Monday, December 15, 2008

Remembering May Be Obsolete

We've talked about this before. see what you think. A kid uses his or her cell phone in school to get answers to a test question, we think they're cheating. But in real life, if someone knows how to use technology to get information we think they're smart. Do we really need to fill our heads with a bunch of facts, when they're easily available by consulting the Great Google?
For generations of pupils, learning key historical dates, places, and names off by heart has been the bastion of academic success.

But for today's youngsters, tedious rote learning is pointless because such basic facts are only a mouse click away via Google, Wikipedia and online libraries, according to writer and businessman Don Tapscott.

Tapscott, author of the best-selling book Wikinomics and a champion of the "net generation", suggests a better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online.

The Canadian business executive said: "Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is.

"Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don't need to know all the dates.

"It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google." Learning by heart is 'pointless for Google generation'

This is provocative. Plato had Socrates complaining that writing was ruining memory, and he had a point, but look what's happening now! In Plato's day, a limited amount of information was written down, books were hard to come by, but at least you didn't have to memorize all those myths. Socrates was concerned that a dangerous kind of cognitive laziness was settling in, as people depended on writing to store knowledge, as a substitute for verbal speech and memory. But with the Internet we now have the opportunity to spend our lives in a cognitive coma, you don't have to know anything at all, except how Google works. And Wikipedia.
Tapscott dismissed the idea that his approach is anti-learning, instead arguing that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever "in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed".

And he believes that the old-fashioned model of education still prevalent in today's schools, involving remembering facts 'off pat', was designed for the industrial age.

He said: "This might have been good for the mass production economy, but it doesn't deliver for the challenges of the digital economy, or for the 'net gen' mind.

"Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time."

I'm sure there is a reasonable argument against this. For one thing, there does seem to be a danger of cognitive atrophy, if people ever had to live without computers it is not clear that they would be able to re-adapt to simpler ways, relying on memory and books with paper pages. But who thinks computers are going to go away? Our kids are growing up in a different world from what we knew, in so many ways.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very perspicacious observation: "danger of cognitive atrophy".
That is indeed a major problem we will have to deal with in this new age. I am a retired history teacher - I never required the memorization of trivial dates, names, situations by my students, but always emphasized the recognition of context...cause and effect of the events of history. I emphasized clear and cogent essay responses to broader historical questions and would never downgrade because of an error in dates or spelling.
Unfortunately, the study of history has slipped in the hierarchy of scholastic importance...mainly due to the crazy testing mania and the fact that gaining a grasp of the essence of history is just plain hard work! The old saying that "anybody can teach history" is very evident these days.
It seems to me that relying on such "glib" resources as Google or Wikipedia for quick overviews misses the very essence of knowing and understand history and what lessons it can impart to us, especially in crucial decision-making situations. One of my major criticisms of Mr. Bush has been that he has no "sense of history" and is thus deprived of the ability to see connections with what went before us, events facing us, and possible consequences of making decisions and taking actions.
Unfortunately it seems that we are slowly but surely losing our scholastic connection with history as a learning exercise. We want learning to be "fun", knowledge to be acquired without the sweaty effort it takes to gain true knowledge and understanding.
I acknowledge the changing world we live in, but that doesn't mean that I have to like treating subjects like history as insignificent in being an integral part of one's intelligence and "cognitive" makeup. The world of tomorrow will indeed be a very sterile one if we have to depend on tv reality shows to impart our understanding of the world.

December 15, 2008 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In order to think about things, you must first know something.

As for history teaching in Virginia, because of the SOLs, it has become a matter of memorizing a series of facts (on the level of "What are 3 economic consequences of the invention of farming", which, to my mind, is no more abstract than knowing something about the Battle of Hastings).


December 15, 2008 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

classical education is based on three stages:

1. memorization- this is basically the traditional elementary school years; at this point, kids are open to memorizing lots of facts

2. critical- roughly middle school; kids learn to critically analyze things; this is how their brains are wired at this point

3. appreciation- in high school, kids start to appreciate beauty and develop meaning and values

December 15, 2008 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that to have coherent, knowledgeable conversations, you'd have to actually know things --not just know where to find them. Take that Miss. South Carolina thing a while back -- the one who couldn't give a coherent reason about why U.S. kids don't know their geography. Had they given her a computer, I'm sure she could have competently Googled for some answers and decided which one she liked best. However, she was obviously deficient in the knowledge of facts area. Without knowing some basic facts, she couldn't put together a coherent critical thought.

Now....I'm not criticizing her harshly. There she was -- young, nervous, and having to talk and think critically in front of millions of people. Good for her for even getting up there and trying. It's more than most people ever do in a lifetime.

However, I think she probably learned a valuable lesson about how important it is to actually memorize and know basic information. I wouldn't be surprised if, 10 years from now, we see a very knowledgeable and impressive young lady. I feel that her shortcoming was due to the failings of those who educated her, along with her own lack of interest in truly learning.

December 15, 2008 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrea- not anon
So anon - it that why Princess Sarah couldn't think of anything she read and didn't know any Supreme Court decisions besides Roe V Wade? I'd be surprised if she or Miss SC learn anything of an educational nature in 10 years.

