Take This Paradigm

…and shove it.

Narrow intellectual gatekeeping is omnipresent in academia. Want to know why the government wastes hundreds of millions of dollars on math and science programs that never seem to improve the test scores of American students?[3] Part of the reason for this is that today’s K-12 educators—unlike educators in other high-scoring countries of the world—refuse to acknowledge evidence that memorization plays an important role in mastering mathematics. Any proposed program that supports memorization is deemed to be against “creativity” by today’s intellectual gatekeepers in K-12 education, including those behind the Math and Science Partnerships. As one NSF program director told me: “We hear about success stories with practice and repetition-based programs like Kumon Mathematics. But I’ll be frank with you—you’ll never get anything like that funded. We don’t believe in it.” Instead the intellectual leadership in education encourages enormously expensive pimping programs that put America even further behind the international learning curve.

I hope that Climaquiddick turns out to cause people to question a lot of previously unquestioned institutions and authorities.

The Politicization Of The EPA

Thoughts from an actual scientist at the agency. You know, one who actually believes in science, and that agency actions should be based on it?

[Update a few minutes later]

An open letter to the UN Secretary General, from a long list of scientists and engineers:

Climate change science is in a period of ‘negative discovery’ – the more we learn about this exceptionally complex and rapidly evolving field the more we realize how little we know. Truly, the science is NOT settled.

If the science is “settled” (what an absurd phrase — science is never “settled,” by definition), how can there be so many scientists who disagree that it is settled?

Your Stimulus Dollars At Work

Some supposedly egregious examples. But I wanted to focus on this one:

$4.7 million for Lockheed Martin to study supersonic corporate jet travel

Now, I don’t know much about this money, or what its actual purpose is. Is it to just study the market? It’s not enough money to do anything serious in terms of advancing the tech, unless perhaps it’s for CFD.

But I don’t think that it’s necessarily intrinsically a bad thing for the federal government to be spending money on, though I think that it’s quite likely that the money will be wasted. More efficient supersonic jets are, after all, a green technology, and they could lead the way to cost-effective supersonic transports, so it could in theory be a good federal investment. The question is: is it appropriate for the government to be making such investments, or should we rely on the industry?

Well, the problem is that most of the industry, at least the big airframers like LM, don’t believe in R&D. At least not as a cost of doing business. They view it as a profit center — that is, they see it as simply another source of revenue, whether provided by the government, or some other customer. But they rarely put their own money into it. Neither does Boeing. Because for decades, they have become conditioned and inured to avoid it, instead going hat in hand to Uncle Sugar for R&D funds, which is happy to hand them out, even on boondoggles. I think that this is one of the reasons that we haven’t seen much aviation innovation — because the people who actually build airplanes aren’t willing to spend their own money on it. Of course, the regulatory and liability environment are also significant factors.

[Afternoon update]

I assume that this is what is being referred to:

The work will focus on “systems-level experimental validation activities” and is part of the NASA aeronautics research mission directorate fundamental aeronautics programme’s supersonics project. Managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the supersonics project is to provide proven capabilities that address the efficiency, environmental and performance challenges of supersonic aircraft. The studies also seek to identify potential requirements for future supersonic aircraft, assess the effectiveness of technology today and identify new research opportunities.

As I said, don’t expect much useful to come from the money. I could do a lot more with it.

The Real Fat-Cat Party

Thoughts from Jonah Goldberg:

My biggest objection is not to what isn’t true about the claim that the Right is the handmaiden to big business, it’s to what is true. Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they’ve defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they’ll deserve to win again.

Of course, there are a lot of things they’ll have to learn to deserve to win again.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!