Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United States Science

US Adults Fail Basic Science Literacy 1038

Posted by kdawson
from the ignorance-can-be-fixed dept.
TaeKwonDood writes "Do you want the bad news first or the good news? The good news is that about 80% of Americans think science knowledge is 'very important' to our future. The bad news is most of those people think it's up to someone else to get knowledgeable. Only 15% actually know how much of the planet is covered in water (47% if you accept a rough approximation of the exact number) and over 40% think dinosaurs and humans cavorted together like in some sort of 'Land Of The Lost' episode. What to do? Pres. Obama thinks merit pay for teachers makes sense. Yes, it will enrage the teachers' union, but it might inspire better people to go into science teaching. It's either that or accept that almost 50% of Americans won't know how long it takes the earth to go around the sun."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Adults Fail Basic Science Literacy

Comments Filter:
  • 47% (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:35AM (#27180325)
    Only 15% actually know how much of the planet is covered in water (47% if you accept a rough approximation of the exact number)...

    47%? Last I heard, it was between 70-75%. The top three results from Google for the query "earth covered by water" all say that as well.

    Was that 47% derived using a different definition, or is TaeKwonDood a charter member of the Science Is Only For Nerds Club?
    • Re:47% (Score:5, Informative)

      by Da Fokka (94074) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:37AM (#27180347) Homepage

      15% got it right, 47% came close.

      • Re:47% (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:44AM (#27180427) Journal

        That's funny. Wonder what the percentage of scientifically literate people who can identify a misplaced modifier is?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#27180509)

        15% got it right, 47% came close.

        And what is said in the summary:

        "Only 15% actually know how much of the planet is covered in water"

        So there's a bit of idiocy with the person who wrote this. In reality, as you put it, 15% got the correct answer--15% did not necessarily "actually know how much of the planet is covered in water." That would imply that no one guessed. A little hypocrisy in the summary, perhaps? In the article, they put it correctly: "Only 15% of respondents answered this question with the exactly correct answer of 70%."
         
          EDITORS, DO YOUR JOBS. If there is a fallacy in the summary, either correct it, or DO NOT POST THE STORY.

        • by MickLinux (579158) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:53AM (#27180589) Journal

          Just a note: Knowing how much of the planet is covered in water is *not* scientific literacy. That is trivia knowledge. If I need to know how much of the planet is covered in water (I'd guess 80%), I look it up, and decide if the definition matches my needs.

          Scientific literacy would be understanding (1) how to research science you need (2) how to conduct a proper experiment (3) how to evaluate claims for obvious falsehood (4) how to check out non-obvious claims for falsehood, which is related to #1, (5) how to identify whether you are yourself competent in an area of science, or not, and (6) how to find someone who *is* competent, if necessary.

          I hate it when people mistake factoids for science.

          I hate it when people mistake popular blurbs for reason.

          • by Leafheart (1120885) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:08AM (#27180855)

            Trivia or not, it doesn't change the fact that is "basic scientific information". Or at least, basic knowledge of the world that is useful, or at least interesting, to have. A "scientific mind" (damn, I'm abusing quotes) starts with a gathering of random but interesting knowledge (as you call, trivia), from that point you start infering and dealing with patterns and such to develop critic thinking.

            To fail at basic info like that, shows a disregard for scientific knowledge. And that is foundation of critical thought (together with some philosophy in it).

            Science spur from the need of understanding the natural world around us, and that came after knowing some silly facts and asking yourself: "Why is that so?".

            • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:25AM (#27181147)

              To fail at basic info like that, shows a disregard for scientific knowledge. And that is foundation of critical thought (together with some philosophy in it).

              I disagree. I think understanding and applying the scientific method is the foundation of science, which is just one method of critical thought. Any particular facts a person knows or does not know may be reflective of their opinions about science, or it may be reflective of their particular interests and cultural influences. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that people who fail such a test are able to apply the scientific method. It is probable that people who pass this test, still have no real understanding of the scientific method, how to apply it, or why it works.

              I surmise that thinking such as is demonstrated in this survey is a symptom of our broken educational system. It is highly focused upon rote memorization instead of applicable skills and understanding concepts. It's easier to memorize the definition of science than to understand the method. It's easier to teach kids to memorize than to understand. It's significantly easier to test memorization than understanding. It is vastly easier to standardize a test for memorizing a blurb than for understanding a concept.

