Thom Hartmann clip: home-schooling

I haven’t been able to find the archived recording of my own short appearance on yesterday’s Thom Hartmann show, but if you go here, and click on the clip labeled “100316 home school disadvantage”  (currently on top of the list), you’ll be able to listen to Michael McHugh. (The clip is about nine minutes long and you can read the listeners’ comments here.) McHugh heads a young-earth creationist organization, CLASS, that sells home-school materials on biology to parents.

Note that while desperately trying to defend his (and his company’s) notion that the earth is 6,000 years old, McHugh makes a couple of wonky arguments.  The first is that there are “no neutral facts.”  That is, every fact militates either for or against a certain worldview.  McHugh’s suggestion for how to educate your kids involves choosing which worldview suits them best, and then selecting the “facts” that fit this worldview.  I am not making this up: he says it explicitly.

Finally, forced into a corner by Hartmann, who basically takes him apart, McHugh resorts to the old defense that religious views of science must be correct because scientists as eminent as Newton were religious.

If you listen to McHugh, you’ll see what kind of “biology” hundreds of thousands of American kids learn at home.  It’s beyond belief that, in the name of “education,” McHugh and other Christian home-school outfits profit from peddling lies to children.

26 Comments

  1. Insightful Ape
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    So Mr McHugh makes no mention of other prominent scientists like Einstein not being believers?

  2. Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    That’s the difference, isn’t it? Do you want to select your world view so that it fits the facts, or do you want to select the facts so that they fit your world view?

    This is also why I consider this type of education to violate the rights of the children. While parents and have the right to teach children about their world view, they don’t have the right to withhold important facts about the world from them. But this is exactly what McHugh appears to be advocating for: hide all the facts from the kids that are inconvenient for their parents’ world view.

  3. newenglandbob
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I heard that Newton AND Einstein and Galileo all wore shoes.

    Therefore sneakers and are not natural and shouldn’t be worn because these eminent scientists did not wear them!

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      It gets worse.
      The people you mentioned were all white men. Does that mean the only people who are authorized to study science are…?

      • Tulse
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        I’m not sure the implied conclusion would disturb many fundamentalists.

    • Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Sneakers are not shoes?

  4. Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I know that some of my posts went to a homeschooled book from rational.Dubery.com so they are not all young earth creationists:)

    These poor children will find they have been lied too when they grow up we can only hope

    • Paula
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, there are plenty of secular or religiously liberal homeschoolers who accept and teach evolution. From my own experience and study of statistics, I think there are actually more of us around. The fundy xtians are just louder.

  5. PeterKarim
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    So the universe being created by Odin out of Ymir’s body, the universe being 13.75 billion years old and the earth 4.54, the universe being created by Brahma maitained by Vishnu and destroyed by Shiva in a cycle and the universe being created last Thursday… are all equally valid explanations ?

  6. SLC
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I always get a laugh when Christians like McHugh invoke Issac Newton. Obviously, Mr. McHugh is unaware of the fact that Newton was an Arian which belief is considered heresy by most Christian churches.

    • steve
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Indeed, none of that trinitarian heresy for Newton.

      Newton was also deeply interested in alchemy, can we expect to see some chemistry materials oozing out of CLASS ?

      Since it’s all just a matter of world view.

  7. oldfuzz
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Anyone who says “…there are ‘no neutral facts’…that is, every fact militates either for or against a certain worldview…” holds a worldview which cannot be changed by facts and will ignore or refute any evidence counter to their absolute premise.

    Let’s hope Harry Truman was on target when he said, “The only things worth knowing are the things you learn after you know it all.” If so, many of the home schooled young earth creationists could become barrier breaking future scientists.

  8. Bob Puharic
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    So Newton was religious so that makes creationism right?

    Kind of makes you wonder what Newton thought of Einstein.

