Monday, February 26, 2018

Truth or Lies?

Image result for truth cartoonThere is an issue facing the country that easily repaired.  Too many profess to know what is good or bad without really knowing anything about the subject.  Their opinions are based on nothing more than feelings and emotions without any practical application of the truth.

What do you really know?  Honestly, what truths can you share with the world?  I am not talking about opinions or feelings but of unchangeable facts that are not affected by situational criteria or emotional conditions but “truths”, principles of life and death, of science or religion.   Take climate or weather, how often have our sciences been right about either and how often have they had to change their facts to conform to their suspected truth.  Believe what you will but it is a belief not a truth.

We spend our lives spinning our wheels like rats in a cage only concerned with how fast or slow we go never realizing that we are not going anywhere. 

Truth is not a variable, it cannot be negotiated or changed by what we think it should be or by our opinion of what we think it should be at that time.  Like the craze of gender identity.  What a crock and what a massive sign of instability for someone to claim they are a woman when they are genetically a male or vice versa.  They take a fundamental truth and bastardize it for their own selfish reasons.  The truth did not change but their views of the truth changed, altering their perception of reality or their simply being dishonest to manipulate others for their own selfish gain…

The option of knowing, really knowing something is a very rare occurrence.  We may think we know and we may proclaim or espouse based on present understanding but that present understanding does not often translate to knowing.  Science and the search for truth through science is a great example. 

In 2006 the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer proclaimed a breakthrough in the fight of high cholesterol or the overproduction of LDL’s the bad cholesterol in a promising drug called torcetrapib.  So confident was Pfizer that they had spent 1 billion in its development and an additional 90 million expanding the factory to produce this new miracle drug. 

On November 30, 2006,  Jeff Kindler, then CEO announced at their stockholder's meeting that they were on the verge of changing the face of healthcare.  As he spoke to those investors his level of knowledge was backed by reams of research, billions of investment dollars and a track record of success in controlling high cholesterol with other Pfizer drugs like Lipitor, one of the most common and effective drugs for the treatment of high cholesterol.

FDA approval requires stringent testing with a track record of more than 40% failing the phase III trials.  Even before those trials officially started for Pfizer they announced on December 2, 2006, two days after the grand investors meeting, they pulled the drug and stopped production and abandoning the FDA trials.  They had discovered (in those two days?) that the drug was actually killing people by triggering higher rates of chest pain and heart failure and a 60 percent increase in overall mortality, not a good tradeoff to a lower and safer cholesterol.

The Nova by Chevrolet was a great success in the United States but when they marketed that same car in Mexico and South America the No Va (meaning no go) changed the successful scenario of understanding to a complete failure.

We may think we know, but in the end even with a complete understanding of all component parts, how they work, how they interact, what they do, does not ensure that we have the level of understanding to proclaim a complete knowledge on any given topic, subject or research. 

Science is the process of accumulating understanding and the process of theorizing and testing.  The more tests the more accurate the results and the more assured we are about the future of those tests and interactions.  Science has accomplished miraculous strides in our overall understanding and has increased our knowledge of many things but like Pfizer the real result was quite different, primarily due to the simple aspect of not having a complete understanding of all the components or a complete knowledge of any given area or Pfizer knew but did not want to lose their investment.

We will continue to try, and we will continue to mostly fail, but therein lays the basic truth of life.  We live to learn, we learn to live and in the end,  we may have a glimpse of the promises of that life only to be too old too truly benefit from that accumulated understanding.

Science continues to tell us of their successes, but the reality is that they fail much more often than they succeed and even with those successes the truth behind the future of those successes is mitigated by further research that invariably changes or makes moot the very promises postulated previously.

