Truth in Education

Truth in Education December 6, 2012

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse is the man behind several past attempts to pass creationist legislation in Indiana.

Having been unsuccessful, he is trying something else, which ironically highlights the challenges for science educators.

He says of his newly proposed “Truth in Education” legislation, “If you’re teaching something, then a student could question that and say, you know, ‘How do you know that’s true?’ And so the teacher would have to come up with different sources, ‘This is why I think this is true.’”

That is what any good educator in any field already does, except that they won’t merely offer “different sources” of just any quality, but actual scientific research.

Kruse clearly holds the misguided view that evolution lacks such evidence, despite the wealth of scientific research supporting it, and conversely, that young-earth creationism has such evidence, despite not having any actual scientific evidence or research supporting it.

This highlights the challenge educators in many fields face, and that humanity faces, is that there are many viewpoints which are not supported by evidence or which are even at odds with evidence, but for which people have nonetheless made a case which manages to deceive some people into thinking that the situation is exactly the opposite of what it really is.

And so Sen. Kruse illustrates the problem. Students can ask questions, and teachers and parents and a variety of other individuals can offer answers. Unless there is actual rigorous quality control regarding the answers given, then charlatans will quickly offer “sources” which pretend to be evidence, but is merely a pack of lies.

Until one has studied a subject sufficiently to be able to genuinely grasp the methods, evidence, and arguments, then one is not going to be poised to evaluate claims made concerning that field. And so it is crucial that students be educated first about what science is, how it works, what the evidence is, and how conclusions are drawn. If they have that solid grounding, they won’t be duped by false claims the way Sen. Kruse apparently has – unless, of course, the parents themselves have missed out on a good science education, and are seeking to inoculate their children against being educated.

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