              Don't get me wrong. I think science classes should run through teaching a wide base of scientifically determined fats and likely theories. I just think that should come second to a thorough understanding of the scientific method and how to apply it to determine the truth as well as a firm grounding in hands on experimentation so students can learn that it does work and have confidence in it.

              • by Leafheart (1120885) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:38AM (#27181377)

                To fail at basic info like that, shows a disregard for scientific knowledge. And that is foundation of critical thought (together with some philosophy in it).

                I disagree. I think understanding and applying the scientific method is the foundation of science, which is just one method of critical thought. Any particular facts a person knows or does not know may be reflective of their opinions about science, or it may be reflective of their particular interests and cultural influences.

                You can't learn how to critically deduce something if you don't know things. A basic example, using something un-scientific, jigsaw puzzle solving. See, I know a basic fact, "the box contains 5000 pieces", I know another basic fact "borders are flat in at least one of the sides". With those in mind you can start creating a process to solve the jigsaw, you can put on that a few more "unit" data: "it is easier to get 1 pair together than 4", and from that place start deriving how you are going to solve it. Ok, it is a silly example, and not that great of an analogy (I'm at work and tired), but it shows that without any of those basic facts I couldn't work on how to solve the problem.

                Mind you, I think "critical thought", "Principals of Western Philosophy", "Mathematical proofs", "Basic Algorithms" should all be classes since the 5th grade (10 years old here in Brazil). You need to teach the kids how to think. But you need to show them some fact too, so they can apply what they are learning in terms of thinking, and their curiosity on a bunch of "silly" trivia and from that onwards learn how to think.

                It is unlikely, but not impossible, that people who fail such a test are able to apply the scientific method. It is probable that people who pass this test, still have no real understanding of the scientific method, how to apply it, or why it works.

                I agree with you that people who pass this test may still have no understading of the scientific method, but I don't think that someone who can't get those facts can know it. Mainly because they are easy to infer from other things. Take the question about how much water there is in the world. I may not know the number, I may not have ever thought about it, but if I saw a map, and thinking a bit about it, I can make a good guess (which means, we should expect a much higher "close enough" percentage). The fact that so many people have no idea about it, shows not just a lack of trivia knowledge but a lack of deducing capabilities.

            • His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

                      "You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

                      "To forget it!"

                      "You see," he explained, I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

                      "But the Solar System!" I protested.

                      "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

              Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
              A Study in Scarlet

              The "I" is, of course Dr. Watson, and the "He" is of course Sherlock Holmes.

          • by exploder (196936) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:14AM (#27180943) Homepage

            Just a note: Knowing how much of the planet is covered in water is *not* scientific literacy. That is trivia knowledge.

            I hate it when people mistake factoids for science.

            I hate it when people mistake popular blurbs for reason.

            Maybe. But not knowing that the earth takes one year to revolve around the sun indicates a pretty serious failure to know what the fuck is going on.

            And, seriously...if you can't imagine a globe in your head and at least get between 60% and 80% water...you are pretty ignorant. If a lot of people are that ignorant, we have a problem.

            As always, I would like to see results of the exact same survey from other countries for comparison.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ktappe (747125)

            Just a note: Knowing how much of the planet is covered in water is *not* scientific literacy. That is trivia knowledge.

            Incorrect. "Trivia", by definition, is useless information, such as who won American Idol last season. Knowing that 70% of the earth is covered with water is essential information for realizing that overpopulation is an issue, for knowing how crucial water currents are with relation to global warming and weather phenomena, and for geographical and political-boundary wisdom. It's nearly as essential as knowing the shape of the planet or where the meridians and parallels are--the lack of this info is, in cert

          • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:37AM (#27181361) Homepage

            ok let's start with simpler things.

            How many states are there?

            How many MAJOR branches of the government are there and name them.

            How many stripes and stars are on the USA flag?

            Name 3 countries in europe.

            Name 3 countries in Asia.

            Name 3 countries in south america.

            Name 3 countries in north america.

            Explain how you can calculate your approximate destination time from your speed and distance.

            Guess What. a HUGE portion of Americans will FAIL the above basic test. Many MBA holders and other COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDING people will fail it.

