Attacking The Hypocrisy Of Science

There is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the human soul.
– Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), Les MisérablesIt’s impossible at this time to know what Victor Hugo meant by “the human soul.” As many different concepts exist for it, it would be nearly impossible to find a consensus among any group of people no matter how small.

Let’s put this quote into perspective. It’s extremely difficult for anyone to have a workable grasp of the immensity that is the great ocean that comprises most of the surface of our planet. As a frontier of science, the ocean is still relatively unexplored territory. New (previously unknown) species of ocean dwellers are discovered through research every week, almost at the rate of one per day.

The quantity of water and life in the great ocean are beyond the comprehension of most people, if not all of us. At the bottom of the ocean lies more than three times as much land as humans have ever walked in all of history.

What is the sky? If you take a photo of it, or many photos to comprise a panoramic view of the sky, then assemble them into a contiguous whole, would that be enough to explain the sky? Of course not. The blue of the sky is merely a blue shift of white light coming from the sun. Beyond that are galaxies we can see at night, plus billions more galaxies we can’t see, then maybe other universes beyond that.

That’s not even considering other dimensions that may exist all around us, features of reality we can’t sense but some people feel or experience from time to time. As the concepts of multiple universes and dimensions of space-time other than the one we perceive enter science through theories such as the string theories of physics, science is forced to accept that there may be existence beyond what they can detect with their equipment, that is little more than supersensitive versions of our own five senses.

Scientists exploring other galaxies with their telescopes and spacecraft tell us that planets far beyond ours may hold life. They don’t want us to accept anything we may perceive as real if they can’t prove its existence themselves, but they are quite prepared to propose that whole planets of life–some maybe with non-DNA-based life–probably exist beyond our present ability to detect. They use statistics as evidence, as if anyone with any sense of experience with the false and deceptive use of statistics would grant that any credibility.

Many scientists deny the existence of the human soul. They claim it’s a figment of our brains, if it exists at all. They can even show what happens in our brains when what we call a soul is active. But, they believe, it’s nothing more than our imaginations at work. Yet they want us to believe in other civilizations light years away and other dimensions of existence for which they have no evidence more than a vague theory with no proof in the works.

The trouble with our concept of the human soul is that far too many people have used their own versions of fictional concepts they made up to bilk many of us out of our money. Frauds and charlatans have existed almost as long as our species has. Many of them have purported to have knowledge of the human soul that the rest of us don’t have. They don’t, but we and our ancestors have paid good money to hear their stories anyway.

That doesn’t mean that the human soul doesn’t exist. Or, for that matter, that God doesn’t exist. We all know that there are as many differing concepts of God as there are religions on the planet. That includes societies such as what we call the Roman Empire, that appointed their own Caesars as gods–they worshipped their emperor as a god.

That doesn’t mean that God or the human soul doesn’t exist. It means that most of us haven’t the ability to detect them. We may pray to God, hoping that he exists, having been threatened with eternal damnation in Hell if we don’t fall on our knees before the God that someone else tells us is the real God. But we can’t be certain that the God we praise is real, any more than we can prove that unknown civilizations light years away are real, or different dimensions are real.

Or even that thought is real. Science can prove that something happens in various parts of the brain as we think and that different parts “light up” on their scopes as we do different kinds of thinking. But science has only proven that something has happened in the brain when we think. It has absolutely no concept of what thought is, at least nothing I consider workable.

The very scientists who are thinking about how to explain to us that things they can’t prove don’t exist can’t prove that thought exists. By rights we should be able to claim that their thoughts are nothing more than activity of their imaginations.

So, what is the human soul? Nothing more or less than a part of God that is on loan to us while we inhabit these bodies of ours. We are all part of one great whole.

When our body dies, it gets recycled. Not an atom is lost when our body decomposes. It all becomes either part of other things composed of atoms (matter) or it becomes some form of energy. Just ask Einstein who explained it with his famous equation, e = mc2 No matter or energy are ever lost when a transfer or transformation happens. It’s all part of a great whole.

