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Stop teaching pseudoscience in school
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Author:  Paul Kemp [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Stop teaching pseudoscience in school

Here is a letter we can sign that will ask the Governor of LA to veto Southern Baptist 733, a vile piece of legislation that is seeking to advance the Discovery Institutes' "Wedge Theory" by polluting public schools with fairy tale thinking.

The letter can be read and signed here:

http://lasciencecoalition.org/

And here is a little tidbit from the Discovery Institute and their "Wedge Theory"

Like I've said, these are scary times we are living in.

antievolution.org wrote:
Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies...we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points...
    5 Year Objectives: An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US
    Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities
    Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view
    Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory

Author:  bcspace [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

And while you're at it, stop legitimizing homosexual behavior, planned parenthood, and socialism in the schools too please. Even better, abolish the public school system altogether.

Author:  Paul Kemp [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:25 pm ]
Post subject: 

bcspace wrote:
And while you're at it, stop legitimizing homosexual behavior, planned parenthood, and socialism in the schools too please. Even better, abolish the public school system altogether.


What legislation are you speaking of (this is rhetorical, of course. There is no such legislation in the works) ?

Author:  The Nehor [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

bcspace wrote:
Even better, abolish the public school system altogether.


Finally, someone talking sense. Abolish government-sponsored daycare.

Author:  asbestosman [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

The Nehor wrote:
bcspace wrote:
Even better, abolish the public school system altogether.


Finally, someone talking sense. Abolish government-sponsored daycare.


I thought it was more of a government-sponsored assylum. I know I did some crazy stuff at school (like steal my French-teacher's dolls, take pictures of them all around Salt Lake City, and then write ransom notes).

Author:  EAllusion [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

The Discovery Institute has been pushing its "Academic Freedom" bills in state legislatures throughout the country. This is the strategy they began pushing since the Ohio battle and have been vigorously pursuing since the Dover defeat. The goal now is to teach traditional ID/creationist criticisms/mischaracterizations of evolution along with standard biology while no longer making the explicit conclusion, "therefore creator." If you look at the material they have produced waiting in the wings, they're still pretty ham-handed with the way they imply design while stopping just short of where they were before their last round of legal defeats. It's going to pass somewhere. It'll be shot down by the courts, eventually, so long as the religious right doesn't get another 2 or so justices on the Supreme Court.

Author:  EAllusion [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

Jindal explicitly supports teaching Intelligent Design-Creationism in schools along side evolution (the two models argument) along with the majority of LA, so it's basically a lock for him to sign this.

Author:  cksalmon [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

EAllusion wrote:
The Discovery Institute has been pushing its "Academic Freedom" bills in state legislatures throughout the country. This is the strategy they began pushing since the Ohio battle and have been vigorously pursuing since the Dover defeat. The goal now is to teach traditional ID/creationist criticisms/mischaracterizations of evolution along with standard biology while no longer making the explicit conclusion, "therefore creator." If you look at the material they have produced waiting in the wings, they're still pretty ham-handed with the way they imply design while stopping just short of where they were before their last round of legal defeats. It's going to pass somewhere. It'll be shot down by the courts, eventually, so long as the religious right doesn't get another 2 or so justices on the Supreme Court.


The Dude has presented elsewhere a superb example of the ham-handedness of the effort to cloak, for example, a Creationism textbook in the trappings of ID. I don't remember the details, but perhaps he can post it again. It involved some less-than-thorough copying and pasting in whatever word processing program the editor(s) was using.

(Full disclosure: I wouldn't mind at all if ID were taught in schools.)

Chris

Author:  EAllusion [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

The LA Coalition for Science is Barbara Forrest's group, incidentally. She is more responsible than any other one person for the beatdown the IDists received in Dover.

Author:  EAllusion [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

cksalmon wrote:

The Dude has presented elsewhere a superb example of the ham-handedness of the effort to cloak, for example, a Creationism textbook in the trappings of ID. I don't remember the details, but perhaps he can post it again. It involved some less-than-thorough copying and pasting in whatever word processing program the editor(s) was using.


