Friday, January 25, 2008

Science

The wind has been relentless around here. We lost two sections of our fence last night!

I think I found the brilliant scientific minds that Ben Stein was referring to. A friend of ours is hyper, hyper religious and she teaches sixth grade. One of her students turned in a science project that I will re-type for you here. I've changed spelling errors (because, it was too painful to read otherwise). My commentary is in red (sorry, Russell...I'll bold the students words, too).

Project Title: Better Living Through God (Actually, the title is catchy.)
Question: Do unchristians make less moral choices than Christians? (What the hell is an "UnChristian"? And, while the question might be considered valid in a psychosocial or rhetorical manner, it's not the basis of a science project. And, how do you define "less moral"? What are the guidelines for "moral" v "immoral"?)
Hypothesis: The Bible is the perfect guide to life that shows us how to be moral people. Without believing in the Bible you can't know God and he can't guide you and give you rewards for being a good person. I think people who aren't Christian will be less successful. (Are you stunned by the verbal gymnastics, here? I am. Apparently, this kid has never internalized the concept of minimizing variables and giving precise criteria to an experiment. And, how would you measure morality? Success? And, wouldn't you need to first prove the God you speak of and then prove that he gives morality as some sort of prize?)
Experiment: I will interview thirty people and ask them if they are Christian. I will give them the same questions so I have a control sample. I think they are immoral if they score lower than 15.
(This kid doesn't understand the concept of a "control" sample. And, I love the arbitrary point system. How do you know if your subject is lying to you? When you see the questions, you'll note, as I did, that (on some questions) NO ONE is going to admit to the truth because it could be damaging. Oh yeah, and the kid put NAMES on the graph he made. So...I know who has stolen and cheated in our town. Mwa ha ha!)
Questions I will ask. There are 20 points available.
1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
2. Have you ever killed another human being? (Yeah! Ha! As if some one's going to go, "Oh yeah. Quite a few...")
3. Have you every lied?
4. Have you ever had relations before marriage? (I had plenty of relations before marriage...aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings. Oh. Wait. He's talking about sex, isn't he?)
5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?
6. Do you wish you had more stuff? (This kid must be a real killjoy at Christmas.)
7. Do you gossip? (If we tell you about it, it's not gossip anymore.)
8. Do you give to charity?
9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music? (I think I need to deduct the entire 20 points from my score for this one..."Damn it feels good to be a gangsta'." What a lame question. What does music have to do with morality?)
10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice? (Wow!)
11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass? (How, in any way, would this speak to a person's morality?)
12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content? (Yeah...Jesus Camp.)
13. Do you pray every day?
14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?
15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?
16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?
17. Do you put God and Jesus first?
18. Do you view pornography? (Again...like anyone is going to tell a six grader, who will be putting a chart up in a science fair, that, "yes!" they peruse Hustler and Jugs magazine.)
19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?
20. Are you quick to anger?

Are you laughing yet?
I will say, though, that the student admitted being surprised by the answers. His hypothesis stated that he believed non-Christians would be sinners more than Christians. But, his "data" showed that no one passed as a moral person.
Conclusion: We are all sinners and need to ask God's forgiveness and repent. Since Christianity shows us how to do that, it would make people more moral if they became Christians.

Yep. This kid needs to call Ben Stein. He's a junior scientist after Ben's heart.

(ETA: For the record, I'm not "tearing apart a sixth grade child". I'm tearing apart his science project because it's NOT A SCIENCE PROJECT. I'm amused (and frightened) that this project is clearly centered around Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort's version of morality. His teacher, a friend of mine, isn't that learned on science projects. And, since she knew my kids had just won school science fairs and were going to county, she asked me to evaluate this child's project for adhearance to the scientific method. To those who ask why she allowed it: she really wanted to see if he could make it a valid project. And, he could've. The tragedy isn't that this kid is a Christian. The tragedy, to me, is that he (and likely his parents) somehow thought an appropriate project for a sixth grader was interviewing people around him about their sins and then setting arbitrary criteria for morality. The project is flawed not because it's based on religion...but, because his conclusion doesn't reflect the hypothesis. If this were truly a science project, then the conclusion should've said something like "Christians are no more moral (by these standards) than "UnChristians"". But, he monkied the conclusion to reflect his bias. That's not how it works. To me, it shows the complete bastardization of mixing the evangelical, creationist agenda with science.)

111 comments:

agnostic girl said...

Woah !! I would have failed miserably !!

What I wonder is did the teacher accept this as a science project or did she ask the student to redo the project and chose something that was actually related to science?

agnostic girl said...

PS I love your answer for #12 !!

Perpetual Beginner said...

Well, gee. If you define morality as being a fundamentalist Christian, then fundamentalist Christians are more moral! Whoda thunk?

Funny thing is, he's been so narrow in his definition of moral, that he may sabotage his own hypothesis. As a practicing (though highly unconventional) Episcopalian, I'm pretty sure I fail.

Let's see:
1) Yep. Since I think telling people that God approves of immoral things is the intent of 'taking the Lord's name in vain', rather than the occassional Goddammit, I don't even feel guilty about it.

2)Nope. About 3000 mice though.

3)Yes. The only person I've ever met who refused to lie at all (even a tiny little bit), was entirely insufferable, since she viewed even standard pleasantries ("I'm fine.") as occassions of sin if all was not bared.

4)Yes.

5)Whenever I'm near a church I'm comfortable in, yes. I will choose to not attend rather than to lend my apparent approval to a church I disagree strongly with.

6)Less actually.

7)Rarely

8)Yep. Several.

9)Nah. Don't much like it.

10)Yes. Does the phrasing of this question mean that if you've done both it's a no?

11)Duh. Yes.

12)By his standards, certainly.

13)No.

14)Undecided, probably not.

15)No. I'm overweight because I have a pituitary tumor.

16)Yes. I believe in being as pround of my own accomplishments as I would be of a friend's. (Love thy neighbor as you love yourself - not instead of thyself.)

17)I put trying to be a good, moral person first. I figure that's either leading me towards God, or God isn't where I want to go.

18)No. No interest.

19}Pretty much. A little too much to be honest.

20)Nyet.

By my reading, I score an 8 at most. He's either going to have to pull a "No true Scotsman", or his Christians are going to fail his little morality test just as thoroughly as everyone else.

Eamon Knight said...

I think people who aren't Christian will be less successful.
Lessee:
Jesus (on the Christian view) was the most moral person who ever lived. He is best known for running around the countryside with a bunch of dubious characters, until he finally pissed off the PTB enough that they went Gitmo on his ass and then snuffed him.

I'm too lazy to look it up, but both the Bible and early Christian tradition tells other stories about faithful, godly people who met similar sad fates.

Methinks his hypothesis is falsified before he starts ;-).

Chris said...

Hmm, this is an interesting quiz. Looks more like one of those internet "personality" quizes you see a lot of on MySpace and livejournal than a scientific study, but then again, I'm not a scientist, so I wouldn't know. Just for kicks, let's see how this atheist does:

1. Jumpin jesus on a pogo-stick, yes.
2. Only on the inside, kid...only on the inside.
3. Um...no. Never. Nope.
4. Mmmm, yeah
5. I think I'm approaching 4 years now without stepping foot in one. I'm aiming for (age of death - 22) years!
6. Actually, this is an interesting question. There's some items I don't need but want, but for the most part I don't want a lot of stuff. I currently have a ton of stuff, though, which makes it look like I'm a materialistic person always looking to buy something else, but really it's only because I just had to take back all the stuff I had at my moms house for storage. The vast majority of that stuff is either stuff I inherited from my dad or it's all the stuff I had while growing up, which I never have had a chance to get rid of.
7. Nope. I don't like people talking about me behind my back, so I try not to for others.
8. Once in a while, yes.
9. There's a couple songs here and there, but for the most part I can't stand either genre. Right now I'm listening to a bunch of Cirque du Soleil soundtracks, if that gives any indication where my current taste in music is. I also don't see how this has any relevance to morality...to Godwin this thread, I don't think Hitler listened to either one.
10. Pro-choice.
11. I am evil. I've read all of Harry Potter and Golden Compass. I also have a crush on Dr. Arroway.
12. Does porn count?
13. The kid needs to better define who he's asking you pray too. It's an easy answer for me, though: No
14. Atheist represent, yo.
15. Nope, I'm overweight because I wear too many clothes. I'd try to loose some, but then I'd violate parole again. ...in all honesty, I'm a little overweight according to the BMI, but only because it's a bunch of bullshit. I'm technically overweight in the same way that Brad Pitt is (and technically, he is).
16. I really don't know what to say about this one, here. I've been trying to write out how this same mentality affected me growing up, but I can't seem to get the feelings into words properly. Basically, growing up a fundy kid (though not enough to have made a "science" project like this) left me (and I saw it with plenty of other kids) with a lack of self confidence and being unprepared for the real world. I'm working on reversing the effects of my childhood fundamentalism, but it's still there, and I hate seeing other kids deal with it. Worse yet, most don't know it's going on. To answer the question: I feel I'm a somewhat mature, mentally developed adult...so, yes, I do take pride in my own accomplishments, and I know when to give credit to myself and when to give it to someone else. I also know to give credit to someone else only when they really deserve it, so that leaves a non-existent god out of the picture.
17. Sort of how cannon-fodder troops in a first-wave ground assault are "first". Other than that, nope. In fact, they're so far back they aren't even last, since last is actually put somewhere.
18. At this exact moment? No. Get back to me later, though...just knock first.
19. I don't like to do things to excess, but I get the feeling our definitions of "excess" and "temperance" would be different. In my eyes, most the time. In this kids yes, probably not.
20. I'm actually pretty calm the vast majority of the time, and when I'm angry it's usually a slow process to get there.

