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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio 528

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the thinking-leads-to-questioning dept.
frdmfghtr (603968) writes Over at Ars Technica, there's a story about a bill in the Ohio legislature that wants to downplay the teaching of the scientific process. From the article: "Specifically prohibiting a discussion of the scientific process is a recipe for educational chaos. To begin with, it leaves the knowledge the kids will still receive—the things we have learned through science—completely unmoored from any indication of how that knowledge was generated or whether it's likely to be reliable. The scientific process is also useful in that it can help people understand the world around them and the information they're bombarded with; it can also help people assess the reliability of various sources of information." The science standards would have "...focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another." Political interpretation of scientific facts include humans contributing to climate change according to the bill's sponsor, who also thinks intelligent design would be OK under the law.
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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

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  • by bazmail (764941) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:30AM (#47765443)
    What the hell is up with you people over there in the US. Still using Imperial measurements? Banning science in favour of teaching about a wizard who made everything not so long ago. producing 40% of the worlds pollution whilst only having 4% of the worlds population


    Your priorities are fucked.You do good war and spying though, I'll give you that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is a proposed bill. Come back and say that when it actually passes. Yeesh. You would think Europe forgot they still have politically active nationalists throughout.

    • What the hell is up with you people over there in the US. Still using Imperial measurements?

      The US has never used Imperial measurements [wikipedia.org]. We use US customary units [wikipedia.org]. They're both [wikipedia.org] derived from the same English units [wikipedia.org], but they do actually have several differences [wikipedia.org].

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:30AM (#47765445) Homepage
    just because the dept of ed has utterly failed any of us who went through school in the past 40 years, doesnt mean the right thing to do is go back and not teach you know, the basics. The dept of ed is horrible, but people like this dont belong setting the curriculum either
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Right, you seem to be of the mistaken impression that people are getting less educated or something. Drop out rates have lowered across those 40 years, while test scores have mostly gone up.

      You've only been "failed" inasmuch as other first world nations have been doing it better.

      • And by "better" you mean "better at massaging the figures and sweeping their failures under the carpet".

    • by dywolf (2673597) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @12:44PM (#47766307)

      the US DoED has nothing to do with this.
      i know people on the right like to mock the department of education, as if education and a department to oversee it are bad things.
      but this view is born out of ignorance over what exactly the department of education even DOES.

      unlike most countries, the US DoED has almost nothing to do with curriculum.
      most of thethey do is disburse funds from the fed to the states, along with some minor oversight responsibilities regarding civil rights on college campuses. That's it. But after articles like this, and others, maybe they should have something to do with curriculum.

      Also, fun fact: the republicans opposed the creation of the US DoED as well. Apparently they were of the opinion that education is unconstitutional because education is not in the constitution...boy, they've sure come a long way in 40 years, haven't they ?

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        Also, fun fact: the republicans opposed the creation of the US DoED as well. Apparently they were of the opinion that federal control of education is unconstitutional because federal control of education is not in the constitution...

        FTFY. Maybe you don't realize that opposition to the creation of a federal government department to control something isn't defacto opposition to whatever that something is, so you make your flamebait accusation...

  • This is good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:31AM (#47765447)

    I've argued many times before that the problem with "Intelligent Design" is not that whether it's "true" or not, but rather that it's not science because it ignores the Scientific Method and thus does not belong in a science class. I'm glad that this lawmaker, at least, is willing to address that argument directly instead of obfuscating.

    He's still wrong, of course, but at least he's less intellectually dishonest than the average creationist. That's convenient, since it makes his position -- which is that Ohio should prohibit schools from teaching science entirely (since science is the Scientific Method) -- easier to both understand and oppose.

    • Re:This is good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:32AM (#47765475)
      Basically he just wants to teach 'facts'. Which is effectively just teaching history. Which conveniently he'll substitute his own political version of history for the recruits...I mean kids...to learn.
      • by maliqua (1316471) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:41AM (#47765599)

        without the how, facts mean nothing

        5 * 5 =25

        don't ask why it just is memorize it and every other result of a process!

        • Re:This is good! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:56AM (#47765795)

          Not only that, but without the "why", the facts can be easily undermined.

          Teacher to kids: "Evolution is the process by which species change over time to better suit their environment."

          ID Advocate: "See? There's no evidence for it and the so-called scientists are just making things up as they go along. It's not like they have some 'process' they follow. If they did, wouldn't you have been taught that in school?"

