Category Archives: Education

Beliefs Don’t Change in “Real-Time”

culture, Education, freethought community, psychology, science Leave a reply

An acquaintance of mine sent me a link to a conversation between Dan Dennett and Sam Harris, wherein Dennett attempts to explain the holes in Harris’s puerile arguments against the concept of “free will”.

In any case, this particular post isn’t about Harris, but a particular point he reiterates repeatedly: that we can (and should) change our beliefs “in real-time”.

This view, regardless of who holds it, is incorrect, and here’s why.

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Philosophy of science. Again.

culture, Education, philosophy, science Leave a reply

I wrote about philosophy of science back in 2012, and a recent spat in biology has brought this up again. The Wired article “Twitter Nerd-Fight Reveals a Long, Bizarre Scientific Feud” explains the details of that fight pretty well, and I just want to dig into a particular comment that seems to represent the core of the disagreement here.

“They said if you want to use another method, you have to show that it’s philosophically better, not scientifically better,” Eisen says. “That’s why I said it seems like they’re dropping science for dogma.”

and

“I’ve never in my life, in any area of science,” says Eisen, “seen something presented where people said, ‘We’re not going to judge something on the science, we’re going to judge it on the philosophy.’”

Eisen, frankly, couldn’t be more wrong (in principle).

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LSAT/GMAT/GRE Resource in Vancouver

Education Leave a reply

As part of helping out people studying for the LSAT/GMAT/GRE tests, I try to find free resources they can use to help themselves. Vancouver Public Library provides access to one such resource. It’s difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so I put together the below guide.

You can also get to this through the other library systems in the other cities in the Metro area (i.e. Surrey, Burnaby, etc), but the route is slightly different. If you’re trying to find it in those areas, but can’t, shoot me a message and I’ll see what I can do to find it for you.

If you prefer, you can view it on the imgur website.

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Government Funding of Religious Schools

civil rights, culture, Education, politics, religion Leave a reply

In many parts of Canada (and, of course, other parts of the world), there are two systems of schooling in place: a secular system that does not explicitly endorse any particular religious faith (though can implicitly do so), and an explicitly religious system. In Canada, both of these are funded by the government, and it’s deeply problematic.

According to the Globe and Mail, proponents of the system believe that “(…) Catholic schools provide better education, structure and discipline than public ones (…)”, a claim which is certainly up for debate. In any case, religious schools typically have a list of requirements for both students and employees that go beyond the workplace, and impact their daily lives beyond school property. Many require that teachers be of a particular religion (in the case of Canada, it’s usually Catholic), or that they abstain from certain behaviours (mostly, unsurprisingly, focused on homosexuality). Others limit people who may speak at their schools, again largely denying access to people based on their sexual preferences.

Funding for schools that are religious is just simply wrong, one the grounds of discrimination, economics, and quality of education.

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Langara College and the Bullshit it Peddles

culture, Education, ethics, philosophy, science, skepticism 2 Replies

When I first came to Vancouver from Ireland, I found out about the student loan program that was available in Canada and discovered that I could actually afford to go to University. I’d just missed the enrollment deadline for the University of British Columbia, but a helpful advisor there suggested a number of avenues I could take. One of which was Langara College.

My two-ish years there were well-spent, studying a variety of topics, learning how much I sucked at mathematics, how much I hated chemistry, and how interesting I found philosophy. Twas a good period, and I believe that the academic faculty there, in most all disciplines, are great teachers.

But then there’s the “Health and Human Services” bullshit that it peddles…

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Lester B. Pearson School Board, Bastion of Small Thinking

civil rights, culture, Education, ethics, feminism Leave a reply

Montreal teen, Lindsey Stocker, was suspended from her school (Beaconsfield High School) for having an opinion. Her opinion was that the school (Beaconsfield High School) was policing the clothing of the girls of the school rather than policing the unacceptable behaviour of the boys in the school, and thus contributing to a culture whereby women and girls are held responsible for the behaviour of men and boys.

By suspending her for expressing her opinion, the buffons who operate Beaconsfield High School have exemplified her argument.

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Tenure, and the Bizarre Case of the University of Saskatchewan

civil rights, crapitalism, culture, Education, ethics Leave a reply

On May 14th, it hit the news that the University of Saskatchewan had done the unthinkable: they had fired a tenured professor for the crime of ‘having an opinion’. It’s worth noting here that the opinion wasn’t racist, mysogynist, called for the armed overthrow of the Canadian government, declared that the Moon People were our new overlords, or anything that could reasonably be considered ‘extreme’. Not in the slightest. Dr. Robert Buckingham, then executive director of the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health, was fired for issuing a letter in which “he explained his issues with TransformUS, a restructuring plan at the university, and detailed efforts by the administration to ensure that senior leaders toe the institution’s line.”

Fortunately, a mere 7 days later, this was reported as being resolved, with the president of the University being fired instead, and the Dr. Buckingham having his tenure reinstated. Note that, according to the CBC article of May 21st, he had not been reinstated as the executive director of their School of Public Health.

While this may seem shocking to some, to those paying attention to what’s happening in the education systems world-wide this is merely an inevitability, and it’s not the end of the road by any means. This is merely the next step in the corporatisation of the University, that is that (world-wide) Universities are being turned into corporate entities with duties primarily to shareholders, not the general public.

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The Ethical Failing of the Law Society of British Columbia

civil rights, culture, Education, law, Philosophy of Law Leave a reply

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a University in British Columbia that explicitly holds certain Christian creeds at its foundation. In their own words, they hold a “Christ-centred approach to education”, whatever that means. They have been in the news recently as they’ve started a law school on their premises, and it has come to the attention of Canadians that this school forbids sexual intimacy (i.e. sex) between people who aren’t 1) married, and 2) of opposite sex (for the purposes of this essay I won’t be going the problems with a worldview that only recognises the existence of two sexes in a strict binary sense). It’s worth noting that their policy is not only homophobic, but it also impacts anyone who is heterosexual, in a relationship, but not married. But, of course, that second part is entirely minor, and (in practice) doesn’t discriminate against an entire class of already-oppressed people.

Various law societies around Canada have voted to determine if they will recognise the accreditation from TWU, and the response has been mixed. Nova Scotia’s law society, for example, has rightly agreed to accredit if and only if the school drops the discrimination against non-binary, non-heterosexual people. Ontario’s law society has simply refused to recognise the accreditation. Meanwhile, the Law Society of British Columbia has agreed to recognise this accreditation. Reviewing this opinion piece by Tony Wilson, a member who voted in favour of accepting the accreditation of TWU’s law school, should be instructive in understanding the ethical failings of a law degree.

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A Short Overview of Free Will

Atheism, culture, Education, philosophy, religion, theology Leave a reply

Last night, I gave a short presentation on Free Will in order to kick off some discussion between mixed groups of atheists and theists. It went quite well, I feel, and the discussions that I was involved with went pretty well. The notes I used are included below. It’s a really just a rough overview, and I wouldn’t consider it a compelling argument for the compatibilist position in and of itself, but… Well, people have written books on that, and this was only a 15-min presentation, so bear that in mind if you think that I think you should be convinced by this.

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Brute Facts are not Reasons

Education, philosophy Leave a reply

Unlike a lot of my friends, I don’t find articles written by Christians to be completely stupid, or ignorant, or “unscientific”. The problems with them are those of basic reasoning, and this problems are not limited to Christians. In any case, I find them to be extremely useful to explaining reasoning, and how to articulate arguments, usually by pointing out how the article in question has failed.

In this case, I’d like to point you at “7 Things That Prove God is Real“. Take a moment to read over it, and I’ll meet ye beneath the fold.

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