Pharyngula

A poll with a point

Get out there and vote on this recommendation to Obama to create nationally required science standards. This is your last chance; it needs to be bumped up to 3rd place to make it into the next round. All it needs is a few hundred more votes!

Comments

  1. #1 Paul
    December 31, 2008

    Disgusting; “Introduce Esperanto as a foreign language subject in schools” ranks higher at number 3. As if schools could not hold classes in it already. I don’t recall the federal petition that allowed Quenya or Sindarin as a school topic.

    Too much fluff, not enough science. It’s depressing.

  2. #2 Tor A
    December 31, 2008

    The comments on that site are really scary.

  3. #3 mus
    December 31, 2008

    It’s gone.

  4. #4 Tor A
    December 31, 2008

    ?

    You register and then click on the little square that says “vote” I believe.

  5. #5 mus
    December 31, 2008

    TorA, I presume you’re talking to me? Click the link… here’s the proposal:

    ATTENTION:
    I’ve realized that we will not make it into the second round.

    I’ve also realized that it doesn’t matter at all. The project will continue, without the help of change.org. This site has shown itself to be controlled by commercial bullshit(Citizen Teachers), nonsense(OMG AUTISM IS A EPIDEMIC!!!), and completely absurd conspiracy theories(LOL THE GOVERNMENT CREATED AIDS).

    The fact is, Change.org will not change anything at all. It is useless, and quite frankly, a joke.

    I’ll try and contact people who are interested as soon as we get an official website up.

    Cheers,
    Griffin
    PS-I’ve kept the original idea stuff in a comment below.

  6. #6 Mike
    December 31, 2008

    Perhaps someone should email and inform him this has been posted on Pharyngula and should receive the required votes by the end of the day [hour]?

  7. #7 Jadehawk
    December 31, 2008

    omfg, I didn’t even notice how much silliness is on that site. now i’m embarassed for ever going there and being excited about it. i mean… esperanto? really? decent Spanish and French classes that students actually took seriously would be much more useful.

  8. #8 Tor A
    December 31, 2008

    mus, vote anyway, if you feel like it. :)

  9. #9 littlejohn
    December 31, 2008

    Where do I vote? All I saw was an opportunity to post a comment (which I did).

  10. #10 SMgr
    December 31, 2008

    Umm.. not so sure about this idea (Federal standards). What have the last 8 years taught us? Science friendly presidents arn’t a “given”. Just look at Bush’s EPA and NASA appointments for starters.

    While the evangelical vote has so much weight in this country, do we really want to increase their available potential powers?

  11. #11 mus
    December 31, 2008

    TorA, I voted ages ago… when PZ first posted about it. I think it’s a great idea, I even went to change.gov and sent in a similar suggestion. I doubt it’ll have much of an impact, but oh well.

    There’s also the “Open for Questions” feature on the transition team’s website. You can submit questions and vote on other people’s questions, and the transition team will answer the top ones. Right now the top science/tech question is “How will the Obama Administration encourage the future generations of Americans to become the worlds leading scientists and engineers?”

    Here’s the site: http://change.gov/page/content/openforquestions20081229/

  12. #12 Beth B.
    December 31, 2008

    Hate to be a killjoy, but how much would national standards for science education actually help science education? Given that the current practice of measuring learning through a battery of multiple-choice tests has bred complaints about grade school teachers emphasizing rote memorization and “teaching to the test” rather than the instruction in critical thinking that science education (and really any complete education) requires, are standards likely to be helpful?

    To contradict myself, the gaps in many people’s science educations would be fairly well filled in by a list of topics on which all students graduating from the public school system should have been exposed to. This would be good, especially in overcoming regional biases against, for instance, evolution.

    If the national standards also included the students demonstrating an understanding for evidence evaluation and how we know the list of facts they’ve been taught, that would probably alleviate my objections.

