We Are All Cousins!

Originally Posted at: reposted at:

Updated: 04/06/2018


Did you know that we are all related? Yes, we are all family. The human genome project has revealed to us long ago that there are no genetically distinct and pure groups of humans. We are all cousins.


The Tree of Life

The concept of The Tree of Lifein many of our world’s myths and legends, conjure symbolic imagery of a magnificent and beautiful tree. In The Bible, we are told that the first humans were disallowed to eat of its eternal fruit.

Today, we also have a Tree of Life but it is not forbidden to partake of it. It is the Tree of Biological Life. It is the only Tree that serves to show humanity’s true Earthly origins and the origins of all species on this planet.

But before we argue evidence of our global kinships, let’s talk about family trees.


Family Trees

A family tree shows your relatedness to others in your family. If you have ever seen a family tree, you may have noticed the branching.

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Common ancestors, such as granddad and granny, can give rise to many offspring, who then create offspring of their own. Each of these offspring share similarities because they all come from the same common ancestry. Though they have similarities, each also have various genetic mutations and variations that give rise to recognizable/visual differences. Most mutations appear benign, some are deadly but some of these genetic differences may be beneficial. These changes may decide the fate of a race or cline of humans. Example: Mutations that help some humans resist the Black Death and HIV.


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Constantly Changing and Evolving

The same pathogens that once plagued our ancestors may not affect us now due to small modifications of our genetic code. When your parent’s genetic material combined to eventually create you, some traits were lost, some acquired, and some recombined. You have become a unique individual!

Now, imagine if this mixing of genes and mutations occurred for a million years; in the end, the resulting offspring wouldn’t look very much like their Great-grandfather x 10,0000.

Image Source: | Hominid Skull Comparison

It’s beautiful to be able to look at your body and see the result of these slow changes. You are witnessing your evolutionary lineage. Thanks to the discovery of DNA, and more modern ways to interpret and understand our world, we now know more than ever about our evolutionary past!


Invasive Evidence of Evolution

Most of us have experienced a cold or flu. These are caused by viruses. Many viruses find their way into your body and start causing damage before they are eventually destroyed and flushed out of your system. However, some viruses find a way to be passed down to the next generation! How?

Within our DNA are remnants of an invasion, a viral invasion that occurred to our ancestors long ago. These viruses invaded our sex cells and wrote its code into our DNA. Luckily, thanks to the miracle of imperfection, when some of these infected cells replicate, they produce small errors in the code of the virus. When this occurs, the virus becomes inactivated and is passed down to future generations without causing harm to the host, hopefully. These are called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs).

Why is this important and evidence for evolution?

Well, ERVs are primarily passed on via reproduction. So, just like a mom passing down her blue eye color to her child, ERVs can be transmitted in the same way; thus, if a scientist finds the same “viral remnants/viral genetic sequence” in another organism it can be assured that they share a recent common ancestor and are cousins.

Imagine if you found a species of hamster in one valley and a different hamster species in another valley a hundred miles away. The question of relatedness would be easy via other genetic means, but the number of shared ERVs can assist with when the ancestral split occurred.

In Chimpanzees, we share many ERVs with them! These ERVs match almost exactly with ERVs found in us. Remember, ERVs are passed down from parent, to offspring. No! This doesn’t mean that a chimp and human had babies! But this is does conjure the question: How is it possible that many apes and humans share many of the same ERVs? The answer is simple, we must share a common ancestor that at one time contracted this virus. We are cousins, with all modern apes and primates. We share a common ancestor in the Grand Tree or Web of Life.

It has been argued that ERVs could have entered the human line through some other means. Though this is true, it’s difficult to explain away how that particular ERV genetic sequence matches human ones so closely and how the molecular sequencing matches a timeline that fits the paleontological evidence.