        • Hysterical exaggeration. It is explained to small children what multiplication means. After that, rote memorization of the tables increases efficiency.

    • he's less intellectually dishonest

      So it's not dishonest or even a teensy bit unethical to be self-contradictory? As in "prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another."

      • I didn't say it wasn't dishonest (or unethical, for that matter) at all, just that it was less so. The important thing is that obviously self-contradictory arguments are easier to refute. This lawmaker's stupidity has eclipsed his dishonesty, and that's good (for the rest of us).

    • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @02:25PM (#47767387)
      I would also argue that "Intelligent Design" isn't Christian. Arguing that God exists because the world is made the same way a human would make it isn't biblical. An all knowing God doesn't need reason to create anything. An all powerfull God does not care about efficiency. Human asthetics from human culture/biology isn't going to influance how God creates the world. Intelligent Design anthropomorphizes God into a man. You wind up with Zeus instead of a pillar of fire/burning bush/rock of ages.
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:31AM (#47765455) Homepage Journal

    A lot of fuss is made about how creationists aren't hurting anyone by teaching creationism in schools. At least a lot of fuss by creationists.

    But to knock "how science actually works" off the curriculum in order to make creationism slightly more viable as a meme, knocks a very important and practical tool out of childrens' toolbox for learning about the world.

    I'd go as far as saying learning about the scientific method is equally or more important that learning how to write papers expressing your opinions, or solving equations, or how congress works, as far as parity to other common subjects goes.

    This is sabotaging a lot of children's' education in a big way for a miniscule victory in the culture wars. This is why creationists need to be far from policy maker positions.

    • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:38AM (#47765541)

      The scientific method is the single, most important discovery of the human race. It underlies everything we have achieved. Downplaying it means to reject modern civilization and rationality. But that may be just what these cretins want.

      • On the bright side, framing the debate in those terms might help convince the kind of people who would argue that we should "respect all sides of the issue" (or some politically-correct BS like that) that these anti-scientific ideas really don't belong in science class after all. I think the lawmaker did us a favor and I'm optimistic that his plans will backfire.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:56AM (#47765799)

          On the bright side, framing the debate in those terms might help convince the kind of people who would argue that we should "respect all sides of the issue" (or some politically-correct BS like that) that these anti-scientific ideas really don't belong in science class after all. I think the lawmaker did us a favor and I'm optimistic that his plans will backfire.

          It doesn't matter. The WHOLE reason we're having this debate is not about science. It's not even about creationism or "intelligent design" or however we "evolve" the term.

          The Discovery institute (the real organization behind all this) believes fundamentally, society went awry when we did the whole "separation of church and state" thing and that religion in school meant students were better behaved and more obedient, and society as a whole was just better off.

          So that's the real end goal - to get religion - or more correctly, Christianity, back into schools so everyone becomes a "good little Christian boy".

          (Yes, it glosses over a LOT of things, like racial issues, the fact that there are more religions than just Christianity, etc).

          Basically all of society's ills are the direct result of secularism and the pursuit of "things" (money, toys, stuff) instead of spirituality.

          It's just that creationism is the wedge issue that can get them in the door the easiest since a lot more Americans believe in it (than say, a great flood happened, or that everything we see was made in a week a few thousand years ago). And once you're in the door, spreading the other beliefs becomes a lot easier.

          • So that's the real end goal - to get religion - or more correctly, Christianity, back into schools so everyone becomes a "good little Christian boy".

            Indeed. However, the Discovery Institute's chance of success depends entirely on obfuscating that goal. There's a lot more people who would support "intelligent design" as some sort of oppressed underdog "scientific theory" than who would support it as the blatant theocratic idea it really is.

            It's just that creationism is the wedge issue that can get them in th

          • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @01:31PM (#47766849)

            So that's the real end goal - to get religion - or more correctly, Christianity, back into schools so everyone becomes a "good little Christian boy"

            More correctly, their version of Christian theology. When I point out to them that the Catholic Church has stated that evolution and the scientific method are not in conflict they get upset. They point out the Catholic Church is not the decider and get even more steamed when I remind him that Jesus founded the Catholic Church as His Church and thus it and the Pope speak for God; and it says so in the Bible and why do they not believe in the Bible? They claim to be Christians, after all.

            That's the real problem. When people want to bring back God into school they mean their version of God which isn't necessarily someone else's. They often claim they want to give religion equal time but get very upset when someone brings religious beliefs in they don't approve of.

