Da Vinci Days
Oregonians for Rationality booth


life after death
remote viewing
Loch Ness monster
out-of-body travel


extraterrestrial visits to Earth

recovered memories
psychic healing
therapeutic touch
shroud of Turin
Bermuda Triangle
 magical pyramids

perpetual motion


spiritual possession
That's pseudoscience!
Many common beliefs are not supported by the evidence, or are contradictory to the relevant scientific knowledge, or cannot stand up to the reasoning on which science is based . . . or all three.

This is one facet of a larger problem.  Scientific knowledge is not what it seems at first glance.  Most science as learned simply isn't science; it's usually the pre-scientific misconception that got replaced by scientific insight–often centuries ago.  The science is generally of a different kind of knowledge that requires looking at the world–thinking about the world–in new, unfamiliar ways.

One of the odder manifestations of the larger problem is the fact that writers of science textbooks often do not themselves understand the science they write about.  The learners and teachers using those textbooks can be expected to do no better.

Richard Feynman was commissioned to review 17 shelf-feet of K-12 science textbooks for the California State Curriculum Commission.  Feynman reported:

"Everything was written by someone who didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, … They were teaching something they didn’t understand, and which was in fact useless…”  All of those books were, "a little bit wrong, always! ... Perpetual absurdity ... UNIVERSALLY LOUSY!"

in Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman,
pp 262-276
I, too, was commissioned to examine the physical science textbooks used by K-12 teachers...and the objectives submitted by a large group of science teachers from a seven-state region.

The textbooks were uniformly lousy, and the objectives submitted were pretty much pre-Newtonian.  (Phil Pennington, Webmaster)

this work was published in
K-12 Course Goals in Biological 
and Physical Science,
Tri-County Goal Development Project
Multnomah County IED, Portland OR
1971, 1973
"Thousands of teachers are saddled with error-filled physical science textbooks that fail to present what science is all about..." .
"Not one of the books we reviewed reached a level that we could call “scientifically accurate” as far as the physical science contained therein.  The sheer number of errors precludes such a designation.  While we were not looking specifically at the biological component of the texts, there were obvious errors there also...  Many of the obvious errors could be easily corrected, but the subtle errors (including misuse of technical words or phrases, the promulgation of ideas not validated by scientists, and promotion of “politically correct” views) that would leave incorrect implications would be more difficult to root out."
from the full report
CLICK HERE for the report
(AAPT Web site)
We need to develop strategies that help people
find the "...magic in places they never thought to look."
and realize that "once they see it, they can never again not see it."

Outlines for handouts
Da Vinci Days 2002

Hubisz's full report on the AAPT Web site shows hundreds of erroneous statements found in the textbooks.  These make an excellent exercise in analysing the reasoning that leads to non-science and in recognizing the reasoning required for correct science.  From here we can see paths for learners of all ages to turn toward to find better understanding of science.