  13. #13 Jadehawk
    December 31, 2008

    SMgr, while a Bush can do severe damage do a badly designed Science Standard bill (similar to the damage he’s done to the EPA), no Science Standard (or no EPA) is far far worse. Maybe not in places like Washington State, but the Utahs and Texases of this country need a National Standard, based on SCIENCE, and devised by SCIENTISTS rather than local politicians.

    anyway, the site has a lot of ideas, I’m just mostly embarrassed that the weird ones got so many votes :-/ The Science standards would have to triple their vote-count to win, so I think it might be a bit too late. Too bad, but at least 2 of the top rated ones aren’t bad (the Department of Peace is stupid though. it’s begging to be turned into something orwellian)

  14. #14 Andrew
    December 31, 2008

    Just voted.

  15. #15 drew
    December 31, 2008

    as much as I agree that something needs to be done about science standards in our country, unfortunately I’m pretty sure that education standards are not something that is subject to federal control under the constitution. I feel certain that one of the Godbots would challenge federal science standards in court and unfortunately I think they would win.

  16. #16 RBH
    December 31, 2008

    216 more needed as of this comment.

  17. #17 Sili
    December 31, 2008

    Doesn’t this sound a bit more … well, ‘grownup’?:

    https://www.change.org/ideas/view/replace_no_child_left_behind_with_a_strong_education_policy

    No Child Left Behind sucked the soul out of education under the guise of accountability. It created no-win situations for school administrators and narrowed the curriculum for students to only test-relevant subjects. Education of children cannot be tracked according to models of productivity and corporate growth.

    We need an education policy that encourages critical thinking, embraces science and the arts, empowers school administrators to make the right decisions for their students, and welcomes second career teachers without sending them back to school and into debt.
    - Arthur Coddington (former teacher), San Leandro, CA Nov 12 @ 01:44PM PST

  18. #18 Jonathan
    December 31, 2008

    Hey, you can vote in each category so be sure to vote for restore seperation of church and state…http://www.change.org/ideas/view/restore_separation_of_church_state

    currently 4th with 141 votes to go…
    so go get em

  19. #19 Big Mike
    December 31, 2008

    lots of garbage to sift through at the chage.org site, these are publicly submitted suggestions, so some are sadly misinformed. the student who posted this did a good job suggesting it until he threw a hissy fit today and posted what he did.

  20. #20 Sam L.
    December 31, 2008

    We’re too late:

    “ATTENTION:
    I’ve realized that we will not make it into the second round.

    I’ve also realized that it doesn’t matter at all. The project will continue, without the help of change.org. This site has shown itself to be controlled by commercial bullshit(Citizen Teachers), nonsense(OMG AUTISM IS A EPIDEMIC!!!), and completely absurd conspiracy theories(LOL THE GOVERNMENT CREATED AIDS).

    The fact is, Change.org will not change anything at all. It is useless, and quite frankly, a joke.”

    Too bad.

  21. #21 Jonathan
    December 31, 2008

    I just added one in the humanitarian relief section called (drum roll)

    Repeal the global gag rule.

    And don’t forget you can vote once in each category so you can vote for science standards(EDUCATION), seperation of church and state(OTHER), and repeal the global gag rule in (humanitarian relief category).

  22. #22 Jonathan
    December 31, 2008

    I just added one in the humanitarian relief section called (drum roll)

    Repeal the global gag rule.

    And don’t forget you can vote once in each category so you can vote for science standards(EDUCATION), seperation of church and state(OTHER), and repeal the global gag rule in (humanitarian relief category).

  23. #23 Jonathan
    December 31, 2008

    I just added one in the humanitarian relief section called (drum roll)

    Repeal the global gag rule.

    And don’t forget you can vote once in each category so you can vote for science standards(EDUCATION), seperation of church and state(OTHER), and repeal the global gag rule in (humanitarian relief category).

  24. #24 Jonathan
    December 31, 2008

    Holy crap, I didn’t mean to send three copies. Not my first mistake either. My wife says I miss-spelled a few words in my suggestion too.

