As skeptics, we should be invested in our educational system. One of our values is truth, and so we often focus on the appropriate way of arriving at truth. So it should be disheartening when we hear that the education system in the US is not based upon facts, but rather upon PR and demagoguery.
We have had the pleasure of meeting Hassan over the past years at our Student Leadership Conferences and we are now fortunate to hear a little more about his group at Wayne State University.
NASA is in trouble, and we're told the culprit is directional drift. Directional drift is the lack of a clear consensus on NASA's overall mission. Ever since NASA accomplished its last clear objective, beating the Soviets to the moon, it has adopted a splintered one-shot mission approach to procuring funding and establishing purpose. This strategy is a failed one, because specific, clearly defined objectives are death for government agencies. In order to survive, a government agency needs a broad, general objective that is just barely defined enough to have its success measurable.
Andrei Semenov, the current president of the Secular Student and Skeptics Society at the University of Colorado Boulder reflects on the success and impact of the group over the past year.
In high school I had a great physics teacher, Doc Collins. I remember one day he had a strange contraption in his lab. It consisted of a bicycle wheel (with axle) and a spinnable stool. To operate the contraption, you held the wheel vertically in front of you by the axle, and sat on the spinnable stool. Then you spun the wheel. If the wheel was vertical, nothing happened. But if you tilted the wheel left or right, your stool would begin to spin, as if by magic. This really blew my mind at the time. A good science teacher does things like that. The question in every student's mind, upon sitting in the stool and feeling the spin, was, "How?"