December 15, 2008 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a charming and relevant comment, Andreary

is that all a highly educated person like yourself can come up with?

maybe it would help if you stand in the rain

December 16, 2008 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sarah Palin probably could benefit from having more knowledge about Supreme Court decisions and where she stands on those issues. That does illustrate the point I was making rather perfectly --when you're in a situation like that, in the middle of an interview, you can't stop and say "wait, i need to go consult Google." You need to be able to pull the knowledge from your head. People are not impressed by knowing that she can go to her computer and pull up Supreme Court cases. They wanted to be impressed that she knew them, in her head.

Now, many times a day, information is asked of politicians and they don't know the answer, or they get something wrong (Obama thinking there are 58 states, for instance). Everyone understands that you can't be knowledgeable about every subject, but we are impressed by people who never fumble and do seem to know everything. Again, that argues against the "go to Google" theory.

Sarah Palin made the mistake of not simply giving an answer like: "Roe v. Wade is the most egregious Supreme Court decision ever handed down." And then launching into why it's such a hideous decision beyond the pale of any shred of human decency. The fact that our high court encourages and allows women to brutally kill their unborn children is stark and compelling. She could have turned the interview completely around.

That being said...would it have been nice if her knowledge base had included more information about Supreme Court decisions? Yes. Does it illustrate that we should simply allow children to use Google and not memorize information? Clearly it doesn't.

As for the reading list...when I was watching that interview, and that question was asked, my immediate reaction, before Sarah Palin answered, was "don't give out your reading list." She was being so satirized and skewered by the media at that point, that the last thing that was needed was a "Sarah Palin Reading List" spoof. Because we all know that, no matter what publications she had read, the media would have spoofed it, and pulled out articles from the publication, somehow trying to show that Sarah Palin believed every word of what was written in every publication she read.

So, she was smart to sidestep that question, regardless of how people skewered her over it.

December 16, 2008 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may be a difference between knowledge and memory, though you can never have one without the other -- memory without knowledge is "data," knowledge without memory is ignorance (faith, in other words). It is possible for instance to know that the planets revolve around the sun without knowing how you know that, without knowing how gravity works, without understanding angular velocity and the calculus of planetary orbiting, without understanding Kepler's contribution that the orbits are elliptical, anything about mass and force in the Newtonian system ... you know the isolated fact that the planets go around the sun but you have no memory for any details. As a physicist you are an ignoramus, but this kind of knowledge suffices for navigation through everyday obstacles. Google can immediately give you all of Newton's laws of motion and the explanations for how they work, if you should need them, all the formulas, the history of the concepts, simplified and technical explanations, are all there on the Internet. You don't need to know any of it.

Physicists who cite Wikipedia in their scholarly papers do not get published, though.

December 16, 2008 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Physicists who cite Wikipedia in their scholarly papers do not get published, though."

Wikipedia has references. Go to them and see where it leads.

Think of it as a summarized search engine.

December 16, 2008 9:58 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

If you have no understanding (not knowledge)of physics, all the formulae posted on the internet won't help you one whit.

And since when did Obama say there were 58 states?

December 16, 2008 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"knowledge without memory is ignorance (faith, in other words)."

Human knowledge must be understood to be loved. Divine knowledge must be loved to be understood.

Dana -- Obama said it on the campaign trail. He said he had visited 57 states and had one to go. You can Google it and it comes right up.

December 16, 2008 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

57 states

December 16, 2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch the video and note that he pauses on the number "seven." It's obvious he meant to say "forty-seven states with left one to go" and that he couldn't go to Hawaii and Alaska because his "staff would not justify it." He doesn't think there are 60 states, he simply misspoke "fifty" for "forty," most likely because he's well aware there are 50 states.

McCain really didn't know how many houses he and his wife own.

December 16, 2008 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"57 States."

I had originally said that Obama thought there were 58 states. He said he had visited 57 states, and had one more to go. That's where the 58 comes from.

December 16, 2008 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?"

"I think, uh ...I'll have my staff get to you...

December 16, 2008 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think not knowing how many states there are is worst than not knowing how many houses you have. McCain's wife is wealthy and have many "homes". We all know people with several rental or vacation properties. Just think if they had a lot more money. Big deal.

I think Obama knows how many states there are. I'd never heard of his slip of tongue but if it had been Sarah Palin, you can be sure we all would have.

Distinguished political commentator, Ann Coulter, recently nominated Sarah Palin for Time magazine's Man of the Year thusly:

"I name Sarah Palin for her genius at annoying all the right people. I haven't seen liberals so enraged by a woman since me. Once John McCain was nominated, the election was a snoozefest until our hero bounded out of the Alaskan tundra.

Palin is wildly interesting, charismatic and charming, so Democrats fixated on her inexperience--meaning she is only five times as experienced as our next President."

December 16, 2008 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

old-anon - it's clear that you need a long vacation and a break from trolling here. "Distinguished political commentator, Ann Coulter"?? The only distinguishing characteristic that Ann Coulter has is that she is an surly shrew with a few bones to pick. "I haven't seen liberals so enraged by a woman since me." She said that...the words of a conservative bigot. Too bad her jaw is now unwired and we are going to have to listen to her vile vituperation again. All for the big bucks, huh? - now that exhibits an outstanding ethical foundation for that woman.

