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NAS: Is science literacy a catechism or a literacy test?


One must register for the download. of the National Academy of Sciences’ free book on science literacy.

A friend notes that on pages 40–41 of the book, Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences,” which discusses the meaning of “scientific literacy”

… they discuss whether questions measuring your agreement with evolution should be included in a metric of “science literacy.” They that understanding what evolution says is enough to demarcate science literacy.

“One important change to the items that Miller popularized occurred in the 2010 version of Indicators when the National Science Board decided to reduce the battery of knowledge questions used to track factual knowledge from 11 to 9 items, removing the questions on evolution and the big bang. The decision to remove these items was based on research that suggested they were effectively assessing religiosity, rather than factual science knowledge among the U.S. population (for a discussion, see National Science Board, 2012, p. 7-20). The proportion of U.S. respondents giving a correct response on these questions was much higher when they were given alternate wording that did not require them to personally endorse evolution: respondents were asked to respond ‘true’ or ‘false’ to ‘According to the theory of evolution, human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,’ rather than ‘human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals’ (National Science Board, 2016). The questions continue to be asked, but they are not included in the composite scale. It is important to note that the potential validity associated with the ‘evolution’ and ‘big bang’ items is culturally dependent, since these items are not always problematic when included in factual knowledge scales in other countries.” (pp. 40-41) More.

Well, fundamentally, as the title of this post implies, is the NAS book a literacy test or a catechism?

Literacy test: Do you understand what you are reading? Can you recite and explain it?

Catechism: Do you believe this teaching? Cross your heart and hope to die…

If the NAS book on science literacy is a catechism, do they propose to start a church? They already have a US tax number, which will save them some work.

Many of us are mainly waiting for the Royal Society’s Public Evolution Summit to open in November, to see what cooks.

See also: Breaking: Birds fly forward. Big US textbook author defends Darwinism to Royal Society Based on the predictable and disappointing verbiage, the friend fears that the meeting will fizzle.

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Because all scientific theories are supposed to be open to falsification or revision, test questions should always be presented with conditions and disclaimers. Any other format will make it religious catechism. bb

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