Science can’t explain energy either. They know energy exists because they have experienced it. So what can science offer to those of us who have experienced something beyond what even they can’t comprehend?

Perhaps science should do what it tells us to do with thoughts about subjects we can’t explain: shut up.

The human soul cannot be explained by science, so science should not have any right to make definitive pronouncements about it. Since the human soul is merely part of the greater whole we call God, it follows that science should have no say about God either. Science has no right to tell us that something we believe doesn’t exist while it blithely accepts theories that propose the existence of things they can’t prove; that would be hypocrisy.

I feel God within me. I can’t explain that. I don’t even have an interest in attempting to explain it or to prove it to anyone, let alone a doubter.

The doubters always make more noise than the believers who know they are right, who know what they feel within them. That doesn’t make them right or those with greater perception and higher levels of consciousness wrong.

It only shows their ignorance and inability to tolerate thoughts that go beyond what they can comprehend. They are bigots with white coats.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to teach their children truths before the charlatans get at them. or to make corrections if they have.
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Are You A Doughhead? Find Out

We shall succeed only so far as we continue that most distasteful of all
activity, the intolerable labor of thought.
– Learned Hand, jurist (1872-1961)

Hand’s statement seems like a backhanded universal condemnation of humanity. The hope he offers of success for humanity seems dim, at best.

We are, indeed, surrounded by people who don’t think. They have brain activity, but that is usually the means by which they rationalize their agreement with the dominant authority who provides them with the thoughts they absorb and believe. They don’t actually think anything much for themselves.

Why, if humans are among the most successful species on the planet (we live and survive everywhere we can find food), how could so many of us lack the power to think or give up the ability to think for ourselves? That ability to think allowed us to survive where hundreds and thousands of other species went extinct.

The answer is: we assiduously teach ourselves to avoid thinking. Commercials and other advertising teach us that we don’t need to choose among the many brands of detergents, fashion brands and toothpaste, we only need to choose the brand with the most effective advertising. The best advertising trains us best so we don’t have to think about it.

Our media teach us what to think and believe about politics. There is no such thing as a major media network that does not have a political agenda and party it supports more than the others. They claim neutrality, but practise something quite the opposite.We tend to support the party and its candidates that the media we pay attention to advocate.

Within offices we have unwritten guidelines about what’s right and what’s stylish to wear. It’s unusual in a factory lunchroom to find one person who regularly disagrees with the political stance of the majority. Workers may support different sports teams, but they enjoy the camaraderie and competition of challenging “their” team against those of others of their co-workers.

In schools, as children, often the lesson most consistently taught is to be quiet when others are talking, during a video presentation or at certain other times. While this behaviour is both courteous and a means of learning, it also teaches children that their thoughts and ideas and concepts they may devise are not worthy of airing or of consideration.

Opportunities to express and have accepted their own thoughts are few in some cases non-existent in the classroom. Without those opportunities to express themselves in a receptive environment, kids learn to avoid thinking because they have nowhere to speak up.

That’s thorough teaching, socialization and training. We teach people that they don’t need to think because others will always be prepared to do their thinking for them. Isn’t the teacher or parent always right, at least to themselves?

To a great extent, this practice has worth. Every society in the world has values and beliefs it holds dear and these must be taught to every child and adult so that chaos does not ensue with people robbing each other, killing each other, raping or cheating each other. We need conformity to some extent.

What we don’t need is the thorough lack of thought that so many people give to their lives. A simple example: at gift-giving time (such as Christmas) do we give a child the gift he or she wants or do we consider what gift would best help the child through the next phase of his or her life? That is, do we give a play gift or a learning gift?

In most cases, the gift will be what will satisfy the child. Toys and electronic games break so easily or get cast aside so quickly because the fun but meaningless gifts do not provide what kids naturally know they must have, preparation for their lives as adults. They inherently know what they need, but they ask for the toys they have learned to want from advertising and peer influence.

They have about 20 years to learn how to be competent and knowledgeable adults. By age 20, most young adults know how they should act, what they should do, how they should think. Each of the “shoulds” in the previous sentence results from repeated training: don’t think about this, just do it.