            Dont get me started on basic science that you can use daily, math, driving safety, common sense, etc... if you add those in then the numbers that fail rise drastically.

            Critical thinking skills? you are asking the morons that travel at 85mpg 6 feet from the guy in front of him to think critically when they cant comprehend that their actions daily on the highway are incredibly stupid? How about being able to do basic math so you understand that the 15% you will save opening that store credit card to buy that item will cost you 30% more even if you go home and pay it off right now due to dropping your credit score like a stone.

            Most dont know who their representatives are in local and state government or how to get a hold of them. You need to get off your pedestal and actually spend a week observing people and the incredibly uneducated things they do. It's not out of habit or malice, these people around you really are that uneducated.

            I see this amplified from the Exchange students at my daughters school.. The German kids all mention how american school is insanely easy compared to theirs. friends I have in Germany, Italy, and China all also cant understand why Americans cant speak more than 1 language and dont understand what they consider basic math, Algebra and Geometry, Most Americans do not know.

            Our schools have been an utter failure for decades. From the public kindergarten all the way up to Post graduate. colleges skew grades so that you get a C for what used to be failing the class. now our "average" students are the faiure uneducated ones.

            honestly, I wish Obama had the balls to call out and demand that all truancy laws be reinstated, teachers paid based on merit, and that schools and colleges be forced to stop passing people that should not be.

            3 of the highschools around here will give you a diploma even if you cant read. That is not shocking, it's a disgusting embarassment.

            • by camperdave (969942) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:03PM (#27182737) Journal
              ok let's start with simpler things.

              How many states are there?


              Three: Solid, Liquid, Gas.

              How many MAJOR branches of the government are there and name them.

              Three: Federal, State/Provincial, Municipal

              How many stripes and stars are on the USA flag?

              It depends on the year. Currently there are 63.

              Name 3 countries in europe.

              Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan

              Name 3 countries in Asia.

              Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan

              Name 3 countries in south america.

              The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, France

              Name 3 countries in north america.

              The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, France

              (You gotta love transcontinental countries, and overseas protectorates.)

              Explain how you can calculate your approximate destination time from your speed and distance.

              The time at a destination changes approximately by one hour for every fifteen degrees of longitude. It will not be affected by speed, although at relativistic velocities the traveller's perception is that time slows down.
        • by superbus1929 (1069292) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:53AM (#27180593) Homepage
          kdawson's the editor. He fucks up everything he touches.

          C'mon mods, fire away on me!
    • Re:47% (Score:5, Informative)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:38AM (#27180365) Homepage Journal

      The problem is in the summary - not the article. The article has it right. The survey accepted anything between 65 and 75 percent as correct. 47% of the people in the survey got it right.

  • Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerafix (1028986) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:36AM (#27180339)
    Boards of Education are trying to teach how a magic man in the sky created everything. Reap what you sow.
    • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0racle (667029) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:44AM (#27180449)
      Yes that's it. What has happened in a few school districts in the past few years as affected the education of people that have been out of school for 20-30 years. It has nothing to do with the general distain for education or higher learning that has existed for god knows how long. It has nothing to do with the glorification of sports and the deification of its practicers. It has nothing to do with a culture that works very hard to create the image of the 'nerd' as something to be shunned as opposed to the 'pimp' the 'hoe' and the 'playa' that everyone should try to be.

      No, its all them thar religions.
      • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:54AM (#27180609) Journal

        Well Scopes [umkc.edu] was more than 80 years ago, so you can't put a 30 year cut off on the religion argument.

        Considering that this country was founded by religious refugees, and considering that historically, we've always been slower to adopt scientific theories than most other first world countries, it's certainly a plausible argument.

        Frankly I think our scientific glory days are more about the waves of educated immigrants we got in the last century due to the unrest in europe (WWI, WWII, the Cold War) than in any native virtue that we had and somehow lost.

        Until we start pushing actual critical thought as part of our curriculum instead of trivia and shortcuts, we're never going to have a world class educational program.

        • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Helios1182 (629010) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:06AM (#27180811)

          Slow to accept theories? The USA has been one of the absolute leaders in scientific research, Actually, I think we probably are still one of the best in that regard.

