Bad Science in Public School Classrooms

Lisa MooreThis post is by Lisa Moore, Ph.D., a scientist in the Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense Fund.

Just when we’re finally having the kind of national conversation we need about global warming, those who are ignoring scientific evidence are making a last-gasp effort to divert our attention: They’re sneaking myths and deceptions into America’s science classrooms.

In Louisiana’s recent “Science Education Act”, they joined forces with advocates of teaching creationism under the guise of promoting “critical thinking” on select scientific topics, including climate change. Signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal, the law actually provides cover for teachers who want to promote perspectives not founded in science.

Ironically, last year Congress asked the National Academies to recommend steps the U.S. could take to “successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global community of the 21st century”. Number one on the list was “vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education“.

Laws like the one in Louisiana do exactly the opposite. They hurt, not help, our future competitiveness – not to mention, hinder our ability to understand and respond to a warming world.

To track these bills like these and learn more about defending science education, visit the National Center for Science Education.

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  1. mikes
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    What, specifically, in the new curricula do you object to?

  2. Posted August 28, 2008 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    It’s not a new curriculum. My objection (and that of other scientists and educators) is that it allows teachers to use non-scientific materials in science classrooms. Science classes should focus on science.

    Solid, science-based teaching of topics like climate change isn’t just vitally important for understanding and responding to a dynamic world. It’s also a terrific opportunity to teach a wide variety of scientific fields — in the case of global warming, for example, you have physics, chemistry, geology, oceanography and biology coming together. It’s also important to understand if you want to develop the kinds of clean energy technologies and processes we need today and in the future.

    Science is an exciting, wonderful, fun endeavor. It also provides the foundation for much of our everyday lives. That’s why I believe our kids should get the best education possible.

  3. astroknott
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Do you think that the required viewing of Al Gores’ film “an Inconvenient Truth” belongs in classrooms? In some classrooms there is a grade penalty if both students, and parents don’t both watch it.

    In my opinion this film is nothing but political propaganda. If you actually look at the “science” in the film you quickly find that it is far from accurate. An example being the so called “hockey stick” graph used in the film. The graph is totally inaccurate. It completely leaves out the “little ice age” for one thing.

    I agree that creationism doesn’t belong in classrooms. The science behind evolution is well established. The science behind global warming is not. And the claim that humans are responsible for global warming is pure propaganda, not science.

    You say that we are having a “national conversation” about climate change, but we are not. You also say “those who are ignoring scientific evidence are making a last-gasp effort to divert our attention: They’re sneaking myths and deceptions into America’s science classrooms.” What “myths” are being snuck into classrooms? The fact is, that for the past ten years the globe has actually been cooling. Is that a myth or a scientific fact? The fact is that the sun recently had a period of zero sun spot activity for a complete month. The last two times that has happened has been followed by significant global cooling. One of those being the “little ice age”. Is that a myth or a scientific fact?

    Those who question “man made” global warming are being called “deniers”. The mere act of questioning is not tolerated. We need to have a real discussion, and real science. Not political propaganda.

    I expect to be banned from this blog soon for merely questioning the global warming orthodoxy. Such comments can’t be tolerated!

  4. Posted September 7, 2008 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I think the reason the man-made global warming myth is being pushed is because most people have such a poor scientific background and cannot analyze basic facts. So it is important to have a working knowledge of science, esp physics.

    Armed with a little scientific knowledge, one could see that facts can be distorted or insufficient to draw conclusions. So is the case with C02 causing global warming. This cannot be concluded from the facts now available without ignoring many facts such recent ice core data and effects of oceans, clouds and their cause, variation in global temp measurements, etc. When you add the political and monetary factors involved, it is clear that this whole global warming movement is NOT based on sound science but political motives.