A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Category archive: Middle East

Sunday July 13 2008

Boston scientists reckon they know a bit more about autism:

Researchers from Boston have discovered six new genes implicated in autism. The genes normally make new brain connections needed for learning, but their absence or silence apparently places them among many mutations that lead to the devastating disorder, which is marked by trouble with communication and social interaction.

Here.

“People think of genetic diseases as immutable and untreatable,” Walsh said in an interview. “Studies like ours and others give more hope we might not need to replace genes one by one, but find other ways of activating the genes that might be silent.”

Later in the report comes this rather chilling sentence.

The researchers studied large Middle Eastern families in which cousins had married and the incidence of autism was high.

That’s not an experiment anybody would be able to contrive otherwise.  It’s good to know that cousin-marrying can sometimes be helpful.

Tuesday December 18 2007

Don’t get educated.  Don’t get rich.  Do get married.

Evidence about the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism among Palestinians. Abstract:

This paper investigates the ways in which terrorism is linked to education and poverty using data newly culled from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) documentary sources. The paper presents a statistical analysis of the determinants of participation in terrorist activities by members of the Hamas and PIJ between the late 1980s and May 2002. The resulting evidence suggests that both higher education and standard of living are positively associated with participation in Hamas or PIJ and with becoming a suicide bomber, while being married significantly reduces the probability of participation in terrorist activities.

I like the idea of people getting educated, but one of the great myths of the last hundred years or so is that education will solve all problems, especially problems involving people quarreling with one another.  The truth, long known, confirmed by the above research, is that often education makes matters worse.  Educated people are all too liable to learn in far greater detail why they hate each other.  Also, educated people tend to be richer and cleverer, and richer and cleverer people do more terrorism because they can.

LATER SECOND THOUGHT:  Actually I suspect that first bit should read: Don’t be rich.  A bit of a difference, I think you’ll agree.  I doubt if getting rich is nearly so bad.  And don’t be that clever either.  But do be educated.

Friday December 14 2007

A lesson with a difference:

A physical education teacher, 57, died Friday morning during a gym class with students in the Yavneh high school yeshiva in Haifa.  ...

At around 8:30 a.m., the Carmel MDA station received a call that a gym teacher had collapsed in the middle of a class. One of the paramedics that arrived at the scene, Asher Golan, said, “When we came, the teacher was lying in a bad state, unconscious and without a pulse. We tried all kinds of resuscitation methods, including advanced ones such as electric shocks and medication, but we were forced to confirm his death.”

Golan maintains that the entire incident happened in front of the teacher’s students.

MDA said that the teacher most likely suffered from irregular cardiac activity, which caused cardiac arrest that led to his death.

MDA presumably being an Israeli healthcare acronym.  It is of course tempting to conclude from this that gym classes are a mortal threat to health.  But the real lesson is surely that ... people die, and the rest of us just have to live with this.