December 16, 2008 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we can clearly see, you can't argue with what Coulter has to say here so you attack her personally.

Thanks. That makes her point.

The new President seems like a nice guy but he doesn't have near the experience of Sarah Palin.

Twenty years from now, we'll look back and see he didn't have near the legacy either.

December 16, 2008 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"All for the big bucks, huh? - now that exhibits an outstanding ethical foundation for that woman."

Could we have some elaboration for this seemingly assinine statement?

December 16, 2008 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most egregious Supreme Court decision was Plessy v. Ferguson, not Roe v. Wade.

Ann Coulter's public persona is as a surly, vituperative woman. That's how she sells herself. If you like that, you should buy her books. If you don't, you should turn the TV or radio off when she appears. She makes herself up, at least to some degree, to appeal to a certain niche market. Good for her, but it's hard to portray as sweetness and light.

Anonymous complaining about people making personal attacks? Like rain on a sunny day.

December 16, 2008 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Heck, I was just pointing out that no one here has any argument against Coulter's comment.

December 16, 2008 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plessy vs. Ferguson was a bad one, but separate but equal is not more hideous than alive baby vs. murdered baby. And not just murdered -- but murdered at the request of your own mother.

December 16, 2008 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree that abortion is a difficult topic, and it's hard for me to see a middle ground of compromise for the opposing sides. I've had friends who've had to make that decision, and I thank god that it is one I will never have to make.

In the history of US Supreme Court decisions, Dredd Scott was pretty shameful also.

We were discussing history and knowledge. I wonder how many of my students even know what Dredd, Plessy and Roe were about. They all seem to know Hanna Montana, though, whoever that is.

December 17, 2008 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honey, you're starting with the assumption that Ann Coulter is worth arguing with. My point is that she's vituperative in order to annoy, and start fruitless arguments. She intentionally doesn't start fruitful discussions, but creates this anti-liberal (whatever that means) persona in order to sell herself to a disgruntled niche market, not in order to provoke thought or discussion.

Do we know anyone else like that?

December 17, 2008 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The perfect middle ground between abortion and keeping a baby is adoption.

December 17, 2008 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could run with programs encouraging adoption. There are thousands of queer couples that want babies.

December 17, 2008 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ann Coulter said she likes Palin for "annoying all the right people."

Some commenters come here to annoy tolerant people. I'm not surprised "old-anon" likes Coulter, the never wed 47 year old woman with shriveled eggs.

Some women like Coulter apparently prefer being rich, thin, and unencumbered to having their own children, and then they have the gall to call for other women to find "middle ground" and give birth to their unplanned, unwanted children and to give them to strangers to raise. Women like Coulter who are not even willing to even try to have their own children should not be demanding others do it for them.

Selfish is as selfish does.


December 17, 2008 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I could run with programs encouraging adoption. There are thousands of queer couples that want babies."

Robert, it sounds to me like you have the right moral perspective on abortion.

You should get involved with a pro-life pregnancy clinic.

December 17, 2008 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that abortion should be opposed simply because it's a horrible thing to kill a child, not because it produces a good crop for those who want babies. If we use the latter rationale, then supply and demand will become the central issue and eventually we're back to killing babies if supply exceeds demand, or if it becomes unfashionable, or even illegal {e.g., China}, to have babies. Plus, once the act of having babies become commoditized in that fashion, the potential for exploitation is great -- just look at China. Not only do they have abortions, but even forced abortions. {Obama, by the way, has promised to fund the international organizations that fully support the brutal one child policy and its well-known enforcement via forced abortions.}

Pre-natal and post-natal human life needs to be valued because we believe it is valuable -- without any strings attached.

December 17, 2008 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MCPS Mom --

I don't understand your logic. The very essence of selfishness is to take a human life because you can't or won't care for it, and declare that if you can't have the baby -- then no one else can either. You certainly don't have to have children of your own to recognize the horrible implications of this.

Suppose our laws stated that men could take their wives to a clinic and have them killed. A man could rationalize, based upon your logic, that if he didn't want his wife anymore, than it's better to have her killed than to allow another man to marry her.

Both examples represent the ultimate in selfishness.

December 17, 2008 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea -not anon
I do love the on-going GOP struggle over the many people who think they should be the next candidate. Princess Sarah- doesn't read, can't speak, Charlie-sham marriage- Crist, Huck- well ,no chance there, Steele- did nothing but hey, he is on Fox- that should get points from Anon- likes, Bobby J- I'm thinking - too many GOP racists for him or Steele. It just goes on and on.

December 17, 2008 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point is that it is the epitome of selfishness for childless-by-choice Ann Coulter to force decisions about carrying unplanned and unwanted pregnancies to term for other women. We are all free to hold our own opinions and we are all are free to make our own decisions.

I support TTF's efforts to bring comprehensive sex ed to our public schools so sexually active teens can learn how to protect themselves from STDs like HIV/AIDs and how to prevent unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. Sarah Palin's daughter received abstinence-only sex ed in school and we all see how that turned out.