          The problem is that we have a very disjointed view of science in this country. We have some of the best universities, labs, and research centers in the world. These places are filled with brilliant people from the USA and around the world. People come from everywhere to get such a quality higher education.

          Sounds good, but there is a huge percentage of the population that views science and education as being something to be afraid of. Why would want to listen to those liberal elitists working on their spooky experiments?

          We have a big problem with the glorification of ignorance and simplemindedness. People want a president "they could have a beer with" instead of some "overe-ducated liberal elitist". The heros of children are rapper and athletes. Being a good student is punishable by your peers.

          • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by xouumalperxe (815707) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:28AM (#27181181)

            Slow to accept theories? The USA has been one of the absolute leaders in scientific research, Actually, I think we probably are still one of the best in that regard.

            The two aren't mutually exclusive. You can have the intellectual elites riding (and directing) the bleeding edge of research, while the country as a whole is slow on the uptake of the science the elites (both domestic and foreign) produce. In the meanwhile, countries that produce less scientific knowledge might be much more avid consumers of that knowledge. Quite tellingly, do american scientists have a good knowledge of science as a whole, or do they limit themselves to trying to be leaders in their own domain? (honest question, and food for thought)

      • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:56AM (#27180635)

        Well, at least pimps, hos and playas are merely indifferent to science. They don't actively work to discredit it, suppress it or redefine it as something else.

        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:07AM (#27180833)
          Well, at least pimps, hos and playas are merely indifferent to science. They don't actively work to discredit it, suppress it or redefine it as something else.

          Yo man, why you down on us playas and our science skills? We gotta use some mad science skills to get the honeys. For instance ya gotta know the correlation coefficient that describes the relationship between yo bling and yo hos, to maximize the amount of hos per dollar of bling. And is the relationship between those sweet rims on yo pimped out ride, and gettin the honeys best modeled by a linear or logistic model? Mendelian genetics is important to know so you can figure out whether a girl's sister gonna be hot. We playas all about the science.

      • Re:Surprise. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:10AM (#27180879) Homepage Journal

        It has nothing to do with a culture that works very hard to create the image of the 'nerd' as something to be shunned as opposed to the 'businessman' the 'beauty queen' and the 'wealthy person' that everyone should try to be.

        I corrected your spelling.

        That's pretty much conservatism in a nutshell. It's all about the monopolization of resources, the encouragement of inanity to limit threats to the status quo, and good dose of misdirection to keep the victims angry at someone else. (In this case, inner city blacks, though liberals, intellectuals, Jews, women, gays, and many other groups serve that purpose just as well. This particular example is used because it is the only segment of American society that is less educated than the conservative base.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LoudMusic (199347)

      Boards of Education are trying to teach how a magic man in the sky created everything. Reap what you sow.

      I don't think that is the case. Personally, I was raised and educated in Arkansas, smack in the middle of the bible belt, in a southern baptist home, and I like to think I have a firm grasp on basic scientific facts. For example, the Earth's surface is actually closer to 3/4 water, not 47%.

      What I think is happening is that people are blaming religion, specifically Christianity, for all the problems of the world. And when it comes to education the real problem is that people are just fucking lazy.

      One of my m

    • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:53AM (#27180583)

      Boards of Education are trying to teach how a magic man in the sky created everything. Reap what you sow.

      And while we are on that subject, meet Don McLeroy [statesman.com], chairman of the Texas Board of Education:

      McLeroy said that it wasn't until he met his future wife, Nan, that he decided to rethink his faith. She said she would date him only if he were a Christian.

      At the time, McLeroy was a 29-year-old dental student in Houston. His response was to first write up a list of reasons that he could not accept Christ. Some things he read in the Bible didn't make sense with what he was learning in dental school, he said. And he wondered why God would allow innocent people to die.

      One by one, he said, his questions were answered by pastors and in Bible studies. The conversion took four months. Over the next year, he began taking seminars on creationism and biblical principles. He is now a young earth creationist, meaning that he believes God created Earth between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.

      The tenet in Christianity that says people were created in the image of God became one of the principles that McLeroy held most dear, he said.

      "When I became a Christian, it was whole-hearted," he said. "I was totally convinced the biblical principles were right, and I was totally convinced that it could be accurate scientifically."

