Reviews; November 1997; Scientific American Magazine; by Morrison, Powell, Zacks; 5 Page(s)
Ibegan to wonder some years ago why my children were learning science in such a crazy fashion. Teachers told them to do lab experiments but gave them no textbooks or notes to explain why they were doing those experiments or what they meant--evidently, the students were supposed to work it all out for themselves. At a P.T.A. meeting, I protested and was told that this was the new fashion in education. None of the other parents, I was informed, had made any complaint, except the ones who were scientists. This circumstance seemed to me to indicate a problem.
Most scientists have never heard of the "Science Wars"; they are too busy working to worry about how sociologists think their enterprise progresses. But it is becoming increasingly common knowledge that a harmful vision of science has been steadily taking over education in schools and universities. I only began to understand what was happening from an article by two deep-thinking physicists, Kurt Gottfried of Cornell University and Kenneth G. Wilson of Ohio State University, that was published this past spring in Nature. The two expressed concern that social scientists think scientific knowledge is merely a system of belief. This interpretation would imply that science is a subjective human construction, like art or music.