Accelerated Christian Education Responds to Criticism

In March 1987, the Phi Delta Kappan journal ran “The World As Seen by Students in Accelerated Christian Education,” an article by two university professors who had reviewed the School of Tomorrow PACEs. It’s notable for two things. First, the professors completely destroy ACE as a curriculum. Second, and more interestingly, the article ran alongside a thorough response from ACE vice-president Ronald E. Johnson. Since I have so far never succeeded in getting any advocate of the system to engage deeply with my criticisms, this is a priceless insight into how they think.

First, the criticisms. Professors Fleming and Hunt do not mince their words. Their quotations from the PACEs reveal the level of paranoid indoctrination the students receive in history and politics (“There are Communists, dedicated to spreading this murderous dictatorship in the United States, still working in places like the government today. We as Christians should be aware that this anti-God conspiracy exists.”). Once again, there are questionable attitudes to race, in a segment on how “little Rhodesia stood against the world”:

“Rhodesia was accused repeatedly of being an all-white racist regime, which was totally false. The franchise in Rhodesia was mainly non-racial. All sixty-five seats in the Rhodesian parliament were open to anyone of any race.”

The section ends:

Robert Mugabe, a dedicated Black Marxist, was duly elected prime minister, and the once-stable Rhodesia degenerated further into socialism and intertribal warfare.”

Fleming and Hunt summarise their review in excoriating form:

“Unfortunately, the information provided is so skeletal that real understanding of the cause and effect of events seems impossible in most cases. Where a few more details are provided, as in the description of the Rhodesian struggle for independence, the bias of the author takes over, and the facts are distorted or inaccurate.

“In a number of places, the materials appear to distort the truth to fit a particular political/religious belief… If parents want their children to obtain a very limited and sometimes inaccurate view of the world – one that ignores thinking above the level of rote recall – then the ACE materials do the job very well. The world of the ACE materials is quite a different one from that of scholarship and critical thinking.”

ACE Responds!

Ronald Johnson’s response provides a fascinating insight. At times, his worldview is so distant from the professors’ that it appears he hasn’t even understood their criticisms. He spends the entire article defending the viewpoints presented in the PACEs, as though these are the main problem. Responding to the accusation that the PACEs provide “skeletal” information, Johnson writes:

“Actually, ‘skeletal’ is matter of degree, since our curriculum provides what we believe to be adequate opinion-forming rhetoric.”

Yes, Mr. Johnson, “opinion-forming rhetoric” is exactly what the PACEs contain, and buckets of it. No one in their right mind would argue that they don’t mould the worldview of the students. They might, however, recognise that what you are doing is immoral.

Forgive me. I am going to have to shout now.

EDUCATION HAS NO BUSINESS TEACHING CHILDREN WHAT TO THINK.

At secondary level, on matters of conscience and debate ­– on politics, on the interpretation of history, on theology – there is no single right answer. And in that situation, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO FORCE ANYONE TO SHARE YOUR BELIEFS. You especially don’t have the right to make children reach those beliefs by distorting the facts.

OK, I’ll calm down a bit now.

Even if their beliefs could somehow be shown to be objectively correct, the ACE method of education would still be worthless. In saying that the world of ACE lacks scholarship and critical thinking, the professors mean, clearly, that students are not given the opportunity to think critically. Johnson interprets it to mean that the PACE writers lack these skills, and takes offence at the notion. He completely misses the point. Any belief is meaningless if it has never been challenged. Students must consider alternative points of view, and they must learn how to evaluate them. You cannot just insert knowledge into a child’s brain. They have to acquire it themselves, and the teacher has to give them the tools to do that.

Johnson cannot see this. To ACE, if it’s not from a conservative Christian perspective, it’s not even worth considering:

“ACE does not subscribe to academic works simply because they are considered to be scholarly or critical. Sources for a distinctively Christian community must at least be pro-family, pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-church in order to be considered “solid” references.”

He goes on to add, “Generally, conservative scholars have held the same ideals as we do regarding free enterprise and loyalty to America.” Brilliant logic. We looked only at the people who agree with us, and we found that most of them share our views.