December 18, 2008 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


First, no one knows whether Ann Coulter is childless by choice (except Ann Coulter). However, it doesn't matter. It is not necessary to experience childbirth to understand that it is wrong to kill an unborn child. People who don't feel that it is wrong have simply been numbed by our society's acceptance of abortion.

It's true that we are all free to make our own decisions --up to a point. Once we infringe upon someone else, then we must consider the other person. So, when a woman is pregnant, she must now consider that another human being is involved. We shouldn't kill people simply because they're inconvenient. And we especially should not be murdering innocent children. It is mind boggling that our society condones this.

As for sex education...if not getting pregnant were all about sex education in schools, then why did our grandparents have such low teen pregnancy rates? We expected teenagers to control themselves, and parents helped them by not allowing teenagers to put themselves in risky situations. Today, parents have completely given up on the idea of chaperoning and watching their children, and put all of the burden on their children.

December 18, 2008 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I meant to mention Sarah Palin. In hindsight, Sarah's busy job probably stopped her from being as diligent and watchful as she should have been. Not to be cliche, but back in our grandparents' day...they didn't have access to empty houses with no adults in them for long stretches each day, as our kids have today. Parents can't put all of the onus on the schools to tackle this problem. If parents don't take responsibility for supervising their children properly, then we will continue to have high rates of unwanted pregnancies. The problem the past, lots of parents were being watchful so everyone carried a little of the burden. Today, you have some who are watchful and lots who aren't, and the imbalance causes lots of problems on all sides.

An analogy would be swimming. You can give your kids swimming lessons, but the reality is that you also need to watch them in the water. I believe that most kids who drown know how to swim.

We think that teenagers are like little adults, but forget that they're still in a crucial stage of development. We watch two year olds to make sure they don't hurt themselves. In the same way, we need to supervise teenagers more closely.

December 18, 2008 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I know Ann Coulter is childless by choice? Well, she's listed as a childfree by choice person at this website And she wrote this blurb on the cover of Elinor Burkett's book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless"

"It has been said that people never notice the prejudices of their own time. Just as fish can't describe water, humans can't see the biases, mores, and conventions or their own little worlds. Elinor Burkett is one of the rare flying fish who can discern the prejudices of our own era and describe them in colorful, often hilarious, detail. This amazing and important book will shake up today's class of favored citizens.
-Ann Coulter, Author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors"

What makes you think she's not childless by choice?

Coulter is not the only American who is childfree by choice. Even some married couples remain childfree by choice. In 2007, Pew Research reported: "just four-in-ten (41%) [adults of all ages] say that children are very important to a successful marriage, compared with 65% of the public who felt this way as recently as 1990."

You say you believe Sarah Palin "probably" wasn't watchful enough to keep Bristol from getting pregnant and that "most kids who drown know how to swim," but you have no way of knowing if either of your beliefs is true. You are free to have your beliefs and I am equally free to have mine.

Here's my belief about abortion. An unintended pregnancy is a medical condition that some women seek to correct. The moment you try to tell a woman she can't have her doctor fix her medical condition because of your beliefs is the moment you begin to "infringe upon someone else."


December 19, 2008 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Interesting -- I didn't know there was a childless by choice registry or that Ann Coulter was on it. Thanks for the information.

As I said, though, it doesn't matter whether she is childless by choice or not. You can have children or be childless and know that abortion is horrendous. Also, there's nothing wrong with being childless by choice as long as you don't abort a child. If you get pregnant, simply go through the nine months of pregnancy, and then give the baby up. It's that simple. You're now childless again and, most importantly, you didn't have to kill a human life!

To call pregnancy a "medical condition" is just a distortion of mammoth proportions, but if you want to go with your logic....there are lots of medical conditions that require months and months of treatment to fix or control. Think of the "treatment" for pregnancy as simply having the baby when it's due. And VOILA! Medical condition is gone.

About swimming -- you're right that I might be wrong about that statistic. I was listening to the radio one day, and did hear statistics which noted that a large # of people who drown do know how to swim or have had swimming lessons. I think it said that most teenaged boys drown out in open rivers and lakes and such -- often when they combine drinking and swimming. However, maybe the report didn't say "most" children. I was going by memory, which I shouldn't have done.

About Palin's daughter...why she got pregnant is up for anyone's guess. I was just giving my opinion. However, the important thing is -- Bristol didn't ruin herself by killing her baby.

December 19, 2008 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are welcome and I am always happy to share facts with others. Your opinions and beliefs have been interesting.

You said, "You can have children or be childless and know that abortion is horrendous."

I say you can have children or be childless and know that abortion is a medically safe way to end an unwanted pregnancy.

Now we know several of your opinions and how you would react to learning that you are facing an unwanted pregnancy; you'd take your proposed "treatment" and go full term. Which medical school did you attend? Do you propose a similar "treatment" for people with unwanted same-sex attraction, that is they should just go with it until VOILA, it's gone?


