“When do you plan on getting married?”
Posted 10/19 at 01:21 PM
* Was that COSI? I used to love that place when I was little, though I think they’ve moved or something since then.
* If I spend too long thinking about general science knowledge, I get depressed.
* I am a Red Sox fan, so my opinions of Yankee fans are probably not entirely helpful.
* “Churches?” gets my vote for funniest line in the movie. This is partly because most of the movie is quoted to excess, so many of the other lines have lost some of their humor to overexposure.
Posted 10/19 at 01:38 PM
Mode:Theif and Lair said...
Rewind The Grail a couple minutes from your quote and get my favorite:
“And how do we know if she’s made of wood?”
“Build a bridge out of her!”
(great, but the answer is even better)
“Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?”
So many great lines… had to rewatch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU
Posted 10/19 at 01:41 PM
Hate bringing politics into a sports discussion, but the adults you described Craig I can guarantee you believe that everything in the bible is true and George Bush was a great President.
Posted 10/19 at 01:42 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
It was COSI. It moved about 10 years ago. The location you probably remember—on East Broad across from the original Wendy’s—has been restored to its orginal condition (i.e. the black glass facade removed) and is now a county office building. Looks great, actually.
COSI moved to the old Central High School location on the west bank of the Scioto river (trivia: it was the high school where the Ralph Maccio-Nick Nolte classic “Teachers” was filmed). The river-facing side of the old school was retained and restored, and onto it was grafted this gigantic and (at least in my opinion) construction that is designed to look like a canoe resting on the bank of the river upside down.
Some people say that the place has lost its charm since the move—to much grand space not enough geeky junk piled everywhere—but it probably needed to expand.
Posted 10/19 at 01:43 PM
DonCoburleone; If you really hated to bring politics into a sports discussion, you wouldn’t have, because it was blatently unneccesary. The lack of understanding of basic principles of science, I guarantee, goes beyond republican/democrat differences.
Posted 10/19 at 01:51 PM
Mode:Theif and Lair said...
Aarcraft; well said.
Donny.. This would have been much acceptable in this forum:
“... but the adults you described Craig I can guarantee you..” are Yankees fans
Although, it would also be a strongly ignorant generalization and actually reflects more poorly on you as an idividual.
Posted 10/19 at 02:06 PM
The Rabbit said...
“So how about the Dim Ages instead?”
Posted 10/19 at 02:11 PM
Aaron Moreno said...
I admit, I was waiting for the “Democrats are the greatest voters on Earth” to start with the science thing.
Most folks don’t know jack about science because it doesn’t matter in their day-to-day lives. I have vague idea of how my TV works, and the discovery of a unified field theory won’t affect what I have for dinner.
Posted 10/19 at 02:13 PM