Hmm, according to this, if I was a household object I'd be a...paperclip? ;)

Do I subtract a point for every one I answer opposite of the obvious one he was looking for? If so, I think I'm at 7. Guess I'm not moral, but it looks like I'm still a few points from eating babies. I wonder, though, did the kid take the test himself? If so, any idea how he scored?

Midnight_RN said...

Okay, it's almost 2am, I'm running my butt off at work and took a moment for me. Now, after laughing so hard I was getting concerned looks from my coworkers, I have to ask--Whatthe hell kind of school would allow that for a SCIENCE project. Granted, he/she is only a kid but c'mon, that's not science, it's a comedy schtick. May be the teacher wanted to show what not to do.
Anyway, thanks, I really needed the laugh tonight

1steelcobra said...

What'd be awesome is if the kid overcomes his indoctrination and becomes an Atheist when he grows up.

OzAtheist said...

So the only thing this experiment proves is, brainwashing children into religion works. Methinks the child needs to learn about bias.

Tara said...

Can someone explain the point system? If I just a get for each one, then I might get a point for a "good" answer as well as for a "bad" answer. So I guess I get a point for each "good" answer and nothing for each "bad" answer? Or do I actually LOSE a point for each bad answer??

1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
hehehehe - all the time (YOUR lord, not OUR lord)

2. Have you ever killed another human being?
In my head, kid, in my head...

3. Have you every lied?
hahaha!! Of course!

4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?
Before WHICH marriage (oh yeah, I'm SOOOO going to hell). Do affairs count against me?? They do? Goddamn it... (oops, see question #1)

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?
Doesn't Sunday count as once a week? I go to church on the same days I see everyone else going: weddings and funerals.

6. Do you wish you had more stuff?
Let's see, as I'm living off of $1,000 a month, sure, I'd like more stuff - if FOOD and MEDICINE counts as STUFF.

7. Do you gossip?
Of course. That's how humans learn about each other and their environment. If we stop "gossiping", we're liable to 1) hang out with "bad" people and 2) eat at "bad" restaurants.

8. Do you give to charity?
Only the non-religious ones.

9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?
Ememim? Sure. Static-X? Yep. Marilyn Manson? Yeppos. Rammstein? Batting a thousand. Do I lose a point for rap AND metal? Or do I get a zero total?

10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice? (Wow!)
PRO-CHOICE, silly. I have a womb.

11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?
Again, do I lose a point for each?... and does having it read TO me count? Husband read it out loud to my son, and I listened it... so maybe I lose half a point?

12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?
I watched Narnia. ::shudder::

13. Do you pray every day?
Yes. I say, "God, please save me from your followers."

14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?
If god is a euphemism for the big bang and natural selection, sure.

15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?
I ovulate, therefore I love starch and chocolate!

16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?
I take pride in ALL my accomplishments simply BECAUSE they are not FOR god or FROM god - they are FROM me to my FELLOW HUMANS!

17. Do you put God and Jesus first?
Before... soup and salad night at Olive Garden? Hmmm... no. I mean, have you HAD their salad? Divine!

18. Do you view pornography?
Only with the hot 20-year old I'm having my affair with.

19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?
Well, I'm *only* 15 years older than said hot 20-year old. So I guess yes, since I didn't bag a teenager.

20. Are you quick to anger?
WTF???

Tara said...

Hmmm... by my calculations I scored a nice, big, fat, round "2"...

Or a negative 18, depending on how you score.

::sigh::

I was always an overachiever.

Anonomouse said...

The Moral ones are the people who got the lowest score. They were honest enough to answer truthfully.

That kid is warped. I would have given him an F for the project.

Hugo said...

Bloody hell, it's soo damn funny but then I realize it is not a joke ;(
Anyway, still brought tears to my eyes from laughter.

Knitterman said...

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?

Umm... how many Sundays does this kid think are in a week? I grew up in California, so I might be mistaken, but I thought "every Sunday" IS "once a week."

Hard to know if he is posing a "yes-no" question or an "either-or" question. (like maybe Sabbath-keepers aren't as moral as Sunday-keepers?)

Was this in the public school setting or a private/church school setting? What kind of final grade did the kid get? Was the teacher sharing it because she is proud of the student, or not so proud?

Overall, I think the whole thing is a crock, and I agree with the previous comment that it should have been thrown out and the student made to create a real science project.

Mephitis said...

Oh I do like number 15! I bet that one went down wonderfully with the subjects.

I suppose all 30 subjects must have been selected for plumpness beforehand, unless the obesity problem really is that bad.

Nice and Blue said...

yes my daily dependence on heavy metal is a clear indication that I would not only fail the questionnaire, but of course be morally corrupt.

As long as they've got a double bass peddle in hell I'm fine with that though.

Poodles said...

How does being a fat fuck make me immoral???

This made me want to cry and not tears of laughter. I hope he got a big fat F!

Katie said...

1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
"Jesusfuck" is one of my favorite expletives...does that count? :)

2. Have you ever killed another human being?
I've got quite a temper, but I haven't killed anyone...to the best of my knowledge.

3. Have you every lied?
Yup. Show me someone who says they've never lied and I'll show you a liar.

4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?
Yep. I had more than one boyfriend with whom I had sexual contact before marriage, and my husband and I lived together before we got married. *gasp* Two atheists living in sin...can you imagine this kid's reaction?

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?
Absolutely not--the last time I went was 10 years ago, and that's just because I was performing as part of a brass choir. Churches actually give me the hibbity-jibbities (I do so love to say that) and I hate going to them even for weddings/funerals.

6. Do you wish you had more stuff?
What kind of stuff? I always want more books/music/movies and I wouldn't mind having more presentable clothes, but with my job buying nice clothes is a complete waste of money. So...kinda, but not overtly materialistic stuff.

7. Do you gossip?
Yeah...I'm not proud of it, but I also don't really consider some of it gossip...does it count if I'm discussing our close friends with my husband?

8. Do you give to charity?
Not as much as I'd like, but I just finished grad school with my husband supporting both of us entirely...when you have a really hard time paying bills, getting food and medication...well, charity can't be a priority.

9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?
Indeed! The big guy and I are both fans of old-school West coast rap as well as some of the newer stuff, and I have to admit to have a fondness for metal as well. To be honest I'm pretty eclectic musically...country (new country, not Johnny Cash et.al) and bubblegum are the only things I'm categorically opposed to.

10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice?
Stay the fuck out of my womb! I don't get the fundies' problem with legal abortion...no one's making them have abortions and I have no plans to hide behind bushes waiting to jump out and forcefully perform abortions on them!

11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?
Yes, among a lot of other fantasy/sci-fi. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein is my favorite book...it centers around a messianic figure raised by martians who is trying to use his knowledge and experience to create a true religion of peace, love, and one-ness with the universe...I doubt the fundies would approve.

12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?
Yep. I also think that any tv show that starts off with a warning about explicit content is worth giving a shot. :)

13. Do you pray every day?
I don't know if I've ever prayed in my life, although I used to have some imaginary friends I talked to.

14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?
A world of fuck no.

15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?
I might eat too much, but thankfully I have a supercharged metabolism, so I'm not overweight.

16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?
Uh...yes!!! a) I don't believe in god and b) even if I did, he didn't write my damn thesis--I did! I'm proud of what I do because it's what I do, and if it's good and worthy of pride then hell yes I'm proud!

17. Do you put God and Jesus first?
Ahead of what? On the top of my list of things to be morally opposed to and disturbed by, but that's the only place they're even near first in my life.

18. Do you view pornography?
It's not my thing, but I've checked it out in the past. I find my real relationship with the big guy to be much more...ahem...stimulating.

