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February 17, 2009

Questioning authority

With regard to a word error on a state test discovered by a Kansas high school student (2/16, A-2), I have to wonder how many students noticed the error and chose not to speak up because we’ve been so brainwashed not to question authority.

I had a propensity for not adhering to that philosophy when I was an elementary and high school student in the 1950s and ’60s, and because of that I was unpopular among teachers. They don’t like to be wrong.

But wrong is wrong, and not questioning authority — or failing to speak up when we’ve been wronged personally — has gotten our nation in a lot of trouble, both domestically and internationally.

I applaud Geoffrey Stanford for both his superb knowledge and courage to speak up.

Charles Ballew
Kansas City


donlake, Ruskin & UMisery

Hope Master Geoffrey Stanford never works for NASA.

Ya wanna be recognized at JPL, stand up. Want to be heard, speak up. Need to be appreciated, SHUT UP!

Opinion: NASA's three death events / multi murders, were all preceded by wide spread murmurs of concern.

Fact: In 1966, even first year nursing students knew not to put 100% oxygen atmospheres near flame or electrical equipment.

Fact: All 17 deaths occurred with weeks of Presidential *politics, politics, politics* swearing ins or State of the Nation addresses.

Opinion: No matter how good the engineering technology, incompetent, politicized administrative gaps trump!


“But wrong is wrong, and not questioning authority — “ – Charles Ballew

My personal experience has been that this whole “question authority” thing is one of those philosophical ideas that executes poorly in reality. Often those who are doing the questioning are doing so just because they’re not the authority.

Stifled Freedom

I encounted the same thing at work. I used to fight things that were wrong. I met with a lot of resistance. It damaged my career.

I finally gave up and went with the flow. As long as the check comes in, I dont care. I was promoted without asking.

I learned what my problem was. I cared.


I don't see anything heroic here either. Most adults wouldn't have caught that error. I'm not sure kids were intimidated into not pointing it out. Many who knew the word 'emissions;' was intended probably just shrugged and figured it was a mistake.

That said, I pointed out an error in a test question to a teacher at JoCo Community College last year, and he gave me extra credit for correcting him. But then, I used to work as a magazine editor and sometimes errors just jump off the page at me.

T. Hanson

From what I read in the article, he did not start a lock-in. He did not force himself into the test center. He simply told the test administrator and they went up the "chain of command" so you say.

I am glad that this kid knew the difference in words. I don't think he should be held up as a hero.

Good job at finding a problem with a standardized test, not the first not the last.

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