30 January 2008

Texas Higher Education and Creation Research, Part 17

I was listening to the Scientific American podcast on my way into uni this morning. Host Steve Mirsky has a regular feature called "Totally Bogus!", in which the reader is challenged to find the one fake science story amoid three real ones.

This morning, one story was about whether it was true that Texas was considering an application for graduate degrees in creation science. Well, readers of this blog know that one is true!

I mention this because in describing the story, Mirsky noted that the Institute for Creation Research's websites includes tenants including that humans were created in their current form, the first humans were Adam and Eve, and that the earth was created in six days.

He then asks, "So since everything's already known, what would the theses be about?"

While it's a good quip, it misses a bit about the story. Mirsky seems to be under the impression that the ICR is asking for permission to do Master's degrees in staight science...which they are not. They are asking for permission to do science education degrees.

Graduate degrees in education typically do not involve original scientific research. They may involve research into teaching practices, if they are Master's degrees with a thesis. Many programs have non-thesis Master's, even in strict science degrees. So it's not appropriate to mock a program for what scientific questions students might ask, because science education are not typically asked to do those sorts of questions.

I appreciate Mirsky bringing the story up as one that could be -- and one wishes was -- totally bogus, it creates the wrong impression about what the institute is asking for. I think the ICR knows there's no way they would have a prayer of getting a degree in a science.

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