December 20, 2008 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now we know several of your opinions"

new-anon's opinion is also a fact

taking the life of the innocent because their life is inconvenient for you is murder

indeed, it is quite common for those who murder to do so because their victim was perceived to be an inconvenience to their pleasure or security

abortion is just the same

we all have compassion for young women or girls who find themselves in a difficult situation

encouraging and enabling them to murder is not the answer

indeed, it is evil

December 21, 2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I fully agree with everything that Old Anon said.

Your logic, MCPS Mom, is insane. A medically safe way to end a pregnancy? Yes, abortion is medically safe for the mother. For her baby, who winds up dead, it is not medically safe. For her baby, it's not safe by any standard. Your logic is like saying: "Joe shot Bill.. But it's okay -- it was medically safe for Joe." This scenario completely leaves BIll out of the picture, with Bill being in the same situation as the aborted baby.

As for your logic regarding your comparison of abortion to same sex does not make ANY sense to me at all. If someone else, who is on your side, could please take the time to explain it to me, I'd appreciate it. I can't even tell you whether I agree with you or not because I'm not following your thought process.

December 21, 2008 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems straightforward to me, Anon. Your approach is this: there is a person in a condition, and that condition is allowed to persist. Example A, the person is gay. Example B, the person is pregnant. These are both natural states, and you treat them the same, you accept them.

The alternative is that you change them. Example A, you humiliate and punish the person until they pretend to be heterosexual. Example B, the person has an abortion.

From what you have said about abortion, I, like MCPS Mom, would presume you favor the first pair of examples over the second.


December 21, 2008 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Even if you do believe that being gay is a "natural" state, your argument doesn't work here. Not all "natural" states are followed through to their "natural" end. While we feel it's natural for our fingernails to grow, we cut them. While we feel it's natural for plaque to grow on our teeth, we brush them. While pedophiles feel that their need to have sex with a child is "natural" -- we try to stop them.

Just as we should try to stop mothers from aborting their babies, even when these mothers feel it is "natural" to abort them.

Besides, if you follow your argument through to its "natural" end, then our society might as well toss all laws out the window. After all, by your definition, everything is "natural" to somebody and thus allowable.

But, let's say we do march in lockstep with your thinking. If that's the case, then a pregnant woman would have to listen to someone begging her to get an abortion for only nine months (actually, really only six months-- most women can hide the fact that they're pregnant for at least three months). After that, the baby is born and the nagging stops. Problem solved --- AND no innocent human life is killed.

December 21, 2008 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not all "natural" states are followed through to their "natural" end. While we feel it's natural for our fingernails to grow, we cut them. While we feel it's natural for plaque to grow on our teeth, we brush them."

Some people choose to cut their nails and brush their teeth, but not everybody.

I agree that "all 'natural' states are not followed through to their 'natural' end." Another example besides those who choose to cut their fingernails and brush their teeth would be some women who don't want to have a baby. Sometimes these women choose to end an unplanned pregnancy in a medically safe way.

Mantu, you seem to be assuming Anon is rational about abortion and sexual orientation. Anon does not see the logic in allowing nature to take its course with both pregnancy and sexual orientation. Anon wants nature to be chosen for pregnancy, but not for sexual orientation and in the process demonstrates hypocrisy very clearly.

Anon, here's another flaw with your argument. A fetus is not a person.


December 22, 2008 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have made no mention, thus far, of where another living, breathing human life fits into the little peaceful scenario you have worked out entirely in your head.

Are you aware that it's a fact that unborn babies that are extracted, limb by limb, through partial birth abortion feel EXCRUCIATING PAIN? There are many methods used to remove babies in partial birth abortion. One of the most common involves delivering the baby up to its head and then stabbing it in the neck. Another involves tearing at the baby until all of its limbs and pieces are removed. The abortionist then puts the baby's body parts back together to make sure all of the pieces are there.

Another involves giving the baby a drug that produces third degree burns all over its body. Mothers report feeling violent thrashing at that point.

Another (least common method because it inconveniences the mother) method involves removing the baby through a C-section like procedure. This is probably the most humane method.

Are you aware of this? It is not comparable to ANY other pain and suffering that goes on in our society. To have your mother murder her baby in this fashion is unfathomable.

December 22, 2008 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I see that you did make mention of where a living, breathing human life falls into all of this. You are pretending that a fetus is not a baby. I invite you to Google for photos of aborted babies. You'll see the piles of limbs, charred human bodies, etc. They don't look like elephants and they don't look like soda bottles. That's because they're human.

You call yourself "MCPS Mom." While you were pregnant, were you surprised when a baby popped out? Were you expecting a cheetah?

December 22, 2008 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know why are you talking about partial birth abortion, the rarest of them all. It's purely for the shock value. I have never expressed support for partial birth abortions, which are performed after 20 weeks of gestation and account for 1.4% of all abortions performed in this country. The vast majority of abortions are performed within the first trimester. See

My view is that we should all work to prevent unplanned pregnancies, which is why I have long supported TTF's work to improve MCPS's sex education curriculum. Teens need medically accurate information so they can protect themselves from STD's and prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Many embryos are spontaneously or "naturally" aborted. This is what Wikipedia says about spontaneous abortion/miscarriage: "Determining the prevalence of miscarriage is difficult. Many miscarriages happen very early in the pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Treatment of women with miscarriage at home means medical statistics on miscarriage miss many cases. Prospective studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of pregnancies are miscarried by the sixth week LMP (since the woman's Last Menstrual Period). Clinical miscarriages (those occurring after the sixth week LMP) occur in 8% of pregnancies.

