A call to action in the Journal of Clinical Investigation

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It is a recent and welcome development that professional scientific journals are paying increasing attention to issues related to science education and the role of science in society. Just in the last couple of weeks, these topics have been addressed by Liza Gross’s essay in PLoS Biology about scientific literacy and politics, and by our own article about immunology and the Dover trial. Now, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a highly regarded journal of basic and clinical research in the medical sciences, which had already published an editorial on ID several months ago, once again enters the fray.

The latest JCI issue contains an excellent piece by Attie, Sober and colleagues, which discusses the history and legal vicissitudes of the ID movement, and issues a call to action for those interested in defending good science education. The journal editors explain their motivations for publishing the article here. Both items are available for free - well worth reading.

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Andrea over at Pandas Thumb highlights a new JCI article with a call to action for scientists. The Journal of Clinical Investigation is a top-notch journal, and their editors seem to "get it." They wrote an editorial last year which... Read More

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excellent news.

The journal editors explain their motivations for publishing the article here.

Why we think it is important to discuss intelligent design

Belief in God and belief in the science of evolution are not mutually exclusive concepts. … Both of us follow distinct organized religions (Jainism and Judaism) and believe in God. …

Fine, they trot out the line about science and religion being compatible. I find it a bit distasteful though that they go into their personal beliefs. I’m also wondering what it means for a Jainist to ‘believe in God’. According to Wikipedia:

Jains view God as the unchanging traits of the pure soul of each living being, chief among them being Infinite Knowledge, Perception, Consciousness, and Happiness (Ananta Jnän, Ananta Darshan, Ananta Chäritra, and Ananta Sukh). Jainism does not include a belief in an omnipotent supreme being or creator, but rather in a universe regarded as eternal and governed by natural laws based on the interplay of the attributes (gunas) of the substances (dravyas) that make up the cosmos.

Saying that you believe in God but defining it differently seems a bit misleading.

Due to the strict ethics embedded in Jainism, the laity must choose a profession and livelihood that does not involve violence to self and other living beings.

I’m wondering if that includes E. coli.

Fine, they trot out the line about science and religion being compatible.

Then some evangelical atheist trots out the line about them NOT being compatible.

Then everyone shoots each other in a pointless religious war.

Then, a few weeks later, we do it all over again.

And again.

And again.

(yawn)

One wonders if someone will put the article (not the editorial rationale) on his pillow for some light bedtime reading. Lord knows he needs some education in this field (as well as nearly every other field).

Mike Cox rocks.

What Lenny said. Including the yawn.

RBH

You’ve got to hand it to the the ID crowd they seem to attract real quality. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a onetime biology major, said, “our school systems teach the children they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud”

As opposed to what…Weaseling? Homer Simpson: Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel

I like how a “This Modern World” comic strip made it into the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and as Figure 1 no less. Stork Theory (snicker).…

*Sigh* So much reading when I could be enjoying some fictional work about a Machiavellian Political plot to distort reality…oh wait.

The last paragraph says it all for me. well worth the read

Scientific thinking should be part of all education. Whether in crafting a taxcode, making health care decisions, evaluating the economy, exploring the resolution of world conflicts, evidence based thinking is the best intellectual tool in our possession.….

Now THAT is what the reactionaries of all persuasions just don’t like …its derided by them as Darwinism…a rolled gold B.S. Detector. And of course they mention Orwell, it certainly is a sign of the times that he even HAS to be mentioned. But don’t forget to take a leaf out of that lover of Orwell GOP pollster Frank Luntz(you know.…reality is something he constructs for ‘the one true word of GOP’ to sell to you). Critical thinking WITH PASSION!. My point is that when you’re talking issues like the environment, a straight recitation of facts is going to fall on deaf ears. Frank Luntz

And for those that think Orwell is passé run your criteyecals over this .…

more on Mr. Luntz .

” “Fine, they trot out the line about science and religion being compatible.”

Then some evangelical atheist trots out the line about them NOT being compatible.”

Then some old blogger remarks that an old conflict is an old conflict.