19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?
Maybe? Define "temperance"...I firmly believe in "all things in moderation". I do smoke, I occasionally have a few beers or glasses of wine, I eat delicious food at every opportunity, but no drugs at all. As an ex-boyfriend tole me, "try everything twice except incest and folk dancing".

20. Are you quick to anger?
FUCK YOU!!! Yes, I am. I have a terrible temper and I always have...I had a violent temper as a child, but I've gotten that under control. Good thing, too, or my answer to #1 might be very different!

So guessing that I lose 1 point for every answer that I think disagrees with his judgment of morality, I score 4-ish? (-ish because I answered "kinda" on 3 of those 4.)

Somehow the fact that I've completely missed his startdard of "moral" doesn't bother me at all.

Christine said...

That is truly outstanding and scary in its ignorance all at the same time. Methinks the kid needs some lessons in proper research :P

Looks like Hell is going to be a lot fuller than he thinks seeing that Heaven will be comprised of exactly 0 people. Just Jesus, with the mixed CD in the player and Doritos in the bowl, waiting for his guests.....

Carlie said...

I just want to say that you've been on fire lately with the posts, P-momma, and I'm really glad to have you back and hopefully feeling better.

Andrew said...

"Well, gee. If you define morality as being a fundamentalist Christian, then fundamentalist Christians are more moral! Whoda thunk?"

The data say Christians are just as bad as the rest of us.

aiabx said...

If it wasn't for giving to charity, I'd have a perfect score. (I count the failure to give all my possessions to help the starving to be murder by omission, at least for purposes of this test).

Bob O'Hara said...

Has the science class been introduced to the idea of the follow-up study?

You have then names of the people who were asked, so a kid could now go round them and ask them how they felt about their names being used in public like this.

Err, but check how they answered questions 2 and 20 first.

Bob

AlisonM said...

What's amusing is that if the kid gave this survey to televangelists or megachurch pastors, he'd get some pretty stunning data.

He also left out a ton of moral questions from the bible. What a missed opportunity!

Might I suggest:

"Do you wear cotton/polyester clothing?"

"Do you talk back to your parents? If so, how do you feel about them not having stoned you to death?"

"Have you ever touched a dead bug? (Leviticus5:2-3)"

"Do you eat shellfish or crustaceans?"

"Do you hide yourself away while you're menstruating?"

Just for starters, of course.

Anonymous said...

My favorite part is not only the arbitrary 15-point failure mark, but the fact that all the questions count equally. As such, murdering another human is exactly as immoral as "wishing you had more stuff."

Scott Little said...

Well, I may return to this and post my answers on my blog so I don't take up so much room on yours, however, I will state that I am overweight and I do eat too much...am I going to hell...

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Oh. My. Dog. I laughed so hard that I had tears running down my face! Gee...I think I failed on most of the questions except I have never killed anyone (point...does a TOP for an ectopic pregnancy count if you are so early they can't tell if there is a heartbeat or not? Or does that fall under abortion?)

I can't BELIEVE that his parents and/or teacher actually allowed a graph with people's names. What were they thinking?

Perpetual Beginner said...

Andrew - I wasn't commenting on relative morality at all (I'm well aware that Christians have no edge on that score). I was referencing several of his questions that have nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with whether or not the taker of the quiz is Christian (Do you put Jesus first? Do you attend church? Do you believe God is the creator of heaven and earth?) If believing the fundamentalist line is given as the definition of morality, then yes, Christians will test out as more moral. About like if the test had "Do you believe in Allah, the merciful, the almighty?", the Muslims would test out as more moral.

Karl said...

Congratulations, you're smarter than a sixth grader. We all marvel at your intellectual superiority.

Hannah King said...

I didn't laugh - I frowned. And the further I read, the deeper my frown.

It appears that not only is his religious upbringing ridiculous, but the school is also failing him quite thoroughly.

By his age, I at least knew what was, and what was not, a scientific question. And none of these are scientific questions. This thing belongs in Religious Study or Philosophy, not Science.

Your kids went/go to the same school as this kid? Then I really feel for you, having to undo the damage wrought.

H

badger3k said...

Karl - the point is that the real idiots are the parents and the teacher who let this travesty of "science" (perhaps exemplar of indoctrination would be better) get done. They should be ashamed of themselves, both for instilling this blind faith and for preventing any level of critical thinking in this poor child. This kid, unless he ends up going to fundie schools for whatever so-called "education" he gets, will be left behind other students (and in some cases could be ostracized and laughed at - as I have seen happen). Further, he is on the steps to develop into a morally and ethically challenged adult. Yes, this "science" fair project is a joke, but it's clearly dark humor of the tragic sort.

Oppe said...

Nice try Karl, it's not the kid, it's the environment he lives in that produces this kind of silliness. In fact, you are the one introducing the idea that the kid is just stupid.

Now go tell your church that atheists like bashing small children, thats how it works right?

Psychodiva said...

WTF!!!??? in what way does that crap relate to a science project??
What schol is this? I hope it is not the general level of science education in the USA?? please reassure me!!

What is chilling is the similarity of a lot of the questions, in tone as well as content to that 'Teen Screen' crap that is peddled over there- and which got thoroughly laughed at when they tried to rpomote it to us in the mental health business over here. Heaby metal!! WTF! I adore marilyn Manson and Korn and MM is one of the most intelligent and interesting people I have ever heard!

Saurian200 said...

1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?

Given what people usually mean when they say this, yes, I do so all the goddamn time.

2. Have you ever killed another human being?

Nope. I'll try harder in the future though.

3. Have you every lied?

I'm human. Of course I've lied. Wh would you even bother to ask?

4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?

Again, I'm human, so yes. Yes I have.

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?

Given my answers to the previous questions, (as well as the answers I'm going to give) I satay out of churches out of self preservation. If I were to walk into a church I assume I would suddenly burst into flames, which I imagine, would be unpleasent.

So, no.

6. Do you wish you had more stuff?

Depends on the stuff in question. Some stuff, yes. Some stuff, no. Some stuff I'd like less of, thank you.

I've got a feeling he'd count this as a yes.

7. Do you gossip?

Again. Human. Yes.

8. Do you give to charity?

Not only do I give to charities regularly. I have both collected, done volunteer work, and worked for charities.

So that would be a big yes.

9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?

I usually don't find rap to my tastes, so usually no. Heavy metel though, yes, all the time.

10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice?

Being a guy (those are the people with the dangly things) I have never had an abortion. That would have been quite an experience if I had.

However, I am pro-choice so I"m still collecting heathen points for this question.

11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?

I'm not big on fantasy so the only fantasy books I've read are the Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings books, and the bible. (Do I get bonus heathen points for question 1 by saying that?)

12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?

Of course, unwholesome content is my favorite kind of content.

13. Do you pray every day?

Somehow, I don't think praying to the great Cthulu counts, so no.

14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?

No. You could have just asked if I was a christian or not. It would have saved me a lot of time.

15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?

Are you calling me fat! How dare you, you goddamn little punk! I'll kill you! (Look, I'm trying harder just like I said I would.)

Seriously, first ask if I'm overweight, then ask about the reasons. I'm not by the way.

16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?

Yes, in fact, I take pride in just about everything but service to god.

17. Do you put God and Jesus first?

See question 14.

18. Do you view pornography?

Most definitely. If I didn't, then the terrorist would win! Do you want that?

19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?

According to dictionary.com yes I do. Hence, my answer to question 2.

20. Are you quick to anger?

See question 15.

Total: 4 out of 20

I'm obviosly not trying hard enough. I should never have gotten such a high score. I'll never be a TRUE dirty atheist heathen sinner at this rate.

ZugTheMegasaurus said...

The kid have better failed that project. If he didn't, that teacher's methods ought to be very closely examined by the school.

Matthew said...

You've been Reddited Pmomma! Woohoo!

Anonymous said...

This student's "Better Living Through God" experiment should get flunked for plagiarism. The whole thing is lifted, almost verbatim, from
Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron's "Way of the Master" series.

http://www.livingwaters.com/m_equip.shtml

susanbrown said...

I can see the attraction some have to intelligent design/creationism/ and science "from a Christian perspective."

This would have been an appropriate lesson for Sunday School, not a science class (and I know some 6th graders who could do some amazing science projects.)

I have never seen a Sunday School/religious school religion assignment that has been in the least bit challenging -- they're all designed so that everyone "passes."

As you probably know, there is a big controversy here in Texas over the proposed "Master of Science Education" degree that the Institute of Creation Research wants to offer. If this degree is approved, I'm afraid we'll see more of this crap in our science classes.

Anonymous said...

Sad thing is, many grownup Christians have the same infantile outlook on morality.

And they don't even bother to read their own book.

If they did, they would find out it advocates slavery, and dictates that rapists should be allowed to marry their victims.

noamsml said...

