The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Dogmatism and SSkepticism are the Top Disincentives for Students Considering a STEMM Career

We enrolled our children in charter science and math schools based on their initial love for STEMM subjects, and provided a home where curiosity and experiment were the central ethos of how we approached the unknown as a family. This was my mistake, introducing them to the real thing, when they were about to come face to face with the fake-ness.  Who wants to undertake a career imbued with Dawkins-style intransigence or James Randi style doctrine and the other horrid social control behaviors exhibited by the Cabal pedagogy of Social Skepticism? Certainly not me. Apparently not the vast majority of American students either.

Want to increase the number of students and graduates who seek careers in STEMM? Then take back this domain from the clutches of Social Skepticism and reestablish the Wonder Quotient.

I have established an endowment at my alma mater supporting scholarships for disadvantaged students who wish to enter STEMM careers. Each year it funds the tuition, texts/access, and room for several disadvantaged students granted the scholarship. The very security and health of our nation rests on the ability and desire of our young people to excel in STEMM careers, businesses and technologies. This issue is that important to me.

big-question-markScience

Technology

Engineering

Mathematics

Medicine

stem declineAs a child, after observing my father being abused by oppressive corporations who viewed their employees as life-slaves, I vowed to never enter corporate America myself.  In similar fashion, today’s youth are issuing a “No’ vote to the current manifestation of STEMM career shepherds, namely, the Social Skepticism movement. I contend that this, paramount over any other single factor, is the chief impetus behind the 22 year significant declining trend in STEMM enrollments.¹  And it is a shame. My children opted to not go into STEMM programs, primarily because of the shrill and bad behavior of the high school teachers to whom they were exposed. They were clear about this to me. We even enrolled them into charter science and math schools based on their initial love for the subjects, and provided a home where curiosity and experiment were the central ethos of how we approached the unknown as a family. This was my mistake, introducing them to the real thing, when they were about to come face to face with the acerbic, strident and busy-work laden fake-ness.

By the time they hit high school, the desire for STEMM interests evaporated in a hail of memorization, threats as to ‘this is how it is done in college so you just might as well get used to it now” and rote exam prep programs to make sure that the high school got the highest test scores in the state.  Faculty products of a movement which has a blood-taste for the love of control, busy work, rules following, symbolic performances and institutional protocols; not for the subjects at hand. As you can see in the graphic to the right, I am not the only parent observing this dire multi decade reality.¹

But even more importantly, what I found sorely lacking as well in my childrens’ college prep instructors and programs, was the primary factor which influenced my own entry into a top STEM program and career(s) in the first place.  The shortfall in this factor can be summed in one principle:

Social Skepticism is Unjustifiably Killing the Wonder Quotient

students avoid STEM in collegeWe as a nation have erred in allowing fringe groups with false ‘critical thinking’ skills to kill the wonder quotient in STEMM subjects.  We, publicly and through social channels of enforcement highly visible to our nation’s youth, establish a habit of attacking those who ask challenging or publicly broached questions, and establish the false pretense that we already have the significant questions of our realm and explanations as to its incumbent observations, all determined before hand. We pretense that every answer sought is simply a matter of applying the pre-cooked, conforming, conventional, Nihilist-approved, mandatory extrapolation, promulgated by the ruling authority, off of all that is already ‘proven’ scientifically. In this pretense we are making four big mistakes:

1.  The primary contentions via force-to-convention are incorrect, they kill curiosity through enforcement by social pressure, and are passed off falsely as ‘science,’

2. The boast as to man’s reach of knowledge is false,

3.  We kill the incentive for smart young students to seek career/life paths with more meaning than simply money. In a world where I have no say, money gives me power, and finally

4. Our children can spot our hypocrisy, even though we as adults are now desensitized to it.

The Reason for the decline in STEMM career choices:  Social Skepticism is killing the Wonder Quotient

Many students are smart and informed enough to know that they do not want to become a card carrying member of the SSkeptic Cabal as the requirement in order to hold a career path. By age 14 a young person has witnessed first hand the bad behavior of those who call themselves ‘skeptics’ over 100 times. They realize that only certain personalities join the SSkeptic Cabal; a personality type they find distasteful for display in themselves. Unfortunately these immature ‘skeptic’ personalities are increasingly beginning to dominate the discourse in and around science; and they are not “tough and talented,” rather simply nasty, noisy narcissistic and dogmatic. This parlays directly into the chief misjudgement the entire movement has made, one which students sense keenly. We still run our STEMM universities as if they were religious institutions, wherein we simply changed the enforced religion. Instruction has given way to dogmatic rote indoctrination. Implicit catechism and condemnation of who the student is, and where they came from. Who wants to be part of that?