  25. #25 Levi in NY
    December 31, 2008

    @Paul: Seriously. I speak Esperanto and even I don’t think teaching Esperanto in our schools is a pressing issue, or the best thing we could be doing with our tax dollars.

    @Everybody else: If you want to go to a website where such questions might actually get reviewed by the Obama administration, try http://www.change.GOV

  26. #26 Pennypacker
    December 31, 2008

    Voted.

  27. #27 Knock Goats
    December 31, 2008

    National Science Standards? Don’t you realise science is evil. I’m just watching Young Frankenstein. As one of the villagers says:
    “Scientists – they’re all the same! They pretend to be working for us, but what they want is to RULE THE WORLD!”

  28. #28 Nerd of Redhead
    December 31, 2008

    Scientists – they’re all the same! They pretend to be working for us, but what they want is to RULE THE WORLD!

    Not for ourselves, but for our cephalopod overlords. hic

  29. #29 Knock Goats
    December 31, 2008

    Nerd,
    Speak for yourself! Ha! The ignorant villagers are pursuing the great Baron Dr. von Frankenstein’s creation with murderous intent! The suspense is terrible…

  30. #30 Itchy Brother
    December 31, 2008

    I hope people are not confusing this site (change.org) with the site affiliated with the Obama folks (change.gov). If you don’t understand the difference, visit whitehouse.com.

  31. #31 Seokso
    December 31, 2008

    Legalize it is the top scorer? Okay, seriously? I sympathize with ending the war on drugs as well, but of all the possible things to choose -torture, war, prejudice, rights, etc.- a paranoia-free joint is most important? Funny that the idea was submitted a dozen or so times. It’s almost as if the submitters had their judgment clouded in some way as to prevent them noticing the others.

  32. #32 alex
    December 31, 2008

    the currently leading science issue, autism, contains a passing allusion to the provision of “any items deemed necessary by the physician for the treatment of metal toxicities and any other theraputic orders their physician may order”.
    isn’t this a bit woo? do metals really have anything to do with autism? if there is such a potent reference to woo in the leading option alone, does the site have any real credibility?

  33. #33 Holydust
    December 31, 2008

    To be honest, Itchy, you’re right — in my tired state, I actually did confuse the two sites.

    …immediately dishonest.

  34. #34 tokenadult
    December 31, 2008

    Yes, the site running the poll about suggestions is a third-party site (I’m told it’s just a skin with its own domain name on some more general social polling site) with no affiliation with the Obama campaign. I told Greg Laden that when he first posted the link to the suggestion about science standards.

    http://www.change.org/ideas/view/create_nationally_required_science_standards

    I have become quite upset to see that flakes and lovers of pseudoscience (various kinds of pseudoscience) seem to be dominating the change.org site, but that is always why PZ refers people to polls: to represent ideas that are based on evidence rather than nonsense. I have already voted. I do hope you will all support science standards that include teaching the facts about biological evolution.

  35. #35 Chris
    December 31, 2008

    “isn’t this a bit woo?”

    Yes.

    “do metals really have anything to do with autism?”

    No.

    “if there is such a potent reference to woo in the leading option alone, does the site have any real credibility?”

    Not really, the truthers and CAM assholes have a lot of free time on their hands.

  36. #36 David Utidjian
    December 31, 2008

    I have no idea why “Autism Reform Act”, “Esperanto”, and “Citizen Teachers” are in the top 3. We have far greater problems in education than Autistic kids. Esperanto is not, in my opinion, all that useful. “Citizen Teachers” have been discussed here before I think.

    As far as languages are concerned… do what they do in Europe; Teach English, French, and Spanish and as ‘standard’ from pre-school on up. The earlier the better. Toss in German, Chinese, Hindi, Russian as options.

    Autism is a problem and from what I hear it is an increasingly common one. I do not think it is the important reform that is needed in education. Not when the basics are so much in need of attention.

    “Citizen Teachers” seems to make the assumption that people with ‘life experience’ are somehow qualified to teach about that experience (or anything else.) Retired folks from ‘the real world’ are not, by default, good teachers. Often they are quite the opposite.