The biggest problem with this survey (aside from the fact that it's completely unscientific and badly written) is that the questions he asks are for the most part a Christian perception of morality and don't even try being objective ("did you ever read Harry Potter?" "do you believe in God?" WTF?).

Anonymous said...

I am doing a scientific study on whether Hindus are more moral than other people.

My hypothesis is that when asked a series of questions about their morality, non-Hindus will be more likely to give immoral answers.

For example, some of them will not be vegetarians, which clearly shows their lack of morality, as explained by the flawless Vedic scriptures.

The answers given by such people will be scientific proof that they are not moral. I have a scoring system where right and wrong answers are assigned a certain number of points. I can't reveal how many points, or what the right or wrong answers are, to keep the study fair.

Questions:

1. Do you eat beef?

2. Do you eat any other kind of meat, including fish?

3. Do you eat eggs?

4. Do you heat butter until it separates and and remove the white top part and use only the clarified ghee resulting from this process?

5. Do you ever fail to properly observe Hindu holidays?

6. If you are a married woman, will you jump onto the flames of your husband's funeral pyre if he dies?

7. If you are a married man, have you come come to a clear understanding with your relatives that, in the event of your death, they are to pressure your widow into joining you in death by laying down on your funeral pyre and burning herself alive?

8. If you are not yet married, what are your plans with regard to #6 or #7 above?

9. Do you treat cows with respect, always bowing to them and allowing them to pass before you?

10. How often do you wear a tika on your forehead?

11. Have you ever eaten food with your left hand?

Matt D. said...

On one level, this is *almost* a valid project...it's just incredibly sloppy, and quickly crumbles to non-scientific dust.

As 'perpetual beginner' points out, he's essentially defining a particular fundamentalist view of Christianity as the moral ideal and testing to see if people are more likely to live up to this ideal if they profess Christianity (admittedly, I'm being very forgiving with this ill-formed and ill-defined experiment). This, on its own, isn't a problem - and his data shows this. We could have used any set of moral criteria; and we tend to do just this, with our own judgments of the morals of others, ever day.

It's a little like testing to see if a certain fitness program results in better athletes - we can object to the criteria (running speed, weight lifting, etc) because 'better athlete', like 'more moral', is ambiguous or subjective in an normative sense, but that's beyond the scope: the test criteria has been established to test the goals of the fitness program.

And that fitness program (Christianity) clearly failed in achieving the stated goals.

He should fail, for a number of reasons, but the biggest one I see is that his conclusion is simply an assertion that ignores the hypothesis and the data. This is the key failure that makes this non-science. He tested an hypothesis and then ignored the results to make an assertion ('no true Scotsman', as someone else pointed out) that matches his personal views.

If you doubt that, think about how you'd view this if his conclusion matched the data: "Christianity doesn't appear to make one any more moral (as defined here)."

His hypothesis rephrased is this:

"Christians are more likely to live a moral life - as defined by my interpretation of the Bible - than non-Christians."

It's a horribly flawed way to begin, but he should get partial credit for coming up with something that is testable (again, I'm being very forgiving with regard to his definitions). It is, in fact, possible for "unchristians" (LOVE that) to score higher than Christians - so the test isn't completely biased, and the results apparently showed this.

The problem is that the hypothesis is clearly refuted by the data, yet his conclusion is self-contradictory ("even Christians fail to live more morally, but we should still be Christians because it will make us more moral").

The project is a great demonstration of our failure to properly teach critical thinking and scientific methodology. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the project on the grounds of subject matter - because this isn't that far removed from proper scientific tests that attempt to demonstrate the efficacy of intercessory prayer.

Having said that, this is pretty damned horrible...on several levels. :(

Rob said...

15. I'm overweight because I drink too much, so I guess I get to answer "no" to that one.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Oh dear...

*wheezes with uncontrollable laughter*

Where to begin?

*falls over laughing even harder*

Thank you, thank you, so much for posting this. And in particular for noting that he included names on his display... that slays me.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing... some 10-15 years ago in a science fair I saw a project "Can a person catch a computer virus." The experiment was to have a person sleep with a disk containing a computer virus under their pillow for a few days. The controls was a person sleeping with a disk with no virus under their pillow.

M Trent said...

a good source for information in the battle between science and faith can be found at: http://FreeThoughtPedia.com/

CeeJus said...

Love it. You just gained a regular blog visitor.

Josh said...

Wow, I just noticed that Possummomma lives in Central Cali! That makes me feel marginally better about being stuck here. =)

absolute people are dangerous said...

I believe that pink floyd sang a song on this topic....something about 'if you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!?!"
(the wall)

David said...

For a sixth grader, this is almost an okay science experiment. They did manage to postulate a hypothesis and they went out to collect data.

The questions they asked didn't relate back to the hypothesis very well, and as you noted there was no real control in the experiment. Kudos to them for trying though.

I was pretty shocked when I heard about Ben Stein's new movie. I respect him a lot as an economic theorist. I'd kind of like to ask him if he thinks that the theory that the Bilderburgers or Illuminati control the global economic system should be given equal time in econ classes.

Anonymous said...

I'm an athiest, and I agree with Karl.

The science project is silly, but a *child* made it, and children that age are pretty much reflections of their environment. The religious worldview comes from his home life, and the bad science is a product of his education.

Picking on children is mean-spirited. His teacher deserves the blame for this garbage. But it's a good opportunity to teach him some reasoning skills and help him fix the experiment.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

No one is picking on the child. It's his project that sucks. And, sixth grade isn't kindergarten. My son, also in sixth, posted his experiment on this site and ASKED for feedback. There were many suggestions, some he took and some he didn't. But, I saw no one say, to me or my son, "give him a chance,...he's just a sixth grader." So, why should we accept a lower standard because this sixth grader is Christian? A project is a project. We shouldn't lower the standards of good science to accomodate him.

We're not bagging on the child. We're bagging on the project. There's a difference.

Kathryn said...

I was just reading over all the responses and thinking about the curvy (and highly prejudiced) nature of each question when I got to thinking about my limited knowledge of Christianity which lead me back to the second question, "Have you killed a person?" (or whatever it was).

And according to the bible...haven't we all? Aren't we all TECHNICALLY responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? Sure, we didn't sling him up on the cross, but didn't he die for OUR sins?

So even on that score, we're not safe. If you want to talk about morality then the western world has a lot to answer for. Namely the destruction of countries and cultures (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam... need I say more?) And how we're allowing a futile war on a STATE OF MIND (aka war on Terror, what a crock of s**t) to destroy lives and livelihoods?

As we sit by and allow the leaders of the "free world" to send men, women, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers off to war, aren't we all in some regard, responsible, liable? As an educated and supposedly civilised community?

Don't get me wrong, I'm just as much a sinner as the next so (er...probably moreso, when I think about it) but I try to live in a way that makes me proud of who I am.

Lol, I would have LOVED to have been that kid's teacher. Would have sent him back home crying with such a harsh critique...Probably a good thing I'm not a teacher...yet *insert evil laughter here*

Jason said...

1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
Yes
2. Have you ever killed another human being?
No
3. Have you ever lied?
Yes
4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?
Yes
5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?
No
6. Do you wish you had more stuff? Yes
7. Do you gossip?
No
8. Do you give to charity?
No
9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?
Yes
10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice?
Yes
11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?
Yes
12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?
Yes
13. Do you pray every day?
No
14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?
No
15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?
No
16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?
Yes
17. Do you put God and Jesus first?
No
18. Do you view pornography?
Yes
19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?
Yes
20. Are you quick to anger?
No

ZugTheMegasaurus said...

It's not picking on the kid at all. Some kids fail. I used to teach English classes to Spanish-speaking kindergarteners; some of them failed (well, as much as a kindergartener can fail, a check-minus or whatever).

This kid failed. He chose a non-scientific question to begin with for a SCIENCE project. And then, his philosophical question was not properly approached or analyzed. He simply did not do the project he was assigned.

I mean, if a teacher assigns a book report and a student paints a work of art, he still fails the book report. He didn't do the assignment.

mercurial ohearn said...

at what age did you "internalize the concept of minimizing variables" or give "precise criteria to an experiment"?

the kid's "science" experiment is a sad joke, of course, but commentary like this boggles my mind.

should all sixth graders be the next richard feynman?

this blog wasn't even necessary. why bother criticizing the work of someone who hasn't been alive long enough to develop even a semblance of rational thought?

the kid probably still cries for his mom when he skins his knee, for christ's sake.

1steelcobra said...