Well, the progressive creationists just basically relabeled their views "Intelligent Design" in the wake of the Supreme Court defeat in '87. The Dude likely showed you how the drafts of Of Pandas and People were rewritten to scrub creationism and its cognates for Design and its.

Here's how the new strategy will go down:

http://www.exploreevolution.com/pdf/pee ... _30-31.pdf

They'll do things like discuss how evolutionary theory can't account for lungs, then provide an exercise for students where they build their own lung. They don't come out and say lungs were designed, but you have to be pretty dense not to realize what they are doing.

Author:  cksalmon [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

EAllusion wrote:
The Dude likely showed you how the drafts of Of Pandas and People were rewritten to scrub creationism and its cognates for Design and its.


Yep. That was the one. It was tragicomic.

Chris

Author:  asbestosman [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think the way science is taught in classrooms is fundamentally wrong. Science should not be some list of facts (data) and theories (models) that you memorize. Science should be about how to do science, not what to believe. Have kids make a hypothesis, do an experiment or gather data, and then get theories. Have them read the work of others and either find weaknesses in it or come up with further tests which may refute or refine the theories put forth in that work. Why can't we let kids discover for themselves how right or wrong Darwin was by helping them learn how to do research through experiments or reading articles?

Author:  The Dude [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

asbestosman wrote:
I think the way science is taught in classrooms is fundamentally wrong. Science should not be some list of facts (data) and theories (models) that you memorize.


Science has generated a lot of knowledge over the years. In what classroom setting should kids learn about that knowledge, if not in science class?

Quote:
Science should be about how to do science, not what to believe. Have kids make a hypothesis, do an experiment or gather data, and then get theories. Have them read the work of others and either find weaknesses in it or come up with further tests which may refute or refine the theories put forth in that work. Why can't we let kids discover for themselves how right or wrong Darwin was by helping them learn how to do research through experiments or reading articles?


That's good and all, but if they don't familiarize themselves with the current body of knowledge, then all you've done is teach them how to go out and re-invent the wheel. I think you have the right idea for a class called "Scientific thinking" or "How science works" but kids really do need to memorize a few facts and theories. How else will they know where to start asking questions?

Author:  silentkid [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

The Dude wrote:
That's good and all, but if they don't familiarize themselves with the current body of knowledge, then all you've done is teach them how to go out and re-invent the wheel. I think you have the right idea for a class called "Scientific thinking" or "How science works" but kids really do need to memorize a few facts and theories. How else will they know where to start asking questions?


Exactly. It's kind of difficult to formulate evolutionary hypotheses or experiments without a basic understanding of genetics. There has to be a starting point. Most good science courses have labs associated with them where students are able to carry out their own experiments and gain an understanding of how the scientific method works. Also, nearly every science course I took in college started with an overview of the scientific method and how it differs from other ways of knowing.

I have no reservations with ID if it is taught in Sunday School or a philosophy class or something. It's main flaw is that it isn't scientific (meaning it's not supported by the scientific method), so it doesn't belong in the science classroom.

Author:  asbestosman [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

The Dude wrote:
That's good and all, but if they don't familiarize themselves with the current body of knowledge, then all you've done is teach them how to go out and re-invent the wheel. I think you have the right idea for a class called "Scientific thinking" or "How science works" but kids really do need to memorize a few facts and theories. How else will they know where to start asking questions?


That is indeed an important point. I don't want kids to have to reinvent the wheel (that has caused me problems in my own persuit of knowledge in computer programming and mathematics due in part to misplaced pride). Still, I think there is a problem in that much of science for me was memorizing a bunch of theories and equations rather than understanding what data supported or refined the various theories. I want kids to know science so well that they can smell shoddy "science" when it gets close to them rather than dutifully memorizing it without any scrutinization. Maybe then memorization will continue, but not without the "scientific thinking" class and not without significant emphasis on how the theories were supported over other hypotheses and why gaps in knowledge aren't sufficient to overturn current theories let alone justify filling in the gaps with magic (perhaps a lab on analyzing magic tricks from a scientific point-of-view would be useful).