The risk of miscarriage decreases sharply after the 10th week LMP, i.e. when the fetal stage begins. The loss rate between 8.5 weeks LMP and birth is about two percent; loss is “virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period."

The prevalence of miscarriage increases considerably with age of the parents. One study found that pregnancies from men younger than twenty-five years are 40% less likely to end in miscarriage than pregnancies from men 25-29 years. The same study found that pregnancies from men older than forty years are 60% more likely to end in miscarriage than the 25-29 year age group. Another study found that the increased risk of miscarriage in pregnancies from older men is mainly seen in the first trimester. Yet another study found an increased risk in women, by the age of forty-five, on the order of 800% (compared to the 20-24 age group in that study), 75% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage."

I never realized "natural" abortion was so frequent, one in four in the first 6 weeks, which increases as the age of the parents increases. If you are so against abortion, which includes "natural" abortion, how do you feel about men over 40 impregnating women and women over 45 becoming pregnant? I think this Wikipedia report points to the need for more research into the causes and prevention of spontaneous abortion and support my tax dollars being spent on this research.

Miscarriage is not the only "natural" way a pregnancy fails. Stillbirth is another. In America where medical care is pretty good, there is one stillbirth out of every 115 births, or one every 20 minutes. (Both numbers comes from the Wikipedia entry on Stillbirths.) The rate is much higher in countries with no or less health care than we have here in the States.

Regardless of our personal views, we can all work to reduce spontaneous and medical abortion by supporting medically accurate sex education programs, research into spontaneous abortions and stillbirths, and pre-natal health care for all pregnant women.

PS: To answer your question about my expectations, since I hadn't mated with a cheetah, I did not expect one would be the product of any of my pregnancies. Some of my children were not planned, however, because I could provided for them, I chose to go forward with those unplanned pregnancies. No one should attempt to make this very personal decision for someone else.


December 23, 2008 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm very glad to hear that you are not for partial birth abortions. Only a monster could be in favor of this. Obama, by the way, would like to make it legal for abortions to be performed up to 34 weeks of pregnancy --without any of the restrictions we currently place on the procedure. And believe me, loopholes abound in the law now. Doctors construe the "health of the mother" loophole to include mothers who are depressed.

I don't understand the point you're making about spontaneously losing a baby. People die all the time of various things. Some get cancer and die. Some die of heart disease. Some die before being born. There's a world of difference between dying of natural causes and dying because someone murders you. Especially your mother.

Regarding the statistically low rate of partial birth abortions... Assuming your 1.4% figure is correct (I'll assume it is)....approximately 40 million abortions are performed each year. If 1.4 percent of them are partial birth, that means that 560,000 babies each year are enduring excruciating pain through that horrific process.

Is that an acceptable figure -- 560,000 babies murdered in a particularly brutal manner? Is it okay that the millions and millions of others are vacuumed up? At seven weeks, a baby's feet and toes are fully formed. It's all pretty gruesome.

The number of people murdered is statistically low, but still we don't allow murder. Saying that 560,000 babies should be allowed to die during partial birth abortions just because the number is not 40 million -- something is wrong with that thinking.

Did you know that Roe v. Wade allows for ALL abortions -- not just first trimester abortions? Because of this, states have tried to put humane restrictions on abortion, and Bush passed a law to outlaw partial birth abortion. Of course, Planned Parenthood has fought every restriction, and Obama has promised that the first thing he'll do in office is to sign a law that will repeal every law that has tried to infuse a shred of humanity into the abortion process.

Regarding the fact that you didn't expect to have a cheetah....could this be because you knew that a human baby was growing inside of you? The fetal stage is just one stage of development in human life. One famous pediatrician argues that, when babies are born, they actually go through what he calls "the fourth trimester."

Humans go through many phases of development throughout their whole lives. To say that a three-month-old fetus is not worthy of living, but a two-month-old baby is worthy....what would the rationale be? A two-month-old baby needs just as much care as a three-month-old fetus. Both are helpless and can't take care of themselves.

Again, I'm SO glad that I'm corresponding with someone who doesn't believe in partial birth abortions. Now if only we could get through to Obama regarding that issue...

December 23, 2008 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I faced death to continue any one of my pregnancies, I would have considered having a partial birth abortion myself. Fortunately I never faced having to make such a decision. I would never think to interfere in another woman's difficult decision.

You talk as if you think depression is some sort of hoax. Do I have to quote the statistics to you of the number of deaths attributable to depression? I think it's best for mental health professionals to determine whether or not a pregnant woman's depression is severe enough that death of both mother and fetus by suicide is enough of a risk to warrent a late term abortion.

You have all sorts of reasons to not have an abortion and I would never dream of telling you that you should have one out of respect for you and your beliefs. Likewise other women like me may have any number of reasons to have an abortion and I would hope that you could show the same respect for us and our beliefs.


