Friday, April 9, 2010
Balance Always a Good Thing?
I am sure that at some point in everyone's life they have been told that there are two sides to every story and that one should always keep their mind open to the other side of issue. Usually there are multiple ways to go about doing things and if people would just keep their minds open to others' suggestions they might realize their way isn't necessarily the only correct way. This happens a lot in U.S. politics. Some of the most successful legislature comes from partnerships that extend across the aisle. However, is this fair and balanced approach, this taking the time to observe two truths to every issue, applicable to all situations? Does every instance deserve a balanced approach?
Let's talk about education, specifically science education. As some of you are aware, many Texas schools are using books that include Creationist sections in their biology chapters. Unfortunately, people have written this situation off has letting the kids hear both sides of the story, evolution vs. creationism. Does this sound absurd to anyone else? It should. In this case, children are not learning both sides of the story, rather they are being misled and "miseducated" (if I may borrow a term from Lauren Hill) about real science as opposed faux science. The theory of evolution is fact. Theory in this context means "fact", look it up. Creationism is not fact, but instead belief. But because this is being taught in science class it is being represented as fact and that is horrible for the sake of future generations and for the sake of the country. The U.S. is on its way to becoming science-retarded. I am all about letting kids know that there are people out there that believe humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together 5,000 years ago, but not in science class. That kind of discussion belongs in Theology classes or religious studies classes. This situation is on par with a History teacher teaching that the holocaust never happened along with their general holocaust and WWII studies, or a science teacher presenting the belief that the world is flat. It's nothing but misinformation.
Now consider another unfortunate balancing that takes place in science classes (and more notably in the media), climate change. Somewhere around 90% (or higher, I'm being conservative in my estimate) of credible and peer-reviewed literature present findings that confirm human-influenced global warming. If it's 90-10 that global warming is real why is it being taught as 50-50 it exists/it doesn't exist. Teachers should suggest that the issue of global warming is not necessarily certain, but should do so in a proportional manner. For example, spend 9 days discussing findings that indicate global warming, but only spend one day presenting the doubts. After all, the legitimate doubts only make up around 10% of the total data. Why do we give that 10% so much attention? Kids need to learn the science, they do not need to be misled under the guise of presenting two sides to every story.