Down in Texas there was a bitter fight to shield kids from the reality.
From Bad Astronomy:
The State Board of Education voted on the science standards — the list of basic scientific knowledge students should have at various grade levels, like knowing that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter, the Earth goes around the Sun, and — say — evolution is the basic and most fundamental aspect upon which all of modern biology is based.
Creationists on the board (and there are many) tried to water down the standards by creating a phony baloney "strengths and weaknesses" amendment, a totally bogus and arbitrary rule that says that teachers have to point out where a theory has faults. They did this specifically to weaken the teaching of evolution in biology classes. They don’t actually care if the students get a solid education on the fact of evolution, they only care to tear down real science and replace it with Biblical literalism.
Science wins in Texas.
The Texas School Board voted 7-7 on the amendment, it needed a clear majority to win.
For those who think that teaching the “Strengths and Weaknesses” of a basic scientific theory can’t do much harm, here is a few scientific theories that have some Weaknesses:
Gravity is a fundamental force of the universe. However like all theories it has some “flaws”.
Although we can observe the effects of gravity, if you drop something it will fall. We have no clue as to what gravity (as a fundamental force) is.
It current approach to account is to treat it as a form of energy couples with spacetime to create the geometries that cause gravity. This is wrong, scientist know it is wrong but until a less wrong theory comes along this explanation works (mostly).
This weakness in the Theory of Gravity shouldn’t stop kids from being taught about Gravity because these weaknesses don’t come into play until you are studying relativity/quantum mechanics and you have plenty of time learn about it in your first few years of college.
If the 7 Texas school board members still want to see if a theory that has weaknesses should be taught, they can go to the top of a high bridge and step off. I will use the “flawed” Theory of Gravity to predict the exact second they will land.
Matter and Energy
“Matter and Energy can neither be created or destroyed. Merely transformed into a different state.”
Is something I had to learn in 8th grade, it holds up in most cases until the very small. It runs into problems at the very smallest scale. Max Planck observed that energy acts like integers 1,2,3,4 and so on. So it is not a straight line. In photoelectric cells atoms happily sit there absorbing less than 1 unit of energy until they reach that magical 1unit and then they release it.
While the atom is absorbing the energy, it is gone from the universe only to reappear when it is released.
Should students be taught that it is fine to work on a perpetual motion machine because of this one little loophole in Spacetime?
For the 7 Texas school board members I’ll be happy to rig up a series of photoelectric cells and attach the electrodes to their private areas and they can tell me if they believe in matter and energy.
Naturally I could go on thinking up ways to torture the 7 Texas school board members with Theories that have “Weaknesses” in them but I think it they read this they will get my point.