Author:  John Larsen [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

asbestosman wrote:
I think the way science is taught in classrooms is fundamentally wrong. Science should not be some list of facts (data) and theories (models) that you memorize. Science should be about how to do science, not what to believe. Have kids make a hypothesis, do an experiment or gather data, and then get theories. Have them read the work of others and either find weaknesses in it or come up with further tests which may refute or refine the theories put forth in that work. Why can't we let kids discover for themselves how right or wrong Darwin was by helping them learn how to do research through experiments or reading articles?


This is the kind of stuff that happens in graduate school, actually. Why does it happen in graduate school? Because you are not ready to participate until you understand the fundamentals.

For example, there is some controversy in the basic theory of numbers that is taught in elementary school. Should we introduce 3rd graders to such high level criticism? Can you really discuss Einsteinian models of physics without first grasping Newtonian models?

In reality, science is a cumulative collection of data, theory and speculation. You are expected to understand all that came before and to try to introduce children into a criticism of science would be doing exactly what you are trying to combat--namely presenting information they are not equipped to handle.

Author:  John Larsen [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

There is another problem. Take for example long division. Almost every high school educated adult can perform long division by hand. However, I doubt 1 in 1000 adults can explain why it works. Similarly, many adults can write down and use the Pythagorean theorem. However, there are very few would could derive it or prove it. In elementary school, they will teach you how to calculate the area of a square or a sphere. However, you have to know calculus to be able to explain why this works.

I think that it is clear that describing why science works or doesn't work is of several degrees more advanced than using the science productively. As a matter of fact, you really don't need to understand the mechanism to productively use science at all.

Author:  asbestosman [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:54 pm ]
Post subject: 

John Larsen wrote:
I think that it is clear that describing why science works or doesn't work is of several degrees more advanced than using the science productively. As a matter of fact, you really don't need to understand the mechanism to productively use science at all.

True, but you need to know how it works to be able to reject pseudo-science. Still, I think that using scientific facts is more the area of technology or enginerring than science. I also tend to think that learning how to learn is more important than memorization. I'm a fan of open-book tests (you need to have a good understanding of the material to pass, but the specifics are on hand for reference so it's not about memorization).

Author:  asbestosman [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

silentkid wrote:
I have no reservations with ID if it is taught in Sunday School or a philosophy class or something. It's main flaw is that it isn't scientific (meaning it's not supported by the scientific method), so it doesn't belong in the science classroom.

But I want kids to know why. Heck, I'm all for teaching ID in the classroom if kids are sufficiently prepared to see its weaknesses and learn from that example why that isn't science (no, it's not just because it is strongly supported by religion / anti-materialists or seems to support the necessity of a Creator / Designer / God).

Author:  krose [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ken Miller was on NPR Science Friday last week discussing this new strategy. It was a good show. If you want to listen, you can get it as a podcast from iTunes, or from npr.org.

Author:  silentkid [ Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

asbestosman wrote:
But I want kids to know why. Heck, I'm all for teaching ID in the classroom if kids are sufficiently prepared to see its weaknesses and learn from that example why that isn't science (no, it's not just because it is strongly supported by religion / anti-materialists or seems to support the necessity of a Creator / Designer / God).


I'm all for explaining why ID isn't science in the science classroom. That only takes a few minutes. I don't think it should be taught as an alternative theory to natural selection, because it isn't an alternative theory...it's not science. I'm not sure what level of students you are talking about when you say "kids". Junior high, high school, college? The part I bolded is the kicker. ID is tricky business and those that don't have a decent understanding of evolution are often duped by some of it's arguments.

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