      • What about the things that underlie the scientific method, like mathematics, philosophy of truth(as opposed to other venues like morality or meaning), and logic?

        Not that I disagree that science has accomplished wonders, just that it's built on things that can be argued to be more important since science wouldn't be possible without them.

      • I really appreciate the scientific method and I agree it's a major milestone but it's not our most important discovery, that would be rule of law. Without rule of law there can be no civilization and without civilization there wouldn't be much science going on.
        • Counterpoint: civilization existed prior to the rule of law. It was just less pleasant for the non-elites.

  • Bye, bye, STEM ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CaptainDork (3678879)

    Those stupid son of a bitches.

    We learned nothing from Galileo's fiasco?

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:32AM (#47765465) Homepage Journal
    I see stories about bills like this all of the time, but they usually die in committee after fulfilling their purpose of giving the guy a bullet point for his next campaign poster. Is this one expected to actually have a shot in hell at passing? Sometimes they do slip through the cracks, especially in the bible belt.
    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:45AM (#47765631) Homepage Journal

      Is this one expected to actually have a shot in hell at passing?

      No, it's just clickbait. There are thousands of stupid bills introduced in State legislatures every year. Slashdot sure doesn't have time to cover them all, but I guess one once in a while is good for revenue.

    • The BS headline Slashdot used most certainly will not pass, guaranteed. Here's the crux of the bill, which could, in theory, pass:

      A (iii) ... prohibit and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.

      A (iv) ... prohibit a specific political or religious interpretation of the standards' content.

      • by jandrese (485)
        I guess it depends if they classify the Scientific Method as a "political theory", like creationists like to do.
        • Or a "religious interpretation" as creationists are fond of claiming that Evolution (or, to use the more religion-sounding name they call it: Darwinism) is a religious belief.

          It isn't, of course, but if they can claim it to be so, and if they can get some politicians to agree, then perhaps they can get Evolution banned as a "religion."

    • by DRMShill (1157993)

      Whether the bill would pass or not is irrelevant. It's extremely disturbing that we have a certain percentage of people running this nation that believe in fucking magic.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:32AM (#47765467)
    Another day, another overblown headline. Quoting from the article, the questionable phrase is: "; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; "

    This is wide open to interpretation. Obviously it would be insane not to teach the scientific process. I think there are some who feel education has strayed too far from mastering basic facts into abstraction, such as "new math" instead of mastering times tables.

    Anyway this is just one guy's brain fart and not a law. I am kind of curious what he meant by it though.

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      Agreed. The intent, if I had to guess, was not to stop teaching the official Scientific Method (ask, research, hypothesize, test, analyze, share), but to draw focus away from discussions that would muddy the Method. "But Jesus says..." or "I don't think the FSM's tentacles could reach THAT far to anoint the ninjas and therefore cause a tsunami that overwhelmed the Pacific pirates..." As much as those are processes. So teach the scientific method, but leave out the part discussing how or why you're quest

    • Thanks for bringing some actual quotes into the discussion. Still kind of weird, though - the trend in education for the past few decades has been moving towards learning big ideas and less on rote memorization and un-contextualized facts, but this seems to be advocating the opposite.
  • Really, how caveman-like can you get? It seems these people want everyone stupid and uneducated. The only comparison that comes to mind is the Taliban preventing girls from getting an education. Has the US really gone down the drains so far?

    • Yep, and for roughly the same reasons. An ignorant populace is far easier to manage and control from the top. Look at North Korea for a live example of this. With no external facts or even a method to determine if a particular "fact" is grounded in reality, you can insert whatever you like and ignorant people will swallow it wholesale simply because they literally do not know any better. (an aside, the latin root for the word science was scientia, knowledge, very telling in this context)

      TL;DR - Orwell said

  • Here we go again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:36AM (#47765519) Homepage

    Religion has no place in schools. How many times have you seen scientists starting wars over theories and results?

    "1 + 1 equals 3!"
    "Only for larger values of 1, you heathen!"

    • > Religion has no place in schools.

      So then you agree with this bill, which says:

      A (iii) ... prohibit and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.

      A (iv) ... ; and prohibit a specific political or religious interpretation of the standards' content.