Is thinking such hard work? Very much so. For someone of middle age who has done little of it, thinking independently may be virtually impossible. They don’t know what to do to engage the gears required to think. They may literally lack the neural pathways to think beyond the surface level of any subject. They get used to learning from others what and how they should “think.” They believe what they’re told they should think.

Thinking requires about 33 percent as much energy as heavy lifting. The difference is that thinking can continue for an extended period of time, whereas heavy lifting usually takes place for a brief period of time. Over a one hour period, one person thinking can burn many times more calories than someone doing the average construction job, for example.

What happens from years of brain atrophy? Senility, for one. Senility results from long term lack of use of the brain. Senility is totally preventable. Just think.

Health professionals advise now that people should find many activities that will engage their brains to get them thinking as they get older. It’s a way to greatly reduce, if not totally eliminate, the risk of Alzheimer’s. Just as grass doesn’t grow on a busy street, the lesions of Alzheimer’s may not grow in a busy brain.

Whoda thought? Not nearly enough of us, judging by the increasing numbers of people dying from Alzheimer’s. If you want more evidence, walk down the halls of many nursing homes where patients are left in the halls: watching people walk back and forth along their passageway is the most stimulation the brains of many of them get. There is no brain activity to speak of behind those hollow eyes.

Learned Hand said that “we shall succeed only…” He should have said “we shall survive only…” As individuals and as a species.

The world does not need a flood of more stupid old people to support. Let’s make some changes.

Start with yourself. Being a reader, you are not likely to suffer from senility or Alzheimer’s, but you know people who will. Maybe you can motivate them to change. Think about it.

Some of the most brilliant thoughts these days are coming from elderly people who have recently learned to think for themselves. One thing we could do is to give them a forum to be heard.

Remember, they have been taught since childhood that their thoughts are not worthy and they will not be heard. They need you to listen to them. And maybe to find others who will pay attention as well.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to raise children who can think, instead of socially acceptable automatons who do and think what they are told for their entire lives.
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A Man’s Weakest Spot

Typically, the weakest spot of men is their manhood, be it physically or mentally. We all know that a blow to the genitals can bring down the strongest man. But striking at a man’s sense of manhood is just as efficient a cowardly “low blow”. The magical formula to defeat a macho is by pushing him to do something dangerous and stupid, with the (not so) “secret” words : “I dare you to do it, if you’re a man.”
– Pascal Rassi, artist

A macho, as Rassi calls him, is not just stupid. He is a throwback to prehistoric days when the most powerful young men in a band or tribe were the most daring and strongest. These were the warriors. These were the men who forever trumpeted “My (blank) is better/bigger/stronger than your (blank).”

These were the people who, as children, would not only accept reasonable dares, they would be the ones to taunt others with unreasonable or risky dares. They learned that they gained social power by making others look like chickens because they would not accept unreasonable dares.

The people exist today, though they may be found in politics or in vocations that thrive on guile and people-management muscle as well as in gyms for muscle builders.

They are not bullies, though they may be violently aggressive. Bullies lack self esteem and pick on those they perceive as weak, whereas the Testosterone Kings want to confront their equals or those who consider themselves superior, to defeat them.

Confrontation is a constant issue with the machos. Like prize fighters working their way to the top, the machos win even when they lose because in a loss they learn how to do it better the next time, to defeat the next macho in line. They don’t lack self esteem. More likely they suffer from an unsupportable excess of it.

However, not all men succumb to a dare against their manhood. Some are secure enough and intelligent enough to recognize a stupid dare and an unwinnable confrontation to walk away from it without looking back. They understand that their sexuality is not at risk because of a stupid dare.

While this machoness is usually attributed to men, women suffer from the same dares to their womanliness. The cosmetics industry thrives on it, indeed exists solely because of it. They dare women to be as beautiful as the models in their advertising, even though the models may be anorexic and madeup to within an inch of their lives, more like china dolls than real women.

