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The Education Hoax

Let's Pretend

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

It is always both scary and sort of comforting to realize that those who talk most about education are generally the ones most in need of it. Education is a code word in politics, at least for the past one hundred years, for class retention. When parents and politicians bleat about education, they mean they want their children and the children of the voters who support them, to retain their social status without risk of flunking out or having to compete with kids of different colors, who are not yet part of the network and likely to call attention to it by sometimes being smarter than they were expected to be.

In extreme examples, such as Hitler or Stalin, the results can be both hysterical and fortunate for the more competitive societies. Education in fascist and communist nations is the great carrot that the Great Leader uses to inflame the plantlife against the aristocracy or the bourgeois. Hitler, who really seems to have thought that Nordics and what he called Aryan Germans were the cream of our cow, promoted people based solely on this basis and thus spent much money firing naval guns into the air. This occurred because one of the Aryan brain giants was convinced that we lived on the inside of the earth, the reverse being an optical illusion, and that by firing guns into the night sky you were capable of hitting England. He did this. Also, Hitler never having been outside of Germany or Austria except one visit to France after he conquered it, never thought the United States was as rich or economically strong as his experts thought, so when he couldn't afford the atomic bomb, he decided they couldn't either. He turned his attention to making the first jet fighter into a bomber.

In Japan during the same period, a team of scientists perfected a death ray that kill rabbits at the handy distance of fifteen feet, which delayed its inclusion on the latest battleship. It was the divine product of the Emperor's thought, don't you see. Russia is still paying the price for the education provided by a gentleman named Lysenko, who propelled Russian agriculture back into the Stone Age with theories loosely based on what can only be called a drunken misunderstanding of plant genetics. He was a favorite of Stalin's, for reasons nobody can understand. Stalin was going to educate the masses, you know. Having no education himself, and about as well traveled as Hitler, he based the future of his nation on myth and delusion.

I revisit all this because Trent Lott, the Republican Senate Leader, once actually advocated spending federal money, in his state of Mississippi of course, for the study of a perpetual motion machine that would generate energy out of, essentially, nothing. For the benefit of recent college graduates, perpetual motion machines are, even in any environment without friction but with any amount of gravity, bogus. However, the United States Senate committee chaired by Lott studied an application for a patent on this device until John Glenn, who once took a high school science class, reduced the debate to a pithy sentence: "Measure the energy going in and the energy going out," he said. The applicant thought this unfair. Trent Lott was unclear on the point being made.

The people who want to close off immigration, allow creationism presented as anything other than poetry, bring back goober religion to the classroom are going to be presenting children with phrenology, the study of head bumps, alchemy, turning base metals into gold, and astrology, the weird belief that personality characteristics are derived from the names of constellations which do not look at all like what they are supposed to. Memorization of dogma, sacred or lay, is not education. If this isn't a conspiracy to reduce the population to drooling idiots of the first stripe, if this isn't a blatant attempt to disarm the nation of the only real weapon of self defense - the brain - if this isn't a form of treason I don't know what is. When the election turns to education based upon the distinctions between fact and fabrication, attentive voters need know who and what are the fuelling powers behind the different proposals.