The Citrus Problem

In another example of obvious descent with modification, is the fact that humans and apes both cannot produce Vitamin C naturally. Most other mammals can produce Vitamin C on their own, (accept the Hamster and some other rodents). As a result, Apes and Humans have to acquire Vitamin C from outside sources, fruits, etc. What happened? Why would apes and humans have this same problem? It turns out, that when we look at the genes, that not only has something gone wrong with producing Vitamin C, but that our Ape cousins have the same broken gene as humans. Our common ancestor at one time lost the ability to produce Vitamin C, and passed that trait down to us. Our hamster cousin? Well, the genes that would help him manufacture Vitamin C have changed and are broken too, non-functioning for the task of Vitamin C making. But, the hamster’s Vitamin C gene is broken in a different place. Exactly what evolution would predict!

Okay, but what does this have to do with cousins and families and all that?

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We are getting there. The pic above shows a Tree of Life, using DNA relationships only. This is significant because if we had these samples and were completely ignorant of their origin, the tree would still be represented this way. The evidence speaks for itself. We share a common lineage with all Great Apes and each other. Humans then, of course, share many more ERVs, which matches evolutionary theory perfectly.

The relationships should be clear at this point, but let us look at one of my ancestors, David Day, in another Tree of Life depiction.

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Notice that it’s the same pattern. It’s the same distribution you’d expect in a ‘modification with descent’ scenario. David is the root and the children are the branches, different from him, but similar. Those children then start their own branches, their offspring are also different yet similar as well. It never ends! Allow a few million years of this branching and voilà, different but similar looking creatures result. Give another 10 or 100 million years, organisms begin to look hardly related to their ancient great-grandparents. (As evidenced via the fossil record)

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All life on Earth is part of an amazing evolution that goes back 3.5 billion years. Millions of Earth’s creatures all descended from one or two primitive forms generating the variety we see today. For humans, our evolution is relatively recent. This is why we look very much alike. We have a few regional differences but we are still very much the same species. As we all have descended from a common ancestral line, ipso facto, we are all cousins!

I wish humanity would realize that, in comparison to the vastness of the Universe, our home is just a tiny speck of dust floating in space. All of the people and creatures that live here are our family. Yet, we fight as if we have no other recourse. We hate as if hate is something to value. We kill as if life means nothing. We despise knowledge as if it’s a virtue. We love, only when convenient.

I think. We can do better. We must be better. We are one global family. We Are All Cousins in this Grand Tree of Life.

2008: The Great Tree of Life, Leonard Eisenberg



  • Li, Y., Shi, C.-X., Mossman, K.L., Rosenfeld, J., Boo, Y.C. & Schellhorn, H.E. (2008) Restoration of vitamin C synthesis in transgenic Gulo-/- mice by helper-dependent adenovirus-based expression of gulonolactone oxidase. Human gene therapy. [Online] 19 (12), 1349–1358. Available from: doi:10.1089/hgt.2008.106 [Accessed: 31 December 2011].
  • Montel-Hagen, A., Kinet, S., Manel, N., Mongellaz, C., Prohaska, R., Battini, J.-L., Delaunay, J., Sitbon, M. & Taylor, N. (2008) Erythrocyte Glut1 Triggers Dehydroascorbic Acid Uptake in Mammals Unable to Synthesize Vitamin C. Cell. [Online] 132 (6), 1039–1048. Available from: doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.01.042 [Accessed: 31 December 2011].

New Platform to Broadcast


I have been experimenting with a new streaming media and community platform known as I have decided to use this platform to broadcast my new program. Again, the quality will suffer for a while until I can gather the funds to get better equipment but it’s a start. Visit my channel and follow me. When I start going LIVE I will update all of my social media pages so you can have a listen in real-time:

On Being Vegan

The vegan philosophy and lifestyle has grown significantly in recent years. I was exposed to the idea of not eating animal flesh on one of my radio programs a decade ago but it didn’t stick. It seemed to me that the guest had some valid arguments but I just didn’t wish to change my very comfortable lifestyle habits.

Eventually, I succumbed to its message of caring and love. I have been vegan for 2 years now and I was a vegetarian for 2 years before that. When my veganism is questioned, many are somewhat surprised to hear what some of the motivating factors were for me in going… and staying Vegan.