Everyone wears clothes, but the women’s fashion industry uses the threat of not being “in” to push new wardrobes on budget-weary women each year. In the medical field, cosmetic plastic surgery has grown enormously over the past two decades so that it is now the most lucrative and cushiest segment of the medical community.

The victims of these dares and threats to their sexuality testify that we have not fully emerged from the mentality of our forebears in their primitive days as carnivores of the African Rift Valley.

Security, sexuality and self esteem all exist entirely within our own minds. We act out our lives as our minds tell us they believe we are. If we listen to others, we will never be confident about any of them.

You are who you believe you are. If you don’t like who that is, you can change your beliefs. That will change your life. That will change who you are. Believe it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to teach their children the social and emotional skills they need to be competent and confident adults.
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One Little Mistake Cost 10 Million Lives

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world”
– Mohandas K. Gandhi

As much of an ardent admirer as I am of Mohandas Gandhi–his philosophy of life, learned by me as a child, helped to form the kind of person I am today–I believe he was wrong about one thing.

Known to his countrymen fondly as Gandhiji and to the rest of the world as The Mahatma (“Great Soul”), Gandhi lived what he preached. He lived the role of a man of peace and taught peaceful resistance to the dominating authority. With his methods he worked miracles. In the last days of British rule in India, he kept peace among a mob that was about to riot in Calcutta while the British sent 55,000 troops to the Punjab to control a potentially much easier situation that turned into chaos. He gained a huge following by urging his countryment to “Follow me.” And they did, peacefully.

While some criticize Gandhi for his personal practices (such as insisting on sleeping–platonically–with his niece companion after his wife died–to help him practise self-discipline) I have never read of him committing an immoral act. He made many people uncomfortable, but he was strictly a moral man.

He played the role model for his people. He lived the change he wanted to see in India.

India gained its freedom from the UK in 1947. Gandhi had achieved his dream of independence, in the process ensuring the end of what had been the world’s largest-ever empire (at one point the British controlled one-quarter of the land mass of the planet).

He did not, however, achieve peace. Some ten million people died as Muslims fled the new India for the new Pakistan while Hindus poured out of the new Pakistan heading for the new India. The British had encouraged communal hatred to control the masses (about 450 million at the time of separation) during their reign but had failed to give their South Asian subjects an outlet for their pentup emotion, which progressed into slaughter in many parts of the country.

Could the slaughter have been avoided? Possibly.

Mohandas Gandhi believed that people would learn if he showed them by example, as their role model. In general, that is what happened. Despite what we read in the newspapers about violence in India from time to time, for a country with well over one billion people it has a relatively low rate of violent crime. But not everyone learned.

Role models may be followed, believed and their philosophies of life embraced, but the lessons don’t really change a society unless and until they are taught to every child. When every child in a country or culture learns a particular lesson and that lesson is supported by the adults in the society and the judicial systems, the whole society becomes what it has practised.

Even if Gandhi had been successful at persuading 99 percent of Indians that peace was the way they should follow, the remaining one percent of violent people would have comprised four and a half million. That many people can wreak a great deal of havoc, as India learned. Just one percent of troublemakers could cause massive destruction.

The important lessons of life must be taught, and repeated in several grades, to every child. None of these important life lessons takes long to teach, they just need to be taught to every child.

The British had never planned to leave India, the Jewel in its Crown (empire). So it had not had peaceful transition taught in Indian schools before independence and separation.

We in industrialized and post-industrial countries can’t imagine ten million people being hacked or shot to death in many instances of slaughter, so we might be inclined to ignore the lesson that India failed to teach. However, we suffer from our own social ills. Not of the quick-kill kind as happens with guns or machetes. But the slow kind that results in slow and more painful death.

The larger cities of India and China, growing and glowing with their respective recent economic booms, have such air pollution that many people die (or will die) decades sooner than they would have if they had breathed clean air. The United States has dozens of coal-fired generation stations that chuff out carbon dioxide and other pollutants at a shameful rate.

