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Americans More Likely To Accept Astrology As “Science” Than Ten Years Ago

Facepalm

There’s really no way you can consider something like this to be good news:

According to a new survey by the National Science Foundation, nearly half of all Americans say astrology, the study of celestial bodies’ purported influence on human behavior and worldly events, is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.”

By contrast, 92 percent of the Chinese public think horoscopes are a bunch of baloney.

What’s more alarming, researchers show in the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study, is that American attitudes about science are moving in the wrong direction. Skepticism of astrology hit an all-time high in 2004, when 66 percent of Americans said astrology was total nonsense. But each year, fewer and fewer respondents have dismissed the connections between star alignment and personality as bunk.

Not surprisingly, those with less science education and less “factual knowledge” have become increasingly willing to accept astrology as legitimate science, with 65 percent of such individuals considering the pseudo-science credible in 2012, up from 48 percent in 2010.

Young people are also especially inclined to offer astrology scientific legitimacy, with a majority of Americans ages 18 to 24 considering the practice at least “sort of” scientific, and the 25-34 age group is not far behind them.

John Besley of Michigan State University, the lead author of the report’s chapter on public attitudes toward science, told Mother Jones he thinks we need to wait “to see if it’s a real change” before speculating about what the data really means, but said the data “popped out to me when I saw it.”

Here are the exact findings from the survey:

In particular, the NSF reports that the percentage of Americans who think astrology is “not at all scientific” declined from 62 percent in 2010 to just 55 percent in 2012 (the last year for which data is available). As a result, NSF reports that Americans are apparently less skeptical of astrology than they have been at any time since 1983.

The data on Americans’ astrological beliefs are compiled by NSF but come from a variety of sources; since 2006 they have come from the General Social Survey. Over the years, the GSS and other surveys have asked Americans a recurring question: “Would you say that astrology is very scientific, sort of scientific, or not at all scientific?”

In response, a substantial minority of Americans, ranging from 31 to 45 percent depending on the year, say consider astrology either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.” That’s bad enough—the NSF report compares it with China, where 92 percent of the public does not believe in horoscopes—but the new evidence suggests we are also moving in the wrong direction. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who say astrology is scientifically bunk has been declining ever since a high point for astrology skepticism in 2004, when it hit 66 percent.

The recent increase in astrological credulity was most dramatic among those with less science education and less “factual knowledge,” NSF reported. In the latter group, there was a staggering 17 percentage point decline in how many people were willing to say astrology is unscientific, from 52 percent in 2010 to just 35 percent in 2012. Also apparently to blame are younger Americans, aged 18 to 24, where an actual majority considers astrology at least “sort of” scientific, and those aged 35 to 44. In 2010, 64 percent of this age group considered astrology totally bunk; in 2012, by contrast, only 51 percent did, a 13 percentage point change.

So, what is it that explains the fact that so many Americans accept the validity of obvious nonsense while at the same time both rejecting actual science and displaying a lack of knowledge about basic scientific concepts? No doubt, a part of it is due to the poor state of science education in schools but I think there might be something more to it. I just haven’t figured out what that something is quite yet.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    The tragedy is that I am not surprised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Quick question: how likely is it that some people are confusing “astrology” and “astronomy”. As an astronomer myself, I encounter that sometimes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. Pinky says:

    The slightly good news is that the question was, “Would you say that astrology is very scientific, sort of scientific, or not at all scientific?” So maybe they were getting astronomy and astrology confused. On the other hand, the question right before it was, “Do you ever read a horoscope or your personal astrology report?” So that possible explanation may be a stretch.

    The best thing is that the graph in the Mother Jones article looks like the Big Dipper.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. mantis says:

    It doesn’t help that much of our popular culture embraces ignorance and nonsense. Add to that the fact that a large segment of our political and religious culture sees science as an evil enemy of religion, business, or both.

