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The Bad Astronomer
2002-May-01, 04:50 PM
Hey folks--

You may have heard that the NSF survey about public attitudes toward science was just released. I have not read it thoroughly yet, but I am guessing it will be similar to the last one, where most people didn't know how long it took the Earth to spin once or orbit the Sun.

There is a section of the survey about pseudoscience (http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm#fn57). It's interesting enough, but in footnote 57 it links to this site! Pretty nifty.

ToSeek
2002-May-01, 04:56 PM
BadAstronomy.com (http://www.badastronomy.com), now with the endorsement of the National Science Federation (http://www.nsf.gov/). /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

GrapesOfWrath
2002-May-01, 06:23 PM
Interesting article, too.

I believe that the best defense against pseudoscience is laughter.

beskeptical
2002-May-16, 07:46 AM
BA, I'm impressed by your NSF footnote link. You have clearly earned respect.

I tried to tell some folks I know about the survey of Harvard Grads where 23 of 25 interviewed had a misconception about how the seasons occur or how the phases of the Moon occur or both. We didn't get to the Moon misconception. My friends didn't believe me that Earth's axis tilt was the mechanism for the seasons. Just as the Harvard folks, my friends were sure it was the eliptical orbit and distance to the Sun that changed the temperature. They weren't even convinced when I asked how it could be summer here and winter in Australia at the same time. And we live in Seattle, it gets dark at 4PM in the winter and stays light until after 10 in the summer! The Sun is so obviously not overhead in winter. Ahhh, we are in trouble.

I can see how people are confused about the seasons a little more than the Moon error. In the survey, a fair number of folks thought the lunar phases were due to the Earth's shadow! I had never even heard of such a misconception, let alone that it was a common one. What did they think a lunar eclipse was, the Sun going in front of the Moon?

David Hall
2002-May-16, 11:39 AM
On 2002-05-16 03:46, beskeptical wrote:
What did they think a lunar eclipse was, the Sun going in front of the Moon?


What? I'll have you know that that is exactly what happens! I learned all about it and more from the best science site on the net:

http://www.oz.net/~travis/sms/sms.htm

Don't be taken in by pseudoscience like that poppycock that the Earth's shadow covers the moon. This is the one and only source you should trust! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif


_________________
David Hall
"Dave... my mind is going... I can feel it... I can feel it." (http://www.occn.zaq.ne.jp/cuaea503/whatnots/2001_feel_it.wav)

<font size="-1">(minor fix)</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2002-05-16 07:40 ]</font>

SpacedOut
2002-May-16, 11:43 AM
I find the fact that 23 out of 25 people (any people) donít know the mechanism for the seasons very distressing. Its something I learned in grade school or jr. high. I realize that it is not something that we need to use in every day life Ė but still - its not a difficult concept!

Hale_Bopp
2002-May-16, 02:05 PM
That Harvard study is the basis for a short film called "A Private Universe". It deals with how difficult it is to get students to let go of their misconceptions about how the universe works, even after extensive, pedagogically sound instruction. I think you can order it from the Astronomical Society of the Pacicfic catalog. Lots of schools have copies of it as well.

Rob

The Curtmudgeon
2002-May-16, 08:04 PM
On 2002-05-16 07:39, David Hall wrote:
I learned all about it and more from the best science site on the net:

http://www.oz.net/~travis/sms/sms.htm

Don't be taken in by pseudoscience like that poppycock that the Earth's shadow covers the moon. This is the one and only source you should trust! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif


Okay, David, you get the Gold Star (tm) for today! That's a great site!

The (thoroughly impressed) Curtmudgeon

beskeptical
2002-May-17, 06:46 AM
David H
I'm still laughing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

Rob
When I first heard about the seasons misconception I was quite shocked. I really had no idea any college grad (or high school grad for that matter) could not explain why we had seasons.

Since that time, I see not only is it that bad, it's worse! In middle school, my son's science class is at the same level Mike had in FIRST GRADE summer day camp. I am not exaggerating.

Unfortunately for him, he has a mom who takes him to lectures at the University, explains everything in detail, constantly asks him, "how [he] knows that?", when he draws broad conclusions on a pittance of data, and, who takes him on geology and astronomy vacations. (We did get to Disneyland once.)
Actually, I think he does enjoy the trips. At least he doesn't complain.

But, getting back to the state of the world, it is definitely frightening.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: beskeptical on 2002-05-17 02:49 ]</font>

David Hall
2002-May-17, 07:13 AM
On 2002-05-16 16:04, The Curtmudgeon wrote:

Okay, David, you get the Gold Star (tm) for today! That's a great site!

The (thoroughly impressed) Curtmudgeon


Thank you. Thank you. I love that site. There are a few mirrors of it around too.

I've been wanting to get hold of the original book, but it doesn't look like I'll ever get a chance. It's out of print, and it seems that used copies are calling high prices. I just checked, and one person is selling it on Amazon for $200.00!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/offering-page/ref=sdp_used_b/102-6115929-5373729?index=fixed-price&field-offering-type=used&field-asin=0395366461&field-status=open&size=25&rank=+price