Mark Walker & Monarchs

Martha V. Lutz & Charles T. Lutz lutzrun at
Sun Nov 12 16:06:21 EST 2000

Mark Walker wrote:

" The question is this:  is it wrong
to propagate bad science and false information to secure goals which are
ecologically high-minded and soundly altruistic?"

My $0.02 is that this would be wrong.  The biggest reason why doing this
sort of thing is wrong is that it undermines any future information you
provide, any future claim you make, any future evidence you offer in
support of any conclusion you draw, et cetera.  Any time a person or group
deliberately propagates bad science, false information, or misconceptions,
they undermine their own integrity.

It is human to err, and incorrect information propagated through naivete is
forgivable, particularly if it is detected and corrected.  But as soon as A
misleads B deliberately, B learns that never again can A be completely
trusted.  That's human nature.

Bad science is NOT the same as speculative thinking . . . creating
hypotheses, especially testable ones, is critical to the discipline of
science.  The true scientist has a responsibility to present ideas in
lucid, concise language, so that hypotheses are clearly distinguishable
from conclusions, and so that conclusions are clearly based on valid

Having said all this, I should add that the field I have been studying for
the past decade, Science Education, bears much responsibility for the
current poor status of 'scientific literacy' in the U.S.  Most
non-scientists cannot define 'theory' as distinct from 'hypothesis.'  Most
do not understand how to use evidence to support or refute a hypothesis.
It would be less easy to mislead the public with inflammatory rhetoric if
people were better able to think clearly about scientific issues.

Science education needs more input from scientists; it's as simple as that!
The education professionals know about learning theory, but not enough of
them know enough about science.  If you have an hour to spare--visit a
grade school and bring along some insects.  Every little bit helps, and the
kids love it.

In Stride,
Martha Rosett Lutz


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