Off topic, but I figured you'd be interested, Pmomma.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/25/national/main3753682.shtml
One of the guys in Utah who does the edited-clean movie deal got arrested for doing the nasty with a 14 year old.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

at what age did you "internalize the concept of minimizing variables" or give "precise criteria to an experiment"?
No one is expecting him to have internalized anything - what is being expected is the ability to follow directions. This isn't just a "bad experiment" - it's hardly an experiment PERIOD. There's also a complete disconnect from following instructions. How old do most kids internalize following directions? I don't know. But, I would think, by age 11, you might. I've seen plenty of experiments that were done poorly. And, I don't comment because it's obvious that the kid TRIED to pull something together that was, at least, vaguely scientific. It's not about perfection - it's about doing the assignment.

this blog wasn't even necessary. why bother criticizing the work of someone who hasn't been alive long enough to develop even a semblance of rational thought?

Oh, I think this kid is smarter than we may give him credit for. According to his teacher, he is well-versed in the Bible and quotes it frequently in writing assignments. If a child can recall details from a large book, then why can't he also follow directions? If this kid had spelled every word on his spelling test wrong, would you have given him an "A" because he's young and, maybe, sensitive? Of course not. What bothers ME about YOUR statement is you seem to be setting the bar fairly low for children.

this blog wasn't even necessary.
Noted. Why read it then? Show me a blog that is necessary?
For that matter, necessary is relative. I think pointing our how Christianity is selling the next generation short on science is extremely necessary. But, when your doctor prescribes you prayer and three good acts, remember that it was you who said the expectations were too high. The lessons learned in childhood matter greatly.

Clown Soup said...

I scored a fricking zero (0).
Am I the antichrist?

Neel Bee said...

It is, sorry to tell you, a sociology project once you strip away the value judging by the surveyor. It is entirely legit to compare the behavior of one group to another on the basis of their belief systems, etc.

Dave X said...

Neel Bee: Read questions 1,5 13, 14, 16 and 17 again, and tell how anything is left once you strip away the value judgements of the surveyor. At best this is a test of "Are you more Christian than than a fundamentalist 5th grader?".

Titlvr69 said...

I believe it is "Juggs" magazine with two g's not one. Not that I read that kindda stuff. Praise God.

Tinker said...

And when did Sociology become a SCIENCE?!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how closed minded you are. Do you really hate religion so much that you tear apart a 6th grade science project?

Oh... it's not a SCIENCE project?!

Did it have a hypothesis?
Hypothesis: Christians are more moral than unChristians (sic).

Did it have a methodology to test it?
Ask 20 questions, record the answers.

Did the student execute the test?
Sure did.

Did he analyze the data?
Yep.

Did he come to a conclusion?
Sure did. Unfortunately--like a lot of scientists, his conclusion was non-sequitur. His data was actually interesting since it showed that Christianity did not appear to be the basis for morality. His conclusion was different--but that's the exciting thing about Science. This experiment could be peer-reviewed, we could criticize some of his assumptions ("What is morality?") or his conclusions...


About the only thing that doesn't make sense is your venom towards a 6th-grader's thinking.

ellasmom said...

Wow - I taught English at a Catholic school and never would the science teacher there have let this fly. As someone who has extensive experience with the children of, shall we say, enthusiastic Christian parents, this whole experiment smacks of mom and dad's influence. I wonder how much of this idea was truly his own? That's what scares me *sigh* Great post, thanks for the laughs - and just for the record, I didn't do very well either though I'm a fairly steadfast Catholic :-)

ladyjack78 said...

This would be better science if none of the "more moral" choices referred specifically to worship of God as the child understands it. Obviously a non-Christian will come up "immoral" if "moral" is defined as "putting Jesus first, attending church once a week, and never taking the name of the Lord in vain, then the deck is stacked. I'd like to take this child in a non-confrontational environment and explain that to him.

possum_momma said...

First - all anonymous commenters need to read the rules for the blog. This is your warning. I will delete further anon comments.

I can't believe how closed minded you are. Do you really hate religion so much that you tear apart a 6th grade science project?

I don't hate religion. I don't believe in it, but I don't hold some hypothetical hatred towards it.

Oh... it's not a SCIENCE project?!

Correct.
If you would pull the stick out of your butt for ten seconds and recognize that I did say the question was valid and the hypothesis was a hypothesis, I might take you more seriously.

Did it have a methodology to test it?
Ask 20 questions, record the answers.

THAT IS NOT METHODOLOGY. That is an action. For this to be a valid project, the methodology or design should've been similar to this:
1. I will give the test to thirty people.
2. I will find 15 Christians and 15 non-Christians.
3. The survey will be completely anonymous with the exception of notating their Christianity or other status.
4. I will assign points in "x" fashion.
5. *some explanation of how he chose the 15point cut-off*
He also could've included how he chose the questions and what makes them relevant to morality.

Did the student execute the test?
Sure did.

So, if I give you a spelling test, then that would be a science project? He's supposed to test his HYPOTHESIS...not make up a random test to collect random and arbitrary data.

Did he come to a conclusion?

Sure. But, I can come to a bunch of random and arbitrary conclusions based on MY beliefs. Like, I could say that based on my observations, I conclude that this kid is a judgemental brat. But, the conclusion would be faulty due to limited evidence and bias. This kid didn't even answer his hypothesis (which is kind of the point of the science project).


His data was actually interesting since it showed that Christianity did not appear to be the basis for morality.
BINGO!! Unfortunately, if you re-read his conclusion, that's not what he states. He says that since everyone is immoral, they should all devote their lives to the Bible.


His conclusion was different--but that's the exciting thing about Science.
*face palm* If I told you whales were pink, because I wore red diving goggles, my conclusion would be different. Would that make the conclusion scientifically valid? No!

About the only thing that doesn't make sense is your venom towards a 6th-grader's thinking.

What venom? Your bias is showing.

American Goy said...

I will tell my kid to make a science experiment entitled: All christians are idiots.

I will provide him a list of random questions, and if they don't score at least 10 then it proves my point.

The 10 point criteria will be decided by me arbitrarily.

Off you go kiddo!

....naw I want to live.

Dave X said...

Hmm, would you get 10 points just for following the 10 commandments?

It is interesting to look at the questions that don't map to the commandments: Charity, Rap, Harry Potter, Overweight, Pro-choice, Anger. I think I'd hate to be a 5th grader being raised by Fundamentalists.

Dave X said...

I meant 6th grader... It would still suck to be a kid being raised by the (Q20: Are you quick to anger?) Fundamentalist parents.

Anonymous said...

Well as a scientist I could simply reframe the question: Are the distributions of answers to questions centered around the ten commandments different according to religious convictions.

I would suspect they may.

Personally I respect anyone who can live by such rules. I surely can't, and admire those who can.

Anonymous said...

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of why social "sciences" are not quite really science.

Enlightenment said...

>>5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?

So...if a person goes to the Church of Satan every week...the answer is yes.

>>8. Do you give to charity?

So...what if a person gives to an evil charity...does this count?

>>13. Do you pray every day?

So...what if a person prays to the devil...guess that is a yes.

------

See a person can reply in a messed up way to pass these messed up questions.

You need to fail this kid and then smack his parents for being idiots. No part of religion is considered science...and don't forget it b*tch.

Enlightenment said...

The official bible was assembled by the Catholic church in the 300's A.D.

Martin Luther removed 7 books from the Catholic bible in the 1500's to make the Protestant bible.

In the Mormons bible, 125 verses were added, and 1475 verses were changed.

All protestand churches that don't use the official Catholic bible are using an unofficial bastardized version of the true bible.

If a church can subtract or modify the bible at will, then what good is it, and how can later bibles be more true than the original?

Think about it!

unsure said...

@enlightenment,or whomever wants to answer, what are some good basic books to read about how the bible has been changed and about how Jesus might have been a legend?

I'm not sure what to believe anymore.

Ella said...

As a science educator (currently teaching 7th grade life science, certified in all areas of science, grades 6-12), I can't help but be a bit disturbed by this. Some of the commenters here have said to cut the student a bit of slack as he is a child. However, sixth grade in my district spends all year on the scientific method as the students are taught about physical science. It is expected by the time the students finish the first two months of the class that they are able to construct a sound scientific experiment.

Now, as I am an educator, I do feel the need to comment on the short comings of this student's project. This student seems to have had some introduction to the scientific method to begin with, but does not seem to see the intricacies. I will commend him on his effort, however. Now, the question, besides being about something that can not be objectively tested or measured quantitatively, could work. The hypothesis is far too wordy (students are taught to use a one sentence statement) and it is not well defined what is meant by "less successful". The methodology seems a bit nebulous, with no justification for the scoring system. Also, as was noted, there is no control. There is also the issue of the questions being biased toward a certain conception of morality, which introduces bias (students at this age should know what bias in an experiment is). Finally, as already noted, there is the issue of the conclusion. It doesn't really relate to the hypothesis.

David said...

Even though I am a athiest/antitheist and, fundamentally I agree with you, I find it a bit harsh to say this isn't a 'science' project. Socialogy may be a 'squidgy' science but it is a science.

