When my brother P. came home for the holidays after forced servitude at a state military school, he brought back his textbooks, and I now see why military school students get keen educations if they apply themselves and, removed from teen society’s distractions, they haven’t much else to do. The text that intrigued me most was a treatise on logic. The section on the logical fallacies made the book itself worth its probable purchase price a paltry pittance, so wise was the explication of such things as argument from authority, the straw man, post hoc reasoning, and other invaluable tools for the Machiavellian wordsmith and critically-inclined bullshit detectors.
Military academies do not come cheap. Unfortunately, courses in logic are not taught to grade school children in our public schools. The teachers could use the Bible as a superb example of logical fallacies piled upon still other logical fallacies, particle contradictions, utter impossibilities, and in all a complex farrago of nonsense and the ridiculous. If, as the evangelicals claim, God planted fossils in the earth “to fool the Darwinists,” He could just as easily have written the Old Testament on LSD. Actually, human beings, people like Huxley, Watts, Ginsberg, and Kesey, become more God-like in their experiences in the Way Out Gone-o-sphere. Didn’t Watts say, “You can go more places in your own back yard than on all the highways in the world”?
Early education in the fallacies would hopefully ensure election of more responsible, sane people. Instead of Bachmann and Santorum the Republicans might get candidates who know post hoc reasoning when they see it. As Hitchens says religion ruins everything, and it is certainly ruining our national polling. The Republicans continue to dis Darwinism, claiming “it’s only a theory” (as if we have scientific evidence, observations, anecdotes – anything -- verifying such as talking serpents and getting dinosaurs into that Ark). Bachmann, Santorum, and that nouveau-Catholic Newtie, all of them might come clean at debates and own up to belief as well in a special friend.
While the childrens’ parents at home are telling them Jesus loves them, our teachers will show them The God Who Was Not There and explain that there was, historically, no such person; that if any person remotely like him actually existed, they were an amalgam of prior deities, and so forth. I would teach them that blaming a natural disaster on something a town or city did or did not do that pissed off “God” is classic post hoc reasoning, which is to say not using reason at all. I would tell them that their Sunday School teacher is full of shit for claiming that God exists because the Bible tells us so. And I would teach children that politicians who push the God delusion on us are delusional themselves.
I agree there is a big problem in the education system. The theists fight over teaching evolution in the schools and instead want to teach creationism or intelligent design.
If we did have smarter voters they could make intelligent choices on candidates instead of focusing on their hair style or what they look like.
Here's one commentary on the stupidity of Americans.