I realized that was being contradictory

For the last few years I have been vegan. Why? Well, I chose to go vegan as something just didn’t sound right about the statement. “I love animals”, while simultaneously and purposefully contributing to an industry that contributes to their pain, suffering, and death. Moral, ethical, ecological, and health arguments aside, that realization was one of the major catalysts that started my journey towards veganism; and, it is my primary argument for veganism. It’s simple and easily defensible. As a logical, rational, critical thinker, consistency and attempting to avoid contradiction is paramount. Continuing to eat meat seemed to be a rather blatant and inexcusable contradiction.

But what if humans must eat meat?

In speaking with purposeful meat-eaters who hear my argument, typically there are three responses: 1.) “I don’t care. I like meat.” 2.) “Morality is subjective, so you can’t tell me that I’m wrong.” 3.) “But we need meat.” Out of these three, the 3rd one in my view is a more addressable and easily researched to see if this is true. There just aren’t valid studies showing that in a 1st world society, that humans “need” to eat meat to survive. In fact, almost all studies show health benefits to switching to either less meat, or none. Whereas meat consumption, in general, in 1st world countries are attributed to a large variety of sicknesses and illnesses in humans.

There is no scientific evidence that humans biologically “need meat” to survive. In the past, some populations of humans and human cousins became dependent on sources of animal protein (including insects) in their journeys northward and in lean times. In modern times, humans near the oceans have become dependent on sea life to thrive but it is NOT some biological axiom that they must do so. Animal nutrition aids in these population’s survival, but so would plenty of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, seaweed, and possibly an occasional vitamin (though not necessary). Many humans today have a more cultural perspective about meat intake which typically isn’t very conducive to health as these products are high in sodium and saturated fat. A good-sense diet rich in fiber, starches, green leafy plants, nuts and legumes is the best way to go and can in many cases reverse or lessen the severity of many diet-based medical conditions. Can I eat very little meat and be healthy? Sure! But if I don’t need meat to live and survive, why would I purposefully contribute to the pain, suffering, and death of innocent sentient beings?

Why not be more compassionate?

As I alluded to above in (1), some humans just don’t care about the lives of other animals, they feel non-human animals are beneath them, and that they can do whatever they wish to do to them. Their sensation of taste and satiety makes more sense to them than making conscious and caring efforts to prevent the needless suffering and harm to sentient beings. For those people, I have no argument and wouldn’t attempt to debate them as we are on diametrically two different playing fields. You cannot make someone care. Either you do care, or you don’t. For me, since becoming vegan, I have found myself more compassionate and loving of most people and animals.

Some have argued that just existing as a human has negative consequences for other life on this planet. I cannot find fault with this argument as it is a true statement; however, pointing out that I harm life regardless doesn’t justifying increasing as much harm as possible or trying to do nothing at all.

“Vegans Suck!”

In my short time as vegan, I have found it odd at the gross amount of teasing, anger, hate and vitriol that I see against vegans online and in-person (yes, I have seen vegans do similarly to meat-eaters). In my case however, I am not the kind of vegan that insults you cowardly online nor would I kick a cow muscle burger out of your hands and mouths but I do adhere to rational dialogues. Sadly, I get random and unrequested comments quite often when I am at non-vegan restaurants. I ordered a veggie sub at Subway once and the guy behind me commented, “Man, I can’t do that. I need meat! I’m a carnivore!” I didn’t say anything about his meal nor his ignorance about animal diet categorizations, but he chose to say something about mine. Why? Just the very presence of a vegan incites discomfort, anger and insecure feelings among some meat eaters. It’s odd. Could it be that deep down, they wish to make changes as well? Is it some non-conscious, knee-jerk defense of their carnistic rituals? Admittedly, some vegans are ignorant insecure bastions of pseudoscientific stupidity and some real jerks to boot! However, most vegans, I surmise, are just passionate about animal life and they wish to share that passion, love, and concern to all; much in the same way that most humans are against dog-fighting or child-abuses. I remember sharing my atheism with friends and family thinking they’d actually have rational discussions about the topic. I was horribly naive. Just as many atheists find it difficult to shut-up when they hear really bad scientific and theological arguments, how can a compassionate and caring vegan be silent when they see humans contributing to the needless pain, suffering, torture, and death of innocent beings?

