“Science and Critical Thinking Go Hand-In-Hand”

Carl Langner

By Carl Langner
Member, Thompson School District Board of Education

This brief report is in response to an invitation to all TSD board members to submit “Blog” reports within our areas of expertise – for placement on the District website.  This report addresses the teaching of science, which together with engineering, was the focus of my working life for more than 50 years.

Science is the study of our physical world.  A well-rounded education must include acquiring some knowledge of Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, as well as sufficient knowledge of Mathematics, History, Literature and Art.  Science knowledge provides a person with understanding of how and why the Earth operates as it does, with its atmosphere, oceans, crust and core, animal and vegetable life, weather and seasons, material resources, etc., and how the Earth connects with the vast universe surrounding us.

Science is about observable evidence and theoretical models constructed from the associated experimental data.  If consistent with observations, theories enable predictions of future events.  While science is never settled, some scientific “facts” and theories are more reliable than others, such as the periodic chart of the elements; the physical and chemical properties of various materials; Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation; Einstein’s theory of relativity; the description and categorization of all living creatures; and Darwin’s theory of evolution.  These and many other well-tested theories and observed data may be used without qualms in our efforts to save lives from dread diseases; to feed the world’s population; to build roads, bridges, dams, skyscrapers, and comfortable homes; to easily communicate with anyone; and to fly passenger planes around the world and spacecraft to faraway planets, etc.

However, it is important to inject a word of caution about the teaching of science in today’s world, as there have been extensive efforts in recent years by radical environmentalists and others to corrupt certain elements of science so as to advance their harmful political agendas.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been especially active in promoting politicized science, including hiding test data and lying about test results.  Such EPA-corrupted subjects include: (1) effects of human burning of fossil fuels on global climate change, (2) effects of low doses of radiation and certain chemicals on human health, and (3) effects of fine particulate matter on human health.  When encountering these politicized subjects, I would urge every science teacher to proceed with caution and at least to teach both sides of these controversial subjects.  I must also urge all science students to apply large doses of skepticism and “critical thinking” when discussing such subjects and please do your own research on these topics.

My own research studies led me to the following conclusions: (1) Climate is always changing, but is not affected to any significant degree by the emission of carbon dioxide due to human burning of fossil fuels.  There is almost no correlation between global mean temperatures and the amount of atmospheric CO2, except at scales of hundreds of years where it is apparent that temperature controls the CO2 content, not the other way around.  The false contrary view is harmful in that it drives up energy prices for everyone, and denies poor countries the benefits of cheap abundant energy.  See Ref’s 1 – 4.

(2)  While ionized radiation and certain chemicals such as DDT and Ozone are harmful to humans at large doses, they have virtually no effect on human health at the small doses encountered in normal environments.  And yet the EPA has put strict limits on miniscule amounts of both radiation and various chemicals.  In particular, EPA’s efforts to rid our homes of Radon gas are counter-productive.  Extensive tests involving large segments of the U.S. population have shown that Radon gas, instead of causing lung cancer, actually decreases the lung cancer death rate up to 30%, at the small levels found in our homes.  See Ref’s 5 – 7.

(3)  Finally, over the past two decades, the EPA has declared that fine particulate matter (basically ordinary dust) is extremely deadly to everyone, but has refused to release any data to prove their contention.  Instead, they used this false theory to change the way farmers plow their fields, and to shut down numerous power plants, refineries, and manufacturing plants, etc.  Recent third party data has completely disproved this EPA theory about fine particulates.  See Ref 8.

May scientific truth prevail in our classrooms!

References

  1. Don Easterbrook (editor), Evidence-Based Climate Science, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Press, Amsterdam, 2016.
  2. John R. Christy, “Testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Feb 2, 2016,” available from The Heartland Institute.
  3. Craig Idso, Robert Carter, S. Fred Singer, Climate Change Reconsidered II, Physical Science, Summary for Policymakers, The Heartland Institute, 2013.
  4. Craig Idso and Sherwood Idso, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, Vales Lake Publishing, Pueblo CO, 2011.
  5. Ed Hiserodt, Under-Exposed, What If Radiation is Actually Good for You?, Laissez Faire Books, Little Rock AK, 2005.
  6. Don Luckey, Radiation Hormesis, CRC Press, Boca Raton FL, 1991.
  7. Bernard Cohen, “Test of the linear no-threshold theory of radiation carcino-genesis for inhaled radon decay products,” Health Physics, vol.68, 1995.
  8. Steve Milloy, Scare Pollution, Why and How to Fix the EPA, Bench Press, 2016.
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The Thompson School District Board Blog is a communication path for Board of Education members to connect with the community and share their thoughts on educational matters and other items of interest to them.  The views expressed in Board Blog entries are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the TSD Board of Education as a governing body.

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