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Teaching Conflict in Science
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So a few weeks ago, this guy in the Washington Post wrote an op-ed suggesting that all the resistance to bringing Intelligent Design into biology classrooms is silly...that it should be taught as an example of bad science.

I could not understand why important educators and scientists were spending money on lawyers to keep ID out of the classroom. In my op-ed I said we ought to let ID be explained to students so that they could understand how it defied the scientific method, just as the flaws of perpetual motion theory, I said, should be a part of a physics course and the fallacies of the Steady-State theory should be part of an astronomy course.

For me and many other students, biology as it is usually taught, one complicated fact or term after another, is deadly dull. Introducing a little debate would excite teenagers, just as the attacks on conventional wisdom launched by my favorite high school history teacher, Al Ladendorff, always got me walking fast to that class so I wouldn't miss anything.

Well, if a biology teacher actually devoted a class or two to why ID is unscientific claptrap, cool. But that's not what people who want ID taught want. They want it given "equal time".

If anything though, this guy seems to be complaining that biology isn't exciting enough...or isn't taught in a way that's interesting, which really is a different problem.

If you wanted to spice it up by noting controveries, how about real controversies between real scientist, though? Instead of between real scientists and flim-flam artists?

A while back I read Matt Ridley's The Red Queen, which is about the origin of sex. Why do humans have two sexes? Why aren't we all the same gender, and just impregnate ourselves or bud off when we want to reproduce? For that matter, why don't we have 3 sexes, or 12?

Now there are a whole gaggle of interesting scientific questions about which there is real conflict between biologists. There are some interesting theories and not a lot of consensus, and what could be more interesting than sex?

Real scientists hash it out over real scientific questions all the time. This certainly should be an aspect of the curriculum, to show that science is an ongoing, roiling enterprise, and that very smart people argue and debate all sorts of things that aren't anywhere near being settled.

That's a much better use of time, and less fraught with potential abuse, than dragging in crackpot ideas.

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