Some kinds of cancers are on the rise with no slowing in sight. Diabetes, asthma and obesity, among many other diseases, are increasing exponentially and no one has cures to offer. Addictions are so common that we may believe they are inevitable. They aren’t.

To be sure, pharmaceutical companies are working fererishly to produce drugs that should keep us from dying after we have the diseases. Their power and influence over democratic governments is almost staggering today. But they won’t teach good health habits.

Good health habits, like peace, must be taught to every child for them to play a major role in the future of a society. The lessons that adults are taught in the workplace, on television, in movies, in newspapers and magazines is that excess is good.

Excess is only good for the manufacturers, but we never see that in their advertising. What we do see are the results when we stand on weight scales or observe the grim face on our doctor when he or she breaks the bad news to us. It happens a lot, more than we would like to believe.

The Mahatma was right about peace and about being a role model for his people. He didn’t take the lessons far enough and teach them to every child in school.

Today we have schools teaching all sorts of lessons that children may never use as adults (or after the test is passed), while we fail to teach them important lessons about life. About survival. About work skills and attitude. About coping. About relationships. About what to do when the going gets rough. Even about school being their best source of tools and skills they will use throughout their lives, so they should not mess around and waste time.

These aren’t hard lessons. They take almost no resources and most can be taught by teachers based largely on their own personal experiences with life (kids enjoy hearing about life experiences of their teachers). And they take very little time to teach, so they would not infringe on the present curriculum.

But they won’t teach themselves. Many parents assume–incorrectly–that their kids will learn these lessons along the way, somewhere. They may not teach the lessons–if they knew the lessons themselves, which is questionable–to their children because they believe that kids just get these things, somehow, somewhere, sometime.

They don’t give the where and how much thought. Some kids don’t get them.

I can live my life in such a way as to be a role model for many people. But I can’t reach everyone. Neither can you, but you and I can tell others. And we can encourage them to tell still others.

That’s our job. Let’s get out there and talk it up until our education systems change to include life lessons that every child needs. And that we want every child to have because we believe they are the right way to do things.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to know what life lessons to teach children, when, and how, so we eventually have fully developed and competent adults who will run our countries the way we would like them to take us into the future.
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The Greatest Motivational Act

The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen.
– Roy E. Moody, motivational speaker

Judging by Google search results, this Roy Moody quote ranks as his most popular. And rightly so. A motivational speaker (president of Roy Moody & Associates) giving his best advice about how to motivate others.

But listening? Don’t we do that all day long anyway? People natter at us for one reason or another and we have to respond.

That’s just the point. Most of us consider what we say to be of value, while what others say is, at best, mildly interesting.

More often than not, our most common form of oral communication would be labelled as small talk. Stuff we talk about but have little or no commitment to. The weather. The results of a popular local sports team. The mischief a well known politician or Hollywood star has been up to. Nothing to spill your coffee over.

Yet everyone we meet has a story to tell. It’s the story of how they got where they are. For most of us, it’s a tale sprinkled with tragedy, life lessons about survival, the consequences of misdeeds, broken and failed relationships and a few great stories about good things that happened to them. Each person is an expert on that story.

But we have our own story to tell and no one wants to listen to it, so why should we listen to the story of someone else we don’t care about and we don’t want to hear the story anyway?

Because everyone’s story is interesting if we give them a chance to tell it in some detail and with thought given to the telling. And because giving someone your attention long enough for them to tell their story is one of the beat ways to make a friend.

For many of us, friendships are more like business relationships than true friendships. In today’s world, friendships are as disposable as old toasters. When someone (a “friend”) can no longer provide us with something of value, we find someone else who can. We tend to spend more time with those who can give us more of what we want than with those who may deserve our attention. That’s business. That’s the business model of life.

Giving someone our time to listen to what they believe is important is giving them our most valuable commodity, our time. People not only appreciate that gift, they treasure it in many cases.

We all have busy lives, which we use as excuse for why we don’t have time to listen to the life stories of others. Their lives are busy too. When no one cares enough to give that gift of time and caring about another to listen to what they have to say, true friendships and even good working relationships are impossible.