    The extremely well-funded, multi-decade effort by the energy industry and their useful idiot wingnut army to discredit climate science has surely done a great deal of damage. If you have heard and believed for years that scientists are just making up data to cash big checks, why would you believe anything they say? Astrology is bunk? Who says? Lying no-good scientists, that’s who!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. john personna says:

    We’ve had past threads on anti-intellectualism and how it is linked to Christian fundamentalism, and yes, conservatism. All true.

    For perspective:

    According to Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the fourteenth Dalai Lama, “Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation, that a certain hypothesis is verified or a certain fact emerges as a result of scientific investigation. And suppose, furthermore, that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”

    From the interesting:

    Is Buddhism the Most Science-Friendly Religion?

    That might related to your 92% of Chinese datum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    American fundamentalists split from science on evolution, and even an old earth, and so they were completely primed to disbelieve climate news. It was not even a stretch at that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    Is Buddhism the Most Science-Friendly Religion?

    That might related to your 92% of Chinese datum.

    Doubtful. Most Chinese are not Buddhists anymore thanks to the communists. It is much more likely due to the extreme focus on science and engineering in the Chinese education system and the much more recent industrialization of the economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    I think these things might have deeper roots. I mean, would you say that the last 60 years of capitalism shaped American disregard for science? I wouldn’t. I think it is more related to the deep roots of fundamentalism and the distrust of city slickers in rural America.

    The Chinese countryside might have had that tilt, but something made it different.

    Or compare to Europe. Christian, but mostly old-line churches who have made their peace with science, and much less of the contempt for city elites.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. john personna says:

    (Not to say that American capitalism gets off the hook. Too many companies have done the devil’s work to oppose truth in favor of profit.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Hal_10000 says:

    I think that’s a bit unfair to connect this to evolution or climate denial. The last Pew survey on the subject showed that religious people were less likely to believe in astrology, UFO’s, alternative medicine, ghosts, contact with the dead, etc.

    The ugly truth is that, as Penn and Teller say, everybody got a gris gris. A huge fraction of people have to believe in nonsense, non-religious people included.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Pinky says:

    Capitalism? Christianity? Come on. Be serious. Christianity and capitalism don’t promote astrology. This is new-age nonsense. This is the left. This is lousy school systems and teachers’ unions. This is relativism. This is the disappearance of STEM in place of Perspectives of Feminist Bowling.

    Edited to add: Hal, this is the second time you’ve beat me to a point on this thread! I’ve got to hit “refresh” one extra time before posting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  12. ernieyball says:

    I have heard grade school teachers say that salt has chemicals in it and it is bad but sugar is good because it does not have chemicals in it.
    When I try to explain that both salt and sugar are chemical compounds composed of chemical elements and in fact most all matter in the universe (except dark matter as I understand it) is composed of chemicals they laugh and remind me that they have a college degree and I don’t.
    ——
    If anyone asks me “What’s your sign?” I tell them I refuse to participate in Astrology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. rudderpedals says:

    I just haven’t figured out what that something is quite yet.

    Please speculate

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. superdestroyer says:

    Just a pet peeve, but who are the idiots who published a report in PDF format with two columns. All electronic reports need to be published in single column so the reader does not have to go up and down on the screen. And if the people at the National Science Foundation are printing out the report, then shame on them.

    Also, there is nothing worse than the federal government still publishes the federal register in triple column with tiny font. Do not not realize that no one reads it in hard copy anymore and that triple column with a small font is horrible to read in soft copy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @superdestroyer: Dearie, quite a lot of material is published in 2 column style. It’s very standard. And a lot of us like it, because if we have small computer screens and are enlarging stuff that’s in a small font, we don’t have to keep scrolling off the right edge of the page and back again.