December 23, 2008 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We tell people all the time that they can't murder for any reason -- depression included. They either go to jail or a mental asylum. I went through a depression and never once considered killing someone else to get out of it-- even when I was pregnant.

I see no reason to make an exception for killing unborn babies. The mother's life is not more valuable than the baby's life, just as no one's life is more valuable than anyone else's life. And a BABY of all beings -- amazing that people have so little regard for their lives.

It's probably because no one hears their screams of agony.

And regarding, people spend years getting treatment for depression. If a pregnancy is causing a depression, and a woman has three more months to go before having the baby...then what a QUICK treatment for depression that really is!

Problem solved and, again, no baby is killed in the process.

Plus, evidence abounds that women who go through abortions suffer from all sorts of mental health issues, including severe depression.

It is simply not possible to kill a baby without ramifications to your soul.

December 23, 2008 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I see no reason to make an exception for killing unborn babies."

No one here is asking you to. You choose based on your reasoning and others will choose based on theirs.

"The mother's life is not more valuable than the baby's life, just as no one's life is more valuable than anyone else's life."

So you agree the fetus's life is no more important than the mother's. That's a start. We are all entitled to practice self-defense so if a pregnancy is killing a woman, she has the right to defend herself.


December 23, 2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"No one here is asking you to. You choose based on your reasoning and others will choose based on theirs."

So does your above statement apply to anyone who wants to murder anyone? Do you believe that ALL murder should be legalized and not just the murder of unborn babies? We can just choose, on a whim, who lives and who dies? Your statement suggests so.

As for your argument that a mother has the right to kill her baby in self defense....yours is a common attitude, I know. The culture of death that we have created by allowing abortion has produced a breed of callous, deadened women whose ability to love their children has been stunted to a revolting level. When a mother kills her child it is particularly nauseating because a mother is supposed to be the child's fiercest protector.

That being said, according to Planned Parenthood and The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems, 1% occur because of rape or incest and 93% occur for social reasons. Notice that it says "potential health problems." I'm not sure how many of these "potential health problems" are life threatening, prompting a mother to kill her child to save her own life. However, at that point, we've lowered the number even more -- maybe 2 or 3 percent -- 4?

Okay, so, going with your theory, you can, in your mind, rationalize the killing of four percent of the 40 million babies. I'll even give you the one percent for rape and incest. That leaves us with 95% of babies being killed for "social" reasons. And all of this killing is just fine?

It is evil in the purest sense of the word.

December 23, 2008 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, are you a pacifist, or do you believe in killing? To be direct, tell us what your feelings are about the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis murdered by American troops directly and indirectly? Did you attend any of the anti-war rallies? Is there a "war is not the answer" poster in your window, like there is in mine?

Have you joined one of the groups opposing capital punishment?

Or do you consider the abortion of a fetus somehow more murderous than these other killings?


December 23, 2008 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Funny...I could ask you the same question. Abortion is all about war. A war to end the lives of innocent babies. Did you vote for Obama, who wants to increase the casualties of this war, including the torture of partial birth abortion? Did you support President Bush when he tried to end the torture of partial birth abortion? Do you do anything to try to stop the deaths of 40 million innocent babies EVERY YEAR?

Here's a link to some of the casualties:

December 23, 2008 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, you could ask but you didn't, I did. What's your answer? Have you actively campaigned against this deadly war, in which real people with names and personalities are killed? What have you done to stop capital punishment? Or do you only care about potential people?

What exactly do you think you are protecting? How does the life of a fetus become more important than the life of the mother, who has people who love her and depend on her? And how does it become your business to decide that she can be killed by complications of pregnancy but the fetus can't?


December 23, 2008 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why do we have laws against ANY type of murder? Therein lies the answer to all of your questions about why anyone would have the right to stop a mother from murdering her unborn baby. Abortion is a TYPE of murder.

Also, if a mother is dying and in need of a heart transplant, does she have the right to kill her child so that she can take the child's heart? I hope that you'll say "no." However, this is the logic you're using....if a conflict exists between the life of the mother and the life of the child, then the mother's life always trumps the child's life. Therefore, the mother can take the child's heart to save her own life.

Also, you say that the mother who decides to have an abortion has people who love her, also inferring that the unborn baby has no one to love it. Therein lies the WHOLE problem. The mother should love her unborn baby.

December 24, 2008 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, it's "implying" not "inferring." You are strangely uneager to address the question about killing innocent people in war.

You have an opinion about a human embryo being a person, and other people have another opinion. Is an ovum a person, or a sperm cell? Is a fertilized egg a person? If it is, it is not a very likable or intelligent one. You seem to have some kind of belief about personhood magically appearing when, I don't know what, when something happens, when the egg is fertilized, it sounds like. But that's dumb, that's not a person, it's the biological equivalent of a paramecium except it can't survive on its own.