A Call to Action

I am (as you might be able to tell) getting frustrated with the need to talk about this. Any reasonable person, including Christians, can see that this is indoctrination and an inadequate education. There need to be minimum standards of education for private schools and home schools so that this can’t happen.

I know people are (rightly) concerned about civil liberties and religious freedoms, but there has to be a line. Let’s indulge in a little thought experiment. Which of the following would you allow, if you ruled the world?

  • A maths curriculum in which 2+2=5
  • A science curriculum which teaches the sky is green
  • A politics curriculum which tells us the earth is ruled by a cabal of alien lizards
  • A history curriculum which denies the holocaust

I’m guessing your answer to those was “none of the above.” If it isn’t, please explain in the comments. You are either an ingenious philosopher of education whose views I need to consider, or a total moron.

So we agree, I presume, that there is a case for state regulation, even of private education, at some level. I argue that a curriculum which teaches young earth creationism, paranoid communist conspiracy theories, and a single, specific interpretation of the Bible, all as fact, is beneath the minimum level for acceptable education. It has to be stopped.

“We hear sometimes of an action for damages against the unqualified medical practitioner, who has deformed a broken limb in pretending to heal it. But, what of the hundreds of thousands of minds that have been deformed for ever by the incapable pettifoggers who have pretended to form them!”

– Charles Dickens, Author’s Preface, Nicholas Nickleby

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About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Book Reviews, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. By all means, shout away. This is stuff worthy of it.

  2. “ACE does not subscribe to academic works simply because they are considered to be scholarly or critical. Sources for a distinctively Christian community must at least be pro-family, pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-church in order to be considered “solid” references.”

    With these words, Johnson reveals that the true purpose of ACE has nothing to do with scholarship; it is all about instilling “right thinking” into students (or, as Richard Dawkins might put it, meme propagation).

    In other words, Johnson makes it perfectly clear that ACE is not a system of education (at least not primarily), but actually one of indoctrination — first, foremost, and always. Any real education that happens to occur — that is, any information of a factual or normative nature that happens to coincide with the real world and how it works — is merely incidental to this program (or, rather, programming), which is to cultivate a specific point of view in the student by binding this viewpoint up with all of the “facts” presented (true or otherwise) in order to propagate a comprehensive set of values in line with that of the authors: pro-family (i.e., anti-non-traditional family), pro-life (i.e., anti-choice, and probably against birth control as well), pro-marriage (i.e., limited to a specific interpretation of what is allowed to be considered “marriage” and exactly how such relationships are to be carried out), and pro-church (i.e., teaching ancient superstitious beliefs as if they were cold, hard facts). In other words, it is the very antithesis of a true educational curriculum in that it teaches what to think — not even just rote “facts” (true or otherwise), but whole rote contexts of values, attitude, opinion, and worldview (i.e., “right thinking”).

    Johnson states outright that any academic source of information that does not support the worldview to be promoted is automatically unacceptable, even if true — in fact, especially if true — because, as Johnson says, sources must be “at least” in line with this worldview “in order to be considered ‘solid’ references” (i.e., supporting the worldview that ACE was designed to promote). Reality takes a distant back seat to “right thinking” — and as far as Johnson is concerned, this exercise in propaganda is exactly as it should be. It isn’t just that his criteria for proper sources are different from ours; his very definition of “education” and his concept of what it means are completely different from ours. The notion of teaching factual information and processes without such “guidance” in how to interpret them, and thus allowing children the ability to think as individuals, must be anathema to him — indeed, I’m sure that he would sincerely consider it a very bad thing to do to children. The fact that his intentions are good is, of course, irrelevant.

  3. christine gregg

    I am very interested in this topic. Is there an email I can send you a pm?