    Why don’t you bitch about something that matters, like the placement of the Oxford comma?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Electroman says:

    @ernieyball: If anyone asks me “What’s your sign?” I tell them “Stop”. They usually don’t get it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: it’s not the astrology buffs that are pushing for the teachers to teach “Intelligent Design”……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. ernieyball says:

    @Electroman: I used to say “No left turn.” But too many thought I was being political.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. rudderpedals says:

    Astrology’s improving reputation mirrors the decline in the more traditional beliefs and practices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @grumpy realist: \

    Do you really think that PDFs should be built so that you can read a couple of paragraphs from one column versus those of us who have to work with PDFs from the EPA that have 100’s of pages. Also the PSF published each chapter separately like it is the 1990’s and 25 MB files are going to break something.

    After having done from consulting work recently for academic customers, it is amazing how they are not the best at adopting technology because so many of their decision makers are elderly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Pinky says:

    @grumpy realist: Point being?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Pinky says:

    @grumpy realist: Just kidding. I know what your point was: that something is bad, and it reminded you of something you don’t like about religion, therefore religion is pertinent to the discussion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. Dave D says:

    @Hal_10000: Agreed but if we look at the source of modern science denialism it stems from big tobacco paying scientists for favorable research which was embraced by the right in America to deny a link to cancer. Since then science has been under constant attack from the right, while at the same time lending some semblance of credence to the crazy left that science is bought and paid for by big business. 60 plus years of attacks on science from people who write our laws and decide what books our school children can read and this is the obvious result. At least when we had the communists to compete with they could push science so we could win the space race/ arms race, but now we have no great power opposed to us. That leaves us with only science denialism and rampant ignorance willful or otherwise on both sides.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Dave D says:

    @superdestroyer: Read any scientific journal and it will be in the two column format for everything except possibly the abstract. This is the format journals are written. It would be the same as you railing against newspapers for their layout.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. superdestroyer says:

    @Dave D:

    Newspapers have not kept their multiple columns for their electronic versions. Yet, progressional journals have kept a legacy format that is not suited for electronic format. For one professional organizations that I belong to, they did away with their paper version of their newsletter and went with digital only. Almost immediately everyone compained about the two column format and the small front. The professional organization changed.

    I suspect that as many organizations go to digital copies only and as more people use digital archives that all of the archiac, legacy formatiing conventions will stop. Why not have an electronic version with a linked table of contents, linked references and end notes, and hyperlinks to the references?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @Dave D:

    The questions on science are not a right/left issue. Have you already forgotten people fighting against electrical transmission lines, cell phone towers, vaccines, fluoride in water from all parts of the political spectrum. It was not the right wing on shows like Oprah and Larry King arguing against vaccines or irradiated meat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Dave D says:

    @superdestroyer: No I haven’t which is why I made a cliche both sides do it post. However, if you take it back to it’s root, it lays at the feet of big tobacco buying off scientists and law makers. Which if you boil down any anti-science argument that isn’t rooted in a holy book, the basic argument is we can’t believe X they are bought and paid for by Y for agenda Z.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  28. rudderpedals says:

    @grumpy realist: @superdestroyer:

    You’re both right. .pdfs should IMO be laid out and structured for reading as hard copy, columns a plus when it helps readability. The problem is trying to use the .pdf when there’s no hard copy or full-page portrait layout monitor available. One’s left with a huge PITA scrolling up to continue and then down to the next page, but the stupid program left you scrolled off to the right so now you have to scroll left to simply advance a page.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Kylopod says:

    An eye opening experience for me was a conversation I had with a woman I’d known for years, who had a degree in biology and always gave the impression of high intelligence and common sense. But in this conversation, she revealed that she considered astrology to have some merit. What was especially striking was that I was able to detect the unscientific nature of her reasoning, yet she has worked as a scientist whereas I never have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Hey… Nancy Regan ran this country great in Ronnie’s second term with the assistance of her astrologer.

    If it’s good enough for a pseudo-POTUS, it’s good enough for me!