(yawn)

Hmmm… “revise textbooks” How about revising whole courses? I suggest completely revising the 9th grade general science course to focus on evolution. Yes, evolution. Evolution of the cosmos and everything in it, then focusing on the evolution of the solar system, then the earth. With that comes biological evolution. So it just fits right in. At various stages in this sequence basic facts about atomic physics, macrophysics, chemistry, geology and biology would fit right into this, the greatest of histories and the best story ever told…

Comments, please!

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“Hmmm… “revise textbooks” How about revising whole courses? I suggest completely revising the 9th grade general science course to focus on evolution. Yes, evolution. Evolution of the cosmos and everything in it, then focusing on the evolution of the solar system, then the earth. With that comes biological evolution. So it just fits right in. At various stages in this sequence basic facts about atomic physics, macrophysics, chemistry, geology and biology would fit right into this, the greatest of histories and the best story ever told…”

Actually, an integrated approach to science has long been thought to be a better approach than our current method of subject specific courses. In the last 25 years many schools have replaced the old Life Science/Earth Science in 7th/8th grades with integrated science, and there are many different choices of curricular materials to choose from. The resistance to change in high school is greater, however. Schools can’t easily change from the old method because of difficulties arising when students change schools. In addition, many states have exit exams that are subject specific.

As science educators we are told to be generalists first. I have a BS in Chemistry and for a long time, Chemistry was all I knew. I have tried to learn as much geology, meteorology, climate science, environmental science, physics, ecology, etc. as I can (amazing how much chemistry there is in all of these!) but my courses are still defined as “chemistry” and I still use a text that is “chemistry”. I try to draw in as much as I can, but my students have had so little chemistry before coming, I must spend a lot of time on the basics.

Oh, wouldn’t it be great if they all had some chemistry every year, suitable to their grade level, math level, etc.! Then I could simply expand what they already know. I have much more freedom to change what I do, as I work in an independent school. Public school teachers have very little control over curriculum.

Where I really see a difference is in our international students from Europe. Although they don’t do “integrated “ science, they do cover all topics every year, each year going deeper as the students mature.

I’d think chemistry and biology would need different equipment and supplies in their laboratory sections, though. Seems like that sort of thing would impose some limit on the integrated science ideal.

Henry

There are many ways a science facility can be arranged/designed to be flexible enough. For example, instead of dedicated labs for subjects, labs can be designed for field (topics in environmental, geology, field biology, botany) wet (chemistry, microbiology) and “workshop” (physics and physical science). These labs can be equipped for the kinds of tasks they will be used for, and leave out those features that are unnecessary. Now, this is a pipe dream for most public schools who have to use facilities that they already have and may be outdated and outgrown. However, new construction can keep this in mind. Included can be fixtures/furnishings that can be rearranged for lab, class, projects, group activities, cleaning and maintenance. Labs that can accomodate various teaching methods, different ages, and different subjects are the way science facilities should be built.

Hmmm… “revise textbooks” How about revising whole courses? I suggest completely revising the 9th grade general science course to focus on evolution. Yes, evolution. Evolution of the cosmos and everything in it, then focusing on the evolution of the solar system, then the earth. With that comes biological evolution. So it just fits right in. At various stages in this sequence basic facts about atomic physics, macrophysics, chemistry, geology and biology would fit right into this, the greatest of histories and the best story ever told…

YES! Go for it! Some of you PT-ers must be textbook-writing weenies. I can’t imagine a better 9th grade science course. Call it ORIGINS. I’m not a scientist myself, but I’ll be a retired teacher in a couple of years. There’s very little that would tempt me to work after that–but to be a part of a project like that, I would gladly put in another year!

And don’t forget there are other ways you can help (though the article lists a lot of them) http://www.ncseweb.org/25_ways.asp

Just Bob — Thanks. It will help if you would provide an outline, indicating a suitable depth and time for each topic along the way.

I also liked the ideas of integrated science every year. Unfortunately I see no way to restructure the entire public school curriculum to make this possible… So for now I am encouraging all sorts of ideas related to the ‘typical’ 9th grade general science class, now entitled ORIGINS thanks to ‘Just Bob’.

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This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on May 2, 2006 5:06 PM.

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