Science in schools

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The US National Center for Science Education teaches researchers how to fight for their cause.


Critics of mainstream science frequently dispute evolution or climate change. Whatever their target, a common tactic is to challenge how well mainstream scientists accept these ideas.

When the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington, began a project in this vein, creating lists of scientists who doubt evolution, the pro-evolution National Center for Science Education (NCSE) responded in kind. It collected responses from PhD-level scientists who agreed that there is “no serious scientific doubt” that evolution occurred — but only those who were called Steve or a variant. This light-hearted list of Stephens, Stephanies and similars now dwarfs the list of doubters, making a clear statement about where mainstream science stands.

That statement does not, and is not intended to, inform scientists. But it buttresses their long-term futures. To ensure that the supply of competent young researchers and policy-makers does not fail, the public should be educated in a vital, unifying principle of biology. Yet teachers are often pressured to keep evolution out of the classroom or to teach it as a scientifically controversial theory, particularly in the United States.

The NCSE, which is based in Oakland, California, is committed to tackling such attacks. It is perhaps most famous for organizing plaintiffs in the 2005 case Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which parents in Pennsylvania sued a school board for requiring that intelligent design be taught in public schools. The case was decided in favour of the parents, a ruling that is credited with keeping intelligent design out of classrooms across the United States. But the NCSE has probably had a similar impact in its quieter battles: it provides resources for science advocates, so that they do not have to reinvent the wheel when helping teachers who are told to skip evolution, to misrepresent it as controversial or to teach it alongside unscientific ideas. And the centre adapts to current needs: last year, it branched out to include climate change in its education efforts.

Written By: Nature
continue to source article at nature.com

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    • I would add “loud mouthed” to the list of attributes of the majority.

      In reply to #1 by Pi:

      The Americans – a minority of entrepreneurs, world class scientists, engineers and wealth generators supporting a huge outrageously dumb underachieving dullard slow witted majority.

    • In reply to #1 by Pi:

      The Americans – a minority of entrepreneurs, world class scientists, engineers and wealth generators supporting a huge outrageously dumb underachieving dullard slow witted majority.

      Considering that since the Reagan era, we’ve been defunding our school systems and laying off teachers; given we’ve never really treated our teachers like professionals despite their educational requirements; considering that during this time we’ve been also experiencing a strong anti-intellectualism movement, none of this is a surprise.

      Ignorant people are obedient people. They respond less critically to your marketing, your campaigning and your evangelizing. They’re less likely to create game-changing technology that disrupts your business model (assuming it thrives in the status quo). They’re less likely to organize and rise against you when you respect them.

      This is nothing new. The only difference between this era and the feudal dark ages is that before the US there was no narrative promising upward mobility. There was no promise of a meritocratic economy or some kind of social justice: if you were a serf, you were just fucked, and that’s all there was to it. Eventually you were going to die to plagues or a streak of bad winters.

      Tyson noted a similar correlation between the anti-intellectualist movement, the push for religion and the end of the Islamic Golden Age, after which Europe got the upper hand. Araby was the the great expanding empire going through a renaissance from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries, after which it foundered and fell to the huns. Today, only the discovery of oil gives Araby any significance at all.

      So it will be with the US, unless things truly change course, and considering the degradation of our representative democracy (in which representatives have to toe the line of corporate interests just to get and stay elected) such a change will be very unlikely before our economy or our culture collapses. I suspect the US will be the EU’s fuck toy (by which I mean Germany’s fuck toy) by the end of the century

      That is if China doesn’t wage an attrition war against us.

  1. There was an election campaign here in BC. One party repeatedly told lies, and no matter how many times they were debunked, they just repeated them. These included easily verified things like whether or not Moody’s had certified a budget were balanced. Moody’s said they had done no such thing. The government party claimed they had. Truth is what the group with the most money wishes were so.

    In fighting Christians you have the same problem. They know they are lying but persist in repeating lies anyway. Dealing with such a crooked debater requires special tactics.

    What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian
    church… a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would
    accept them.

    ~ Martin Luther 1483-11-10 1546-02-18

    • In reply to #4 by Roedy:

      What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church… a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.
      ~ Martin Luther 1483-11-10 1546-02-18

      That is an astonishing quotation from Martin Luther, Roedy. Are you able to give a reference for it. It could come in very handy. Was Luther suggesting that the church was so bereft of truth that one might well have to lie in its defence?

      • In reply to #5 by Cairsley:

        That is an astonishing quotation from Martin Luther, Roedy. Are you able to give a reference for it.

        The Snopes discussion. I can’t read the German text to which it links, but it gives a literary source.

          • In reply to #7 by Uriel-238:

            In reply to #6 by Uriel-238:

            The Snopes discussion. I can’t read the German text to which it links, but it gives a literary source.

            Crap. Here:

            http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=40318

            Much obliged, Uriel. Yes, the quotation about lying for the good of the church makes sense in that well-known case of covering up the landgrave Philip of Hesse’s bigamy to avoid a scandal for the reformed church which was still being established. It was not Luther’s finest moment, but it was understandable, given the importance of the landgrave’s support for the ecclesiastical reform that Luther and others were fostering.

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