On a Healthier Note

Even though I didn’t start this journey to improve my health. I do in fact sleep better and rest more peacefully. My blood pressure has returned to normal and my cholesterol has lowered. I no longer have GERD and my esophageal H. Pylori has seemed to magically disappear (last test shows that it’s gone). I also seem to have alleviated symptoms generally associated with hypoglycemia (Diabetes tends to run in my family.) Granted, I have picked up my physical activity which could account for some of these positive changes. And yes, eating less meat can also provide many of the same benefits. I’m not a big fan of health arguments, but as some readers may be curious, I included that here as well.



Well, this is only a few reasons why I became a vegan and why I will most likely stay the course. Thanks for reading. This is a running document and will be updated as newer thoughts come to me.



Edutainment, Documentaries, and Films I recommend (search youtube): Lucent, Earthlings, Meet Your Meat, Okja, Food Inc, Forks Over Knives. I have found flaws in the docs I listed above; however, I still recommend them as I find them impactful and accurate in crucial areas. Type “vegan” on Amazon and Netflix. Plenty of Free Content. For my scholars and academics, please visit google scholar to research “vegan diet”. I think you will be quite stunned at the latest research. For other casual investigative readers, you may enjoy as well.

Thank you for reading. Can we please do what’s right by our animal cousins? 🙁

“As long as humanity continues to make excuses for harming innocent sentient beings, we will always be an unnecessarily violent species.” – Reginald V. Finley Sr

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course?

Repost from: LinkedIn


No, this isn’t an article about how Mister Ed was really a Zebra*. It is actually about the evolution of horses.

To anyone confused about the reality of evolution, horse evolution is one that’s pretty easy to follow. The fossil record of horses is one of the most complete records we have showing the gradual evolution of these wonderful creatures.

Anti-evolutionists tend to argue that horses are still horses, that “there is no evidence of transitional species”. Well, let’s take a look. Look at the figures below:

Hyracotherium (55 mya)

AKA Eohippus. If this creature were alive today, it would not look like a horse at all. In fact, it would look more like a big-headed, thick-necked dog. Its eyes were mid-way down the face and not high up on the head like modern horses. The fossil record and radiometric dating show this horse is much older than horses that followed, showing that they lived long before Mr. Ed.

See its toes below:

The legs and teeth between species went through gradual changes. Notice how Merychippus’s bones are fusing. Early horses didn’t have hooves. They had multiple toes that we clearly see merging as we move up the fossil record.

Click the Link to see: – Horse Teeth and Legs

Orohippus (52-45 mya)

This horse ancestor arrived on the scene while his Hyracotherium cousins were still around, but they were more wide-spread. The differences are slight but Orohippus has a longer head and slimmer body. Toes were essentially the same. Fossils of Orohippus have been found in Eocene sediments in Wyoming and Oregon.

DID YOU KNOW? – Horses and Zebras have more genetic differentiation between them than Humans and Chimpanzees? Yet, hardly no one denies that Zebras and Horses are related and share a common ancestor.

Mesohippus (37 to 32 mya)

Mesohippus is the “middle horse”, so named because this horse is considered an obvious transitional form between the early horses and Equus. Like many horses, it was common in North America. This horse still did not have what we view as a modern hoof. This horse had lost one of its toes but the other’s appear to offer some support but most of its weight rested on its large central toe. The eyes were further back on the head and the eyes were rounder than previous species.

Miohippus (32 – 25 mya)

This Oligocene horse was also a tree-toed horse. Much larger and more wide-spread than its ancestors, it spread all over the North American continent. It’s considered a very successful species spanning over 10 million years, and is considered to be an ancestral horse responsible a great diversity of horse species.

Parahippus (24 – 17 mya)

Parahippus is considered an evolutionary link between forest dwelling horses and horses of the plains. They also had three toes but the side toes were greatly reduced. Parahippus was larger than Miohippus and had a face that many would associate with a horse.

Merychippus (17 – 11 mya)

Merychippus, a term that I will probably use during the Christmas Holy Days from now on, is a proto-horse that was endemic to North America. It is considered the first grazing horse and had many features like a modern horse. Teeth and Toes were not like modern horses however.

