Re: So. Baptist Spin on BOE Vote

From: David F Siemens (
Date: Mon Jun 11 2001 - 13:42:02 EDT

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    On Sat, 9 Jun 2001 22:57:36 -0600 Bill Payne <> writes:
    > On Mon, 4 Jun 2001 11:14:29 -0500 (Keith B Miller)
    > writes:
    > > You seem to be suggesting that the schools should either 1) teach
    > all
    > ideas
    > > held by students on any subject, or 2) avoid teaching on any
    > subject in
    > > which there are students who hold ideas contrary to consensus
    > science.
    > > This is not education.
    > I think schools should teach empirical data and stay away from
    > interpretations, unless they are prepared to offer competing
    > interpretations.
    If I understand your position, you are wiping out all of science. Galileo
    Galilei is arguably the first "modern" scientist. He is credited with
    versions of what we know as v=gt and d=gt^2/2. But he could not measure
    g. Further, his statement about falling bodies did not claim that they
    fell at the same rate. Rather, he noted that the large weight arrived
    momentarily sooner than the light one, which is what one observes on
    performing the experiment if the distance they fall is considerable. This
    was enough to demolish the Aristotelian claim then almost universally
    held that the speed of fall is proportional to the weight of the body.
    But it does not match the formulas.

    Galileo slowed acceleration by rolling balls down a grooved plank so that
    he could get relative times with his modified clepsydra. Hence, if one
    substitutes "a" for "g" in the formulas, one comes closer to what Galileo
    produced. However, the empirical results fall within a range rather than
    being exact. So, to teach the empirical data alone requires a
    probabilistic statement. Following your requirement demands that, before
    any child can study the simplest physics, he or she has to understand the
    probability calculus.

    If we move from the ancient elements to contemporary work, the situation
    is incredibly worse. Try "just the facts" with the precession of
    Mercury--Newton v. special relativity, let alone general relativity. Or
    ask anyone in the fields if they will tackle the job in quantum physics
    or deterministic chaos (complexity theory).

    "Just the facts, Ma'am" makes for a good recurring line in a crime
    program, but it cannot work for science. Hence your expressed desire
    wipes out all science and returns us back at least to antiquity if not to
    the times of primitive agriculture. You may possibly have the naive
    reading of scripture in an anti-Copernican pamphlet I picked up many
    years ago. You can perhaps get the viewpoint of the Flat Earth Society,
    which Aristotle knew to be false. But you cannot even get flood geology,
    for it goes well beyond the facts.

    May I remind you of a simple truism usually directed against elementary
    programs: Recording facts is not doing science. Neither is reporting

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