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Victor Dominocielo: New Community Science Standards — The Supernatural and the Failure of Education

This is actually not about Common Core or Common Snore or Apple Core (because of Bill Gates funding) or even Obamacore as some have called this latest cycle of Federal Education Programs. However, I will digress for just a moment to mention this latest in a long line of Federal Education Programs.

Every president wants to be the “Education President.” Unfortunately, centralized planning reform in our gargantuan public education system always falls short, which creates the need for reform and further reform during each presidential cycle. Every president has millions of education budget dollars to reform their predecessor’s reforms.

President George W. Bush uttered the now famous words, “In return for federal dollars … ,” the states would sign on to his No Child Left Behind program. Bush’s comments explain how presidents get compliance on their signature programs. If the states don’t endorse the president’s program, they don’t get the money. This explains why the 45 states who appear to be “Racing to the Top” for President Barack Obama’s efforts are not giving Common Core a rousing endorsement because it’s a great educational program.

The states are endorsing whatever program Washington is producing because they are being blackmailed with federal extortion/education dollars: “In return for federal dollars … .” “Common Obamasnore” is just the latest incarnation of the states’ struggle to get federal education dollars.

The real test of Common Core by education professionals would be for the federal government to disperse education funds to the states with no strings attached. Then we would see which states and educational institutions would endorse Common Core without the threat of losing money.

Now on to the new community science standards. These are personal science education standards that have to do with how well our high school and college graduates are doing in applying science in everyday life in our society. What is our Scientific Literacy Index? I propose that we open up the online phone book and look at how many psychics there are in town. Then we look at how many bookstores cater to Bigfoot and UFO investigations. We might also include sales of sensationalistic National Enquirer-type papers in our standards. Certainly, looking at the number of ghost hunting and alien autopsies shows on the Discovery and National Geographic channels would also be an indicator of how well we are training our science students.

If we find that the community has a lot of these supernatural outlets, then we know that the science education in that community is lacking. I’ve gone to beautiful Sedona, Ariz., many times and when I visit the grocery store, there is a giant bulletin board filled with every imaginable psychic expression. From the famous humming vortexes, to energy pyramids, crystalline matrix light healing, Star Families, Tarot, astrology readings and chakra balancing, these people have you covered. So the science educators in Sedona should be having a field day with all the readily available examples of differences between fantasy and scientific methodology.

Locally, our very own Ojai, while not having quite the reputation of Sedona, is noted for its variety of interesting practices. If you pick up a copy of the “Ojai Quarterly” (fall, 2014, pages 134-5), you will be amazed. They have all the normal, healthy yoga and massage practices but they also advertise Chrystal Light Healing developed by John of God (or JOG, as I like to call him). JOG practices psychic surgery in Brazil and calls himself a healer. He sticks sharp objects up people’s noses and into their sinus cavities and then claims that this mother of all distraction techniques cures everything from migraines to cancer. Click here to watch him stick a 7-inch hemostat way, way up into a person’s sinuses as he performs his “psychic” surgery. (The clip is about nine minutes. Skip to minute four to see the distraction technique.)

Continuing on, there is advertising for chakra balancing, shaman dream weaving, crystal healing, miracles, psychics, Tarot, channeling and past life trauma release. The absolute top of the heap, though, has got to be the person who does energy healings for humans and animals — with Jesus of Nazareth — over the phone! You could go to the website and for $125 (PayPal) you get a 30-minute phone consultation with Jesus. This is sort of “upping the bar” on the common psychic claim (psychic John Edward also “talks” to the dead and does phone consultations) of being able to talk to dead relatives: Who ya gonna call, Uncle Bob or Jesus of Nazareth?

My interest in all this activity is that someone is actually paying these people. Having a strange belief (for instance, that you can talk to dead) is one thing. Creating a business out of it and taking money from emotionally vulnerable people is something else entirely. Many people in our complex society need professional psychological help at one time or another during their lives. There is a robust psychological/medical care system where people can get professional help. However, being emotionally vulnerable and needing psychological help is not the time to consult a psychic, Tarot reader, or energy healer who will use a simple “cold reading” procedure to tell you what you want to hear and charge you major bucks for something that any 12-year-old could do. Anyone can learn the 10 easy steps to performing a psychic reading by clicking here.

The clients of these psychics graduated from high school and college and their science teachers completely and utterly failed them. Somewhere along the educational line, their science teachers didn’t give these psychic clients, alien autopsy people, Bigfoot believers and ghost hunting specialists the common science sense that evolution gave a gnat. If you can listen to a homeopath (or health food store clerk) tell you that diluting a solution makes it stronger, then your chemistry teacher failed to teach you the simple mechanics of serial dilution. If your biology teacher didn’t explain evolution by natural selection as the fundamental theory of all biology and how all living things change and evolve over time, then your biology teacher failed. If you can look at this Star Trek “transporter” in the mall video and believe that scientists invented teleportation and didn’t tell anyone, then your physics teacher failed to teach you scientific methodology and how to examine evidence for scientific plausibility.

So let’s get science educated so that we, as a society, don’t pay people to connect us to Jesus of Nazareth over the phone. Let’s get our collective scientific literacy and understanding to the point where we can easily recognize parlor tricks, scams and frauds in everyday life.

— Victor Dominocielo, M.A., a California-credentialed teacher for 37 years, is the human biology and health teacher at a local middle school. He earned his master of arts degree in education from UCSB. The opinions expressed are his own.

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