    (…teabaggers still like Nancy, right?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. ernieyball says:

    @rudderpedals: Astrology’s improving reputation…

    Improving reputation for what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. superdestroyer says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Hard copy is dead and organizations that publish documents should just accept the fact that hard copy (analog) is dead. Organization needs to cross that bridge to the 21st century and design their documents to be read in electronic format and to be stored in electronic archives. Thus, the layout, the font, the search ability, and the cross-referencing need to be considered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    OK fine. It may not be that clear cut. But, (1) I think that many evangelicals do believe in superstitions, they just lay them at the feet of the devil and refuse to participate. (2) who is down at the school boards arguing for arbitrary beliefs?

    I think it really does make a difference that our religious are driving the meta-idea that truth gets decided at the school board, and not in the lab.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. KM says:

    @Kylopod:

    What was especially striking was that I was able to detect the unscientific nature of her reasoning, yet she has worked as a scientist whereas I never have.

    One rarely sees flaws in oneself, let alone admits to the ego blow that is acknowledgement. Speaking of egos, I think Weird Al gave the best insight into this phenomenon:

    Now you may find it inconceivable or at the very least a bit unlikely
    that the relative position of the planets and the stars could have
    a special deep significance or meaning that exclusively applies to only you, but let me give you my assurance that these forecasts and predictions are all based on solid, scientific, documented evidence, so you would have to be some kind of moron not to realize that every single one of them is absolutely true.

    Something that promises answers tailored just to you, that tells you you’re special and have a wonderful destiny ahead? That the great big cosmos in all it’s vast and ancient glory exists only as signpost for you to know when you should decide to ask that hottie out? That out of literally billions and billions of people who have ever lived, this is meant just for you (despite that fact that anyone else born at the same time/day/year/location will have the exact same prognostication)? It’s like offering candy to a hunger diabetic – a very tempting but ultimately bad choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. mattbernius says:

    @rudderpedals, @Dave D, & @grumpy realist,

    @superdestroyer is completely right on the PDF issue and the differences between screen and print layout for readablity. PDF, as a format, was designed to preserve print layouts in electronic documents. It’s used for electronic publishing because it’s (a) easy from a workflow standard, and (b) in theory, more secure.

    But from a usability perspective, forcing electronic documents to render as printed pages on all electronic devices is terrible. It also hinders a lot of electronic processing and searching of those documents.

    With modern XML based publishing systems and formats like .ePub, there is absolutely no reason that the print version of a journal can appear in the traditional two column format and the electronic versions could be single column or even reflow into the number of columns that the reader prefers.

    Such systems (which many journals are moving to) are much better for the researcher and the overall cause of research.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Pinky says:

    @john personna: That’s a stretch. We’re falling behind in math – no one’s rallying against math. We’re doing badly in reading – there’s no intelligent design theory of English. Our kids can’t find Canada on a map – I’ve never met a fundamentalist who didn’t believe in Canada. I agree, believe me I agree, that we’ve got to do a better job in our schools, but laying this at the feet of the Christian right is like, I don’t know, believing that the stars guide our fates. It’s unsound thinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. rudderpedals says:

    @ernieyball:

    Improving reputation for what?

    Not a what, a who(*)! Improving reputation amongst the credulous.

    *apologies to Dr Suess

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. ernieyball says:

    Virgin Birth…That’s a stretch. Ressurection of the dead…That’s a stretch. Water into wine…That’s a stretch…

    Jesus walked on water? Yeah. He couldn’t swim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    Well, as a parallel, do you suppose students at an Afghan Madras excel at all those subjects?

    Or is a study of the Koran and simple truths their focus?

    Put differently, when your energy is in putting prayer into school, or keeping evolution out, your energy is not going to better math scores. Like the Islamic fundamentalists you are emphasizing religion.

    Or as another parallel, Orthodox Jews in Israel become an economic underclass because they too avoid scholastic achievement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. john personna says:

    Very related:

    The Homeschool Apostates

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Pinky says:

    @john personna: A few people on school boards are putting effort into fighting evolution. A million teachers are out there telling students that sugar isn’t a chemical. It strains credulity to suppose that the primary cause of illiteracy in the NYC school system is a creationist school board in Bandera County, Texas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. ernieyball says:

    @Pinky: A million teachers are out there telling students that sugar isn’t a chemical.