There are an awful lot of scientists today who believe that before very long we shall have unraveled all the secrets of the universe. There will be no puzzles anymore. To me it’d be really, really tragic because I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery, feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it and how its emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is and it is perfect and why.

– Dr. Jane Goodall

As Dr. David Blades contends here in Policy Matters, as is the parallel-to-US case with Canadian students and contrary to what Social Skeptics contend, it is not the lack of love for or exposure to science and math – it is the people who are pretending to rule these subjects, who are the problem. The students, contrary to what SSkeptics contend, are not growing more credulous and stupid, rather are becoming much much wiser.

But the chronically low involvement in STEM careers in Canada can be traced to a more systemic issue. Young children in the K-3 grades typically list science as one of their favourite subjects. But Canadian participation in international testing reveals that, at the secondary school level, most Canadian students dislike science. What changed? In most cases, it’s the way science is taught. In elementary school science is usually hands-on and experiential while in secondary school the majority of STEM instruction involves students taking notes from carefully prepared PowerPoint presentations. Science for these students is the memorization of reams of facts with little or no perceived relevance to their lives. Given this tedious pedagogy, it is a tribute to the resilience of our youth that some actually still choose science careers!

       – Dr. David Blades, “Why Most Students Don’t Choose STEM Careers” ²

Dont want youPeople have enough of their own beliefs and/or information sets they have assimilated, to know that they do not buy for one minute the Nihilist religion of SSkeptics.  Creationism is not the problem; the vast majority of the population put aside the 6,000 year fairy tale long ago. Besides, we became the #1 STEMM graduate nation DESPITE a preponderance of fundamentalist Creationism beliefs at one time. Angry Nihilsm, now is the problem. And no, those who reject that religion are neither stupid, ill informed nor lacking in critical thinking skills. Nobody wants to spend their education having a scripted set of beliefs pounded into their head in the name of ‘critical thinking’ and at the expense of the awe, investigation and personal meaning behind the wonder.

Nihilists, despite their pretenses to the contrary, suffer from the delusion that they have dispensed with the need for wonder. Their sociopathy includes the desire to promote their wholly known and dry universe as fact, and enforce it on children – in order to squelch opposing religions, via means other than scientific method and curiosity.

This is why it is indeed ironic to select journalists, like Mariette DiChristina, to represent before Congress this week the need for more advancement of STEM oriented careers. She promotes the very movement which has played a key role in the reasons as to why STEMM career selection is in decline.³ Who wants to join a career where James Randi and Michael Shermer’s cult already had everything figured out in 1972? A nasty, negative and totalitarian religion which forces its tenets on outsiders, not just its adherents. A cult wherein if you have any ideas which run contrary to the doctrine, you will be subjected to horrid behaviors, public vilification, loss of career and be raked over the coals in social media?  Certainly not me.

dawkins randi

Who wants a career where these guys are foisted as role models? These are not my STEMM role models. There are many people in STEMM professions who very quietly agree with me. The SSkepticism movement is so repressive and negative, that this opinion cannot even be spoken of publicly. In my opinion, the fault for the decline in selection of STEMM enrollments rests squarely on the shoulders of the Social Skepticism movement.

One would be wise to not sell this insight short. Social Skepticism’s negative repercussions are coming home to roost, with our children and our nation’s future becoming the ultimate victims. If you want to increase the interest of students in STEMM careers, then

Stop Dictating Dismissal and Vilifying Researchers, Ideas, Observations and Public Sentiment
Provide For New Ethical and Balanced Leadership in the Skepticism Movement – People who have actually done science, and not journalists, stage magicians, psychologists and liberal arts activists.
Allow the Right Question to be Asked
Reestablish the Wonder Quotient


¹  Infographic: The Decline of STEM Education in the U.S.; Ed Tech, Apr 3, 2012, http://gettingsmart.com/2012/04/infographic-the-decline-of-stem-education-in-the-u-s/

²  Policy Matters Canada, http://www.policymatters.ca/opinion-pieces/why-most-students-dont-choose-stem-careers/

³  Scientific American Cozies Up to Social Skeptics, The Ethical Skeptic, July 12, 2014; http://theethicalskeptic.com/2014/07/12/scientific-american-cozies-up-to-social-skeptics/

July 17, 2014 - Posted by | Deskeption | , , , ,

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