Friday, May 2, 2008

Science items

Three article synopses for you today! One: the Science Journal, dealing with language and the brain (something the wife of G.H.F. should find interesting, since her vocation is to work with dyslexic students); two: a survey of Americans' responses to, and critics' tactics against, the teaching of evolution in public schools; three: something on E. coli! What could be better?

One. Essentially, "[s]tudies of schoolchildren who read in varying alphabets and characters suggest that those who are dyslexic in one language, say Chinese or English, may not be in another, such as Italian." Why? The answer may lie partly in the extent of letter-sound correspondence. My guess is that close to zero literate Romans were dyslexic, since Latin is probably the most regular language in existence - one letter has at most two or three sounds. Also, according to Chinese researchers, "Arabic numerals of standard arithmetic -- used by readers of Chinese and English alike -- activate different brain regions depending on which of the two languages people had first learned to read" - likely due to the nature of the Chinese written language, with pictures versus letters.

Author Robert Lee Hotz helpfully provides links to several abstracts of journal articles etc. for further reading:
Two. Survey statistics: on the origins of life, a November 2004 Gallup poll found that 13% align with the statement that "Man developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms"; 38% believe that "Man developed over millions of years, but God guided the process"; 45% say that "God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years." This does leave 4% unaccounted for, but the margin of error was +/- 3%.

Tactics: Introduce bills to allow/encourage teachers to critique, attack, or question evolution. The gist of the new bills: "Embrace lessons on evolution. In fact, insist students deserve to learn more -- including classes that probe the theory for weakness. They believe -- and their opponents agree -- that this approach will prove more acceptable to the public and harder to challenge in court." Evolutionists are predictably worried; see also this sampling of critiques and defenses of evolution.. "[A member] of the science-education group, regards the academic-freedom bills as a more serious threat to evolution education because they give teachers so much latitude." Yes. Sure. If evolution is really unassailable, why is it afraid to defend itself?

Three. In the style of Book-a-Minute:

Farmers try to KILL bacteria, and it is HARD. They may well FAIL, in addition to DESTROYING the wildlife.


Anonymous said...

Evolution isn't afraid to defend itself. It does so constantly. What opponents to academic freedom bills are worried about is that they will introduce non-scientific theories into a science classroom: creationism, intelligent design, etc.

Hannah said...

We got pretty far on creationism. And don't lump creationism with ID and/or any of {flat earth, stork carrying baby, leeches, total reliance on prayer cures, ...}. That's misrepresentation and a bad move on your part.