  9. Jonn Mero
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Sad. Seriously sad!
    Although against eugenics; these godbots should not be permitted to breed as they are totally unfit to become parents.
    It is child abuse to deny any child to learn proper factual stuff, and not have their intellect thwarted by silly lies.
    *double-shudder*

  10. AnneH
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    the video:

    McHugh should not be allowed anywhere near children’s education. He is far too ignorant.

    • Green
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Agreed. He didn’t even do his homework. Tsk. Tsk.

  11. litchik
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I heard an Irish woman on NPR say that children cannot be indoctrinated anymore, except my marketers. She didn’t bother with any studies to back up her claim. I believe she took it on faith.

    Still, the fight really isn’t over home schoolers, it’s over the larger society. If the society at large values inquiry and reason then when the children grow up and explore that society a certain percentage will jump from their parent’s ship. This is why the religious right is trying to claim we are a “Christian nation.” And to take over not just our public schools but our all our public institutions. They are not stupid – mythology centric, yes, but not stupid. OK, many of the flag wavers are dolts, but the leaders have a strategy.

  12. Jacob
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The “you have your facts, I have mine” might be a way of sneaking creationism past the doorway, but that is the very postmodern, subjective worldview that they rail against. How can they be the sole proprietors of truth if truth is nothing more than a personal convenience?

    • Tulse
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Yes, I have been absolutely flummoxed by the embrace of postmodern relativism among some fundies. They have never been all that concerned about certain kinds of consistency, but this move is deeply ironic.

      • Posted March 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        This lack of consistency is one of the things that annoys me most when debating a believer. They seem to be happy fending off criticisms one at a time, even if they use arguments that contradict arguments that they’ve used previously against other criticism. The never make a coherent case that holds up against the whole body of criticisms. Drives me insane. Maybe they know and they do it on purpose.

        I also wonder if there’s a Gödel’s law for world views as well as for systems of mathematics: a world view can never be both consistent and complete at the same time. Either a world view is complete but inconsistent, or it is consistent but incomplete. If that’s true, I’d say that creationists tend to prefer the former, and atheists the latter option.

    • Paula
      Posted March 17, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Circular arguements are about the only kind you can get from that type if it has anything to with religion. It always comes back to the ‘bible is the inerrant word of god, therefore if it contradicts the bible, it cannot be true’.

  13. Werther
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    “The first is that there are “no neutral facts.” That is, every fact militates either for or against a certain worldview. McHugh’s suggestion for how to educate your kids involves choosing which worldview suits them best, and then selecting the “facts” that fit this worldview.”

    That is precisely the sort of argument that the interrogator O’Brien would make in Orwell’s 1984. 2+2=5, if the Party demands it.

  14. Reinard
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Who cares about facts when you have The Truth on your side?

  15. judy
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    It is amazing how the world is *always* 6,000 years old. Each passing year is never added. Should we be about 6,243 now??? just sayin.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] The mindset described by Michael McHugh explains exactly how so many otherwise rational people can become so selective in the ‘facts’ they already believe are representative of and meaningful to their worldview, while able to so callously disregard other ‘facts’ that are in direct conflict with the worldview. What this essentially means is that anyone who says “…there are ‘no neutral facts’…that is, every fact militates either for or against a certain worldview…” holds a worldview which cannot be changed by facts and will ignore or refute any evidence counter to their absolute premise. (Tip to #7 Oldfuzz commenting on WEIT about this subject.) […]

  2. […] The mindset described by Michael McHugh explains exactly how so many otherwise rational people can become so selective in the ‘facts’ they already believe are representative of and meaningful to their worldview, while able to so callously disregard other ‘facts’ that are in direct conflict with the worldview. What this essentially means is that anyone who says “…there are ‘no neutral facts’…that is, every fact militates either for or against a certain worldview…” holds a worldview which cannot be changed by facts and will ignore or refute any evidence counter to their absolute premise. (Tip to #7 Oldfuzz commenting on WEIT about this subject.) […]

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