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Messages - Des

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General Discussion / Re: Geog Collective gets famous!
« on: February 22, 2013, 07:59:33 PM »
It's not an advert, though, is it? The hotel group is sponsoring this project/discussion/whatever, and their credits appear at the start and the end. But the main content isn't an advert. That said, I did wonder for a moment or two; the impressive video looks very professional indeed - the sort of quality you'd expect from a premium hotel brand advert...

General Discussion / Re: Geography 'stars'
« on: November 21, 2012, 10:11:30 PM »
** tumbleweed **

General Discussion / Re: Geography at Uni?
« on: October 22, 2012, 08:44:20 AM »
I think you're likely to get a list of universities that members have gone to...

Recommendations need to be based on factors such as: expectected grades; preference for a large or small department/uni; urban or rural -based uni; preferred approach to learning, teaching and assessment; class sizes; particular interests within geography etc.

Also, try and not be unduly swayed by websites and the prospectus. Pay the department a visit and be prepared to ask difficult questions.. League tables will only get you so far, and you need to understand how they are constructed.

And finally, there is the question of research activity. This is a difficult one; it is good for students to be taught by members of staff who are research-active. BUT there is a continuum from places where staff are research-active but teaching remains a priority, right through to research-intensive departments where undergraduate teaching is, well, perhaps less of a priority. The latter probably isn't really an issue for the best students, who will flourish regardless.

General Discussion / Re: Geographies and Geography
« on: September 14, 2012, 08:02:55 AM »
There is no grammatical justification for the use of 'geographies' rather than 'geography.' Nevertheless, 'geographies' is increasingly widely used, presumably because it is quite effective in emphasising that a plurality of views/concepts exists. It tends to be more commonly used in human geography; I'm struggling to think of physical examples, but I'm pretty sure they exist.

From today's Guardian - why this sort of nonsense is damned dangerous -

Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education from 2007 to 2009, is a "young earth" creationist. He believes the earth is 6,000 years old, that human beings walked with dinosaurs, and that Noah's Ark had a unique, multi-level construction that allowed it to house every species of animal, including the dinosaurs.

He has a right to his beliefs, but it's his views on history that are problematic. McLeroy is part of a large and powerful movement determined to impose a thoroughly distorted, ultra-partisan, Christian nationalist version of US history on America's public school students. And he has scored stunning successes.


An interesting yet disturbing read, BST. I take it there is no evidence of anything remotely like that happening over here?

I'm sure it would be useful for critical thinking skills, Mark, but it may be too subtle. Taken in isolation, it's a fairly innoccuous documentary. However, as has already been said by swhitch and BST, it's the subtext that really matters here.

In terms of 'one-sided documentaries', I think the term should apply to those that fail to address substantive issues and, in the process, have the potential to seriously mislead the viewer. I'm not sure that this DVD quite falls into this category when considered on its own (although as a series, yes). Similarly, I don't think that 'An Inconvenient Truth' would fall into this category. Sure, it's a slickly-produced 'documentary' with a less than subtle agenda of its own, but the science within it is fairly robust and reflects an overwhelming consensus at the time of production (the subtleties that were glossed over did not fundamentally alter the argument). The fact that the producers did not introduce some minority views on climate change for the sake of (false) 'balance' is to their credit. By contrast, I think that Martin Durkin's 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' is a wonderful, in-your-face example of a documentary that is so biased that scientific data were 'modified' in order to help the programme along... (FWIW, I'd rather watch the latter any day).

I don't think we should criticize a documentary for being 'one-sided' if it merely reflects the existence of an overwhelming consensus on some scientific topic. Of course, we'd want it to be objective and highlight legitimate issues, but it would do us no favours if it over-stated dissenting views merely in an attempt to be seen as being 'even-handed' and 'balanced.'

I've just skimmed through the text. It's quite clever; it doesn't say anything about the age of the Earth, other than to introduce the idea that not all processes operate slowly and steadily over millions of years; some are geologically catastrophic. And who would argue with that?

