Joined: Jan. 2006
Creationists are not unintelligent.
Yes I know, shock horror etc.
Much pontificating has been done on why creationists do what they do with regards to science/knowledge. As I am much concerned about education I was thinking about an idea I'd like some input on. I'll elaborate:
The creationist "big tent" contains some very highly educated people. Dembski, for all his flaws has genuine qualifications in several subjects at post-highschool level. The same goes for the Behes, Morrises, Gishs, Meyers of this world, and many other creationists besides. We have had much discussion of how adherence to certain pre-existing religious ideologies affects creationists, we've had discussions of their apparently aberrant psychology and the excellent "Morton's Demon", we've discussed their political ideologies and commitments and a wide variety of other topics.
In short we've found many social phenomena to "blame" (and I use the word loosely) for the current crop of creationists.
I have another area to "blame": education. Since I have been exposed to the UK, US and French post school education systems, I have obviously formed some opinions about each. Whether these opinions are correct or not I leave to you guys to discuss.
My observation, particularly in the UK and US, is that the education system, particularly in schools but increasingly at universities, views education as a measurable "product". The increased use of league tables based on exam results has produced the (perhaps unwanted) effect of schools teaching kids to pass exams and not to think too deeply. In the news today here in the UK is a story about a child studying for their GCSE exams (at 16) who has been told to dumb their excellent answers down and to include certain key phrases/terms because the exam system doesn't reward original thought, it only rewards "correct" answers according to a mark scheme.
Obviously I find this abhorrent, and it is a well established trend in UK schools, it is also creeping into our universities. I also noticed the same thing to some degree in the US system, where the focus in many courses (right up to junior/senior college course I took) was in the accurate regurgitation of the assigned textbook/course notes in an exam. Obviously there are local variations in style etc, but it was the general pattern I observed particularly in these two nations.
Another outcome of this that I have observed is since we appear to be teaching kids to pass exams and not to think, is that we have a frighteningly ignorant populace bulding up. A populace that thinks there is a "right" answer to all questions, and the liberal arts/humanities style "essay question" response to a problem is the way to do things.
(Be assured I am not blaming teachers, schools, or the humanities for this phenomenon, merely the system in which these things are taught studied and the way this system has changed of late.)
What I mean by the "essay question" response is the over simplistic high school type answer in which the student demonstrates they can find references to support an argument or interpretation, and if the spelling, grammar and punctuation is ok, and the argument has some supporting references, then an A is awarded. "Smith et al  say that Shakespere was written by Bacon" kind of thing. The conclusions are irrelevant (it would appear) and the validity of the references is also apparently irrelevant. This is also reinforced by the timid politically correct culture of schools in which no student can do wrong or "fail" at anything for fear of damaging them or litigation.
I think this education method has been creeping in over the last few decades and is directly contributing to the creationist resurgence we are having. I think the evidence in part lies in the relatively widespread acceptance of creationism in the US in particular (an "answer" with no room for doubts, supported by quote mines etc), and in the style and manner in which the GoPs and AFDs of this world "support" their claims.
Obviously I think this is one contributory factor, not THE contributory factor.
I'd be grateful for tales of other people's educational experiences, thoughts on this matter, and a general discussion on what could be done in education and also what scientists/interested parties outside education can do.