  4. Max Patrick Schlienger

    I, for one, am in favor of the following:

    A maths curriculum in which 2+2=5
    A science curriculum which teaches the sky is green
    A politics curriculum which tells us the earth is ruled by a cabal of alien lizards
    A history curriculum which denies the holocaust

    While I might not be an ingenious philosopher, I don’t think of myself as a moron, either… though I could be wrong. At any rate, here’s my reasoning:

    Suppose we taught kids how to count properly, and then told them that 2+2=5. It would be frustrating, confusing, and – of course – wrong, but something really special would happen: The kids would ask questions. Well, some of them would, anyway, and the teacher would reward that behavior. Before long, everyone in the class would question everything, including their science curriculum (“The sky is not green! I can SEE it, and it’s BLUE!”), their politics curriculum (“Then how come nobody has ever noticed these lizards, huh?”), and their history curriculum (“Then why are we reading The Diary of Anne Frank?! Nothing this boring comes from fiction!”)

    Maybe I’m still optimistic, even in the face of the idiocy I seem from many theists, but I find it hard to accept that the world as a whole will be permanently tainted by this sort of garbage. True, the curriculum in the article isn’t as blatantly wrong as 2+2=5, but it’s still wrong, and it will still run up against contrary evidence before too long. Yes, many people will just ignore that contrary evidence, and that’s frustrating for the rationally-minded… but it’s not impossible to overcome.

    The first step is to teach people not what to think, but how to think.

    • Now this is what I like, a serious challenge to my thinking. Thanks for posting.

      Actually, of course, we completely agree. I would have no problem with ridiculous things being taught to children if they are also encouraged to question them, and given the tools to do so. In that situation, I would agree with you entirely.

      The problem is that children in this situation are discouraged from questioning. They feel they are questioning God if they do so. They are told their logic is not to be trusted, corrupted as it is by sin.

      It’s true that some people (like me and the guest writers I’ve had on this blog) do manage to think their way out of this. A great many don’t. And a lot are in the middle, like some commenters I’ve had here, tentatively expressing reservations about one or two aspects of the curriculum but generally supporting it (in part, I suspect, because to attack it would be in some way disloyal to God).

      In any case, even if every student saw through the lies, lying to children while simultaneously teaching them not to question is always unethical. It’s hardly a defence of ACE to say, “Well, it doesn’t work!”

  5. Johnny,

    You might find this to be on topic as well; I certainly do.

    Ed Brayton has excellent commenters at his blog. In this entry (http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/06/17/jesse-galef-on-cnn/), in which an atheist speaker is interviewed by an apparently pro-religion-biased interviewer, reader Zeno makes a brilliantly worded observation at comment #5:

    “What’s in the middle of the word “indoctrination”? Doctrine. That’s what most children get their entire lives. Religious people feel entitled to indoctrinate others. When a person shakes off the constant bombardment of religious propaganda, it is the opposite of indoctrination. That’s where the expression free-thinker came from. The fully indoctrinated interviewer appears not to know that, and is too programmed to recognize that her responses are conditioned reflexes.”

    WORD!

  6. Max,

    We are talking about children, not a grad-level philosophy class. Misinformation to a child taught in school as a fact is a crime, not a groovy experiment.

  7. Donald Miller

    I don’t know if you’ve come across this observation before, but it seems to me if ACE is clever, they would make the obvious point that you were given an education by them and that the quality of your writing and your ability to frame an argument are superb. You might want to have a counter-argument before your book hits the press.

  8. I’m a 17 year old south african girl attending an ace school. Fortunately we don’t operate as most others do but the PACES don’t change. I follow your blog becuase I am in full agreement with everything you say. I went to a proper school until 3 years ago so I have a pretty solid viewpoint of how education is supposed to work. I can’t say the same for some of my fellow students who never ask ‘why’ or ‘what if’. I suggest you do a piece on student convention. Thatd be interesting.

  9. I Think you have a problem something must have happened while you were in ACE. I am a Grade 10 student in Kenya and I don’t mind it. You should blame your parents for taking you there not the curriculum for going to a specific school is a choice. To make it worse you are an atheist so you can complain forever but God,Christianity, Salvation and ACE will always be there. So get over it!!!!