Many studies have been performed into morality/immorality of christian vs 'unchristian' [sic - lol], and find that morality is merely a human condition - not a religious one.

While the questions might be loaded in a biased way, at least the child is thinking for theirself and based on the evidence they collected and their personal knowledge, I think that their conclusion isn't that bad.

It's not the child's fault that their parents have brainwashed them.

Anonymous said...

This is a text book example of Child Abuse, and a good case for the elimination of religion from human civilization.

You should see what Muslim children are taught in Mosques. If this had been a
"very religious" Muslim child he/she would have been viciously chastised for having used "science" at all!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

...at least the child is thinking for theirself
-v-
It's not the child's fault that their parents have brainwashed them.
Maybe you didn't communicate your point well, but this is a direct contradiction. People who are brainwashed can NOT think for themselves by definition. And, as we can see by the almost verbatim delivery of his questions - he got these straight from the Way of the Master series.

While sociology CAN BE the impetus for a science project, there has to be a scientific principle that's being explored or tested. There are ways he could've done this far better and had a great project. Example: He could've done an anonymous scantron type survey about his questions while simultaneously exploring the psychological concepts of the ego. Or, he could've used the experiment to see how people frame morality as members of demographical subgroups. But, as it stands, this is not a science project. It's a biased survey that breaks ethical standards for human studies and forms a preconceived conclusion using poorly defined criteria.

Sir Craig said...

When I was back in the sixth grade some 30+ years ago, I remember being assigned a report on any subject - the important thing was to understand how to research a paper properly. Well, I ended up turning in a 20 page report on the development of Egyptian and Central American pyramids. My teachers were so impressed with the work behind it (all mine, I assure you) that I was given a score of 105 out of 100 and placed into accelerated learning classes after testing out at something like 165+ on my IQ test. Great things were ahead of me, or so my parents and teachers believed.

Yet as I went along, I was becoming something of a disappointment - my attitude towards schoolwork began slipping into disregard and was heading into full-blown hostility. What had happened to this bright child? asked my parents and teachers, after years of producing similar results as that first report.

Lest anyone think I'm merely trying to trumpet my own early accomplishments before becoming yet another surly teenager, there is a reason I started this tale the way I did. You see, I produced that incredibly long and detailed report, the one that started this whole ball rolling, because I didn't understand the damn assignment - back then I just had an incredibly short attention span and didn't bother listening to the parameters of the assignments, preferring to just fake it as I went along (today I might have been diagnosed with ADD, but frankly I think that's a crock diagnosis most of the time). I followed one rule at that time, though it hadn't really been verbalized until later: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. That is exactly what I did with that report, and what I suspect this other sixth grader is doing.

Some commenters here have argued that it is very likely he knew exactly what he was saying and asking, and I would agree. However, knowing and understanding are two different beasts - he no more understands all the crap forced into his head than an answering machine understands a message left on it. All he knows is repeating this crap makes his parents and teachers (or at least this one) happy. And honestly, what kid asks people to supply their names on a questionnaire? This sounds very much like information the parents were hoping to collect on their neighbors, using their kid as the foil, in an effort to feel morally superior.

I agree with possummomma and say the problem wasn't necessarily the kid but the assignment, but I think it goes farther than that: This is very much a case of child abuse by exposing the child to possible violent reactions as a result of some of the more pointed questions, and the parents need to be held responsible for not only allowing this but encouraging it, if not initiating it.

By the way, I would have failed this "morality litmus test" miserably, yet I regard my life as an atheist as more virtuous than most so-called xtians. Atheists Rock!

pepper said...

The point of this biased blog is that if this ELEVEN YEAR OLD had a science project that said:

Hypothesis: Filtered water works better than Miracle Grow + Tap water for growing plants.

Test: grow two plants.

Analysis: Miracle Grow works better.

Conclusion: Filtered water is better for you anyway.

Despite the FLAWED LOGIC in the ELEVEN YEAR OLD's conclusion (and one cannot deny that Science DOES draw the wrong conclusions occasionally from the data--just look at the original Cold Fusion experiments)--this experiment would not be one that you would blog about.

No... Face it, you're blogging this because you simply hate religion. You're using this ELEVEN YEAR OLD's immature view of the world as a podium to show how much you hate the idea of religion being taught to children.

And before you freak out, notice that I didn't once say that the religious have the Truth... I'm lashing out here because it's clear that Atheistic crackpots are just as hateful as Religious ones are.

Darnit, man, the kid is ELEVEN.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Pepper, if that's what you need to tell yourself, then far be it from me to interupt your pity party.

I actually approve of teaching eleven year old children about comparitive religions. But, you're entitled to your self-serving stereotype. Furthermore, this science project isn't about teaching religion. I have said it repeatedly - had he followed instructions and executed the project in a scientific matter, I'd have no issue. What makes you think he was the only religious project? One kid did a study on the Shroud of Turin. It was awesome. There was another project that explored how realistic the possibility was that Jesus could feed the crowds with only the bread and fish he supposedly collected as written in the Bible. They were done well. So, get over it.

The fact that you see this post as "hateful" says more about you than me. Creationism and ID in the classroom have been topics on this blog very recently. This project was timely in that it dove-tailed nicely into a previous discussion. Had you read more than this post, you may have noted that.

And, had you read more than your own comment, you'd note that I have an eleven year old who did a proper science experiment AND opened himself up to the critique of other bloggers (Christian and atheist). Don't sell eleven year old children short because you have limited expectations for their inteligence and are willing to cut a religious kid slack despite the fact that he didn't do the assignment. You see his Christianity as the reason for this post - I see the flawed methodology of the project as the reason for this post. I wouldn't care if this kid were atheist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Mormon... his inability to follow instructions and his disregard for anonymity when exposing the moral flaws of others is enough to make it a valid blog topic.

blay said...

I think the hypotyposes is actually
valid. However the methodology is severely lacking. Having just finished a course in methodology of social sciences, it seems to have all the mistakes we examined. I was surprised he didn't now the participants should remain anonymous.

Moses said...

...

No... Face it, you're blogging this because you simply hate religion. You're using this ELEVEN YEAR OLD's immature view of the world as a podium to show how much you hate the idea of religion being taught to children.

...

Darnit, man, the kid is ELEVEN.


It's not religion. It's teh stupid caused by some seriously foolish religious beliefs and the embracing of ignorance they engender.

I guarantee you my child's Science Fair project is lame, because we think the rational behind the 5th grade science fair project is stupid. But the project itself is "real" science. Only lame because an 11-year-old really can't do "real" science, on there own, with the limited time, education and resources available.

(For the record, my wife is a practicing scientist in developmental biology. I've got many scientist relatives in physics & medicine. It's not a disdain of science, it's a disdain of what is being done in these projects. We think this is to science as spin-the-bottle is to marriage.

And don't get me started on all the errors I've found in the Science textbook. Or the stupid way they're teaching math with it's useless, excessive formalism.)

Anyway, this is the result of pig-ignorance taught as virtue. And with a full dose of smug superiority thrown in as a side dish.

Carlie said...

Unsure - try Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. It's narrowly focused on the Gospels, but that's the only part that fundamentalists tend to read anyway, and it's a real eye-opener. He also started out as a die-hard theist in seminary, so he doesn't have an obvious ax to grind.

By the way, I'm a scientist, and I judge 6th grade science fairs, and this kid would not have even been allowed to turn in a project this badly done in my school district. At the ABSOLUTE minimum, his conclusion is wrong. When the data show no difference between the "test" and "control" groups, you don't get to keep your hypothesis.
Everything else about the project is wrong, too, but the naysayers should at least be able to get that part through their heads.

unsure said...

Thank you Carlie!! I'm open to all suggestions.

Psychodiva said...

PMomma said
One kid did a study on the Shroud of Turin. It was awesome. There was another project that explored how realistic the possibility was that Jesus could feed the crowds with only the bread and fish he supposedly collected as written in the Bible.


I find it incredible that kids are doing these projects over there- over here in the UK most science projects carried out by kids do not have anything at all, not one little jot, not even a tiny bit- to do with religion of any sort- it would not enter into the equation. I find it fascinating that the US education system is so messed up that religion percolates into just aotu everything- just incredible! i can imagine the fundamentalist mum in this case just clapping and praising thier child and saying wow what a great project- the lord jesus would be so proud!
Over here when kids are asked to do a science rpoject they do just that- a science project- no crazy esoteric crap to do with loaves and fishes or the turin shroud- no matter how well carried out scientifically because the true separation of church / religion and education actually happens here - I am still shaking my head lol

Bagpuss said...

I got as far as the pornography question and had to give up. He's a 6th grader? Is that the same as in England? Age 11? If so, what on earth is he doing even knowing about pornography? I'd like to think my 11yo atheist DD has never even heard the word.