    -DU-

  37. #37 RBH
    December 31, 2008

    Dropped to 5th place, needing 94 votes to make it into the second round.

  38. #38 Brian Barker
    January 1, 2009

    This is one of the best adverts for Esperanto I have seen http://5pixels.blogspot.com/2008/12/do-you-comprendo-english.html

    Also try http://www.esperanto.net

  39. #39 Randallphobia
    January 1, 2009

    Sorry PZ, science may be one of my great loves, but, as a public school teacher, I feel that replacing No Child Left Untested…er…No Child Left Behind. This piece of garbage is hurting EVERY core subject area across the board. I hear good science teachers who want science standards like those that you advocate, complain more about this than the science standards.

  40. #40 Randallphobia
    January 1, 2009

    Apparently I can’t read. I missed this poll entirely last night & it took me a while to realize this this morning (my last post came before this realization). I need to make an alert for my computer that flashes every New Year: “No thinking before 10am today dummy! The brain has yet to reboot!”

  41. #41 bill ringo
    January 1, 2009

    Perhaps if we encourage that creationism can only be taught in Esperanto……..

  42. #42 mayhempix
    January 1, 2009

    Everyone’s disparaging comments about Esperanto are woefully ignorant and way off base. Esperanto is not “fluff” and has been endorsed by Japan, China, Skandinavian, Euorpean and Latin American countries for the past half century.

    At this point the 4 most spoken languages in the world are English, Chinese, Hindustan and Spanish with English becoming the world’s default 2nd language purely on the basis of colonialism and economic and military dominance. At one point Esperanto was proposed as the official language of the UN but that was nullified by the wingnut right in the US as a communist and atheist plot combined with Tower of Babel mythology.

    If Esperanto was taught to everyone as the official international written and spoken language there would be no need for interpreters and confused translations across myraid languages and dialects resulting in far less diplomatic communication failures, science would truly become a universal language available to all, business and leisure travel would be much easier far more pleasurable, and English would cease to be the force of a cultural juggernaut that is undermining world cultures and separating the halves from the have nots in terms of access to information and education. Websites and all media would only need to be produced in 2 language forms… native and Esperanto. Everyone keeps their cultural affliation and shares in a universal commonality.

    Remember that in China, while there are many spoken dialects, they read and write in only one visual language. This enabled China to unify ending centuries of feudalism and warlord states dominated by families with regional languages.

    Esperanto is good for science, good for education, good for commerce and good for world peace.

    disclaimer: My Argentinian wife’s grandfather has a school named after him in Havana, Cuba for being a leader in the 20th century for Esperanto as the world’s official second language. He and his wife traveled endlessly to conferences throughout Europe and Latin America advancing the cause.

  43. #43 Tor A
    January 1, 2009

    I live in scandinavia and I have never even heard of Esperanto until now.

    How big part of the internet is already in english?

  44. #44 Mike K
    January 1, 2009

    To those concerned about having federal standards in times when the president is not science-friendly: YES, we want federal standards! Imagine if the Dover case had been federally binding…if an anti-science regime comes to pass, creationism can be tested in federal court and defeated once and for all.

  45. #45 Mar Cardenas
    January 1, 2009

    Esperanto could be excellent for the advancement of science. Right now English-speaking scientists have an unfair advantage over their counterparts from non-English speaking countries who must not only be great scientists, often better than the English-speaking ones, but must also be also to write scientific papers in flawless English and make presentations in a native-like level of pronunciation and fluency.
    How do I know? My brother’s company in Mexico has branches in many countries and having their annual conventions is an absolute linguistic nightmare!
    Look at this graphic to see how using Esperanto as a bridge language can greatly simplify international relations.
    http://www.ipernity.com/doc/amikema/3549749
    And here is my ongoing contribution to the teaching of science to kids:
    http://groups.google.com/group/esperantoporinfanoj/web/scienca-vikipedio—baza-anatomio—leciono-1
    A math and science lover,
    Mar Cardenas, M.Ed. – Mar @ GrupoAmikema.org