  10. I will say some true things now
    1) I went ACE schools, they worked better for me than public school
    2) “There are Communists, dedicated to spreading this murderous dictatorship in the United States, still working in places like the government today” is a factually accurate statement to anybody who cares to investigate
    3)”“Robert Mugabe, a dedicated Black Marxist, was duly elected prime minister, and the once-stable Rhodesia degenerated further into socialism and intertribal warfare.” is historically accurate to anybody who pays the slightest bit of attention to world affairs
    4) I am a better critical thinker now because of ACE

  11. im sorry but i believe we need more “right thinking” among our young people…..how’s your public school working out for kids today?

  12. I don’t know why you hate ACE so much. Accelerated Christian Education are for Accelerated Christians who have deep knowledge about the Bible. Fundamentalism involves in ACE, so one requirement for a student to understand ACE is for him to establish a relationship with God (salvation), read your Bible, and go to church. Do you go to church? Are you studying the right doctrine? Because nowadays it is hard to find a good church.

    ACE doesn’t promote any religion but Biblical Christianity. It means, a person can only be save through Christ. Biblical Christianity is based on Bible principles.

    If you are planning to destroy ACE, then do it. It only proves how light your knowledge about God is.

    For a new believer, it would be hard to understand the fundamentals but it would be easy once you acknowledge God. “The fear of the Lord if the beginning of knowledge.”

    Fundamentalism is not about following the rules to meet God, but it is trying to live with the rules to be effective witnesses of Christ. And some of them are taught in PACEs.

  13. My 3 Children went to a private school using the ACE curriculum in the Philippines. We migrated in the USA (NYC) in 2003. My 6 year old daughter who just finished the ABC’s program (equivalent to Pre-School) in the Philipines was promoted to grade 2 when she got to her new school in NYC. When she took the entrance exam in her new school in NYC, her level of knowledge and learning was that of grade 2. My 14 year old daugther was in 9th grade ACE level in the Philippines, when we got to NYC she auditioned for Frank Sinatra School of The Arts (NYC – check out this school, it’s a specialized arts school school, not easy to get in) and was accepted in their Vocal program (thanks to the Student Conventions of ACE-), they evaluated her accademic standing and was accepted to the same level, 9th grade, My 15 year old daughter had been in 10th grade in ACE level in the Philippines, after her audition in Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, she was accepted into the same level, 10th grade in their Visual Arts Program (thanks again to ACE conventions were in Children are not only trained accademically but also their God given talents are developed). Infact after a few months in school at NYC, she took the Regent Examination (NYC requirements for all the Public School Students) she pass with flying colors in all subjects and in World History she was second placer in the whole 10th grade class in her school. In NYC, if you are an immigrant usually they will put you in ESL class and enroll you one year below your grade level but my daughters who received training from ACE, Philippines never went through all those speciall classes for immigrants. Now, where are they? My 6 year old daughter is now 14 years old entering, 10th grade this September. Always an honor student and has excellent study habits, my 14 year old daughter is now working on her second album and doing great in music and audio engeneering. My 15 year old daughter, just finished her Pre-Med course, Majoring in Fine Arts and is currently reviewing for MCAT. “Train up the Child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am grateful for the training that they received in the ACE system of education.

  14. I went to not one but THREE ACE schools between 1977 and 1981, and one of my kids goes to one now. I volunteered to help out at my kid’s school and was effectively an unpaid staff member all last year, so I’ve got a fair amount of hands-on experience.

    Firstly: Is the ACE education sub-par? There’s no two ways about it, yes it is.

    Secondly: Is it meeting the needs of the kids? Yes, oddly enough. Would it meed the needs of all kids? No, definitely not. But it’s been my own experience that the majority of the kids in these schools are basically refugees from the public school system, where they fell through the cracks, or were given substandard services, or simply treated badly. I myself got beat up on a daily basis in 4th grade. My kid’s got Autism, and the public schools allegedly “Autism friendly” programs just traumatized him. Many of the kids I went to school with had learning disabilities, or physical ailments, or disfigurements, and I find that’s true at the school I helped out at last year, as well. The real-world situation is not ideal, and these schools are generally rather small and provide an almost-annoyingly save environment, and a lot more individualized attention than public schools can. There’s also a lot more accomodation of special needs. So in that regard, yeah, these schools are (Generally) helping the kids.