Perpetual Beginner said...

My husband spends quite a lot of time as a science fair judge, so he sees a lot of projects. A sixth grader with a good grounding should be more than capable of putting together a decent project. Over the years, we've heard about some truly awesome projects, including some sociological ones. So no, holding the teacher and parents accountable for failing this particular eleven-year-old seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Best sociological project ever - hypothesizing that people would sign a petition they didn't understand in order to seem concerned about their community. They put together two petitions, one legit, one asking for the banning of oxygen dihydride within city limits, citing a dozen deaths due to oxygen dyhydride overdoses within the last year, and the finding of oxygen dihydride contamination in all the city wells. Pretty much the same number of people signed both. For a bonus they got signatures from about half the city council, a good chunk of the school board, the principal of their school, and one of the science teachers!

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

@bagpuss,

I am hoping this kid only knows Pornography as a word.

But then as someone pointed out the project has been lifted from a website.

We used to get detention for copying.

Oh and PM, if I say I am an atheist that means you should agree with everything I say right :)

Thranil said...

unsure:

Barth Ehrman is good as was recommended, but also try books by Robert M. Price (Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, Reason Driven Life, etc) who is an ex-evangelical preacher who lost his faith during seminary. Also, if you're interested in the theories put forth that jesus may never have existed as more than a concept, check out Earl Doherty's "The Jesus Puzzle" (also at www.jesuspuzzle.com)

For a quick and easy intro to all of this, you might also want to check out Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There" on DVD. It doesn't go into great depth, but it does raise some of the surface issues in an easy to understand manner. If you do get this DVD, I HIGHLY recommend listening to the extended interviews (Sam Harris, Richard Carrier, Robert Price, etc) as well as the commentaries... which are really other interviews that he didn't have video for (Earl Doherty was one).

Enjoy!

unsure said...

Thank you Thranil !! That's a lot of interesting information. I can't wait to look into this further!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this kid could apply for a research grant from the Templeton Foundation?

wh44 said...

Interesting.

On the one side, I've seen worse attempts at science projects that have not been torn apart so much.

On the other side, it is obvious the kid is not dumb and could have done a much better project.

In fact, I would go so far as to say this kid is *very* smart and probably achieved his objectives:

He figured out his teacher was "hyper, hyper religious" (your words, pm), then figured out a halfway reasonable sounding hypothesis that should earn him points. Methodology won't matter too much if the teacher is that far out.

He also needs to use the right vocabulary in the questionnaire. If he himself is not especially Christian, then what better way than to quickly scarf something from a public website?

Regarding the conclusion: it doesn't fit your teacher's paradigm? Make it fit! I think it's ingenious: you all missed the point of the conclusion! He is not denying that Christians are no more moral than "Unchristians", he is turning that around and saying that it is precisely *because* Christians are not moral, that they must continually turn to God. Brilliant the way he fits the "bad" result into his teacher's ideology!

That said, I'm going to ask what other's have been asking: what did the teacher say, what grade did she give?

Who am I? I am a Baha'i (Wikipedia). I would probably count as very religious based on how much I attend religious functions and such, but I am not dogmatic (most Baha'i aren't). I believe in evolution and have often defended it in online forums (I often take heat from both sides). I believe in the power of reason.

I have, in years past, taken one or the other of the "purity tests" that circulate and normally get classified as "saint". Despite that, I, too, failed this test (darn you Harry! :-).

pb: They got city council members, principal and a science teacher to sign?! ROFL. It's both funny and sad. Good to think that there are such smart kids out there. Sad to think that such thoughtless people are leading us and teaching our next generation.

JasoNF said...

"Are you overweight because you eat too much?"

No, I'm overweight because up until the last few hundred years it was absolutely essential for the human body to retain every spare calorie to survive times of starvation. It's an evolution thing, you wouldn't understand...

victor laszlo said...

My comments to a few in italics

Project Title: Better Living Through God
Question: Do unchristians make less moral choices than Christians?
no, 2 of the major republican candidates for president are divorced, while all of the democrats are married, some happily

Hypothesis: The Bible is the perfect guide to life that shows us how to be moral people. Without believing in the Bible you can't know God and he can't guide you and give you rewards for being a good person. I think people who aren't Christian will be less successful.
the bible is, um, kind of long

Experiment: I will interview thirty people and ask them if they are Christian. I will give them the same questions so I have a control sample. I think they are immoral if they score lower than 15.
Expiriment: I will interview thirty Christians and decide if they are cool or not. I will determine that all 30 are not.

Questions I will ask. There are 20 points available.
1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
every day, in a variety of ways

2. Have you ever killed another human being?
no, that is frowned upon

3. Have you every lied?
see answer above to lords name in vain

4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?
like everyone else, yes

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?
I sleep every Sunday

6. Do you wish you had more stuff?
yes

7. Do you gossip?
yes

8. Do you give to charity?
for the tax break

9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?
sometimes, sometimes not

11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?
umm, no -- these books are like doorstops

12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?
each and every day

18. Do you view pornography?
wherever I can find it

20. Are you quick to anger?
not really

Anonymous said...

1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?

I have never spoke ill of Lord Voldemort.

2. Have you ever killed another human being?

No. The French don't count.

3. Have you every lied?

No.

4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?

No. I was placed in an isolation chamber from birth. My marriage was pre-arranged. I was married ten years before we met.

5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?

I go to church every Sunday, but not once a week.


6. Do you wish you had more stuff?

No. I wish I had more things.

7. Do you gossip?

No. But the girl down the hall does. And so does Mary, who is going out with John, but is sleeping with Mark.

8. Do you give to charity?

I gave Charity five bucks in seventh grade to buy me some cigarettes. I'm still waiting.

9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?

Favorite bands.
1. Quiet Riot.
2. Vanilla Ice.
3. Snow
4. Lover Boy.

Yes I am going to hell.



10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice?

Yes, but I am not pro-choice. I think everyone should have an abortion.


11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?

No. (See answers 1 and 3)

12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?

I've watched the postman and Waterworld. I felt dirty.

13. Do you pray every day?

Yes to FSM, and to Lord Voldemort.


14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?

No. He made earth, but I am pretty sure than heaven was made by Xenu.

15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?

No. I eat the right amount. But I don't go to the bathroom. After thirty years, there's quite a back log.

16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?

I am not proud of what I did for the service of God. I had a few drinks, and he had a camera.


17. Do you put God and Jesus first?

They always go first. (See answers 16 and 18)

18. Do you view pornography?

I'm an artist. I don't read what I
write. I don't watch what I make.

19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?

(See answers 16-18.)

20. Are you quick to anger?

What? Do you wanna make something of it? I am a cool level-headed individual, and if you doubt that I got some things for you.


I think I did pretty well.

Gila said...

Skipped most of the debate part and read all of the variations on the answers--am sitting here laughing hysterically.

But, the kid did not take this to the next level. "Without believing in the Bible you can't know God and he can't guide you and give you rewards for being a good person. I think people who aren't Christian will be less successful."

Nu--so were his test subjects (all found to be immoral) all, like, jobless, covered with scaley skin diseases and living in their trucks?

Because if not, it could mean that G-d is rewarding the baddies.

Gila

ZugTheMegasaurus said...

The people trying to excuse the kid based on his age seem to have very little regard for 11 year olds. Am I the only one who remembers being 11? Is it a strange experience that I was more than capable of understanding and rational thinking?

Kids at that age aren't babies anymore. They're beyond the level of little kids. The point of doing a science project like that is to apply the basic knowlege they learned at younger ages in a way that teaches them to use their skills. Just making a project isn't enough; the student has to demonstrate that they can use their learned knowledge in combination with critical thinking to create something coherent. The kid who made this project did not do that.

Kevin L. said...

I have a wholesome, heavenly score of... three.

What strikes me is that everyone, even Christians, failed his test, so to speak. Yet he says that people can be moral by being Christian.

Not only does his conclusion not follow from his hypothesis, but his data contradict his conclusion.

Poodles said...

LOOK! I'm the 100th comment on this post! :D

GFM2008 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Atheist in a mini van. said...

GFM,
Your comment was deleted because it was totally uncalled for and morally bereft.
Onward Christian solider...but not on this blog. Telling a group of people that they should commit suicide for critiquing a horrible science fair project is completely repellant.

As you can see from all the other untouched and oppositional comments, I'm not against a difference of opinion. But, be civil or don't post at all.

Chris said...

Didn't get a chance to see the comment, but I can tell it must have been positively overflowing with that christian love. Thanks random christian, you've made me see the light! See you in heaven! :D

Atheist in a mini van. said...

It was lovely... I'll post snippets.