It has truly been said that a smile can make someone’s day. It makes them feel good. But listening to someone in a way that shows you care makes them feel valuable.

Most of us don’t have many ways that we can feel valuable and worthwhile to others. If we want to have that feeling with someone, listening to them is a great way to begin.

And it’s a great way to continue that relationship. When people stop listening to others who love them, the others feel they are no longer loved. Whether the loss of love is true or not, that is what they feel.

When no one wants to listen to us, we have no reason to think of worthwhile things to say. Think about how many people you know that really don’t have anything worthwhile to say and you will understand how rare it is to find someone to listen.

When we give people our time to listen to them, we trust them with a valuable possession. That trust may be warmly appreciated the first time it happens. When it happens again, they know we care. They want to be associated with someone who cares about them.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to grow to be competent and confident adults who feel loved and listened to.
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Intellectual Obesity And Information Diarrhea

The internet and technology associated with it have opened access to quantities of information unparalleled in human history. No emperor of Rome, monarch of the British Empire or ruler of any other empire has ever been able to acquire information the way anyone with a computer can today.

A friend wants to buy a garden tractor. He is able to research many different brands, compare quality and durability within brands of each manufacturer and among the various brands available on the market. Having selected a few for further research, he accesses several blogs and forums to learn about the experiences of users of each and gets warning about what to avoid. Then, trailer behind his van, he can pick up the best buy he has made by playing each seller against the others.

Not long ago I was contacted by a college student from Australia as a source for material she was researching on a topic on which I have expertise. Others, strangers every one and representing six different continents, have contacted me for information and advice about problems they have experienced. To them, I am accessible due to the internet.

However, this unprecedented access to information by millions of people comes at a cost. That cost is time, as a researcher must wade through mountains of information that is more advertising and propaganda than fact, and that takes time. Google can only point to sources, not to the most factual and succinct sources.

Children use the internet to learn about all sorts of topics. The media warn us about the dangers of pornography and adult web sites for kids. And they caution parents to monitor the activity of their children on social sites like Facebook.

But the media can’t help children or parents to distinguish between factual information and political propaganda, religious come-ons, sites that outright lie about the products they sell, warranties on products they sell that aren’t worth the paper they could be (but aren’t) printed on, or “research” that could better be described as personal hobby than oriented to scientific method.

In short, the internet is the greatest source of trash information in human history.

Yet children and adults read this stuff. If it’s well written, readers tend to become believers. Form, rather than factual substance, gives it street cred.

As television viewership declines, reading of material on web sites increases dramatically. This contributes to what retired Canadian educator Jim World calls intellectual obesity. Kids and adults can have heads crammed full of misinformation, trivia that may be attractive but serves them no good purpose (think the style and content of supermarket tabloids) and opinions-turned-beliefs on topics about which they have very limited verifiable facts.

In general, schools don’t teach how to distinguish between facts, lies and propaganda, whether on the internet or on television. A small part of one course I took years ago focussed on political spin, editorialized news sources and propaganda. It may have been the best time I ever spent in school. Most people never get that experience, so they become prey for the wolves of the internet. Internet wolves know their sociology.

Humans being subject to human nature, the more they know, the more they want to tell others. Rumour and unsubstantiated fact has always been a part of human dialogue. But it could usually be distinguished as rumour and ignored or treated accordingly.

Today we have kids and adults who believe the most outrageous things because they read it on the internet. In North America, over half of all adults use the internet as their primary source for news and information. With a few rare exceptions, most of it is not subjected to scrutiny the way newspaper and television news reports are.

If US President George W. Bush could use newspapers, radio and television to spread lies about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist in Iraq, then use the lies to start a war, what could happen when the unfiltered internet is used to brainwash people in every country of the world about the lies or misinformation its sources want to spread?

Don’t call it information diarrhea if the term offends you. But let’s not pretend that the internet is a source of verifiable facts. It’s not. Most web sites are supported by companies or organizations with something (product or idea) to sell or individuals who want their ill-considered and often poorly formulated thoughts to be recorded for posterity.