    It would be nice if my kid could get this treatment while learning some non-ridiculous science, but, eh, if it’s a choice between my kid being happy and safe, and my kid being miserable and beat up, I’ll gladly gobble up their propaganda and ask for seconds. If that’s the price I’ve got to pay, it’s not too bad.

    Thirdly: it’s been my experience that *MOST* of these paces were cranked out in a flurry of activity between around 1970 and 1974, with occasional infrequent updates, as their resources permit. A lot of their concerns about communism and hippies and whatnot made sense back then, as they were going concerns, but now they’re annoyingly quaint and ACE simply doesn’t appear to have put much effort into updating thier paces. I have several friends who’ve sent in several letters over the years pointing out factual errors, and citing respected historical sources, but none have ever gotten a reply. As a result of this, there’s an odd element of paranoia from 40 years ago that’s completely out of place. The racial aspect – which should not be excused – is unquestionably an aspect of this, as the black regimes that were overthrowing white countries in the ’70s were frequently communist backed. It was a cold war thing. Its continued presence is a sad example of how infrequently they rewrite these things.

    I should also mention that the teachers themselves frequently complain about this. In particular, every ACE school I’ve ever gone to has complained about the utterly terrible Bible paces. No, really! The paces were clearly cranked out by some random geriatric Baptist preacher 40 years ago at some presumably loony rate like two or three a week. They’re terribly written, hard to follow, use seemingly random schemes for learning stuff (Such as, for instance, using entirely words that are not in a book to describe the book), and they’re just terrible. ACE’s stance on this appears to be “The Bible hasn’t changed, and we paid good money for these things, so why should we change ‘em now?”

    Fourtly: In all fairness, their math and english curriculums are good enough. Their word building stuff for beginning readers and sub-par readers are actually better than average. Their history is occasionally questionable and their science is undeniably loony, but credit where credit’s do: there’s no 2+2 = 5 in the basics.

    Fifthly: They are unquestionably getting crazier.
    Specifically with regard to science. When I went to school 30 years ago, they taught a completely different account of the antediluvian world than they do today. It was your basic ‘God made the world, and we don’t know much about what it was like, but it apparently didn’t rain, and the continents may have been connected’ and that’s that. The stuff they’re teaching now is just hillariously insane. Let me put it a different way: 30 years ago the assumption was “God made the world about 6000 years ago, and since that point it’s been more or less exactly like it is now, though it was maybe a little different before Noah’s flood.” Nowadays they go into extensive loonie detail about the most crazy crap you’ve ever heard about what the pre-flood world was like. Honestly, while helping a kid on his science, I had to walk out of the room a couple times and stiefl my laughter. So, yeah, everything else is annoyingly the same, excepting science, which is worse.

    The education is mostly sub-par, the science is beyond useless, but ON the whole, however, I think they mean well, and I think they are generally helping kids who honestly can’t get help elsewhere. So it’s not great, but it could be much, much worse.

  15. Fowell Whitfield

    It is scary to think that religious fundamentalists are allowed to design a science curriculum for young children. I think the main objective of this system is to produce “Intelligent Designers”.
    On another note, the lack of classroom instruction will definitely not work for every student.
    However, it is definitely better than most public school systems, especially those in Europe and the USA that are struggling to provide decent services in an atmosphere of deeper budget cuts. Also, there’s the issue of a total lack of discipline in the classroom, which teachers have been given little or no authority to confront adequately. The public school teacher has effectively been castrated by the Children’s Rights Movement…

    • I think you have been listening to too much of the rhetoric of those opposed to state schools. David Berliner has a good book about how certain elements have sought to promote their agenda by discrediting state education.