There are real people with names and loved ones, with thoughts and feelings and connections to society -- those are people. An embryo has none of those characteristics, it just doesn't pass the threshold of personhood. But to you, that is a person, and some Iraqi who is murdered in his or her own house, or driving down the street, is not worth mentioning. You are incapable of responding to my question -- let me venture a guess. I'm going to bet you supported killing innocent people in Iraq. I'm going to bet you support capital punishment.

Tell me if I'm wrong. It's late, I'm going to bed.


December 24, 2008 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you believe that ALL murder should be legalized and not just the murder of unborn babies? We can just choose, on a whim, who lives and who dies?"

Of course I don't. Calm down. Abortion is not murder because a fetus is not a person. Mantu's right, an embryo and even a fetus is at best a potential person. You are gung ho to save the unborn but why can't you answer Mantu's question about innocent war deaths and the death penalty? Are you afraid your hypocrisy will be exposed?

Review the spontaneous abortion and stillbirth rates from the CDC and Wikipedia I quoted above. It's obvious that not every conception is destined to become a person. Some would say stillbirths and miscarriages are God's will, bringing into His kingdom who He will. Who is to say that a woman choosing to end a pregnancy isn't doing God's will because He wants her to be able to better care for her children or some other reason known only to Him? My faith teaches me that lost unbaptized children sit with God in Heaven, a much better life than many might be born into here on Earth.


December 24, 2008 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


First, you're right that I should have said "implying" instead of "inferring." I inferred that you thought that babies didn't have someone to love them from your implication. Thanks for catching the error.

Also, the hypocrisy behind what you're saying is interesting. You state that you are against the killing of any life, and yet abortion is an exception for you. You speak about babies in their embryonic stage, but remember that we are also talking about babies through the ninth month. You seem to feel that it is okay to abort pre-term babies because, you argue, they are not yet people and haven't formed human connections.

This reminds me of some of our ancestors who justified slavery. They simply wouldn't define a Black person as a person. Thus, they could state that they weren't hurting or killing or enslaving people.

How cleverly evil. Or is it evilly clever?

Also, if the measure of a person's life is how many connections they've a two-year-old's life more valuable than a three-month-old's life because the two year old knows more people?

MCPS Mom --To state that we are allowed to kill babies because mothers routinely miscarry spontaneously is just silly talk. No one expects anyone to live forever, but we have laws which try to stop people from murdering other people. Dying from a spontaneous miscarriage is equivalent to dying of old age. Dying at the murderous hand of your own mother is equivalent to simply being murdered.

Also, your reasoning regarding doing God's will by killing babies is devoid of any logic as it relates to our society's intolerance of most muder. With the logic that you are using, anyone would be allowed to kill anyone and justify it simply by saying that they are doing God's will.

December 26, 2008 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, still waiting to hear if you oppose war and capital punishment, that is, if you are actually pro-life.


December 26, 2008 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I understand that it's imperative for someone who is pro-abortion to want to continually change the subject -- a red herring so that the subject can move away from the subject of killing our unborn babies. It must be difficult on the soul to constantly talk about how it's okay to exterminate babies.

I could give you my views on hunger, world peace, car maintenance and gardening.

But how would that help to stop abortion? It wouldn't.

If the laws won't protect these babies, then the hearts and minds of mothers need to be softened and educated. And if just one teenaged mother is reading this and decides against abortion, or to be more careful because she knows that abortion is not an option -- then all of the writing is worth it.

That teenager does not need to hear my views on capital punishment. She does not need to hear my views on the war. She does not need to hear my views on hospital insurance payments.

She needs to hear the reasons that an unborn baby should not be killed.

I'm sorry if that irritates you, Mantu.

December 27, 2008 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, the point is very simple and clear. You claim that abortion is "murder" and you're against it as a horrible offense. But when it comes to real murder you don't actually care. So some of us would wonder what it is you're really trying to accomplish.

I'm not changing the subject, the question is for real: are you pro-life or not? I have the definite feeling you are not pro-grownup-people-life, but only pro-embryo life. Then I would wonder, why are unnamed, personalityless, featureless "people" more important to you than real people who have friends and people who love them and depend on them? It seems a little weird to me.


December 27, 2008 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To state that we are allowed to kill babies"

I did not say any such thing and would appreciate it if you would refrain from putting words in my mouth. We are never going to be able to discuss this or any other issue if you pull stunts like that. I said abortion is not murder because a fetus or embryo is not a person. At best, they are potential persons. I pointed out how many unborn "babies" as you refer to them die spontaneously preborn and pointed out that you never whine about those deaths. You think that's an equivalent to dying in old age, which you apparently think is OK.

Finally you refuse to state your hypocritical view of war deaths and capital punishment and then call it a red herring. You are either prolife or you are not. Answer the question.

Your true mission is apparently not to protect the unborn from death because if it were, you'd be working to fund more research into miscarriage and stillbirths and you'd be encouraging comprehensive sex ed with proper condom use demonstrations be taught to teens to reduce the need for unplanned pregnancy abortions, like TTF does. Your true mission appears to be to limit the medically safe choices of women who have different views than you do on the subject of abortion.

You've made your choice to never have an abortion and you believe you have the right to make that choice for every other woman. Do unto others my friend. You must allow other women to make their choices just like you did.


December 27, 2008 10:32 AM  

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