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Alaa Al Aswany on America’s Ignorance Problem

Question: What keeps Americans from looking outside their borders?

al Aswany: Americans were not really interested to know much about what’s happening abroad, you see, for many reasons.  First, America is a very huge country, powerful country, so you have in America everything.  You could live in America and you could educated and get your work and even retire without being a need to communicate with people abroad, you see.  Second, because I believe that the media in the US and even the education system is designed in a way that really keeps the people away from what’s happening abroad, so Americans are not to blame because they don’t know much.  They were not taught, you see, to what’s happening abroad.  Second, that we have a table…  I mean, I could give, I can understand the situation because if you don’t know anything about Muslims and you don’t know anything about Arabs, and the only Islamic figure you see is Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, these terrible people, you see, who are totally medieval in appearance and they are very proud of committing terrible crimes everyday, then I can understand, I do not justify, but I can understand that you relate this ethnic group or this religious group with violence, you see.  But, I must tell you, I would give you an example.  For example, the Catholic Church, which, in my opinion, gave the world very positive meanings about love and forgiveness, etc., according to negative interpretation for Christianity, the Catholic Church began the inquisition in Spain against Jews and Muslims, you see, and it was a terrible time because hundred of thousands of Jews and Muslims were burned and were killed.  I cannot relay this to Christianity, you see.  This is a point.  I relay this to a negative interpretation for a great religion, which is Christianity.  I cannot say, if I say that, if I use the same logic this lady who was talking to John McCain used, I would say, I would relate Christian to somebody who is willing to kill as a people, you see, because they are different.  I would never do this, you see, because I know that that was…  And even the people who did that were not only Christians, they were presenting the Christian people, the Pope, you see.  The Pope of the Catholic Church who was the one who decided to make the inquisition, to burn Jews and Muslims, you see.  So, but, still, I have no right to relate this to Christianity.  I would like, really, to see this difference very clear in the West, you see, between the religion itself and some terrible people who are using a terrible, negative, totally wrong interpretation of the religion.

Alaa Al Aswany on the culture of myopia.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

Videos
  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Signs of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals

Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Coronavirus
It's often easy to tell when colleagues are struggling with a cold — they sound sick.
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Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
  • This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
  • The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.
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