      • I understand your perspective given the fact that you went through the ACE system yourself. Your experience must have definitely been a very difficult one. I shudder to think what it must have been like. Like I said in my earlier post, fundamentalism has no place in formal education. Please send me details of David Berliner’s book.

      • Berliner’s book is The Manufactured Crisis.

        He has a journal article, Educational Psychology Meets the Christian Right, in which he shows how a lot of anti-public school rhetoric emerged from the Christian Right. Many seemingly mainstream commentators who criticise public schools are, perhaps unwittingly, using arguments which originated with Christian fundamentalism. Someone reposted the article online here.

      • fowellwhitfield

        thanks- i will look into it.

  16. You ask:
    
    “Which of the following would you allow, if you ruled the world?
    A maths curriculum in which 2+2=5
    A science curriculum which teaches the sky is green
    A politics curriculum which tells us the earth is ruled by a cabal of alien lizards
    A history curriculum which denies the holocaust”
    I answer: “Permit ALL the above, on one condition: that anyone who has ever taught that any of the above beliefs are true — or who has otherwise demonstrably stated that he or she believes those things — has NO legal right to receive any good or service whose existence can be shown to “depend in any way on any fact, or facts, which those beliefs oppose or exclude.” Examples of this “modest proposal” —

    • Anyone who believes and/or teaches that 2+2=5, shall have no legal or financial recourse against a shopkeeper who makes an arithmetic error in the shopkeeper’s favor, such as charging the believer $50 for two items which cost $20 each. Similarly, the believer in “2+2=5” shall have no legal or financial recourse against an architect, engineer, physician, pharmacist, repairman, machinist, or anyone else who has made a damaging or otherwise consequential error in math, as long as that error can be shown to have been predictably or even possibly a consequence of, or at least consistent with, the premise that 2+2=5 instead of 4. (For example — suppose that the believer has hired an architectural firm to build a school. That firm, and all its members and employees, would be automatically and absolutely protected from the legal consequences of any incorrect measurements, calculations, and the like — no matter how dangerous or even lethal that slipshod work had been — just as long as they could demonstrate that the error had resulted from, or at least could have resulted from, regarding “2+2=5″ as valid.)

    • Similarly, anyone who believes and/or teaches that the sky is green would have no legal or financial recourse against (say) a satellite-TV installer who adjusted things so that _every_ color was wrong — as long as the repairman could prove that making the grass look purple was necessary in order to make the sky look green. (Likewise, people who believe in a flat Earth and/or in the impossibility of sending man-made objects into orbit — such people do still exist — should have no legal or financial recourse against a satellite-TV installer who takes their money without installing anything whatsoever: since satellite-broadcasting would be unneeded on the former premise, and impossible on the latter.)

    • Anyone who believes and/or teaches that our planet is secretly governed by alien lizards should, similarly, have no legal recourses if he or she ever happens to be deprived (inadvertently or otherwise, permanently or otherwise) of any governmentalit benefit or service whose creators/providers are believed, by this person, to be lizards. (NOTE: I would _not_ actually _require_ the government, or anyone else, to withhold goods and/or services that would otherwise be provided to this person: I would simply make it so that nobody would ever be legally _required_ to give anything to somebody who believed the giver to be either a lizard or the employee of a lizard.)

    • I will leave it to wiser heads than mine to devise a proper application of this principle to anyone who believes and/or teaches “There was no such thing as Hitler trying to kill all Jews.”

    Meanwhile, let’s apply this line of reasoning to creationists. Here in the USA, many people reject the idea of evolution — although their physicians are generally aware of the indispensable role of evolution in medical research and therefore ultimately in medical treatment.

    So …
    What if it became accepted practice among MDs to refuse certain treatments to those patients who have gone on public record anywhere as opposing (or as teaching others to oppose) the facts and reasoning which are responsible for the existence and effectiveness of such treatments?
    How long would opposition to (say) the teaching of evolution remain common, if it had visible consequences for one’s health because some widely used and highly beneficial treatments were simply not offered to those who publicly opposed the basis for those treatments’ existence?

