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Comment Re:What about the rights of those injured by firea (Score 2) 1146

Yes, it's well known that most anti-gun statistics (such as this one) throw suicides and accidents in for effect.

"For effect"? Suicides and accidents are by far the largest cause of death by firearms, so concentrating only on homicides is utterly misleading. And in the U.S., death rate from firearms huge.

Comment Re:What about the rights of those injured by firea (Score 0) 1146

Comment But Star Trek! (Score 4, Insightful) 41

As depicted in the upcoming Matt Damon movie, "The Martian," Mark Watney (Damon) is thrown into an unexpected, life-threatening situation, requiring him to use his general skill set to survive on the barren landscape until he's rescued.

Yeah, but Star Trek suggests that a team of highly skilled specialists working together is the way to go.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't be basing mission planning on a bunch of cheezy fucking sci-fi movies. Just a thought.

Comment Re:Science Requires Effort (Score 1) 246

I think though that one naturally memorizes stuff. If you keep having to make use of a fact and keep having to look it up, after not especially long you commit it to memory automatically. The trouble with just mindless rote memorization that it's awfully easy to memorize wrong without understanding, awfully easy to have a list of facts but no idea how to use them and it's boring as all hell and guaranteed to put off the majority of students.

Do, rather than memorize and the memorization will come naturally.

This. Somebody mod parent up.

Comment Re:Science Requires Effort (Score 1) 246

But what if finding an answer to a problem depends on connecting seemingly unrelated atomic facts? If they are both in your brain, you may be able to figure it out. But if not, you're out of luck (unless someone has solved that exact problem before and posted it on the internet).

Science students should be getting exactly this kind of problem on a regular basis in the form of exercises, and simultaneously given the resources to dig up those facts (e.g., Google) in order to solve the problem. Then they'll learn the useful interplay among simple facts that forms the basis of relational and functional knowledge. Sitting them down and telling them to memorize the periodic table won't accomplish this.

Yeah, you have to know stuff, but simply knowing lots of facts that you're not in the process of actively using is sterile. Yeah, you don't necessarily know ahead of time which fact will end up being useful, and you might have to go out and learn new stuff to solve your problem. And a good basis of broad knowledge is really helpful for that. But that's not an argument for just making students memorize shit because I Say So.

Comment Re:Science Requires Effort (Score 5, Insightful) 246

The problem isn't how hard it is to memorize facts. The human brain is capable of memorizing a lot of facts. The problem is that (US specifically) kids are just too lazy to do it.

What, exactly, is useful about memorizing facts, in a world where any fact you want is at your fingertips on demand? Being usefully conversant in facts is not about memorization, it's about understanding relationships between things. Understanding how stuff works. The facts you need will be memorized along the way.

Comment Re:Time vs. "fun" (Score 5, Insightful) 246

I doubt professional scientists think their work is "fun".

If that's true, it's only because professional scientists spend the vast majority of their time doing things that aren't science: grant management, administration, job interviews, committee meetings. Every scientist I know is desperately trying to get away from all of that bullshit and get back to having fun: i.e., doing science. Science is so much fun that scientists are willing to put up with all the PHB college adminstrators that fill their days, just for those moments of science, which are pure joy.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A guinea pig is not from Guinea but a rodent from South America.