Modern Superstitions

Modern superstitions vs. the truth:

If someone online writes something stupid, you have to respond to it.

You aren’t responsible for correcting everyone’s fallacies, especially people that you don’t have to deal with in real life. Turn off the computer.

If the phone rings, you have to answer it.

You don’t have to answer it, and you don’t have to listen to the caller if you don’t want to. Especially an insurance salesman. Hang up.

If everyone else watches TV, you have to watch it.

You don’t have to watch TV at all, ever.

A professionally trained teacher is necessary in order to properly teach children.

Whether a teacher is highly qualified, has many years of experience or earns more matters little. Read about the study here, or look at Science magazine, 30 March 2007, pp. 1795-1796.

Cubed has a nice summary of the meaning of “professional training” for teachers.

The best way to prepare for college is to graduate from a public high school.

Wrong.

College instructors take a dim view of the effectiveness of their state’s learning standards. Nearly two-thirds (65%), overall, say their state standards prepare students “poorly” or “very poorly” for college-level work in their subject area. This is quite contrary to what high school teachers believe, with most saying their state standards prepare students “well” or “very well” for college coursework.

. . .

In English and writing, college instructors place more importance on basic grammar and usage skills than do high school teachers. Many college instructors express frustration that students who enter their classes often can’t write a complete sentence, which forces them to re-teach these basic skills and interferes with their efforts to teach higher level skills.

The press release is here. Read the report here.

Natural selection and random mutation are mutually compatible, empirically proven, scientifically valid mechanisms for explaining the diversity of life on earth.

Wrong. Natural selection depends on an immediate survival benefit and enhanced reproductive capability, in order to enable stable genetic transmission. Random mutation depends on genetic instability and future possible survival benefits.

Read about the study here, or read the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 April 2007, “Complete genetic linkage can subvert natural selection,” by Philip J. Gerrish, Alexandre Colato, Alan S. Perelson, and Paul D. Sniegowski.

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