The Good and the Bad in Science

A couple of Fridays ago, I happened to be listening to a Science Friday story about bad science.  It was a fascinating discussion that included comments on the NY Times op-ed “It’s Science, but Not Necessarily Right.”  One of my favorite blogs for parents, Momma Data, chimes in on the topic as well:

“As I postedbefore, bad studies are like bratty kids who get the slurpy because their parents are too distracted or busy to take on the bad behavior.  “

So how do you sift the good from the bad in science?  Well, if you’re me, you turn to children’s books for the answer.  Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain by Diane Swanson is a great place to start.  It has accumulated several honors and awards since it was published in 2001, including Booklist‘s Top 10 Sci-Tech Books for Youth and the Science Books & Films Editor’s Choice list to name just two.

The book is a great introduction to science as it covers the scientific method, famous scientists and their discoveries, and, of course, how to be skeptical of what you read about science.  Qualities of good science are listed as “built on theories,” “dependa on experiments,” repeatable, evolves, and refereed.  It aims to give kids, middle school age, the basic tools they need to figure out whether or not what they hear falls into “good science” or the “needs to be questioned” category.  The cartoon illustrations and the unusual topics in many of the fact boxes (debunking horoscopes, advertisements, and more) make a very browsable book, even for readers who may not be strongly into science.

I particularly liked the bit at the end of the book about speaking out.  Let’s inspire the next generation to science activism.  I highly recommend the book to most libraries, and I recommend sites like Momma Data.  As parents, we can model a healthy skepticism for our kids.

More book recommendations about religion and science on the For Secular Families page.

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