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Saturday, July 24, 2010

B.S. (Bad Science): Web Site

Here's a website talking about bad science that science teachers and their textbooks teach called Bad Science. I checked out the bad chemistry and I have read and repeated some of these items to students, but they seem minor quibbles. All teachers teach something wrong; for example, the same chemistry professor wraps up with:
"[Adding salt to boil water will] only decrease the cooking time by a few percent. If you are such a Type A personality that you feel compelled to save even this small cooking time, then the last thing you need is to risk increasing your blood pressure further by consuming so much sodium!"
Actually, your blood pressure constantly fluctuates. There's nothing wrong with eating salty food so long as your blood vessels are supple--that is, not hardened or calcified via atherosclerosis. Ah, well. Even professors get it wrong.

I have asked graduating students who take the same classes in college to inform me of anything they wish I'd done differently or gotten wrong. Perhaps younger students worry about perfection, idealizing teachers as infallible founts of all information, but older students may be more capable of understanding the science teacher's actual role to teach how to
  1. assimilate basic science facts (hopefully, mostly true)
  2. process new information in a scientific manner
  3. test simple hypotheses
  4. practice learning, critical-thinking, work-ethic, and human-interaction skills
  5. something else?
If I've gotten anything wrong, feel free to share.

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