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.

Thoughts?

13 comments:

flickit said...

America seems to be going backwards and forwards at the same time. A lot of American view those "Muslim Terrorists" as extremists and radicals. They don't realize that they themselves are radicals too and they shoving it down their kids' throats.

J - Beezie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J - Beezie said...

True. But in the case of studying religion, wouldn't being balanced in your coverage of many beliefs actually be the best way to go?

Don't just hate on America lol. I provided you a good way to do it involving too much balance in our school systems. plz stick to that you euro-douche. <3

Azlan said...

So you're suggesting that they're staying in the same spot? Lolz. That's about right.

Anyways, regarding this, I'm not familiar with Bible creationism story as I'm only familiar with Islam creationism, which is slightly different. It only states that the Universe and everything was created by God but it doesn't specify a time frame and just says that the Earth was created in 6 days...but not literally a 24 hour day so most scholars interpret it as a much much longer time. Also states that everything was created from water, which suggests an evolutionary method of creation.

In fact, evolutionary science was taught in Muslim schools in the 12th century, far before Darwinism rose in the 19th century.

Anyways, I digress. In regards to this issue, science and religion should be kept in separate spheres.

flickit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flickit said...

Well, schools should teach both views, creationism and evolution. But not teach as if creationism is the absolute truth.

Statistics show that there is a decline in religious belief all the world, yet in America it seems to be increasing at the detriment of rational thought and open-mindedness.

There is no reason why religion and science can't be taught alongside each other.

Azlan said...

That's what I meant in "separate spheres" as in have a class for both of them, separate classes that separates their teaching.

J - Beezie said...

Az,

That's interesting about the Muslim interpretation of creation. It actually seems logical haha. Also, oddly enough both my Dad and I were brought up in the catholic school system and were both taught evolution. I'm not sure if they mentioned creationism in science class or not, but I don't think they did unless I wisely tuned out for those lectures. This leaves me to ponder, who the hell is teaching creationism to begin with? Is this just Texas? Stoopid Texas.

flickit said...

They may have big steaks, but not very big brains.

J - Beezie said...

Ya no as mentioned I am fine with letting kids know that the Creationist belief exist, but the point I am trying to make is that is not an issue that needs to be addressed in Science class. It is an issue of theology and faith (some might view it as conspiracy), NOT SCIENCE.

Dominick M. said...

In regards to the global warming argument; you're right, it does exist. Scientist can prove it is real. However, in the 1970's, scientists also found evidence of global cooling, and their was a certain panic just as their is now with the whole global warming evidence. Now, if we look at overall global temperatures throughout history (particularly findings and data collected by geologists) we can see that the planet has always gone through cooling and warming spells, and is actually not nearly as hot as we have records of in the past. unfortunately, after a few thousand years, the data only shows the two extremes and we are unable to be as precise as we have been in the last couple hundreds of years (charting in the short term, more accurately than ever before). So your right, in the short term, that we have very accurate data and that it outweighs the misinformation 9 to 1. Again, however, you are misleading yourself and your readers when you do not include the overall data that spans further back in time than your smaller, more recent sample of data.

As for the point on teaching creationism in school...i don't feel we should teach something that has not or cannot be proven scientifically as a theory or fact, regardless of my religious beliefs. That should be left up to seminaries, and religious schools.

J - Beezie said...

It is true that the climate goes through cycles, there is no doubt about that. Most peer-reviewed research data acknowledges that and even puts to bed ideas such as that hurricanes are correlated to global warming as that has not been shown to be necessarily correct either.

The point in my post is that 90% of the data includes what I have just said, and also indicates human-involved climate change. Because of this 90-10 relationship, why is that we see a 50-50 ratio of how it's covered in education and the media? Why do the skeptics get an equal share when their data is not nearly as conclusive as the data provided by proponents of climate change? Again don't totally cut out coverage of the skeptics, but don't give them an equal share either because it is only misleading kids and the public. Studies have confirmed this as many people are under the impression that the relationship is 50-50 instead of 90-10. Therefore, being balanced is not the right approach for this issue.

As for more recent data vs older data, I am only referencing data that is currently out there. Current data doesn't necessarily only look at current conditions. Even if there is older data that contradicts new data, the new data wouldn't be published if it didn't have some sort of merit over the older data. Older findings are constantly being corrected and reexamined. That is the nature of science. So no, I am not misleading anyone. 90% of published findings provide evidence of human-involved climate change. This is not to say that those numbers won't change as they most certainly will. But for the time being, the ratio is 90-10 and that is what the ratio that it should be covered in science classes.

Dominick M. said...

Well made points J. Pure ignorance my friend, that is the only reason I can see why the data provided to the masses is completely off. That, and (since I work in a CA high school science department, and happen to argue this with the teachers I work for) the fact that we see too few edition changes to reflect the new findings. There's a reason we have to buy new editions almost every year for my geology and anthropology classes in college. But I have "Intro to Bio" and "Earth Science" classes with a class set from the 80's to show my kids. We have four of each of those classes, would it really kill the school system to buy new sets every ten years at least...