..., what a collection of utterly pathetic losers; people with no measurable life to speak of; sad, rebellious developmentally-arrested freaks who are still agonizing over their traumatic potty training.

"I hate religion." The entire, foul-mouthed, hateful dialogue can be summed up by those three words. And you obviously spend hours mentally masturbating over this simple expression of hostility.

WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK?

If you ever realized how lame you really are, you'd wake up and cut your own throats. How's that for morality, assholes?
.

reddhedd said...

A true christian would cut my throat for me....

It's a shame that Jesus was the last person to actually possess "christian" values: the last 2000 years could have been much more productive.

GFM...do you really think you've won any hearts to Christ? How proud your god must be, to have your vituperive self representing him.

Country Wife said...

GFM..tsk! tsk! *wags finger*
Such language!! Very Unchristian! I'm betting you scored pretty low.

Muratos said...

Very funny answers, i liked them ;) If you want some interesting stuff on the topic without any relation see the best science books ahahaha

the crazy authoress said...

15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?

What does this have to do with anything?!?! xD I never knew that your weight/ the amount of food you ate was a deciding factor in your morality!

Wow. You live, you learn.

mercurial ohearn said...

"No one is expecting him to have internalized anything - what is being expected is the ability to follow directions."

apparently, you were expecting him to internalize the minimalization of variables, but then you switched this to "following directions", which is altogether different. perhaps you should've said "following directions", if that is what you originally meant.

providing us with the directions he was meant to follow might also have made this post a bit more informative.

after all, an 11-year-old can probably reason well enough to follow directions like "brush your teeth before you go to bed" or "mix two eggs together in a bowl with 1/2 cup of flour and 1 cup of sugar" or "write a report on something you see in your life, and say what you think is good or bad about it, and then tell your audience why you hold these opinions" or even "3x + 6 = 15, find x".

but the likelihood is far less (though not impossible) that this same child can fully grasp a set of instructions like "form a hypothesis (a specific concept that requires understanding and adherence to stringent criteria), based on your observations and/or intuition about some phenomenon in the world, and then test this hypothesis, using the scientific method (itself another, different list of sophisticated directions). be sure to check your experiment for weaknesses, such as failure of the double-blind test (another important concept that requires significant forethought), etc., etc., then analyze the data, and using the data, form a logical conclusion that either supports or refutes the conclusion you drew in your hypothesis," which seems to be what you are suggesting, though i see in your addendum to this post you "clarified" that remark.

yes, his "experiment" was hardly an experiment, as you so rightly point out. it exhibits, however, exactly the level of intelligence and attention to detail that one would expect from your average 11-year-old, who is just starting to internalize an abstract process like critical thinking. but even if he is below average, what difference does it make? you aren't attacking him because he's a poor science student, you're attacking him because he's christian, and because he tried (however inappropriately) to incorporate his religion into his research.

i still remember the science projects that most of my peers created when i was in junior high. some could hardly be considered science, even if they weren't, strictly speaking, religious in nature. this boy's doesn't seem all that different, in terms of rigorous attention to methodology.

the question might be considered valid in a psychosocial or rhetorical manner, it's not the basis of a science project.

are all psychological or sociological experiments no longer considered to be science? rhetoric, though not absolutely scientific, has at its heart the study of logic, which precepts and principles form the foundation of the scientific method.

"What bothers ME about YOUR statement is you seem to be setting the bar fairly low for children."

i hardly think i am. i'm merely acknowledging a fact: some kids are brighter than others, and some are much, much brighter than all the rest. fortunately, we have a society that can accommodate people of varying levels and types of ability. so this kid sucks at science. maybe he'll make a great plumber, which is good, because we still need those, and i hear they make good money.

the only thing of significance here is whether the teacher gave him a bad grade for his science project, which she should have. whether or not some unexceptional boy is capable of mastering the fundamentals of modern scientific thought when he is only first learning them in school is irrelevant to the context of your post, which ostensibly criticizes the impression upon children, and the imposition in their schools, of christian values, beliefs, and mores.

you have offered up an example of how christianity is corrupting science education, but you are placing the blame on parents, who have a right to raise their children in whatever manner they feel best. the blame really belongs with those educators, administrators, board members who allow it to happen, like your friend, the boy's teacher, for instance. it's the responsibility of your friend, in her role as educator, to instruct this boy on what is, and isn't science, and to fail him, if that is what is required.

a good teacher would have spotted the boy's error and directed him to more appropriate subject matter, as a part of his education. she would not have allowed him to continue down the wrong path in order to satisfy her own intellectual curiosity. she also places herself in a moral bind: if she gives him a poor grade, which he deserves, it is because she herself allowed him to persist in his ignorance, when she could have changed his focus and given him the chance to improve his work.

and yet, you don't criticize her role in this travesty at all; in fact, you make apologies for her and instead focus all of your energy and vitriol on the boy and his project.

"For the record, I'm not 'tearing apart a sixth grade child'. I'm tearing apart his science project because it's NOT A SCIENCE PROJECT."

it's obvious that you're using the excuse of tearing apart his science project to tear apart his beliefs. and if you define yourself by what you believe, which we are all instructed to do by the media, and by both our religious and our secular "leaders" and role models, then it stands to reason that someone who tears apart your beliefs is essentially attacking you.

there are better, more productive ways to attack a belief system than by focusing on the most defenseless among the herd.

"Show me a blog that is necessary?"

perhaps all blogs will be necessary in the future. what with information processing, data storage and mining, bionics, robotics and the increasing reliance of people on machines, who knows?

"But, when your doctor prescribes you prayer and three good acts, remember that it was you who said the expectations were too high."

well, if i may employ one of those abstract, critical thinking processes i've internalized since childhood:

i have never suggested that this kid should've gotten a good grade for his science project, or that he should then be passed on up neglectfully through the education system, from junior high through medical school, because he's "sensitive" and we shouldn't hurt his feelings.

these are straw man and a slippery slope arguments, respectively, and they're poor logic. but if you're looking for someone to blame, perhaps it is this friend of yours, if that friend gave this boy a good grade, or failed to point out to him those things about his science project that did not conform to the instructions he was given.

it certainly isn't me, as i do not teach science to children, and moreover, i don't talk down to them, either. rather, when the opportunity presents itself, i ask them questions, and try to get them to think about the reasons why they know what they know.

and for the record, a doctor who prescribed me prayer and 3 good works might be a tad more trustworthy, and his prescriptions no more effective, than the doctor who prescribes me 3 unnecessary drugs because he's receiving kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry to do so. of course, no modern doctor, not even a religious one, would ever make such a recommendation as the one you suggest. even witch doctors have special brews. another straw man.

"The lessons learned in childhood matter greatly."

you mean lessons like how to have compassion for others who are less fortunate or gifted than yourself? right.

so why expend your righteous indignation and your passion to write on ridiculing this vulnerable child, whose naivete in a different context we might have smiled at and dismissed, affectionately, as innocence?

why attack this child's "science project" as a means to passive-aggressively snipe at the people you're really aiming for, which are his parents, his teachers, his community, and his culture?

"she knew my kids had just won school science fairs and were going to county".

:::rolls eyes::: oh, well there you go.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Mercurial,
You clearly didn't read all the content of this matter. The "instructions" were provided in the comments section of another post.
I could care less about this kid's religion. His project wasn't a science project.

mercurial ohearn said...

"You clearly didn't read all the content of this matter. The "instructions" were provided in the comments section of another post."

sorry. i made a good faith reading of every comment you posted to this original blog post, and none includes a copy of the directions this child received.

forgive me if i lacked the perspicacity to rummage around the rest of your blog site (in the comments, even!), on the off-chance that i might randomly stumble across more info related to this particular blog post.

would you kindly please direct me to the comment of the blog post that contains these instructions, so i can read them and decide for myself how well he followed, or didn't follow, the directions he had been given? thank you.

and, as i said, it is perfectly obvious that you are attacking this child's religion. that you could "care less about his religion" is patently false; the subject matters deeply to you. so deeply, in fact, that you introduce yourself to the world as an "atheist in a mini van", and you believe that evangelical christianity is "bastardizing science."

while this may or may not be the case, you certainly haven't proven that this child's relative ineptitude as a junior scientist is in any way the result of the influence of christianity, evangelical or otherwise. you also wouldn't have chosen to point out his ineptitude if he had performed equally poorly on a science experiment that had nothing to do with god.

what you have done is write a post that strikes a decidedly hostile tone towards an 11-year-old, and then, when the inevitable and totally predictable backlash occurred, you backpedaled, you hemmed and hawed, you used rationalization in an attempt to justify your faux pas.

but that's ok. everyone's guilty of doing that at some point or the other. but another one of those "lessons we're supposed to learn in childhood" is to admit our mistakes and to try to do better, next time.

my apologies for ruffling your feathers, in this regard.