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Lexilogio

Is there too much ignorance about science?

I was scrolling through Twitter, and a tweet from the Huffington Post caught my eye - a link to an article about creationism and ignorance about science.

The author of the article, Michael Zimmerman, is questionning why the creationism / science debate is even happening. He argues that there is too much partisan interest in education, and not enough interest in educating our young not "what to think" but "how to think".

This is something I'd been thinking about, following Todd Akin's off the cuff remarks about legitimate rape. He'd been on the science committee, but did his comments reflect, not necessarily misogyny, but a lack of understanding and questioning about science as presented to him?

I'm a great believer in teaching children to think. To question. To work out. I find some of the discussions here to be fascinating - for example, Farmer Geddon's knowledge of early scripture and history, Jim's in depth knowledge of Egyptian history, and LeClerc posted a fascinating look at the scriptural evidence for when Jesus was crucified. I love reading people laying the pieces of evidence out. Its a good way to search out understanding.

When I look through church history - I see examples of great thinkers, who really looked at evidence, who really thought through the scriptures - such as St Augustine (who is still well worth a read - in translation of course!). When we encourage ignorance, and stop questioning, we leave our young people vulnerable to the prey of cults and false prophets.

And finally - the Dalai Llama, who I have enormous respect for - has made some wonderful comments about science. He sees science as a good thing. And it is. We have been given the mental powers to look at, and understand the world. To become the caretakers of the world. But so many would rather squander that in favour of reality TV, commercialism and ignorance.
Powwow

Ignorance? Well I would think so. Isn't science all about trying to find answers to what you don't know? Scientists must be full of ignorance to keep them interested in trying to discover answers. All good!
Lexilogio

pow wow wrote:
Ignorance? Well I would think so. Isn't science all about trying to find answers to what you don't know? Scientists must be full of ignorance to keep them interested in trying to discover answers. All good!


 But are we promoting ignorance over the search for knowledge?
Powwow

No, well maybe eh? Well I don't know exactly. If it wasn't for good old ignorance we would never find an answer. I raise a glass to ignorance, long may it survive.
Leonard James

Science is the only way forward. Theorise, test, predict, modify/reject.

All else is guesswork.
trentvoyager

I don't know whether I am understanding correctly - but I think Lexi's point is that we actually celebrate ignorance whilst berating those who make significant advances in all fields of endeavour.

I'm not sure if this isn't a peculiarly British thing (or do I mean English) - but the achievement of some z-list celebrity brings much more into the lives of a significant segment of our community than does the achievements of scientists, artists, novelists, engineers, etc.

How often have I heard the putdown, and damning with faint praise, that runs along the lines of:

"Well, they are very clever at what they do - but they've got no common sense"

That seems to me to be an all pervasive attitude - and one that in the long term can have nothing but negative effects on our society.
Honey 56

trentvoyager wrote:
I don't know whether I am understanding correctly - but I think Lexi's point is that we actually celebrate ignorance whilst berating those who make significant advances in all fields of endeavour.

I'm not sure if this isn't a peculiarly British thing (or do I mean English) - but the achievement of some z-list celebrity brings much more into the lives of a significant segment of our community than does the achievements of scientists, artists, novelists, engineers, etc.

How often have I heard the putdown, and damning with faint praise, that runs along the lines of:

**"Well, they are very clever at what they do - but they've got no common sense"

That seems to me to be an all pervasive attitude - and one that in the long term can have nothing but negative effects on our society.


**Guilty as charged!!!

Although occasionally I have to admit intellect doesn't always rule out common sense.  

For people of my ability science is a very complicated subject, biology and basic science are very interesting to me but all these complicated theories go right over my head if I'm absolutely honest, if they don't go over then what goes in just creates an enormous headache for me.

The secret is capturing a person's imagination and interest, for me it is Forensics and the science, psychology and entomology,  it is only a hobby, however if I had been blessed with a higher intellect I would have loved to have studied it properly and maybe had a career within this field.

Both my kids although they have very different abilities were lucky enough to have excellent science teachers, who could capture their imaginations and make learning fun and interesting, they enjoyed what they learned and it has stayed with them, we can't all be Einsteins, but we can and should all have the opportunity to enjoy an interesting subject just for enjoyment's sake.

Honey
Lexilogio

Yes, that was kind of my point. And that we are encouraging our children to be more interested in celebrity and pointless discussions than encouraging them to value thinking.

I can remember being challenged in High School to look critically at adverts, and at newspaper articles. I'm not sure children are now encouraged to think about what they read - and question if it is true. And this is a shame.
Shaker

Critical thinking skills is something that I and many others have said that the curriculum is crying out for. I don't know in which part of the curriculum it could be slotted into, but then I'm not involved in the educational system. If I don't know, plenty of wiser and more experienced heads in the educational system should do.

Something like Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit (from his magnificent book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark) ought to be a part of the mental furniture of everyone.
IvyOwl

Ah a subject dear to my heart! We had poorly equipped labs and uninspiring science teachers. We got a good grounding in the basics but it would have been nice to have got over and above.

However we did have an absolutely brilliant temporary English teacher who had come straight from advertising. He raced through the curriculum stuff and then taught us how to deconstruct adverts and the practical application of simple logic. Now those were useful exercises in how to 'think and question'.

IO

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