Archive for October, 2013

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Steiner Schools – a letter to my MP

October 20, 2013

Occasionally I manage to drag myself away from the car-crash spectacle of right-wing politics in the US long enough to worry about what’s going on in the UK. And what’s going on seems to include the Free Schools policy, a spiffing wheeze promoted by the Government to free kids from the state-sanctioned tyranny of having to learn about observable reality from people who are competent, and instead to allow them to be taught by anyone who fancies having a go at it. The less people know, the less they have to worry about, right?

A number of interesting cases seem to be emerging from the woodwork – there’s the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derbyshire which fell dramatically foul of Ofsted recently, and the Jewish Yesodey Hatorah girls’ school was caught censoring exam questions on evolution (in addition to promoting fairly low expectations of its pupils’ career prospects).

But, one might argue, we know that religious schools are going to be like that – their anti-science and misogynistic tendencies are well documented, we can watch out for it and take steps to tackle it. Far more insidious are Steiner Schools – schools run by devotees of the mysterious personality cult of Rudolf Steiner. And, thanks to the Free Schools policies, a few Steiner Free Schools are springing up. Following a talk from Andy Lewis of The Quackometer at my local Skeptics in the Pub meeting in which he talked about the dangers posed by these schools, I felt motivated to put finger to keyboard and write to my MP about it.

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Thoughts on Republican Obamacare madness (and the fraud of private health insurance)

October 5, 2013

One of the things the Republicans used to say about Obamacare (a.k.a. “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act“) was that they would “repeal and replace” it. Lately, there’s been nary a squeak about the “replace” part of it, and rather than “repeal” (which implies an action taken in accordance with the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box), the strategy is to sabotage it and hold the economy to ransom in an attempt to defund it.

Amid all the Republican tantrum-throwing, it would be nice to see from them an articulation of why the existing model of essentially unregulated private health insurance works and should be left alone. The reason such a paean to the merits of the current model has not been forthcoming is quite simple. The current model does not work, and cannot possibly work.

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