    A million!?!? Damn that’s quite a claim! I know I have heard more than one schoolteacher say as much but 1,000,000? Please, please cite your source for this number.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    I hope you read the homeschool article. It’s really good, and really illustrates this American fundamentalist idea that they must depart the world.

    “I had never really lived in the real world. I didn’t understand how Americans thought. All my language was religious language. I didn’t know how to interact with people without trying to convert them. I had a lot of really discouraging experiences where I realized that you could leave fundamentalism, but at the end of the day fundamentalism was still inside of me.”

    The fundamentalists what that in schools too.

    A million teachers are out there telling students that sugar isn’t a chemical.

    English teachers maybe, but Chemistry is still a class taught in High Schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. ernieyball says:

    @john personna: English teachers maybe…

    Know techur shud sa dat…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. john personna says:

    @ernieyball:

    I do actually have some sympathy for people who use “chemical” as short-hand for “added chemicals” or “unnatural chemicals.”

    I have a BS in chemistry, and I think I might do it.

    Why do I like to bake my own bread? “No chemicals” is indeed one reason.

    (I wish I had time, and enough of a focus on bread to do the sourdough, that would be even better, dropping that somewhat suspect “instant yeast.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  46. Pinky says:

    @john personna: Just finished the article. Very sad. I have friends who homeschool, and I’ve talked to them about the risks of isolation. Increasingly, homeschoolers organize into groups that give kids greater educational and social opportunities. (I’d never heard of the debates that the article mentioned, but it sounds like those may accomplish the same things.)

    It should be noted that homeschooled kids have great SAT averages, and usually lead at the national spelling bees. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every child would be better off homeschooled; the naturally-bright kids skew the results. If I were a stay-at-home dad, I wouldn’t homeschool, because I’m very aware of my knowledge gaps, and I’m just not patient enough to be a good teacher.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    I know of a family, connected as “my mom’s friend’s son”, which simply exploded over home schooling.

    Kids turned 18 and BOOM, declared what mom had done abuse, and dad’s letting it happen unforgivable. The marriage broke up and everyone scattered to the four winds.

    Let’s hope that extreme is rare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. ernieyball says:

    @john personna: “unnatural chemicals.”

    Are you referring to synthetic chemical elements http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_element
    or something else?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. ernieyball says:

    As you well know if the bread you bake contained no chemicals it would not exist.
    Maybe you are a Breatharian…
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/breatharian.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. ernieyball says:

    The only things that are not chemical are things like light, electricity, magnetism, or subatomic particles.

    http://chemistscorner.com/why-chemical-free-claims-are-harmful/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. CB says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Who are you and what have you done with superdestroyer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. ernieyball says:

    Dear Scientist,
    Which products are chemical free?
    That’s an easy one. None of them.

    “Chemical free” is a marketing term, but a deceptive one.

    http://blog.elixery.com/2012/05/30/ask-a-scientist-which-products-are-chemical-free/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. superdestroyer says:

    @CB:

    I have used the example of the anti-vaccine crowd many times. Since Ralph Waite was discussed in another post, he appeared in a movie with the title of “OHMS” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081257/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_62 where the health effects of high-tension power lines was the plot driver. Of course, what drove the junkscience on powerlines was that people consider them ugly. I have not heard anyone getting excited about the health effects of electric fields in years now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. john personna says:

    @ernieyball:

    If I talk to another chemist, and say that I make natural, chemical free, bread he will understand me, an probably not even make a “chemicals” joke.

    Speaking of chemistry … beer IS a solution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. ernieyball says:

    @john personna:It is not other chemists I am concerned about. Although maybe I should be. I am disturbed that American’s can be duped into believing that consumer products are chemical free when such claims are utter nonsense.
    ——
    More bad news:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says
    ——

    …beer IS a solution.