      If you live in Texas, this guy is edumakatin' your kids. Look at the bright side, if they graduate they can fill those lucrative intelligent design research positions that are just bound to open up, ;-)

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:59AM (#27180705) Journal

      Q1: How many of them believe in astrology, Feng Shui, crystal power, and other crap?
      Q2: How many of them know that the Earth is not flat, and is about 4.5 billion years old?
      I would not be surprised if the answer to Q1 is larger than the answer to Q2. Unfortunately. And that's just a sample of delusions compared to a couple of simple and well-known facts.

      There is a crying need for teaching the scientific method in schools. Ideally, it would be accompanied by numerous exercises in critical thought, including the examination of "common knowledge" and topical news stories.

      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:17AM (#27180989)

        As a science type, I encourage you to not turn off your brain to astrology, Feng Shui, crystal power, and other crap.

        Instead, test it formally, with double blinds, hoping that it works (so you don't subconsciously suppress data). Then if you find something, have others duplicate your work. That's the scientific method.

        Blindly assuming something is false is not.

        IMHO, having a science degree and then getting a massage license, I found that some things are very real and they are surrounded with mysticism so that is the way to learn them- but there is still something real in there-- that could be dug out. And it's surrounded by a ton of crap that isn't real.

    • Re:Surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:08AM (#27180849) Journal

      Boards of Education are trying to teach how a magic man in the sky created everything. Reap what you sow.

      I know it's popular around here to bash the religious right and blame them for the decline in science education but I suspect that the problem is with our system itself and not the influence of religious elements. The influence of religion is troubling but the religious-right has lost more often than they've won (Kitzmiller [wikipedia.org] comes to mind) and I don't think it's fair to place a majority of the blame on them.

      Consider the fact that most Americans can't find Afghanistan on the map. Consider the fact that we rank 24th in math. How do you blame either of those on religious influences? Math and geography don't stir up a lot of religious dissent the last time I checked. Bottom line: The whole system sucks and you can't blame it all on the creationists.

      As for fixing it, I'm not real hopeful. The Democrats solution will invariably be to throw more money at the problem. Given that we are already spending ~$8,300 [census.gov] per student I'm not real hopeful that more money and bureaucracy will solve anything. The Republican solution [wikipedia.org] of unfunded mandates and punishments for failing to meet those mandates doesn't seem very wise either.

      My Libertarian leanings would prefer to see less Governmental influence in education. I do find it interesting that many private schools have an annual tuition that's less than the average amount we are paying per student for public schools and manage to turn out higher test scores and better educated/adjusted students. This suggests to me that there could be a marketplace solution to the problem but I have zero optimism that the entrenched interests will ever allow it to happen on a scale large enough to be meaningful.

      In short, we are screwed. The only bright side is we still have the best higher educational system in the world. Perhaps the solution is to add a year onto all college programs to correct all of the mistakes that were made during primary education? ;)

      • Re:Surprise. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by M. Baranczak (726671) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:48AM (#27181537)

        I do find it interesting that many private schools have an annual tuition that's less than the average amount we are paying per student for public schools and manage to turn out higher test scores and better educated/adjusted students.

        Private schools can pick and choose who they accept. Of course their students will have higher test scores.

  • by jofny (540291) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:41AM (#27180387) Homepage
    What concerns me more than lack of knowledge of basic facts is that many adults don't really understand something as simple and basic as "the scientific method"...coming up with idea...testing it...controls....etc. It's almost as if science is "magic" to a lot of adults...might explain why so many can't distinguish between what they think the bible says and testable, provable fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      And because science is viewed as a ritualized activity, liars and con-artists like the Discovery Institute can take advantage of that ignorance to attack the foundations of science to insert (however cleverly disguised) Creationism as some sort of rational alternative. It does not help science education that lunatics and con-men are constantly trying to knock science down so that they're bizarre literal readings of Genesis can be raised up.

      If the US doesn't eventually want to become a second-rate power the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If the US doesn't eventually want to become a second-rate power then it better start seriously consider that pandering to the low-watt lightbulbs is not a route to long-term viability in the sciences or technology.

        But that would mean telling people that their favorite holy book is quite literally inaccurate in its depiction of the creation stories in Genesis.

        As soon as you tell people that, there's a certain politically powerful group that will be raving mad.