      If you skip past the BS /. headline and read the bill, TFS, or even the subtitle of TFS, the bill basically requires teaching science, not politics with a dash of pseudoscience used to support the teacher's political

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        Well, no. I most certainly do not agree with the bill. It is clearly an attempt to hide "the how" behind science facts, placing them on par with (for example) Bible "facts" and then mandating that no one may question either authority (science or the Bible). Fuck that. Scientific "facts" are different because of the method used to bring them to light. Any attempt to remove that method from the comparison is madness.
  • Good way to turn reasonable people in religious nuts.
  • Idiots with power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kruach aum (1934852) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:39AM (#47765571)

    If we make sure we don't teach our students how to think, acquiring a larger voting base will be much easier in the future!

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:42AM (#47765601)

    If they're going to be teaching creationism in schools, they can hire ICP to teach. I can see the classes now, where they teach the children that everything from quantum mechanics to tectonic plate shifts are caused by miracles, regardless of what anyone else says. Magnets? They're like, double miracles man. Miracles on top of miracles.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Predicted by Dr. Kenneth Miller in his 2006 presentation about the Kitzmiller et al vs Dover.

    "The Collapse of Intelligent Design: Will the Next Monkey Trial be in Ohio?"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohd5uqzlwsU

    11 years in the making, the weakening of the definition of 'science'.

    Can't wait for the PhD in Horoscopes, Witchcraft, etc.

    • I, for one, welcome the day I can get a degree in alchemy. That way, when I attempt to convert basic chemicals (acetone, pseudoephedrine, etc) into gold using methamphetamine as an intermediary, I can tell the cops I'm doing my doctoral thesis and everything will be perfectly legitimate. Whoever said you can't convert base chemicals into gold was wrong - they just weren't doing it right.

  • arguably this is as much about class as it is about religeon. a largely ignorant majority is how slaveowners for example governed thousands of africans. Keeping the scientific process out of schools is palletable to creationists as it disarms future opponents. Its popular for plutocrats as well for this same reason.

    and if you think elected officials in Ohio really care about challenging this legislation, they dont. their children attent private institutions that wont need to adhere to this legislation
  • On the other hand... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've been in high school. It's not like they really try to teach people how to apply the scientific method. They describe how the scientific method is supposed to work and then continue shoveling facts at the students. If they aren't going to engage, I'm not sure there's much point in telling students something that they'll ignore.

    I have the same problem with teaching evolution in schools. They don't have time to explain it well, so students walk away thinking, "We used to be apes, but one of our ancest

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @11:59AM (#47765835)

    Educator John Taylor Gatto [wikipedia.org] has explained both in writing [tripod.com], (PDF link), and in Death by Pedagogy [youtube.com], as well as in many interviews available on YouTube, that the purpose of the education system is to extend childhood and discourage critical thinking. This is done in order to produce more compliant citizens; otherwise their innovation and inventiveness would both disrupt capitalists' ability to control markets, and deny corporations a complacent and pliable workforce.

    Before you dismiss this as just another wild-eyed conspiracy theory you should check out what he has to say. For one thing he gives copious references, most of which can be checked, and most of which use such direct language that there is no possible ambiguity as to the intent of the authors. For another thing, it is perhaps the best and simplest explanation for why the Ohio legislature might enact such otherwise inexplicable legislation.

    Ask yourself 'cui bono'. Who will be best served by a citizenry that is less and less critical, and less and less scientifically competent? Then look back at the education you received, look at what has happened to schooling in the meantime, look at what is happening to education now, and place it all into the context that Gatto creates. if after that you can honestly call it a conspiracy theory, go in peace.

  • Seems to be 100% flames above. But what is so wrong with the suggestion:

    focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another.

    A school's idea is to give a general understanding to the students in things. Since there has ben a huge amount of science done over the past few milennia, isn't it only natural that these researched facts get the focus rather than the process? The other way round means making everyone re-invent the wheel, leading to them learing about that particular "wheel" ony and missing the big picture.

    Understanding the scientific process is essent

  • Yes, lets blow off the scientific process in favor of teaching about 900 year-old men, a talking donkey and a man who lives inside a fish/whale.
  • by CptPicard (680154) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @12:33PM (#47766187)

    It pains me to think that for at least a generation or so, you will still be able to just buy your educated workforce from other countries that have invested in their public education as infrastructure. Otherwise you'd collapse much faster with all this nonsense.

  • Belief systems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @12:40PM (#47766249) Homepage Journal

    When did science stop being a methodology and become a belief system?

God made machine language; all the rest is the work of man.

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