Monthly Archives June 2018

Science Education Under Attack: Are Religion and Science Mutually Exclusive?

There has probably always been tension, if not outright conflict, between science—or what was considered science at the time—and religion. Each offered people some degree of explanation of how the world worked and some feeling of control, or at least influence, over the events in their lives. And there was, of course, a third source of conflict: government, at least when organized religion and organized government were separate entities.

Religion and government have always sought to control the behaviors of individuals and groups, whereas science generally has not, at least not directly. Governments have sometimes tried to use “scientific” explanations or rationales for certain behaviors or policies, such as eugenics under the Nazis in the early to middle 20th century...

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Science Education Under Attack—Politics

So far I’ve stayed away from discussing politics in these posts because, like religion, it’s a kind of “third rail,” something that if you touch, it’s going to hurt you. But on the other hand, it’s the elephant in the room. Between the federal Department of Education and state legislatures and education departments or boards, education funding, and the politics that comes with it, is bound to have a role. It’s simply unavoidable.

It’s also nearly impossible to take a politically neutral stance on the issue, and although I’m going to try to thread that needle I don’t expect to fully succeed. The hole in the needle gets even narrower when the role religion plays in some politicians’ beliefs gets factored in.

History and Politics

A twisted, two-ended red pencil

Image courtesy


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“A Chain of Events” Review

4 star rating

I’ve known, since even before I reluctantly purchased this book in the early 2000s, that it would be a difficult read. That’s why it sat, unopened, on a bookshelf in three different houses, until now. In part, the reason might be obvious from author Joan Piper’s subtitle: “The Government Cover-up of the Black Hawk Incident and the Friendly-Fire Death of Lt. Laura Piper.” The other reasons require some up-front disclosure.

  • I am a retired Air Force officer.
  • I was a Mission Crew Commander (MCC) on the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.
  • On the date of the shoot-down of the two Black Hawk helicopters over northern Iraq—April 14, 1994—I was deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to fly missions enforcing the southern no-fly zone over Iraq for Operation Southern ...
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Science Education Under Attack—The Language Barrier

In my first article in this series, I wrote about how certain groups were attacking evolution and the “big bang” as “only” theories and how the word theory means something different to scientists than to everyone else. But this isn’t the only case where words have different meanings within and outside of science. This time the fault lies within the scientific community, rather than with those who oppose teaching legitimate science to children for allowing the confusion to continue, or for making it worse.

There are two related problems here: technical jargon and unique meanings for common words.

Technical Jargon

Confusion Jargon is a problem in every line of work...

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Science Education Under Attack: Simplicity vs. Complexity

Last time I wrote about how we humans are terrible at comprehending really large and really small numbers. Check that: we can’t. And when we try, either the names for the numbers become just words we sling around, or our brains go TILT!

Unfortunately, scientists tend to work in arenas where they need very large and very small numbers to describe the scales of the objects they’re studying, from billions of light years to fractions of a micron.

That’s not the only obstacle science faces when trying to be relevant and understandable to the general public. Another is complexity. Here’s an example we can all relate to: the human body...

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