June 12, 2005

Karl Popper and a popgun point to prove

This story is funny on top, but illustrates the sad state of science teaching in our public schools. From Newsday.com: Anti-BB Gun Project Deemed Too Dangerous:
"AMHERST, Mass. -- Two eighth-graders who spent months working on a science project to prove how dangerous BB guns can be were disqualified from the state middle school science fair. The reason for the dismissal: BB guns are too dangerous."
"The scientific review committee does not consider science projects involving firearms to be safe for middle school students," Degon said.

The boys were invited to present their findings to some judges and receive a certificate of accomplishment, but they rejected the offer because they were not allowed to compete.

"I was really disappointed," Woodard said. "We had a good point to prove."
Of course, the obvious humor lies in a sort of ironic conflict between what the kids are trying to study and the medieval "zero tolerance" thinking of the school bosses. But the underlying tragedy is that the kids have learned that scientific research is undertaken to "prove a point". This is how we get such junk science as drives the global warming Chicken Littles, and 'scientific proof' one week that eating eggs will kill you and another proof next week that they are good for you. And it is the same philosophy that allows drug companies to hire phalanxes of 'scientists' to prove their new compound is safe and effective. The philosophy of scientific enquiry is every bit as important as method.

I have been playing this same harp ever since a professor who had studied under Dr. Karl Popper at the London School of Economics pounded the theme of falsifiability into a brain gone crumbly from too much Wittgenstein. Sadly, George Soros, the capitalist-commie enigma, claims to owe his great wealth to investing in accordance with Dr. Popper's thinking.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.