Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not Valid in Kansas

Like so many things, the Annals of Improbable Research Teachers' Guide is "Not valid in Kansas, per order of the Kansas State Board of Education (November 8, 2005)":
NOTE: This teachers' guide appears in every issue of the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).

Three out of five teachers agree: curiosity is a dangerous thing, especially in students. If you are one of the other two teachers, AIR and mini-AIR can be powerful tools. Choose your favorite hAIR-raising article and give copies to your students. The approach is simple. The scientist thinks that he (or she, or whatever), of all people, has discovered something about how the universe behaves. So:
  • Is this scientist right -- and what does "right" mean, anyway?
  • Can you think of even one different explanation that works as well or better?
  • Did the test really, really, truly, unquestionably, completely test what the author thought she (or he) was testing?
  • Is the scientist ruthlessly honest with himself (or herself) about how well his (etc.) idea explains everything, or could he (etc.) be suffering from wishful thinking?
  • Some people might say this is foolish. Should you take their word for it?
  • Other people might say this is absolutely correct and important. Should you take their word for it?
Kids are naturally good scientists. Help them stay that way.


Clearly, "right" in Kansas now means "whatever (State Board of Education chair) Steve Abrams thinks the Bible says." Whether something "works better" is only testable now by asking what John Calvert would say, and only Michael Behe can be sure whether an astrologer is suffering from wishful thinking.

Here in Kansas, the answers to the last questions are: No and yes. Vice versa when it involves evolution.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow. People on the street really are more moral now in Kansas. The sky is brighter, cars can fly and all our financial questions have been answered. Intelligent Accounting!