    Yuk Yuk Yuk…

    I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!

    Sign on the wall at one of the swill holes I lived in before I quit drinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. john personna says:

    @ernieyball:

    From our FDA: “CHEMICAL FREE: The term is not allowed to be used on a label.”

    In the US it is illegal in formal use. Informal use, shorthand, abounds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. john personna says:

    The FTC also polices “chemical free” advertising.

    http://bedroomretailers.com/industry-update/the-ftc-bars-three-companies-from-using-false-advertising-claims/6080

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. ernieyeball says:

    Good for the FDA and the FTC.
    Of course if our schools taught students basic chemistry and physics Citizens would not need these agencies to warn them about false claims.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Grewgills says:

    @superdestroyer:
    If you are reading from a desktop monitor you can generally have an entire page up, so it doesn’t much matter.
    When we have a one party state everything will be in four column for the free widescreen monitors we’re giving to the blacks and mexicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    You should look up 5 min artisan breads. It’s an easy dough that you can leave in fridge and pinch off as much as you want to bake. If you make a second and third batch without scraping the fridge container the loaves get progressively more sour. The loaves from the third batch in one container are pretty good sour dough. After that it is too much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. Grewgills says:

    @ernieyball:
    One would assume he meant synthetic chemical as opposed to naturally derived chemical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  62. superdestroyer says:

    @Grewgills:

    If you look at something like the federal register. It is in three columns with small font. Even on a full monitor, one will normally zoom the text to make it easily readible. Once a document is in multiplie columns, zooming means having to go up and down to read the document.

    In the digital world, there is no reason to divide documents into separate files for each chapter (such as the NSF report referenced above), there was no reason for double columns especially given that the figures and tables are not in double columns), and there is no excuse for not cross referencing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. Kylopod says:

    This is a late reply on this thread, concerning the topic of homeschooling. Part of me wants to leave well enough alone; I simply don’t have the energy to explain things every time this topic is broached on the web. But once in a while, I can’t help myself.

    I was homeschooled through high school, in the mid- to late-’90s. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. During this time I belonged to a Jewish homeschooling organization in Maryland. Toward the end of high school I was interviewed for an article on Jewish homeschooling in B’nai Brith magazine (alas, the article doesn’t appear to be online). I met many homeschoolers, parents as well as children. I also read a great deal about the topic, from numerous books and articles. And I have continued to keep up with it in the years since.

    I have also encountered numerous people, online and off, who bash homeschooling. Some of these people allege that parents without education degrees lack the ability to teach their kids effectively; others claim that, regardless of academic merit, the kids will turn out to be social morons. I have heard the charges again and again and again, in personal encounters as well as articles in newspapers and magazines. One thing that has been absolutely clear to me is that the people who make these claims, without exception, don’t have the faintest idea what they’re talking about. The capacity of so many people to wade into this topic and express strong opinions, without bothering to first familiarize themselves with the homeschooling movement or the abundant research that has been conducted on it in the past few decades, never ceases to amaze me.

    Among the several myths about homeschoolers, one of the most persistent is the idea that it is a movement of conservative, fundamentalist Christians who took their kids out of school to protect them from such evils as evolution and sex ed. Homeschoolers like that do exist, and they are a real segment of the movement. But that’s all they are–a segment. They are not a majority, and they have never been a majority. (For example, in a 2001 report by the U.S. census, just 33% of homeschoolers cited religion as one of their motivations.) Why does this myth persist? Part of the reason is that the fundamentalist homeschoolers themselves have a habit of pretending that the secular wing of the movement (which in fact outnumbers them) doesn’t exist at all. There are organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association which promote homeschooling purely from this perspective. A book I once read that was published by the HSLDA kept including sentences of the form “Homeschoolers believe…” and then would rattle off elements of the conservative Christian agenda, as if they were inseparable from the concept of homeschooling. That’s what these people are like.

