Let’s Raise a Generation of Morons
August 12, 2011 2 Comments
The teaching of the science necessary for understanding climate issues is now coming under attack in schools, and joining the attacks on teaching of basic biology (the parts related to evolution, of course) in a way that will continue to make Americans more scientifically illiterate than almost any developed country in the world. Way to go!
On the academic side of what I work on as a philosophy professor, I have been trying to understand this parallel distrust of science education. Both are leading the way to increasingly irrational environmental policy. Evolutionary theory is central to understanding what to do about biodiversity, and basic earth and atmospheric processes are at the core of climate science. Why the selective distrust of science? Big, complicated question.
Related to this: Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, is a good book about “how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming.” The Amazon crowd-sourced reviews are interesting, especially the vitriolic one-star posts.
Click here for a nice blog post about the current attack on climate science in schools here. This is another blog that is new to me. Thanks to Brad Johnson at ClimateProgress for bringing it to my attention in his post.
The full article in Science that prompted these posts requires a subscription. (Science 5 August 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6043 pp. 688-689), but here is a quick summary is available here:
Science Education: Climate Change Sparks Battles in Classroom, by Sarah Reardon
An informal survey this spring of 800 members of the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) found that climate change was second only to evolution in triggering protests from parents and school administrators. Online message boards for science teachers tell similar tales. Unlike biology teachers defending the teaching of evolution, however, earth science teachers don’t have the protection of the First Amendment’s language about religion. But the teachers feel their arguments are equally compelling: Science courses should reflect the best scientific knowledge of the day, and offering opposing views amounts to teaching poor science. Most science teachers don’t relish having to engage this latest threat to their profession and resent devoting precious classroom time to a discussion of an alleged “controversy.” And they believe that politics has no place in a science classroom. Even so, some are being dragged against their will into a conflict they fear could turn ugly.
Science is published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Founded in 1848, Triple A-S (AAAS), is “an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.”