Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dec. 29: Hey! Donne-moi un break...

The story leads the NewsToday section. The American Council on Science and Health tells us that fracking is not a threat to health. Isn't that nice? And the council is a really professional body, too, made up of oh, just oodles of concerned scientists and medical people. And who puts up the cash for its reports and tests and publication?
Well, the council stopped giving information on that some twenty years ago. But the last time they told us, it was those nice people at - oh, you know, Exxon, Kraft, drug companies... - and that's reasonable because an organization like the council costs lots of money to run.
And does it have real scientists and doctors? Sure. We don't know how many because they're kind of shy about telling us that. They claim it's over three hundred., though that's been questioned. And I'm sure they're quite sincere - some of them. But, at tops, they represent less, way less than one percent of all the scientists and medical doctors in North America.

So what you have is really a propaganda front (something like AIMS or the Fraser Insitute) that gets its money from big business. And their propaganda is what the Moncton Tand T presents as news coming from a pretigious research organization.

Gee. Could that have anything to do with the fact it said fracking for shale gas is really good for you?

On that same note, the New Brunswick government, another outfit that operates as a front for large corporations,  has an expensive insert in the paper to tell us the "facts" about fracking. Apparently, there's nothing bad about it at all. In fact, the bitsy, teeny little chemicals that are used in it are often those that are found in our daily food.

After a full year of promises to give us information, the government has taken a chunk of our tax money, and given it to the Irving media to give us expensive propaganda which will benefit the folks at Irving Oil. What a sleazy lot!

Meanwhile, Norbert Cunningham has followed up on yesterday's attack on education specialists with a rant that is even rantier and more ignorant than yesterday's.

He begins by talking about how mediocre our public schools are. In saying that, he shows his ignorance of the available data from quite reputable sources. Canadian public schools, in fact, are world leaders in the teaching of reading, science and math. This data comes from test scores from all over the world conducted by UNESCO (which is even more pretigious than the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies).

As well, Norbert says our schools are not as good as they were fifty years ago. In fact, the same data I mention above shows that Canada is a leader in the proportion of students who score better than their parents and grandparents. All the evidence is that the schools are not mediocre - and that they are getting better, not worse. In fact, in his whole column, Cunningham makes ranting statements without a single piece of evidence. Not one.

Then he says the intrusion of the 'experts'  (by which he means researchers into mentods of teaching)  began some fifty years ago. That is utter bullshit.

Even a superficial glance through google would have shown him that research and publication in that field has been thriving for well over a century just in Canada . Around the world, it's been going on for thousands of years - back to the crusades, back to the Moslem empire, back to the mandarins of China. It goes back even to primitive humans, deciding what their children must learn, and how to teach them.

 In my Education courses of fifty years ago, I was taught by some of Norbert's despised 'experts'; and they, before I was born, were being taught by experts who had been, in their turn, taught by 'experts'. Fifty years! What tripe!

And Norbert's big solution to the problem of 'mediocre' education all over the world? Fire the experts. Yep. That'l fix it all up. Just fire all them there 'experts', hire teachers right off the street with no training at all.

By the end,  his foaming at the mouth makes him a little incoherent. I think he is suggesting that the universities should fire all their professors of education. Gee, Norbert. If t hey're as dumb as you  say they are, the only place they'd be able to get jobs is working for the Irving news media.

In that whole, ranting column, there is not a single piece of evidence, of analysis, or even of common sense. So what's the game, Norbert? Has the big boss told you that his war against the public schools is on again? Has he figured out a new way to make money out of our children?

 I suppose I must have read worse columns than this.  But I'm damned if I can think of one.


  1. My response to Norbert:

  2. well done. In fact, superbly done. With solid research like that, you have a blog well worth reading.
    I can never figure Norbert out. Is he a raging grannie (forgive me for being both sexist and ageist in the same sentence)?
    Of is he setting a tone the boss wants us to hear?