Banning teaching about Arabic numerals and the Big Bang Theory

I'd heard of the polling data that'd showed most American wanted to ban teaching students about Arabic numerals, but I was somewhat amused (via Snopes) to learn that the same survey company also polled people on their support for teaching the Big Bang Theory in a slightly different guise:

Kahneman on climate change

On NPR's Hidden Brain

VEDANTAM: ... You've actually called climate change, in some ways, sort of a perfect storm of the ways in which our minds are not equipped to deal with certain kinds of threats.

KAHNEMAN: I mean, it's really - if you were to design a problem that the mind is not equipped to deal with, you know, climate change would fit the bill. It's distance. It's abstract. It's contested. And it doesn't make - it doesn't take much. If it's contested, it's 50/50, you know, for many people immediately. You know, you don't ask, what do most scientists do? Which side of the National Academy of Sciences - that's not the way it works. You know, some people say this, other people say that. And if I don't want to believe in it, I don't have to believe in it.

So it's - I'm really - well, I'm pessimistic in general. But I'm pessimistic in particular about the ability of democracies to deal with a threat like that effectively. If there were a comet hurtling down toward us - you know, an event that would be predictable - within a day, we'd mobilize. So it's not even that it's distant in time. If it was going to affect our children, we'd mobilize. But this is too abstract, possible, contested. It's very different. We can't - we're not doing it, in fact.

On a suggested approach:

So the only way would be to create social pressure. So, for me, it would be a milestone if you manage to take influential evangelists, preachers, to adopt the idea of global warming and to preach it. That would change things. It's not going to happen by presenting more evidence. That, I think, is clear.

Random links

The whisper room: Moderates on Twitter are losing their voice
"Michael Kearney, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, found that while partisan users form highly partisan social networks on Twitter, moderate users – or those less politically engaged – continue to avoid politics, potentially creating an important void on social media. “We are not necessarily getting farther and farther apart – it’s just the people in the middle are becoming more quiet and withdrawn,” Kearney said. “If you fail to consider all the people in the middle who do not care about politics as much, it seems like there is a more clear division when there is not, so social media might be artificially creating this sense that we are becoming more polarized.”"
Descriptive Representation and the Political Engagement of Women
"most evidence of the effects of descriptive representation on women's empowerment is drawn from surveys from the 1980s and 1990s. I update these studies" The results of her updating? "Considering political engagement, I find little evidence that women are more politically interested or participatory when residing in places with more female officeholders or candidates. Women's political presence as candidates and officeholders does not uniquely encourage other women to engage in political life."
The Shady Link Between Sunscreen and Your Health
On balance has advice to avoid sun exposure done more harm than good? Still the case that "All the experts agree that sunburns—especially those suffered during childhood and adolescence—are particularly bad" though.

Fake non-news and strategic silence

I sort of expect to see a few mentions in the conservative-leaning media like this around the time of the annual March for Life - where the whole "Covington Catholic" fiasco happened.

One of the reasons I'm fairly unsurprised that people would be willing to support someone like Trump is that they're fairly used to a dishonest media representation on at least a subset of particularly emotionally evocative subjects. It's the ideal environment for a grifter to flourish.


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