        I don't know why some people can't simply accept that stories in the Bible are just that -- stories.

    • As an ex-biology teacher, one of my professor's pet peeves was that there was no single "scientific method". There are a some general approaches and a lot of techniques, but no single, official approach.

      For example, it may be that doing double-blind studies are often a great idea, but we regularly accept studies without it as being scientifically valid. I'm actually partial to the "guess and check" method for solving lots of problems. Different problems work better with different methods.
  • by drolli (522659) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:43AM (#27180419) Journal
    the earth was fully covered with water, right before god created dry land and put all the fossils which seem to be older inside. The he created the animals in a way that their DNA looks like inherited from each other and created some species which are there to prove that he can also create species which evolve. All this is kind of obvious, so what are your irrelevant anti-christian scientific questions all about?
    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:10AM (#27180897) Homepage

      I'm trying to imagine, if I were an omnipotent being, why the hell I would bother with all that.

      Then it hit me. God is playing the ULTIMATE version of Sid Meier's Civilization.
      God chose to play as the Americans, and everyone else gets free will because we are the AI players.

      I personally think god isn't doing very well economically; and he needs to increase his science rate.

  • culture (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:46AM (#27180481) Homepage

    You can pay teachers all you want, but it wont inspire students to learn and retain knowledge. Only parents/peers/culture can do that.

    • Re:culture (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:55AM (#27180615)

      You can pay teachers all you want, but it wont inspire students to learn and retain knowledge. Only parents/peers/culture can do that.

      If you don't think a teacher can inspire students, you've never had a good teacher, let alone a great one.

  • Merit Pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:47AM (#27180483) Homepage

    My one problem with the idea of merit pay for teachers is that there isn't really a good way to measure teacher merit. In most jobs, a worker has a very high degree of control over the end product: for example, nothing goes into the source code I write unless I say so. In such

    The problem is that teachers don't (and shouldn't) have that kind of control over the end product: namely, their own students. At best they can guide and influence, but even in the best of situations, more often than not students will be affected by things completely beyond the teacher's ability to predict or control. It is thus grossly unfair to use student performance as a measure of teacher performance, simply because the ties between them are much too loose.

    The other option that has been put forward is to use evaluations, by peers, students, administrators, or other factors. Subjectivity is the problem here: it's far too easy to game such evaluations, or to subject them to office politics. This can have both positive and negative effects on various parties, depending on viewpoint, but in any case it cannot be made fair or reliable as a measure of performance.

    What other methods exist? I can see none, and would be interested in hearing possible alternatives. But in their absence, "merit pay" for teachers is nothing more than a comforting myth: the concept is unworkable, and implementations cannot be made to reliably follow the concept. Yes, this is different from many (most?) jobs, but the nature of the job itself -also very different from most- is what creates these conditions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by D Ninja (825055)

      The real solution is, "Pay teachers more money."

      I personally was very interested in teaching about software and computers until I reached college. Then, when I started researching it, I realized how little teachers made and I could make twice as much as some "long term" teachers as my starting salary in industry.

      Additionally, teacher's unions don't help. It's impossible (pretty much) to fire a bad teacher. I can think of a few teachers who needed to go while I was in school. (And I was a good student, t

  • by GargamelSpaceman (992546) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:50AM (#27180531) Homepage Journal

    "How much of the earth's surface is covered by water?" Does one need to know the answer to within one percent, or less? Is that even known so precisely? If the correct answer is 70-75% water (approx 3/4) then are 4/5 and 2/3 water good enough guesses? I think both numbers contain the main idea that there's more water than land.

    And as for humans and dinos walking the earth together, I think a majority of those who "didn't know dinos and humans didn't live at the same time" would probably have answered that dinos preceeded humans if asked on a gameshow where prizemoney was at stake. Answering that they thought dinos and humans walked the earth together makes is a statement about the beliefs they choose to espouse.

  • So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:51AM (#27180533) Homepage

    Most people don't do jobs that need this education. What they need are classes in logic, history and philosophy growing up because those will teach them to critically think more than any K-12 class on basic science.

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:14AM (#27180935)

    FTA
    The approximately correct answer range for this question was defined as anything between 65% and 75%. Only 15% of respondents answered this question with the exactly correct answer of 70%.

