Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear Mexico, Please Take Texas Back.

We don't want it any more.

It should really be eradicated from Earth, so maybe we should give it to North Korea or something with the condition that they're required to use it for nuclear weapons testing.

You know, we've all had our laughs at Rick Perry...  the man who thought measures like government-sponsored collective praying for rain makes him a great leader of state.  But, really, he's cut from a cloth of the veritable black hole of ignorance where stupidity is so dense that it exerts a gravitational pull from which no bright idea can escape.  That cloth is the Texas Republican Party.  I mean, when I lived in Texas, I ran across geocentrists who tried to argue that teaching gravity is a socialist concept and that the "Satanic science" of astronomy caused 9/11.  It has gotten to the point where you just can't get any stupider than Texas stupid.

The best part, though, is that they are willing to say out loud not only that Texas Stupidtm is a real thing, but that it's their ideal.

The Texas Republican Party Official Platform (Final revision)
I read it...  and it surely made me weep

Now, I know it would be cherry-picking to simply point out the horrible bits, so I will say there were a few perfectly decent positions.  5 year waiting periods on lobbying opportunities for former gov't officials (though personally, I would just outlaw all lobbying by financial means entirely)...  re-invigorating the space program (makes sense for Texas from a jobs standpoint)...  opposition to concepts like SOPA/CISPA...  Germane contents requirement for all bills...  and all those propositions are the sort of momentary lapses of insanity that make you think, maybe there is hope for Texas after all

And then you read the rest of it, and you say to yourself.... "Oh, HELL NO!"

Sure, there's the stuff you expect like the Intelligent Design instead of science equals academic freedom.  Government institutions being unable to display the Ten Commandments equals oppression of religion.  Yadda-yadda...  we've heard it all before, and it's equally stupid and inexcusable as it ever was.  There are those other ones like demanding the permanent repeal of laws that allowed black people the right to vote that prove they are a detriment to human beings.

But then, you see this one, and from this alone, they prove that Texas deserves to be wiped off the map.
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
They're against higher-order thinking skillsThinking skills are a bad thing?  I knew Republicans were categorically opposed to all facts and knowledge and letting them be factors in thought, but I didn't think they'd come out and say it.

Now, I will say that they're not entirely incorrect in assessing the teaching of critical thinking as a sort of behavior modification.  The fact is that no one has any sort of intrinsic capacity to think critically.  Out of the womb, we're all gullible.  This is the sort of thing that people have to be trained out of as they learn and amass more knowledge.  So in that sense, yes, it's a sort of behavior modification that is meant to train people to be more thorough in their thought processes.  They are, of course, wrong in saying that it's a mere relabeling of Outcome-Based Education.  OBE is actually a lot broader than critical thinking alone, but it is true that critical thinking is an important component.  This, too, echoes of Texas' idea of what constitutes education.  This is a state where the definition of development in school is that you simply be able to repeat what is written in the text, and not that you actually have a clue about it.  To these people, one should aspire to be able to parrot the thoughts of others.  Actual mastery is not a point of order.  In fact, it's a bad thing to actually understand something.

I especially love, though, how they show their hands in saying that allowing kids to have these skills has the end result of challenging their "fixed beliefs."  I wonder what fixed beliefs they were concerned about challenging?  Undermining parental authority?  Are we talking about children's real parents or perhaps a certain "father" in the sky?  Seriously, though, it's pretty accurate to say that these things may happen.  "Undermining parental authority" is a bit of an extreme way of putting it, but I think that's quite intentional on their part to try and give the whole slippery slope impression.  The thing is that critical thinking has a facet of provisional doubt and being prepared to question things, and that's not how parental authority is introduced to us.  "Because I say so, and you will not question me" is the normal M.O.  Being trained in critical thinking means we might well be prepared to say...  hey, not everything my parents say or my teachers say or my boss says is certain to be correct.  Thus, undermining authority.  This is problematic for the very religious as well, since religion, especially Judeo-Christian religion is all about absolute unquestioning obedience to a sky daddy.  Critical thinking, is, of course, entirely antithetical to that.

Of course, there's a simple reason why I would say that critical thinking applied universally is necessarily superior to any system of thought based on unquestioning adherence to any idea.  Unquestioning adherence means you will only ever be right by accident alone.  Being universally skeptical means you may mistakenly reject that which is true or correct, but you have little to no likelihood to hold onto something which is necessarily wrong.  In practice, no one is ever really perfect in this regard, so everyone will actually hold onto some ideas which are necessarily wrong at some point.  But the point is to try and minimize that as much as possible.  The other thing is that everything you get right will not be right "just because", but for actual reasons which you will actually know.  Doubting provisionally, no matter how stubborn your doubt is not a damaging thing on its own.  It is damaging to religion, and to politicians because of the fact that it weakens their grip on the stupid.  No amount of skepticism will actually nullify that which is true.  But it will certainly nullify lies, and that's why it's such a problem for them.

What I love about this is that not only are they clearly in favor of fundamentally inferior ways of thinking and non-functional methods of learning, but they're actually proud of it.  And for that, I have to say --
Dear Texas Republican Party,

Please climb into a rocket and fly directly into the sun.  Your very existence is the highest of all conceivable shames, and it is in the best interests of all of humanity that you permanently leave it.  I daresay that such an endeavor is of such great importance that no developed nation would hesitate to contribute funding for such a procedure.  You must go away.  Please make preparations to do so immediately.  I do not wish you well in any sense, but your annihilation will be tantamount to a well wish unto humankind itself.

Thank You.

With the utmost of sincerity,
The Grumpy Anti-theist.