Category Archives: ethics

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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Alltrials Petition

culture, economics, ethics, health, Philosophy of Science, politics, science Leave a reply

One of the biggest problems in medical research today is that we don’t have complete access to the clinical trials that a company did when testing their new products. While this may seem to be an issue of privacy (for the company), it’s more correctly viewed as a public health issue. Why? Because lies and misrepresentations matter.

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Unpaid Internships Need to Go

civil rights, economics, ethics, liberalism, philosophy, politics Leave a reply

As the job market becomes more and more competitive (i.e. there are more and more people in the world), people in the recruiting world seek quick and easy ways to distinguish candidates from one another. If you’ve got a stack of 500 resumes in front of you, and the bulk are simply people who have graduated from University, how do you even begin to create a short-list? You can’t (legally) discriminate on the basis of the candidates age, ethnicity, gender, or religion, so… what now?

As a candidate for a position, you want to present the best possible picture to a prospective employer. Getting a job while at school, however, isn’t really an option: the kinds of jobs that will allow part-time work that doesn’t interfere with your classes during the day are not really all that useful when applying for the kind of work that a university graduate has the education for.

The solution to both problems is: internships. And this is deeply problematic.

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Anti-Abortion Arguments, Including the Secular Ones, are Uninformed Drivel.

Atheism, civil rights, culture, Education, ethics, feminism, philosophy 32 Replies

I’ve had something of a writing block for the last month or so, so I’m thankful to Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist for providing me with some fodder to dissect. I’ve always figured that there had to be some folk out there whose anti-abortion stance wasn’t built on a foundation of religion, as the latter simply isn’t logically necessary for the former. Plenty of people hold ignorant and poorly thought-out positions, appeals to god are simply gap fillers: people can also either fill in the gaps with a non-religious non-explanation, or just ignore them.

Such is the case in the guest post by Kristine Kruszelnicki, titled “Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them“. An alternative title would be “I’m unaware of how shallow my arguments are, but here they are anyway”. That is, perhaps, unfair: it’s possible that Kruszelnicki is aware of how shallow these arguments are, but she claims that they are compelling….

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Astrology Now!

Astrology, Education, ethics, science, skepticism 6 Replies

I’m a big fan of science education, and those institutions whose reason for being is the furthering of knowledge, and the encouraging of the young to follow math-based ambitions. That stuff is hard, and requires a whole heap of enthusiasm and motivation in order to slog through.

Conversely, it’s somewhat shocking when I find a space center, a place that claims its goals are “to educate, inspire and evoke a sense of wonder about the Universe, our planet and space exploration” working to do exactly the opposite. Continue reading

Integrity: Something Catholic Schools *Shouldn’t* Teach?

Atheism, civil rights, culture, Education, ethics, religion Leave a reply

Sometimes, I read something that’s really quite awesome, like a bunch of High School kids protesting against the firing of the Assistant Principal of their school. Why was he fired? Because he was gay. I think that it’s a credit to those kids that they felt they should stand up against an injustice and a credit to the school for instilling a sense of civic responsibility and ethics into their students.

However, some incredibly ignorant folk (like Rebecca Hamilton, 18-year member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives) believe that the job of a Catholic School is to raise mindless drones. In her own words:

It also points to a failed Catholic school. Based on the behavior of its students, this school appears to have failed in what most people think is the real mission of a Catholic school, which is raising up young people who can stand for the faith.

Huh…

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Equality of Outcome

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

One of the tensions in the economic arguments about the world is whether we should focus on equality of outcome, or equality of opportunity.  The short version of each reads as follows:

Equality of Outcome:

It describes a state in which people have approximately the same material wealth or in which the general economic conditions of their lives are similar. Achieving equal results generally entails reducing or eliminating material inequalities between individuals or households in a society, and usually involves a transfer of income or wealth from wealthier to poorer individuals, or adopting other measures to promote equality of condition. [From the wiki]

Equality of Opportunity:

The aim according to this often complex and contested concept[2] is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power,[3] religion, sex,[4] ethnicity,[4] race, caste,[5] or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, or sexual orientation.[5][6] Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested[7] such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established.  [From the wiki]

The claim that they are in tension is almost uniformly submitted by people who self-identify as Conservatives (in the American political sense), and that we should favour Equality of Opportunity over Equality of Outcome because the latter is Communism and therefore bad.

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47 Ronin and Appropriation

culture, ethics, History Leave a reply

I was at the movies last night, and in the trailers I was subjected to a preview of “47 Ronin”. It seems like a pretty amazing movie, right? I mean minus that we have a white guy ‘saving’ a bunch of Japanese people (yes, yes, the character is “half-Japanese”. Which is simply an expression of ‘yellow face‘). Keanu Reeves with a katana, how awesome is that, amiright?

Actually, there’s a LOT wrong with it.

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