    NOTE: I am _not_ in any way, shape, or form imagining that life-saving medical treatments (or other medical treatments or scientific advances) should be outlawed for those who don’t believe in the facts involved. What I _am_ advocating is this:
    Doctors and other healthcare staffers (for instance) should not be legally or ethically _required_ to provide medical treatments whose basis (e.g., in evolutionary biology) the patient has publicly rejected — particularly if the patient has built a publicly visible career, of any sort, wholly or partly out of such public rejection.

    suppose that the findings of evolutionary biology lead to a pill which can confer immortality, or prevent Alzheimer’s, or cure diabetes.. There would be no particular reason to offer such a boon to a person who publicly denounces the logical and factual underpinnings for the treatment’s existence — yet who wishes the treatment to exist anyway!

    When a person builds a career out of publicly rejecting scientific fact, then wishes to benefit privately from the rejected information whenever it is convenient for him or her to do so — should it be anyone’s legal or ethical responsibility to keep such hypocrites alive and in business?

    What I propose — at a minimum:
    
    whenever a known opponent of some well-established scientific fact is a candidate for (e.g.) medical treatment that depends in any way on the established fact(s) which s/he denies,

    /1/ insurance companies should be legally free to refuse to cover such treatment for the person(s) involved,

    /2/ healthcare providers should be legally free to withhold such treatment,

    and /3/ the above should apply until and unless the known public opponent of evolution (or whatever else may be involved) signs a statement that s/he accepts the theory/finding/scientific model on which the treatment depends —

    such statement to be published, at the patient’s expense, in every communication channel and medium (web-site, Facebook, Twitter, press-release stream, classroom, etc.) that the patient had ever used to announce or convey his/her opposition to the scientific fact(s) involved.

    Of course, the patient must have an absolute legal right to refuse to engage in /3/ — in which case, the insurer and healthcare provider must have an equally absolute legal right to engage in measures /1/ and /2/.
    If you believe (as, reportedly, one sect does still believe) that the heart doesn’t pump blood — that the blood circulates under its own power — then you logically have no grounds for complaint when the doctor refuses to patch your pump or supply a new one.
    If you oppose (as some do) the mathematical evidence that pi is greater than three — you logically have no grounds for complaint if the doctor refuses to connect you to any machinery whose wheels and gears were calculated with a less inaccurate value of pi. (If this means insurance won’t cover your wheelchair, or the pulley on your hospital-bed traction-gear — tough. You asked for that! — by asking to have the actual value of pi discounted, as far as you were concerned.)
    If you believe that evolution doesn’t happen, but then the newest medical breakthrough depends (like so many others) on evolutionary biology — you will just have to do without the latest medicine if you happen to need it. (I admit there’s a case for making an exception for any contagious disease: purely on grounds of dpublic health. Even though much of immunology depends directly on the facts of evolution, withholding treatment for contagious conditions would punish the innocent chilren of rational people, right along with those guilty of potentially lethal ignorance. Leave those who are ignorant _on_principle_ to die: and to see that even their children will die while others’ children live — as long as the principled ignorant are unwilling to amend either their ignorance or their principles.)

    There is an old fable about a pig in an oak forest. Every so often, searching for acorns under the cool shade of the trees, the pig would stumble over an oak root, or — worse — would find himself biting into an oak root that he had mistaken for a buried acorn. This annoyed the pig so much that he made it his life’s work to bite through or uproot every oak-root he could find, so that those nasty, bitter things would present no further obstacles.
    The pig succeeded well — within a few years, he had eradicated every one of the nasty, bitter things. At last, he could dig for acorns in peace. Strange thing, though: he had found no acorns today, or yesterday, or the day before — and the sky overhead was unpleasantly hot and bright instead of greenly cool as in previous summers.

    Those who expect to harvest acorns by uprooting oaks are pig-ignorant. Those who aid and abet such ignorance — by offering the fruits of rationality to those who make a career out of extinguishing the source of those fruits — have only themselves to blame if they lose ground.

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