Science is then nothing more than a faith-based approach to the physical world, hoping what is discovered will stand the test of time. The opposite is within the metaphysical, the religious, the spiritual, it requires faith first and verification second.  I don’t really see the difference except in the promises that were postulated in prophetic utterances, they provide real hope where science only gives us a suspected wish; I’ll go with the hope but still like all that cool science stuff.  I never could understand why we can’t have both.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

NFL (No Freaking Learning)

Related imageForget about the Superbowl, and forget about the drama of the "memo"  We have other problems, problems left unattended will shift our lives toward the 3rd world faster than the NFL can drop to one knee.

This is not a new problem but an issue that has been years in the making and has to do with how we educate our children.   The true nature of education in the United States is nothing more than a fraudulent shadow of subterfuge and deception.  Children’s needs and teachers plea's go unheeded as the once great institution of learning continues to fall and miserably fail under the specter of abject complacency and money hungry administrators.  Billions are spent and billions are wasted on the frivolous and inconsequential designs of a magic “program”, hoping that, at least one, fanciful expenditure will create that long hoped for solution that will create beautiful minds of promise while filling the silk-lined pockets of its creators.

Education has eliminated the need to learn and replaced that essential aspect of knowledge with the disproven and often damaging prospect of testing.  Testing has transformed the universal prospect of an educated populous into a statistically driven business that heightens the act of the test to a supreme status, diminishing education and the associated knowledge destroying the heavenly achievement of learning, just to learn.

It is important to evaluate our present levels and to gauge our understanding in order to more effectively plan how to learn or teach but the prospect of testing and grading is repugnant to the simple and humble process of learning.  In life, we learn from our mistakes and our successes, the grading of our lives never ends, so why do we test and then move on.  We may obtain an A+ in some areas of our lives and a D or worse in others but those grades never determine our placement for the future.  A grade is only a snapshot of where we are now not for the rest of forever.

Testing a student in math or science is essential in order to understand those present levels of understanding but almost universally those grades are static and fixed points of failure with only the top tier students gaining success and future promise of success.  A good example would be using a simple bell curve of any class to illustrate how testing does not achieve learning success.    Approximately 16% of all students excel in any given subject. (those earning a B or better) the rest of the students achieve substantially less on each test, receiving a grade of C or worse.   For those who achieved, they have learned most of what was taught for the test making them think that they know.

In many districts, the mandate from administration is simply "we are failing too many students" and the response by the teachers, who already do more with less, who are straddled with liberal policies that fail to support them in their classes creating a rise in violence and student defiance, is to simply give less "F's"

The real problem is the test and in how it is used.  Testing is a good thing when it is used to gauge how to teach that student what he or she does not know.  Testing to grade may be OK in college when the cost of that education is entirely up to the student but in the lower grades testing to grade has no merit when learning is the goal.

Education in the United States is falling further and further behind almost every other industrialized nation and many poorer countries as well and the reason for that failure is simply because we do not demand that our student learn.  We test, we drill, we advance with only partial understanding and expect our children to be able to build an entire house with only 40, 50 or even 70% of the needed materials.  It can’t be done.  One can build a livable and safe enclosure with less if the list is complete but no one can build a life of promise when a substantial portion of the needed information is missing.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; 
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

And for those who do not fully understand, the statement above was first coined by Alexander Pope, an 18th Century poet (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744).

And for those who need further explanation, Pope is telling us all that it’s better not to drink or learn at all unless we're willing to drink deep from that well and learn deeply.  For those who only suck the bug infested upper waters will forever have bugs in their teeth.  Ignorance is bliss some say and perhaps their right for once you start to learn ignorance is lost and the only way toward bliss is to embrace the light of learning, drinking deeply from the well of all knowledge.

Image result for education and the NFL cartoonsOne reason that the NFL has behavior issues is directly related to the level of learning that was forsaken by the players. Their lack of respect for the country, their lack of respect for themselves and others is evident by their actions and their ignorance of what they have, what they've been given and most importantly what they do not understand about freedom, liberty, and opportunity. 

NO ONE SHOULD BE WATCHING THE SUPERBOWL TODAY.  Will it matter who wins or looses, especially if we lose the America we have?  Take a knee, not to the gods of football but to the God above and watch something else instead...