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Scientific Literacy Science and Pseudoscience


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Title: Scientific Literacy Science and Pseudoscience

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Scientific LiteracyScience and Pseudoscience
  • S.M.Tabatabaee
  • ??? University of medical science

  • Introduction
  • Statistics
  • Solutions
  • Definition
  • Tests
  • Scientific method
  • Pseudoscience
  • Ethics

Scientific issues are the subject of many debates
  • We live in an age of scientific discovery
  • headlines about global warming, cloning, fossils
    in meteorites, or genetically engineered food
  • exotic materials
  • medical advances
  • DNA evidence
  • new drugs
  • As a consumer, as a business professional, and as
    a citizen

Some scientists are so focused in one area that
they lack scientific literacy
  • a group of twenty-four Ph.D. physicists and
    geologists to explain the difference between DNA
    and RNA
  • scientists are just as likely to be ignorant of
    scientific matters outside their own specialty as
    anyone else

The scope of the problem
  • College graduates, as well, fall short on science
  • fewer than ten percent of graduating seniors
    could explain why its hotter in summer than in
  • Fully half of the seniors who filled out a
    scientific literacy survey could not correctly
    identify the difference between an atom and a

  • The average American fails the grade, too.
  • fewer than 7 of adults
  • 22 of college graduates
  • 26 of those with graduate degree

  • According to the national survey commissioned by
    the California Academy of Sciences
  • Only 53 of adults know how long it takes for the
    Earth to revolve around the Sun
  • Only 59 of adults know that the earliest humans
    and dinosaurs did not live at the same time
  • Only 47 of adults can roughly approximate the
    percent of the Earths surface that is covered
    with water
  • Only 21 of adults answered all three questions

  • Americans score poorly on tests of basic science
    knowledge. This is confirmed by an independent
    investigation of American scientific literacy,
    reported here, which shows that
  • Most Americans (53) don't know that the Earth
    goes around the Sun once a year
  • Nearly half (48) don't know what percentage of
    the Earth's surface is covered by water
  • 42 don't know that no humans lived at the same
    time as dinosaurs
  • Nearly 1 in 5 people (19) couldn't answer any
    of these questions correctly.
  • Most Americans (67) do not have an
    understanding of the scientific process

So what to do?
  • K-12 Education
  • Higher Education
  • The General Public

Project 2061 of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science
  • The task was "...setting out for the nation the
    knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that all
    citizens need to live interesting, responsible,
    and productive lives in a culture shaped by
    science and technology

Science for All Americans
  • The result of that project was Science for All
    Americans, published by Project 2061 in 1989." 
  • "What should a science-literate adult know and be
    able to do in science, mathematics, and

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
  • Benchmarks for Science Literacy is a companion
    report to Science for All Americans
  • Benchmarks suggests how students might progress
    toward that goal
  • This document is a tool to be used in designing a
    curriculum, not a particular curriculum design

The National Science Education Standards
  • the eight categories of content standards are
  • Unifying concepts and processes in science
  • Science as inquiry
  • Physical science
  • Life science
  • Earth and space science
  • Science and technology
  • Science in personal and social perspectives
  • History and nature of science

  • According to the United States National Center
    for Education Statistics, "scientific literacy is
    the knowledge and understanding of scientific
    concepts and processes required for personal
    decision making, participation in civic and
    cultural affairs, and economic productivity".

  • "the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to
    identify questions and to draw evidence-based
    conclusions in order to understand and help make
    decisions about the natural world and the changes
    made to it through human activity."

  • Scientific literacy means that a person can ask,
    find, or determine answers to questions derived
    from curiosity about everyday experiences. It
    means that a person has the ability to describe,
    explain, and predict natural phenomena.
    Scientific literacy entails being able to read
    with understanding articles about science in the
    popular press and to engage in social
    conversation about the validity of the
  • Scientific literacy implies that a person can
    identify scientific issues underlying national
    and local decisions and express positions that
    are scientifically and technologically informed

Persons who are scientifically literate
  • Know and understand the scientific concepts and
    processes required for participation in society
  • Ask, find, or determine answers to questions
    derived from curiosity about their world
  • Describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena
  • Read with understanding science articles in the
    popular press and engage in social conversation
    about the validity of the conclusions
  • Identify scientific issues underlying national
    and local decisions
  • Express positions that are scientifically and
    technologically informed
  • Evaluate the quality of scientific information on
    the basis of its source and the methods used to
    generate it
  • Pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and
    apply conclusions from such arguments

The Science process
  • Planning
  • Conducting
  • Processing
  • Evaluating

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  • The scientific method is a way to ask and answer
    scientific questions by making observations and
    doing experiments.
  • The steps of the scientific method are to
  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

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Science Literacy and Pseudoscience
  • People in the U.S. know more about basic science
    today than they did two decades ago, good news
    that researchers say is tempered by an unsettling
    growth in the belief in pseudoscience such as
    astrology and visits by extraterrestrial aliens.
  • So, science literacy is clearly increasing (from
    10 to 28 according to one measure) but at the
    same time pseudoscientific beliefs are also
    increasing. It strikes me that this may be a
    problem for us as educators in that we might be
    teaching students (and thus the public)
    scientific facts but not teaching them how
    to think scientifically.

  • Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice
    which is presented as scientific, but does not
    adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks
    supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot
    be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific
    status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by
    the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated
    or improvable claims, an over-reliance
    on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at
    refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by
    other experts, and a general absence of
    systematic processes to rationally develop

Does Scientific Literacy Make People More Ethical?
  • Thinking about science leads individuals to
    endorse more stringent moral norms
  • In one of the four supporting experiments,
    undergraduates considered an account of a date
    rape and were asked to judge behavior on a scale
    of 1 to 100. Science types, perhaps not
    surprisingly, proved to have a better grasp of
    reality, including the moral kind.

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