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  • Bill Moyer with Kaptur and Johnson
    Just over a year after economic calamity brought promises of reform from Washington, has Wall Street really changed? Former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson and US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) report on the state of the economy.

  • The Uneducated American
    If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be “education.” In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the “high school revolution” of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.

    But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.


  • Atheism: class is a distraction

    In a debate primarily about scientific facts, evidence on the class and educational achievement of atheists is of little consequence

    Reading through some of the contributions on class and atheism I am struck by a glaring omission. Brown's opening salvo has been to argue that atheism can be a class thing worn for the status it presumably imparts in certain circles – thus implying that there might not be an intrinsic, intellectual reason for choosing atheism. Nick Spencer shows that there is indeed a correlation between educational level and atheism. In the US this phenomenon is far more pronounced: a recent Pew survey shows that among scientists in the US only one-third believe in God, as opposed to 83% in the general population.

    For some reasons it seems to be anathema to say that there might be an intrinsic reason for the correlation between educational level and the rejection of religion: atheism takes training, and is more difficult. We accept that in medicine, physics and mathematics, but, for reasons of political correctness, it is very much considered a faux pas to say the old 19th-century thing: it takes education to develop a worldview based on science. It would be even more outrageous to say that the reasons for choosing atheism over religion might actually be valid, as the so-called new atheists have dared to claim. It seems that it has become something of a class-thing (not necessarily socio-economic, but of belonging to the politically-correct elite) to bash Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens.


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    Comments

    Re:The Uneducated American

    This might be a good poll/forum topic. I know I started shedding my godskin around 14, but a college education in the sciences was really helpful in elucidating evolution and the power of the lowly hydrogen atom. Although my "re-education" wasn't complete until my wife went fundie and I found Norm... Might be interesting to see how the rest of the Readership came to their personal disbelief.

    I would find that interesting too. I am the son of atheists and my father's father would be best described as an agnostic.

    Having seen concentration camps, and at least one incident where a school full of children was hit by a plane full of bombs, he was convinced that the folks down at the church didn't know what they were talking about.

    I think many Americans have doubts but end up going to church once they have kids. And many athiests marry religious folks and allow their children to be taken to church. Leaving multi-generational athiest families a small minority of our small minority.

    Then again, maybe I am wrong about the nature of atheist families.

    Sorry, that should have been Re: Atheism: class is a distraction

    Much of this sounds familiar. However, it has always been my contention that there's nothing like an education in Catholic dogma to make a thorough-going atheist out of you.

    At my mother's wake, the preacher barely mentioned the skydaddy at all, and the entire occasion was as good as such an occasion can be. I sheepishly admit - I bought peace in my house by letting my wife take the kids to the crazy house for theirt indoctrination. On the other hand, since my kids entry into adulthood, they've become decidedly less religious - one is pretty much where I am and the other is nearly to the "spiritual but not religious" stance. They don't say it clearly and outwardly much, but they're more and more appreciating their father's attitude concerning religion. (I really think eight years of a evangelical in the White House helped crystallize matters for them.)

    My scientific education certainly reinforces my disdain for religion, but honestly, even at the age of 14 I had pretty much come to the point of thinking, "How can anyone take this shit seriously? It is so colossally stupid!"

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