I'm told it's dangerous to let people think, especially high school students.

This is, of course, true. Thinking is dangerous: it threatens mindless adherence to authority figures, whether it's a tyrant with a crown or just anyone of our acquaintance who says, 'We've never done things that way before, so we shouldn't try it.' Thinking for yourself, without regard to what the government says, or what some preacher says, or what your cultural traditions expect---it's dangerous.

It's also human, and essential. The illustration is a tease. I'll have more to say about this in the near future: hopefully it won't be bitter!



Well, as anyone who's been following this blog knows, a lot of it has to do with supporting science education, and (which dovetails nicely) criticizing the attempts of those, such as creationists, who seek to undermine good science. One could easily get the impression that I'm one of them there Godless 'evilutionists'. But I'm not. Like a lot of people, I'm a theist who accepts the powerful evidence in support of 'Darwin's dangerous idea.'

That's not to say, however, that I regard science as just another way of "proving" my beliefs. I think it's dishonest to pretend that science can rue definitively on such questions one way or the other, and it's almost as cheesy to blithely intone that science and religion agree, or that there are no points of conflict. Yet this is the sort of mantra that we hear a lot from either side of the divide between science and religion, and it seems to be the way that the majority of folk in this country desperately want the issue to be couched. They like their science, and they love their faith, and they want to keep both---and the idea that there might be some irresolvable impasse bothers them. Better, many of them think, to hush that up.

And so, I have great admiration for anyone, scientist or otherwise, who in a spirit of inquiry openly entertains honest doubt about faith, Gods, religion, etc. Some of those folk might be interested in reading about items of faith, and some won't. I don't want to bore or alienate my fellows who fit in the last category, but one of my motives for starting this blog was to explore where this tension between faith and reason might lead me! With that in mind, I'm proposing a new category: "Behind The Curtain."

Those of you who are interested will soon learn to look for posts with the prefix BTC. Those who can do very well without faith-head talk can learn to avoid same. I hope those skeptics who do choose to read it, however, will feel free to comment and keep my feet to the fire.


Has my 'debate' with Vox run its course? One of my readers suggested as much to me in an email over the weekend. However, let me remind y'all that:

1) Vox has essentially requested more time: ".....I'm doing some reading to catch up before responding to Scott's latest post..... I have a weekly column to write, after all, which takes priority over the debate on evolution."

2) The NFL got under way with a full slate of games over the weekend, and Vox is clearly a big-time NFL fan.

Speaking of which, how 'bout dem Cowboys?



The mother of my son, like a lot of people, is a pretty decent person who is not all that interested in partisan politics or even in politics in general. So when she sends me something like this I pay attention. Click on the picture for a larger image:


It's the Easybeats! Check out the raw energy and enthusiasm of one of the earliest Australian pop bands. This live cover of 'River Deep Mountain High' is just great. And, I can play along with the darn thing. You can, too! Turn those speakers up! The chord sequence is:

A E7 A E7
B E7 B E7 B E7


Well, I've got some publicity, and (sigh) I'm unsatisfied. The Fresno Bee featured me as one of their regular letter writers, and two things happened that I wish didn't in the write-up:

1) The letter they chose to quote from was an anomaly, one of the few letters I've written that didn't have something to do with science education, albeit it was from an item I featured on my blog here.

2) They omitted a clause that mentioned Cafe Scientifique as an example of a science education that 'doesn't get much attention.' This was especially disappointing.

Still, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. Perhaps I can still use this as a way of talking of science education and Valley Cafe Sci.


Upon re-reading this, I think I should say something about my attitude regarding science. It's just this: I'm shameless for science, a real publicity whore. If I thought I could put just a few thousand dollars more in my local high school science budget, I'd wear a clown suit and have people throw eggs at me if that's what it took. So, the reason why I'm disappointed in the way the above article read is that it really isn't about me, it should be about promoting science education, public awareness of, and greater funding for---SCIENCE!

So, with that in mind, here's the copy I actually submitted to the Bee's questionnaire with the expurgated parts highlighted:

Name: Scott Hatfield

Age: 45

Occupation: Science Instructor with Fresno Unified (Bullard High)

Hobbies: music (currently working on a CD), baseball, blogging

Bee reader since: 1980

How many letters published: (I will get this number.)

Favorite topics: science, education, religion

Why do you write? "Today, more than any other point in human history, economic growth and social progress depend upon an understanding of science. Scientific illiteracy threatens all of us, but people of faith (like me!) are especially vulnerable to exploitation based on pseudoscience. We all have a stake in ensuring that our society promotes and acts upon real science, based upon evidence. If scientists and science teachers don't speak up, who will?"

Excerpt from recent letter: (I will also get this one.)

Reaction to your letters: It runs the gamut from unconditional support to (usually, but not always anonymous) messages questioning my religious convictions and threatening my employment. I love responding to those!

Topic that doesn't get enough attention: Science education is in crisis nationally: funding is poor, qualified teachers increasingly hard to find, and poorly-framed laws like NCLB are not helping. The scientific community has been slow to react to this crisis, and community outreaches like Cafe Scientifique are needed to address the lack of public support that is strangling science education.

Education: B.A., Natural Sciences (CSU Fresno)

Family: My wife still brings a smile to my lips after 11 years of marriage and (between the two of us) five boys. There's never a dull moment!

Political philosophy: Social liberal, economic?---eh, not-so-much. Equal-opportunity critic of politicians who only give lip-service to science.