Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And On a Musical Note...

Do you play the piano? Teach piano?

Here are a couple of websites you might enjoy.

Piano Pedagogy

Brent Hugh's Piano Homepage

Some useful information and practice techniques on those pages.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Some Thoughts on Learning

brianj's comment on my previous post has got me to thinking about learning and formulating conclusions. He said:

"it would be more useful scientifically to discuss the shortcomings of the theory."

Do you feel this way about all science, or just evolution? What percentage of "facts" taught in schools, would you say, are without controversy or ambiguity? Is it limited to biological science, or does it also apply to history, law, physics, art, etc?
I replied:

Oh, I feel this way about any and every subject. It just seems as though evolution is given a pass. As for a percentage of facts without controversy or ambiguity, I wouldn't be able to say. Any subject that lends itself to interpretation, which is just about every one of them, can have at least some controversy or ambiguity. What concerns me is when things begin to be interpreted in only one way, when there isn't adequate support of evidence for doing so. If something is true, it will stay true through the rigors of honest investigation. Perhaps we rush to decide that something is a fact, when there needs to be further research and testing. Perhaps we let our biases determine too much (and really, us being human, this is always a problem).

(BTW, thanks for your questions, brianj!)

Very seldom do any of us simply list facts. We interpret them to illustrate a point, to reach a conclusion. Even if the facts themselves are very uncontroversial and unambiguous, we create a certain controversy or ambiguity when we begin to interpret them. Yet how else are we to progress in our learning? So interpretation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is, in fact, a necessary part of learning to put things together and thereby make progress.

I suppose what frustrates me is when an interpretation is one-sided and is then taught in schools as if it were the only correct interpretation. This is much of my quarrel with evolution and with history and with just about any subject you can think of. Certain views become popular, for whatever reason, and then become so entrenched in society that other views are suppressed or even condemned. What does this do to honest learning? It stifles honest learning. It closes avenues of investigation that might (or might not) lead to the truth.

It is true that this happens on both sides of any issue. We seem to become quite fond of a certain viewpoint and we stick with it no matter what. We become protective of it. We attack anyone who disagrees with it. Then what?

I know I do not find it easy to listen attentively to viewpoints that I disagree with and I am sure that others do not find it easy to listen to my viewpoints if they do not agree. Still, that is probably the best solution--to maintain a certain open-mindedness. Otherwise, we might miss out on a truth, either because the other person can teach us that truth or because in our search to learn more about what he said, we find either that we already had the truth or that the truth is actually a third option that we had not yet considered.

Of course, it doesn't do to not formulate some conclusions that we can stick with--convictions, if you will. We don't want to be forever vacillating from one view to another to another. That isn't a good way to become an educated person. There comes a time when we should choose what we believe to be true, using our best thinking to come to the best conclusion we can. Even then, new facts may make it necessary to change our mind, but changing our mind shouldn't come about merely because someone disagreed with us, or said we were ignorant, or some equally foolish reason. (And that happens on both sides of any issue.)

I have some fairly firm viewpoints on politics and science, as evidenced by this blog. In some ways, these viewpoints are the products of a lifetime, tempered by new information as it becomes available. I share them because I believe they are important to at least be considered by all. I may be a bit assertive at times--it is a reaction to some past disagreements, I suppose, and to things written by those with differing viewpoints. It is a reaction (over-reaction?) to those who think that I am the one who needs to change my mind, never considering that they may be wrong, at least on some points. I think I will overcome that as I write more. I have longed to express myself on politics and science and other issues and this blog gives me an outlet for that. In addition, it helps me refine and correct my views and express them more clearly.

Thinking about how we learn and reach conclusions is an interesting exercise in and of itself.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On a Scientific Note...

Phyllis Schlafly has an interesting piece about evolution and Kansas and schools at It's called "Criticism of Evolution Can't be Silenced."

Phyllis Schlafly is sometimes put down, but she is actually a highly intelligent, highly accomplished woman. Here is a brief bio of her--very much worth a read.

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Point of No Return?

Please read "Point of No Return?" by Thomas Sowell, a brilliant man of deep thought and common sense.

We have some attitudes to change.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Something to Think About

Michael Barone's column, "Our Covert Enemies," at Jewish World Review contains some ideas you might want to mull over.