Pliohippus (12 – 6 mya)

Pliohippus lived in the middle Miocene and had two stubs near the sides of its hoof. It’s believed to be the direct ancestor of modern horses. In fact, if you saw it today, you wouldn’t really notice the differences at first. Its teeth were curved instead of straight like modern horses. If the Trojan Horse had a Skeleton, it would look like this guy. This horse was buff! 🙂

Dinohippus (13 -5 mya)

This “terrible horse” was the most common horse in North America and believed to be the closest relative of Mr. Ed. “It possesses a distinctive passive “stay apparatus,” formed by bones and tendons, to help it conserve energy while standing for long periods. Dinohippus is the first horse to show a rudimentary form of this character, providing additional evidence of the close relationship between Dinohippus and Equus.” – Reposted from the Florida Museum of Natural History

Equus (5 mya – Present)

Equus (Mr. Ed.) is the only surviving genus of the horse family. It’s a new comer within the evolution of horses; but then again, like all organisms on our planet, horse populations are in constant transition. The Equidae family of horses will probably look even different still 10 million years from now. Extant (existing) species include the zebras, horses, and asses. Fossils of Equus are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

Some have argued that horses could not have evolved because horse fossils have been found all over the Earth. Not quite, as shown above. But yes, there are fossils found in many different areas and in distinct environments; but what age are the fossils and does their distribution match plausible migratory paths via the fossil record and paleogeology? Yes! They do. To argue that fossil distribution goes against evolution is akin to saying that humans couldn’t have evolved because humans are all over the Earth.

Another attempted refutation against equine evolution is that each of these creatures were created complete and in tact via magic, and they just popped into existence. This isn’t a scientific statement and can be safely ignored; however, if one wishes, it can be analyzed Socratically. One could ask, “Why do we see gradual differences (over time) between species 55 mya till today?” Some have argued that the creator was experimenting; but if true, doesn’t this allude to the creator having a lack of knowledge? Of course if aliens created horses, that’s far more plausible. 🙂

I concede my bias. I do have a scientific mind, so I think evolution via natural selection explains horse evolution just fine. Could I be wrong? Yes, I could. This is why science rocks: Evidence is what counts, not what I believe in.

* No, Mr. Ed wasn’t a Zebra despite some websites stating otherwise.


Florida Museum of Natural History

Horse Evolution Over 55 Million Years

Quick References:

Wikipedia.orgPlease reference the references for any Wikipedia Entry

How To Conduct Proper Internet Research

The internet and news media are full of fake and false news. Thousands of websites are working together to take your money and/or convince you or confirm in you that your beliefs are true. How do we check to see if these beliefs are valid and true? I delve a little into this using Crystal energy as an example. I’ll work on my time. Sorry about that. 🙂


Reginald Finley – A Reintroduction

Hello site visitors. I am considering going back into netcasting but I’m still unclear of my precise direction. In this video, I discuss my history and some of the reasons I left talk media and what are some possibilities for the future. Please feel free to provide any suggestions. I am looking forward to discussing science and critical thinking with the public.




One of my best Carl Sagan Quotes


Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.” – Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Homo neanderthalensis

Modern human DNA not found in Neanderthal DNA

Most Modern Euro-Humans have Caveman DNA

According to my 23andMe results, I have less than 1% Neanderthal DNA. This isn’t really surprising as I share ~20% of my DNA with northern Europeans. Most endogenous Africans don’t have any Neanderthal DNA. Ever since scientists first successfully analyzed most of Neanderthal genome, we have known for some while that those of European descent contain some remnants of Neanderthal DNA. A recent study by Mateja Hajdinjak of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, reveals that there isn’t any immediately detectable evidence that there is gene backflow into modern humans.


Hajdinjak’s team recovered samples from four Neanderthal specimens which lived during the time in which scientists believe the swapping of DNA should have occurred based on molecular evidence, between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago.  The results revealed no gene flow between these samples and modern humans.

What does this mean? 