The issues that I do have with the DVD (or, at least, the transcript) are as follows:
i) It suggests that this is somehow 'news' - it's not.
ii) It suggests that Uniformitarianism has no scope for high magnitude events - not true.

It's a real shame that they didn't touch upon the age of the Earth. If they had, they would have had to reject many of the publications they refer to (assuming they are so-called 'Young Earth Creationists.'

Like Tris, I now find myself wanting sight of the DVD to see what it's like  :)

The glacial megaflood content sounds all very reasonable, but in what way is it used?

This is a thread that could get out of hand fairly quickly! Even so, I feel compelled to respond to the assertion that some of the forum contributors have "...swallowed the present accepted scientific paradigm of evolution as fact. It is a theory...".

Ignoring the use of the word 'swallowed' (which rather suggests we have been a bit gullible), I completely agree; it is a theory - but one that is capable of explaining how life on earth has changed through time and space. In science it does not get any better than this; an explanation starts off as an hypothesis and, if it stands the test of time, it assumes the status of a 'theory.' But scientists would never assert that ANY explanation is 'fact'; after all, there could be an observation that challenges a theory and results in it being modified or abandoned. So, the fact that 'evolution' has the status of 'theory' means that it is a powerful explanation of the evidence.

Science thrives on controvery and proving people (and theories) to be incorrect; if there is a problem with evolution - i.e. a deal-breaker rather than something peripheral - why are we not hearing about it in the major peer-reviewed journals?

I'm surprised that we are discussing evolution at all as geographers. My own experience is that Creationists are more likely to have problems with Earth Science (e.g. age of the Earth, rate and intensity of processes).

My final point would be a word of caution; students progressing to university to study geography, geology, biology and the like will not be well-served if the scientific method and well-established scientific theories are misrepresented.

I hope no one takes offence at this post; certainly none was intended.

I'm not at all surprised that they're sending some free copies to schools, Tris; this is exactly where they want/need their message to be heard. Charging teachers £12.95 to receive a DVD that promotes their cause (Creationism) was, at best, a somewhat optimistic plan.
Des (living it up on a Saturday night...)

'Truth in Science' is a Creationist group with a fairly obvious agenda...

General Discussion / Re: Sharing Resources
« on: January 06, 2012, 09:07:03 AM »

Although I don't always agree with them, I do respect Ian's views on a range of topics. There are times when he tries to get a discussion going by challenging people's positions (usually on matters of copyright and the selling of resources for teachers). I think this is perceived in some quarters to be confrontational, although that is not my take on it at all. In fact, I think it is healthy to have such discussions - as long as people compose their posts carefully and do not over-interpret the posts of others. The latter is an easy trap to fall into when you think you 'know' the motives of another contributor based on prior exchanges.

General Discussion / Re: Harvard or Numeric
« on: December 18, 2011, 10:12:41 PM »
Had a big debate in the department over which was the best method of referencing.

It ended up being a bet that most people would agree with me.  I actually say that numeric is the best...

Thoughts please!!  (Merry xmas!)

Feel free to shoot me down in flames, but I'm quite surprised that you're having such a debate at all, never mind posting about it on this forum. I take it this is not a contrived way of promoting your product ( on the general forum?

I suspect it's just me being a bit too suspicious - sorry. Moving on, then, why do you think the 'numerical system' is better/more popular?

General Discussion / Re: Harvard or Numeric
« on: December 18, 2011, 08:18:35 PM »
Harvard. It's standard in geography courses at university level, and features in all the key journals.

Is Ravenscraig a town? It probably is - Runrig did a B side of that name back in the 90s. Or it might have been the 80s - it all merges to me nowadays...

Ravenscraig, which is located in North Lanarkshire, is best known for its former steelworks (which shut in 1992). There are ambitious plans to build on the site what is being described as Scotland's first 'new town' in over 50 years...


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