This is one of my concerns about society--that there is a certain group of intellectuals who see themselves as the elite of our society, that it is necessary for them to explain life and the world to the rest of us, who aren't bright enough to figure it out for ourselves. Trouble is, they are wrong about moral relativism, about "dead white males," about political correctness. Most people have more sense than this group, but their ideas have so penetrated our society through our schools and universities and much of media that it sometimes seems that too many gullible people have bought into them.

I would hope that more and more people would discover the common sense voices out there--like the ones at Jewish World Review and start thinking things through more. I would hope that more and more people would realize that they can think for themselves and that they don't have to follow along with what the "elite intellectuals" say. There are absolute truths and absolute morals. There are things that are right and things that are wrong.

It is rather ironic to hear people talk about conservatives as mindless robots marching in lockstep. What do they think those who follow the currently popular ideas of the elites are doing?

There are, of course, extremists on both ends of the spectrum. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. Most people have good hearts and good intentions. One hopes that all the information that is out there and available in this day and age will eventually encourage people to figure out that they need to think for themselves and not just play follow the leader.

Life is complicated. There are seldom simple answers to any problem or issue. The more truly knowledgable people are, the more likely they are to come up with real solutions anchored in reality.

I know that sometimes my remarks here on my blog are a bit hardline, but it is because I care about people and what happens to them that I speak out so. I care about freedom and liberty and common sense. I care about good triumphing over evil. I care about the ideas that are put forth in our society and in other societies around the world, and the influence those ideas have on people.

If I could say any one thing to everyone, it would be to read and study and search out the facts, then think for yourselves and see what you come up with.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Are Negotiations for Peace in the Middle East Even Possible?

Caroline B. Glick has a new column up that illustrates vividly why it is useless to try to negotiate peace with terrorists. Good-hearted people everywhere think (hope) that we can reason with terrorists, but there comes a time when we have to realize that terrorists have no intention of stopping their aggression short of destroying Israel. And then moving on to the United States and Europe. We have to realize that we must fight back--that anything less is seen as weakness and an invitation to attack.

"Reports say that in Israel things are back to normal--NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!" by Caroline B. Glick.

It is hard, I know, to realize that there really is evil abroad in the world, but we must realize it and deal with it head on. World domination sounds like something from the movies, but it is real and it is the goal of Islamic terrorists. When will we wake up?

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Want an Education on the Middle East Situation?

I am linking four articles from Jewish World Review that will help you to understand how serious and dangerous the situation really is.

"An Unmitigated Disaster" by Caroline B. Glick

"Mixed Signals" by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

"Not Over Over There" by Cal Thomas

"Will Cease-Fires Never Cease?" by Thomas Sowell

I am very concerned that too many people think we can negotiate a lasting peace. Too many people are calling good evil and evil good. This is no time to be politically correct, to go the route of appeasement and concessions. The above four articles are honest and true and capture the gravity of the situation in the Middle East. Please read them and carefully consider what they have to say.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Astronomy for the Amateur

Many of us find astronomy a fascinating subject. It is very possible to study the sky on your own and I have found some websites that can help you get started.

First up is Backyard Astronomer.

Then we have The Compleat Amateur Astronomer.

A third site is Tom Campbell's Amateur Astronomy.

These three sites have articles and information that can help you get started with observing the night sky and learning about astronomy. This is not only a great hobby for an individual, it would make a great family activity. The kids would love it!

Another site that can provide lots of news and information for you is StarDate Online. It is a production of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory.

Of course, you can search for more sites and more information all over the web, but this will get you and your family started on a fascinating learning experience.


Monday, August 07, 2006

The Science of Evolution?

Chuck Colson has an interesting article at entitled "Censoring Science: The Kansas Controversy." He makes some excellent points and refers to a number of resources for further study.

Personally, I don't buy evolution. If I try to discuss it with someone who does buy into evolution, all I get is an insistence that he is right and I am wrong. What's more, I'm fearful, threatened, and ignorant! Never are the actual issues addressed. That just reinforces my belief that there is no evidence for evolution.

I know there are many who disagree with me, but I also know that there are many who do agree with me--people who are not fearful, threatened, or ignorant.

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