  46. #46 Jadehawk
    January 1, 2009

    eh. considering that native English speakers seem to have massive problems with their own native tongue(worse than foreign speakers often!), the only good excuse for esperanto would be to force English speakers to know more than one language.

    and the event of the internet has pretty much already decided that English is the Lingua Franca. You’d pretty much have to ban the use of English in international situations to get Esperanto to be an international language…

    …and wouldn’t the definition of an artificial language as the language of science result in the kind of elitism that the RCC propagated with Latin? Non-living languages are very hard to keep fluent in, so unless you’d use Esperanto on an everyday basis, i.e. you’d be screwed. You’d have to constantly take refresher courses etc, and I can’t imagine that being cheap or easy.

  47. #47 FreeXenon
    January 1, 2009

    Esperanto’s grammar and word formation are really, really simple, and teaching and promoting it would be a boon to the world. It is very simple to learn compared to any other National Language out there. It takes about 9-12 months to gain strong conversational skills, verses 4-8 years in a National Language.

  48. #48 Jadehawk
    January 1, 2009

    again, you’d pretty much have to ban the usage of english on the internet to substitute a different international language. I’m not going to argue about details because i’m woefully underinformed on such issues as “grammatical ease vs. precision” etc.

  49. #49 bored
    January 1, 2009

    change.org is not the same as change.gov

  50. #50 bored
    January 1, 2009

    If you want your questions read by the Obama transition team, they need to be posted on the change.gov site.
    Another friend of mine thought this was the same site a few weeks ago.

  51. #51 gaypaganunitarianagnostic
    January 1, 2009

    Looked into Esperanto for a while. It appers that as ‘Engrish as she is spooked’ will be the international language of the future, the utility of Esp-o is questionable. Could be a tool for further language study, tho.

  52. #52 Tom
    January 2, 2009

    Right now English-speaking scientists have an unfair advantage over their counterparts from non-English speaking countries

    LOL. I love this statement. Maybe we can hit those English speaking scientists in the head every time they start to get an idea. That should end their advantage. That would be better than making it harder for everyone by forcing a new language on every scientist.

  53. #53 Paul
    January 2, 2009

    Lots of noise about Esperanto. Since I originally wrote about it flippantly I figure it would be lazy of me not to follow up.

    For the Esperanto evangelists: note that for anyone not already “with it”, nobody really cares about Esperanto. The only people that ever really seem to try pushing it are those that have already invested time in it (possibly to feel vindication? I dunno). Seems the general response otherwise is a huge resounding “meh”.

    As for it being a panacea, harbinger of world peace. It’s really easy for Western folks to learn it for a bit, go “wow, that was so easy” and assume it would be so for everybody else. The grammar and syntax are so simple! But that doesn’t mean everyone would have the same experience. The grammar/vocabulary/etc are largely similar to Western European languages. Have there been studies showing the same ease of learning with those coming from an Arabic or an Asian background? There is less similarity there. And on top of that, if they are not interested in trying to foster Esperanto use, what is the point? We generally don’t have trouble speaking with the rest of the world, they learn English from a very young age.

    1 billion English speakers. Maybe 2 million Esperanto speakers. Why should we waste tax money on Esperanto education? It would require a huge outset from many other countries to even get close to matching the status quo, let alone improve communication.

  54. #54 Remush
    January 19, 2009

    “Why should we waste tax money on Esperanto education”

    First: because you would learn to rely on your own experience, instead of believing everything uninformed people say
    Second: because you would spare time and money to learn other things than languages if you feel like it.
    Third: because you care that others have more time in the evening for themselves, instead of going to English evening classes.
    Fourth: :because you don’t like to feel silly when speaking a foreign language, nor you want foreigners to look silly when speaking to you.
    Fifth: because you like English not to be fubar-ed even more than it was already by a bunch of people not even able to learn Esperanto properly :-)