Archive for the ‘The Great War On Brains (GWOB)’ Category

We Don’t Want No Education?

Science fiction writers have been worrying about dumbing-down from The Time Machine (Wells, 1895) through The Marching Morons (Frederick Pohl, 1951) to Idiocracy (2006). The reasons have varied. Wells saw it in terms of evolution and the loss of qualities that are neither needed nor used; his leisured classes lost their intelligence by being pampered. […]

Toys For Special Consultants

“…. it used to be the point was to get (children) out of school so they could go have lives”, writes John Barnes, “not keep them around as toys for their teachers and counsellors to moon over.” He suggests that grief counselling and so forth functions as fear-mongering designed to create permanent dependency – and, […]

The Scientist And The Artful Beggar

Gregory Benford, SF writer and science professor, writes about the type of student he calls grade-seekers, who all have in common a dislike of any kind of definitive statement: “Instead, they believed that the esteem-building smiley faces of grade school carried over to the university; artful begging should bring a higher grade, right? Final grades, […]

The Rumspringe

It is often assumed that the Amish must be a very repressive and unforgiving culture. In fact, the Amish youth is allowed his rumspringe, literally “running around”, between five and eight years of freedom to explore, during which he cannot be subjected to the adult sanction of Shunning. Most return to the community and then […]

The Land Of Kim Il Advisory

In the old days films simply had minimum ages for admission, and the reasons for the classification had to be pruriently guessed at. Now American websites are full of “parental advisories” for each movie, describing precise levels of unsuitability for children based on the nature and frequency of swear-words, bare breasts and so forth. There […]

Paradoxes Of Education And Mobility

A recent study has conclusively shown that there is much less social mobility in the USA than in the Nordic countries. This applies particularly to the ease of climbing from the blue-collar to the white-collar class. The reason adduced is that good American schools are essentially closed to bright youngsters whose parents neither have money […]

The Arrogance Of The Late Arrivals

The blurb to at least one edition of the DVD of Terrence Malik’s The New World says that the film opens in 1607, with Europeans about to set foot for their first time on the North American continent. So what were the Spaniards – chopped liver? Not to mention the Vikings. Even if the blurb-writer […]

Marie Lloyd And Oliver Cromwell

Once upon the time there was something in England called the music hall, “a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts and variety entertainment”; the American equivalent would be “vaudeville”. I am old enough, not to remember the heyday, but nevertheless to recall some of the popular songs, which were the true folk art of […]

Earning The American Living In Mid-Century

Once upon a time we in the West imagined that the nature of the universe made it our job to manufacture things and sell them to the benighted natives of the “developing world”. When the East and South got clever at manufacturing, the second fairy-tale we told ourselves about the nature of the universe was […]

Two Enemies Of Science

Much ink has been spilt on the distinction between “nature” and “nurture”, between innate and acquired behaviour. It is nevertheless a nonsense. For nothing whatsoever occurs in the absence of environmental influence. And nothing whatsoever occurs in the absence of gene action. Ergo, everything that happens, does so as a result of both together, end […]