Not finding human DNA in the Neanderthal genomes screened could mean a few things. One is that over time, those sequences unique to humans simply didn’t get passed down. Another is that the sample itself isn’t complete enough to make a strong determination but this is highly suspect. Another is that it could be that some populations simply don’t obtain the modern human components. It is possible that perhaps only a small number of Neanderthals bred with humans and that members of that surviving lineage made its way into the modern human genome.

In a way, Neanderthals survived through us.

Saving Our Minds – From Enemies Foreign and Domestic.

We have recently learned that Cambridge Analytica, and probably many other companies, were data mining Facebook users’ personal information. It was revealed that certain apps were downloaded by users, and friends of those users would have relevant data extracted from them as well. Cambridge Analytica designed an algorithm to not only extract this information, but to apparently parse this information into manageable information that could be then be used to target users via ads and emails. Users would then be led down a carefully constructed maze of fake news, disinformation sites, sites reinforcing their beliefs, sites which create new beliefs in their victims, and sites that attempt to change the minds of fence-sitters.

This technique is not new. Anyone paying attention would have seen similar such attempts by advertisers.  I myself created a network of sites 15 years ago in which every link led to another one of my websites and pages. In my site stats, I could see users leaving one site and going to one of my other sites in my network. It’s fairly easy to set up. My goal at the time however was to increase ad revenue, not trick minds with fake news stories.

Christopher Wylie, formerly of Cambridge Analytica, blew the whistle and reported that over 50 million FB users had their information taken with the express goal to lead them down a number of notorious rabbit holes of propaganda and lies. Wylie mentioned on his media tour that Cambridge field tested this, and it worked! The success of the data they compiled and the algorithm used to influence users (their product) is believed to have been later sold through Cambridge Analytica to various external parties. CA apparently helped out Ted Cruz during his campaign but when it was apparent that he was going to lose, CA began working on other data gathering projects for the Trump Campaign.

A Russian Connection?

One individual involved in the creation of the notorious app which pulled user data was a Russian-born professor, Aleksandr Kogan, who was working on projects dealing with how to psychologically profile net users, allegedly funded by Russia. He has been asked to speak to congress about his role. He denies any wrongdoing.

Sometime in March, 2018, the CEO of CA, Alex Nix, was caught on hidden camera boasting about the effectiveness of his operations, in particular, that he helped get Donald Trump elected. Worse, that he essentially entraps certain politicians by showering them with women so that his clients, and possibly CA itself, can have something on them at a later date.

Since this has come up, Trump supporters, thanks to conservative news media outlets, are convinced that this is all a liberal lie and simply another “deep-state” diversion tactic. Sadly, many of these Trump supporters are victims of CA’s efforts! Many of their beliefs about the “deep state”, crooked Hillary, and even President Obama’s birth certificate have come out of these efforts to influence gullible minds.

How Can We Fix This Invasion of Lies and Disinformation?

What is the solution? Well, Facebook has recently banned CA, which is great! But what could have inoculated the public against such obvious fake news and emotional pandering? I argue, Critical Thinking.

Our society is crumbling in its ability to decipher reality. To repair the damage, we must teach our children the ability to question not only everything external to them, but to question themselves as well. It begins with all of us as citizens, educators, and parents. We must allow our children the flexibility to question dogma, while simultaneously giving them tools to discern fact from fiction. As an educator, I see the value daily of having my students question everything, even me. My classroom is one of the rare institutional learning spaces that openly allows the students to question my lessons, statements, and claims. I believe this helps them grow to be more intelligent, critical thinkers. Developing the mindset and courage to question freely helps us all grow; as such, society will eventually evolve into one that is full of citizens with the ability to think and probe more deeply.

Parents: What can you do?

Allow your children to question what you have asked of them or claims that you have made. Teach yourself how to respond adequately. I recommend encouraging and celebrating their out-of-the-box thinking. Sadly, many of us have grown up in authoritarian homes in which being inquisitive was considered, “talking back” and punishable by physical pain. Teach them that there are ways to converse without violence. Teach them that it’s okay to be wrong. Lead by example. Check your own biases. Be honest when you are wrong. And please, please, stop sharing information that you yourself haven’t properly vetted. It is with these actions today that we can begin to see a brighter day tomorrow.