    I'm sorry, no. Seventy percent is not "exactly correct". At best it is an estimate, and one that is subject to natural fluctuations due to things like temperatures, tidal patterns, etc.

    How much should a layperson actually know about the planet's water coverage? "More than half water" is probably a little lacking; "between two-thirds and three-quarters" is probably about right.

    "Between 70% and 71%" is worthless nitpicking, a rote recitation of a rule of thumb learned in grade school, the same place they learned that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, there are 2,000 pounds in a ton, and 1 yard = 1 meter.

  • by drmemnoch (142036) on Friday March 13, 2009 @12:10PM (#27181897)

    My wife is a science teacher. She left a job recovering organs and tissues etc. for transplant to become a science teacher because it afforded her more time with the kids.

    In her years of teaching she has noticed a few prevalent problems that cause problems with science education, her and I have discussed these at great length.

    1. There is a shortage of science teachers. It is always hardest for the the schools to recruit science and math teachers.

    2. Due to the fact that the science and math teachers are generally smarter, more logical, and better organized than their 'Bachelor of Arts' counter-parts they are usually the first to be promoted into quasi-management positions (Asst. Principal, Principal etc.)

    3. Most of these promotees quickly become disenfranchised with the bureaucracy and idiocy that runs rampant through American schools. They end up getting very frustrated, and instead of resigning from the quasi-management job and going back to being a teacher, their frustration with the 'whole system' causes them to quit outright and seek their fortunes elsewhere.

    The future of science education in America is bleak my friends (and foes.)

  • by labradore (26729) on Friday March 13, 2009 @12:22PM (#27182089)
    Here in Pasco county Florida, we have no room for science. You guys already know we can't count (ballots) so this should come as no big surprise. My wife teaches kindergarten and my mom teaches elementary science and math in the slightly more learning-friendly nearby Hillsborough county.

    Here's the run down for Pasco:

    1. No living things more active than moss are allowed in the classroom. No turtles, no hamsters, no fish, no frogs, no rabbits ...
    2. Every minute of every day of these kids schooling is planned out and filled with rigid, must-do activities. Yes, even the kindergartners. They are filled with things like a 45 minute "reading" block. 5-year-olds have a attention span of 5 minutes, if you're lucky. Many adults that I know chafe if they have to sit and read or listen for that long. Another great must-do is teacher-supervised exercise periods every day. They are made to walk in circles around the bus loop for a half hour or more. This is not recess. The kids don't get to run around in a field under a tree or play on swings and jungle-jims. They walk. Sometimes they do walking games like follow-the-leader. I personally cannot think of a more asinine waste of childhood. Kids need uncontrolled, low-supervision time to just play but instead we are conditioning them into exercising from the beginning of their internment at school.
    3. In Hillsborough county teachers do get merit pay. It's based on test scores and voting. It is highly politicized. Most decent teachers hate it. In Pasco, the teachers were at least smart enough to say no to merit pay, foreseeing the acrimony that it would create because school administration does not have the ability to implement it in an objective and unfair way.
    4. Teachers teach the standarized tests. Schools, not students, are being judged by these tests. Florida was held up as one of the models for the nation in no child left behind. It's a complete disaster. There is no single piece of data that shows that the testing and teaching to the testing is helping the kids learn any better. It is, however, creating a great deal of expensive bureaucracy and causing pain for the kids and the teachers, because one of the features of the testing is that if you don't pass, you don't move up a grade and if your school doesn't make sufficient "adequate yearly progress" you get a whole lot more mandatory attention and supervision from the district administration. In other words, schools that don't meet arbitrary standards will get micro-managed for at least a year and become even-more miserable places to work.
    5. The standarized tests (FCAT) are focused on reading, writing and math. The science portion has almost nothing to do with real science that kids could learn and teachers could teach.
    6. We're facing budget cuts. More administration, more top-down control and more regulation of "education" are not needed. Teachers have college degrees and pass tests to become professionals. They should be treated like professionals. They should be fired when they don't perform and they should be rewarded when they excel. There is no provision for this at all. Good luck improving your science scores.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:13PM (#27182885)
    You languish in apprenticeships called post-docs for years while waiting for a real job to open up.
    Or you canned by the time you are 40.

The first version always gets thrown away.

Working...