Do we need more laws to protect us? No. The present plethora of unenforced and unenforceable laws on the books now prove that method doesn’t work. More laws just make the bad guys get smarter to avert and avoid them.

The only way to protect people from misinformation and religious or political propaganda on a global scale is to teach children how to identify fact from fiction, truth from propaganda, sham from gem. That means changing part of the curriculum in high schools.

The other day I discussed with a friend the twice in my life that I have used skills I learned from two years of trigonometry in high school. I struggle today to comprehend how the average person could use calculus in their lives when they can’t tell truth from lie, don’t know how to think for themselves and believe everything that is carefully presented as if fact by a politician.

Being able to tell fact and truth from what is not is an essential life skill. If it’s not taught in schools, most people will not learn it. They will be potential victims waiting to be victimized. This has always been true, but never more important than in this 21st century.

This world does not need any more victims or people who are too stupid to distinguish between truth and lies. We need to teach every child.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to make their children savvy about the ways of the world that could make them victims if they can’t protect themselves.
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Clarence Beat The Odds, Did The “Impossible”




So Clarence Brazier can read. So what? Who cares?

You should.

As obscure as Clarence Brazier remained for most of his life, he is now a public figure, a man of letters. Canada Post, Canada’s national postal service, in 2006 awarded Clarence its National Literacy Award. His country’s head of state, the Governor General, awarded him as well.

What did Clarence do? And why should we care?

Clarence Brazier learned to read.

Doesn’t everyone learn to read? Actually, no. The number of Canadians who can’t read is in the single digits, that’s true. The number of functionally illiterate people in Canada is between 40 and 65 percent depending on age (older people are more often functionally illiterate due to learning conditions not being conducive when they were kids).

Clarence, however, was a total non-reader. Until his wife Angela died, when Clarence was age 93, she had coached him through every bit of written material, forms, tax returns and news reports for over half a century. Then she died. As he was deaf by then, he decided that he either had to learn to read or totally lose touch with the world.

Clarence chose to learn to read. By age 95, he had accomplished his mission. He was age 100 in 2006 when Canada Post gave him its award.

For two years he had to survive without his beloved Angela before he could search the junk mail for stuff he needed to shop for, find the news of the day in newspapers, read directions on his medicine bottles and a million other things we all take for granted that require us to read. His daughter,


Doris Villemaire, who is old enough to receive her government’s old age security pension herself, acted as his language tutor and reader/helper.During his working life, Clarence had a dizzying variety of jobs, most for short terms, none of which required him to read. At least when they did, he quit. One, as a jail guard, lasted only part of a day, until he learned that he would have to write a report of his day’s activities at the end of each shift.

Finally he hit a wall at age 93. He had to learn to read or die trying. Non-readers are survivors by nature, or at least by constant training. Daughter Doris, a retired teacher, found her father a delight to teach, as she had found the many young children she had taught to read during her career in the classroom. “His eyes would actually sparkle,” she said, “when he’d recognize a word. It was just as I’d seen with my students.”

Clarence has received other awards over the past two years, including the Governor General’

s Caring Canadian Award at age 101. He has become the poster child for both literacy and for new learning by seniors.The press release issued by the Governor General of Canada’s office said “At 101 years of age, Mr. Brazier continues to display courage and conviction as he shares his struggle to overcome illiteracy and to raise awareness among students and adults throughout [Ontario].”

It works for me. I was functionally illiterate until I was well into my 40s myself.

There is no age at which learning should stop, or necessarily must stop. Our brain is capable of generating new neurons and forming new synapses every day until we die.

The human brain doesn’t stop learning when it gets old. It gets old when it stops learning.

Just ask Clarence.

Imagine how he must feel, at age 102 today, to be looked at as a role model for the very skill he feared and avoided for nearly a century.

At age 93, Clarence cast off the “I can’t do it” mantra and decided that he could.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to know what is really important to children, not just what school boards say they should teach.
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