Here's an interesting article from the libertarian magazine Reason which will make someone think about how the value of an education has declined, especially in the kind of content that is being taught. Samuel Arbesman is the author of the book The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date. I think those of you who are reading might make the connection between this story and the poor quality public school in Texas that Angelica Gonzales attended.
Click to Read More: Half the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong
I'm going to post some quotes from the article I found most important and notable.
Fact-making is speeding up, writes Arbesman, a senior scholar at the Kaufmann Foundation and an expert in scientometrics, the science of measuring and analyzing science. As facts are made and remade with increasing speed, Arbesman is worried that most of us don’t keep up to date. That means we’re basing decisions on facts dimly remembered from school and university classes—facts that often turn out to be wrong.
In 1947, the mathematician Derek J. de Solla Price was asked to store a complete set of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society temporarily in his house. Price stacked them in chronological order by decade, and he noticed that the number of volumes doubled about every 15 years, i.e., scientific knowledge was apparently growing at an exponential rate. Thus the field of scientometrics was born.
Price started to analyze all sorts of other kinds of scientific data, and concluded in 1960 that scientific knowledge had been growing steadily at a rate of 4.7 percent annually for the last three centuries. In 1965, he exuberantly observed, “All crude measures, however arrived at, show to a first approximation that science increases exponentially, at a compound interest of about 7 percent per annum, thus doubling in size every 10–15 years, growing by a factor of 10 every half century, and by something like a factor of a million in the 300 years which separate us from the seventeenth-century invention of the scientific paper when the process began.”
A 2010 study in the journal Scientometrics, looking at data between 1907 and 2007, concurred: The “overall growth rate for science still has been at least 4.7 percent per year.”
The education system in the United States is no longer about teaching people critical thinking skills but instead imposing a political agenda depending on what teacher or professor you have. Many of these teachers have no interest or passion in actually performing an altruistic duty for their students and are just doing it so they can have a lot of vacation time from what I can surmise. We cannot afford to have these lousy teachers when it has been proven that this country is lagging behind in math and science.
In 2005, the physician and statistician John Ioannides published “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” in the journal PLoS Medicine. Ioannides cataloged the flaws of much biomedical research, pointing out that reported studies are less likely to be true when they are small, the postulated effect is likely to be weak, research designs and endpoints are flexible, financial and nonfinancial conflicts of interest are common, and competition in the field is fierce. Ioannides concluded that “for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.” Still, knowledge marches on, spawning new facts and changing old ones.
Another reason that personal knowledge decays is that people cling to selected “facts” as a way to justify their beliefs about how the world works. Arbesman notes, “We persist in only adding facts to our personal store of knowledge that jibe with what we already know, rather than assimilate new facts irrespective of how they fit into our worldview.” All too true; confirmation bias is everywhere.
So is there anything we can do to keep up to date with the changing truth? Arbesman suggests that simply knowing that our factual knowledge bases have a half-life should keep us humble and ready to seek new information. Well, hope springs eternal.
Perhaps if the schools started to place more emphasis on learning about math and science and investing in critical thinking skills that will help the students learn independently and keep up with current events, maybe there wouldn't be so much bad government or student loan debt in the first place. It's amazing how despite the innovations that the Internet has brought over the past decade, many people still happen to be uninformed and poorly educated. I am also a firm believer in the concept of autodidacticism and self-directed learning for certain subjects for which college isn't needed, like many of the social sciences and liberal arts majors like political science and psychology.