Page 95 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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skipped evolution in high school and it didn’t matter. We’re never going to teach this guy, so
the best thing we can do is hope that we can bring in the appropriate authorities, the best
scientists, the ones who created his medicine, and whatever else we can to help him
understand the nuances. Another thing we’ve done is embarrass him a little, because we put
his ridiculous statements about
E. coli
online. Now about 350,000 people have seen this, and
many of them called him and told him what they thought. If you look at his Twitter feed, his
phone records, his emails, they’re filled with probably thousands of people who’ve tried to
explain evolution to him. So we made some progress. He said that he learned his lesson this
year, and he was more cautious about being insulting towards the science. Having said that,
he didn’t vote for us, and that may now be on a more personal animosity level because we
embarrassed him. But the fundamental problem is that even though the more we can teach
someone about the issues and the better we can do that, the better they’ll learn, we’re never
going to be able to teach the generation who didn’t get taught evolution in their classes. The
best we can do is try to keep it in as many classes as we can right now and make sure we
don’t have any more state legislators who think that
E. coli
turned into humans, because he
may be a lost cause, but the future generation is not.
Woman 1:
This points to another issue, which is that it’s not just teaching about evolution,
it’s teaching about the nature of science. So what is science? What is scientific practice?
These are much more philosophical issues about the nature of science. One thing I wanted to
point out that I think is perhaps going to get at some of these issues in a different way is that
the next generation of standards have just come out in the United States for K through 12
education. These are based on two premises: one, that students should learn about practice
and learn in the way of practice, so they’ll try to come as close as possible to doing actual
science; and two, that they should learn about the nature of science. So yes, of course
evolution is a theory, but no science is a fact really.
Zack Kopplin:
I’ve also done some work on school vouchers, where it’s much more blatant
that creationism is being taught with public money, so I own some creationist textbooks,
which go through their own version of the scientific method. It’s very different from the one
you learned in a public school, as the creationism books put the law on top and then a theory
and then a hypothesis or a theory. And theories turn into laws, which is really fascinating
when you know that in the real scientific method theories are just an explanation built on
laws. So there’s a completely warped understanding of what a scientific theory actually is in
these circles that want creationism taught in the classroom. Every year in the legislature we
explain what a theory is and how it works and how it’s different, because we always hear
“Well, it’s just a theory.” Of course it is. A theory is probably the strongest thing we have in
science. But again, you can only teach so much when they’re not willing to learn, and that’s
our fundamental problem.
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