Recommend Resource: (Fact Checking Website Specializing in Debunking Urban Legends and Internet Memes)

How To Create a More Intelligent and Reflective Society

We continue to hear from many teachers and politicians that schools need more money. The thought in of itself has become somewhat of a religious ideology moreso than one based on careful arguments and factual evidence. Don’t get me wrong, most, if not all of our public and private schools do indeed need more money to provide the services that they provide. As populations grow, so do schools, we do indeed need to support them. But is money alone the solution? What is the actual goal? To improve the quality of education in America? Or is the goal to just graduate students so that they can go to college or trade school? Certainly it is many things and most are not mutually exclusive; but, if our primary goal is just to graduate students, we have missed the boat entirely and are doing society a disservice.

Money is needed yes, but what do we do with this money? Do we get more supplies, computers, pay for million dollar learning systems that haven’t even proven its efficacy in a real-world environment? Perhaps, but what is more valuable than all of this? Content and curriculum is needed, but I think we should go much further. There are a few major components that I think are missing and they go far beyond just superior content, good lesson plans and curriculum maps.

I suggest three main appendments to our status quo, some may not be able to be quantified or even tested for, but it’s a start.

1.) Finding teachers with a true passion for the subject. – Evaluating one’s passion can prove difficult but I think it imperative to scout for and support teachers that not only have the education which qualifies them to teach the subject, but to additionally hire those teachers that exude a true passion and love for their content (or the classroom). This translates over well to the students and also piques their interest, thus, improving their learning and experiences.

2.) Inculcating and Promoting Critical Thinking in Every Unit – Students should have the freedom to question all things and should be given time and space for this. Every unit should delve into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the subject or topic at hand. How do you know something? Could this be incorrect? Why is this important to know? How can we discover more? Can we trust this source? Where did these “facts” come from? If teachers aren’t doing something akin to this, I beg to argue that their students aren’t really learning anything of value.

3.) Revise teacher certification and licensing – This is controversial but let me expound on my point. I don’t think being “Highly Qualified” or “Licensed” means anything ultimately. What matters is what impact we are having on future generations. Pearson Group, and others like them, is a business and they market their tools and services to educational organizations, but has anyone stopped to ask, “Is there any evidence that teachers passing Pearson tests move on to be great teachers?” Even county training cannot truly prepare you for the classroom. I know far too many teachers that are highly qualified and licensed and just horrible teachers. Are we doing the right thing by engaging in this testing insanity? I’d say, “Hell No”. It’s possible that we are just putting billions of dollars into companies like Pearson and learning frameworks like Marzano without any evidence that such testing and support systems actually work. I think we need a new standard to assess and assist good and capable teachers, not arbitrary tests and learning fads. There is simply too much testing going on for students and teachers. Many teachers are forced to take tests that in many cases have nothing to do with one’s content area. An Art teacher shouldn’t have to pass general Math, nor should a P.E. teacher have to take some arbitrary essay writing test. They have a degree in their field, they exude the passion, they have been interviewed. Let them teach! Then we wonder why we are short teachers in so many fields. The only one’s benefitting are companies like Pearson, not our students.

I am afraid that if we continue on this uncritical and greed-driven path, that we are failing ourselves and our collective futures. We need a society that encourages rational thought, critical thinking, intellectual honesty, humanism, freethought, scientific thinking, honesty, courage, and the freedom to question. In our schools, we need passionate educators that love their fields and who know how to impart that passion onto others. Teachers passing content knowledge exams and achieving high student test scores will not fix our unsupported biases, our dichotomous political system, our religious and cultural intolerances, our greed, the celebration and perpetuation of violence, the constant “fake news”, nor our gleeful ignorances. To move towards a more enlightened world, we must continue to reach out through civic passion, patience, purposeful listening and understanding, self-reflective honesty, and we must produce truly decent and intelligent citizens for our youth to model. As educators, parents, and concerned citizens, we can begin by placing a foot on the right path by at least modifying our curriculum in all fields to include aspects of what we wish to become. In time, hopefully we can produce a society and a world that is far better off than we are now. We can avert this idiocratic dark age that we are spiraling into. It begins, with you.