Update on proposed Texas science stardards
(1) Rule SE 3A -- Instead of eliminating the "strengths and weaknesses" language entirely, replace it with the words, "scientific strengths and scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms." This language has the following features: (i) It makes no assumptions about whether the criticisms are scientific or pseudoscientific; (ii) a pseudoscientific criticism is not a real "weakness," so the term "weaknesses" was changed to "criticisms" (my original proposed rewording had the term "weaknesses"); and (iii) the term "scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms" excludes "poof"-type creationism and supernaturalism because those things do not pretend to be scientific. Teaching criticisms -- even pseudoscientific criticisms -- of prevailing scientific theories serves the following purposes: broadening students' education, encouraging critical thinking, helping students learn the material, increasing student interest, helping to prevent misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated criticisms are taught by qualified science teachers. For example, IMO the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a valid criticism of evolution theory, but analysis of the SLoT as a criticism of evolution theory would be a worthwhile educational exercise for the students.
(2) There should be uniform core principles for all of the different branches of science. I have been informed that the revised standards have this.
(3) The standards should not philosophize about science -- e.g., discuss testability and falsifiability. It is impossible to reach any consensus on philosophies of science.
(4) The standards should not define terms -- defining terms is likely to lead to confusion. In particular, attempts to define "scientific theories" as strong by definition should be avoided; standard dictionaries do not define "scientific theories" in this way -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories. The definitions of terms should be left to standard dictionaries.
(5) Don't misapply the term "evolution" to directionless changes that do not represent development or patterns of progression. So "stellar evolution" is OK but "evolution of the atmosphere" and "evolution of the geosphere" are not.
Labels: Texas controversy (new #1)