    When I refer to the “secular wing” of the movement, in no way am I implying that it is non-religious or anti-religious. It includes devout Christians, Protestants as well as Catholics. It includes Jews. It includes Buddhists and Wiccans and atheists and agnostics and everything in between. The point is, religion is not what the movement is about. Nor, for that matter, is politics. As anyone familiar with my posts here at OTB knows, I’m a staunch liberal. So are my parents. So were most of the people in the Jewish homeschooling organization I belonged to as a teen.

    The secular wing itself is hardly monolithic in its approach to education. Homeschooling parents argue vociferously among themselves about educational philosophies, which range from the traditional to the experimental. Indeed, I’d say that homeschoolers have more diverse ideas about education than most public and private schools do. I’ve taken this for granted for so long that it always gives me a bizarre feeling of unreality whenever I hear people try to characterize all homeschoolers in a broad brush.

    If there’s one basic thing I can say about homeschooling in general, it is how easy it is to tailor the education to the needs of the individual child. When I was homeschooled, my mother and I worked together to find the right material, and the “curriculum” we developed was a broad amalgam of different resources. (I graduated before the Internet boom of the late ’90s, and I can only speculate how it would have enhanced what we did.) We tended to disdain textbooks, knowing how terrible so many of them are; we did find a couple of exceptional textbooks for math and social studies. (The civics textbook we used, called The Drama of Democracy, was so good that I still consult it from time to time.) To help build my vocabulary, I studied Latin and Greek roots. I dissected a frog and an earthworm. I did a course in critical thinking, which changed the way I look at the world. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    I don’t mean to depict homeschooling as some utopian vision of education. Like anything, it has drawbacks and limitations. It is certainly not a viable choice for everyone. For one thing, there generally needs to be a parent who isn’t working (at least not full time). And while the idea that homeschoolers are isolating their children from interacting with other kids is a myth (there are plenty of social opportunities which most homeschoolers take advantage of), schools provide everything in a large package–the classes, the extracurricular activities, the dances and proms and the like–that can be hard to replicate outside of school. This was never a problem for me, as I wasn’t much a part of that world to begin with. I had hardly any friends at the school I attended right before homeschooling, though I had friends from my neighborhood, from the local juggling club I belonged to, and from other situations. Homeschooling didn’t change my social life one bit other than taking me away from a crowd where I simply did not fit in.

    Of course that’s just my experience. There is no way I can possibly convey in one post what homeschooling is like, but at least I hope I have made it clear that it is a lot more than it is commonly stereotyped.

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  64. Pinky says:

    @Kylopod: I’m so sick of juggling Jewish liberals claiming that the homeschooling movement is all about them….

    Thanks for the insights, Kyle. I think you get such a spread of types, and philosophies on schooling, among homeschoolers because they’re on the nearly-flat part of the bell curve. That makes home schools the labs for educational innovation. I haven’t seen any signs of innovation coming out of the teaching programs at the big universities.

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  65. ernieyeball says:

    @Kylopod: Why does this myth persist?

    Because it serves the parochial interests of those who espouse it.
    —–
    My thesaurus lists these synonyms for parochial: narrow-minded, small-minded, provincial, narrow, small-town, conservative, illiberal, intolerant; and my personal favorite: jerkwater.

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  66. ernieyeball says:

    I know at least one girl-child who was homeschooled for several of her gradeschool years by her dyslexic single mother. Before the girl was born mom spent several years as a self described hobo actually traveling the country in boxcars and dodging the railroad dicks.
    When mom was in her 30’s and daughter was 12 they both joined the roller derby. You are supposed to be 13 to join junior roller derby but she sneaked in with mom’s approval.
    Today the kid is 16 and in a public High School and doing just fine.
    Just last month she received the Student of the Month Certificate which states “For improvement in academic performance and showing good character.”
    Last time I saw them was 7 years ago but have kept in touch via FaceBook.
    Thank you Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum,
    Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes

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