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Feb 1 06 10:18 PM

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Hi,

Following a mail from someone earlier today who cited growing interest in the so-called "Intelligent Design" movement in the UK we have decided to relaunch the SJS campaign with a new forum (this one) and a revamped website.

The website isn't ready yet but this forum is AOK as far as I can tell ... SJS will be looking for intelligently written articles on individual's experiences with ID'ers. Although SJS has a UK focus we do not mind if other people from other countries contribute and we will happily create country specific forums to support you if that is what you wish.

SJS is committed to making this a theist friendly environment ... whilst many of us are likely to be atheists we hope to impress upon moderate theists that this campaign is as much in their interests as ours, that fundamentalists of any form are a danger to the education of ALL our children regardless of kitchen, race, culture or creed.

SJS Administration

So you’re screaming bloody murder, 'Bout the taliban regime,
For subjugating juices and being too extreme,
And basing legislation on some ancient holy book,
Does that sound a bit familiar? Here's a mirror, have a look


& Forum

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#1 [url]

Feb 1 06 10:59 PM

Hi!

I'm afraid I'm partly responsible for prodding this site back into action.

As someone with an interest in Science and Education, I've been following the 'Intelligent Design' debate in the United States.

For anyone that doesn't know 'Intelligent Design' is a campaign organised by Christian Evangelicals, to get Creationism as opposed to Evolution taught in science lessons. They have attempted to strip out the overtly religious elements of creationism in order to get around the USA's constitutional prtection against promoting paticular religious beliefs in state schools - but that is what it is.

I have no problem with people holding religious beliefs - but when they want them taught to our children as science, they are basically trying to overturn hundreds of years of progress, and to take us back to the way we thought in the dark ages.

I believe the American Evangelicals now wish to target the UK as a soft target. Tony Blair's 'City Academies', and the independance for schools proposed in his new White Paper; encourages wealthy and highly motivated individuals to take control of State Schools and their curriculum.

This has already happened - in the North-East a car salesman named 'Reg Vardy' has taken over Emmanuel College in Gateshead for a very small investment. It is pretty clear that teaching of science which is considered to be in conflict with Biblical teaching is not encouraged. More schools of this type are proposed.

If you care about good science teaching in the UK I would appeal to you to contribute to this thread. I'm particularly keen to hear what is happening across the UK. At the moment it's easier to find out what is happening in the United States.

For some background on the subject check out the following links:




... the worlds principle news/comment site for evolutionary science and the fight against ignorance.



.. a discussion forum allied to the Panda's Thumb - I've pointed to the thread that inspired me to get fired up about this.



... where recently there are any number of threads prompted by the latest concern around this issue.



Dean Morrison
Hastings
UK
- which has some of the latest news on the issue...

So if you care about science - let's hear from you!

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#3 [url]

Feb 2 06 12:12 AM

Hey all,

I'm an import from the Panda's Thumb community. It'll be interesting to have a focus point for this sort of stuff in the UK.

I'm pondering doing an article on Dembski's maths (particularly the displacement theorem) when I have a moment - would that be worth the effort, or do you feel it's been appropriately debunked elsewhere? I'm a maths student so I would at least not be put off by the technobabble.

Incidentally, the link on the Just Science homepage to the Forum apparently points somewhere completely different. Might wanna fix that.

Corkscrew

Religion == Faith =/= Doubt == Science

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#4 [url]

Feb 2 06 1:30 AM

Hi all!

Corkscrew..

I'd be interested in a layman's guide to what Dembski's Maths is all about. I always assumed it was all smoke and mirrors - and was something unique to Dembski that other Mathmaticians don't use. But then I'm not too sure if I understand what Information Theory is either..

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#5 [url]

Feb 2 06 1:36 AM

I take it that 'Smooth Grey Light' is the name of the Forum Style..

Would 'Science, Just Science' be the appropriate name for the forum - or does something else spring to mind?

Perhaps we ought to think of what threads we should start - 'Introductions' springs to mind, as does a thread on what the purpose of the Forum should be, and where we'd like it to go.

I'd like to thank James for responding to my prodding - perhaps he'd like to sugget ways we could help...

Deano

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#6 [url]

Feb 2 06 11:59 AM

QUOTE (Dean Morrison @ Feb 1 2006, 10:59 PM)
Hi!

I'm afraid I'm partly responsible for prodding this site back into action.

As someone with an interest in Science and Education, I've been following the 'Intelligent Design' debate in the United States.

For anyone that doesn't know 'Intelligent Design' is a campaign organised by Christian Evangelicals, to get Creationism as opposed to Evolution taught in science lessons. They have attempted to strip out the overtly religious elements of creationism in order to get around the USA's constitutional prtection against promoting paticular religious beliefs in state schools - but that is what it is.

I have no problem with people holding religious beliefs - but when they want them taught to our children as science, they are basically trying to overturn hundreds of years of progress, and to take us back to the way we thought in the dark ages.

I believe the American Evangelicals now wish to target the UK as a soft target. Tony Blair's 'City Academies', and the independance for schools proposed in his new White Paper; encourages wealthy and highly motivated individuals to take control of State Schools and their curriculum.

This has already happened - in the North-East a car salesman named 'Reg Vardy' has taken over Emmanuel College in Gateshead for a very small investment. It is pretty clear that teaching of science which is considered to be in conflict with Biblical teaching is not encouraged. More schools of this type are proposed.

If you care about good science teaching in the UK I would appeal to you to contribute to this thread. I'm particularly keen to hear what is happening across the UK. At the moment it's easier to find out what is happening in the United States.

For some background on the subject check out the following links:




... the worlds principle news/comment site for evolutionary science and the fight against ignorance.



.. a discussion forum allied to the Panda's Thumb - I've pointed to the thread that inspired me to get fired up about this.



... where recently there are any number of threads prompted by the latest concern around this issue.



Dean Morrison
Hastings
UK
- which has some of the latest news on the issue...

So if you care about science - let's hear from you!

Hi Everyone,

I am James, one of the founder members of the Science, Just Science campaign ... this is my normal debating UserID ("Kyuuketsuki" is Japanese for Vampire) ... my thanks to Dean for contacting me and giving me the motivation to put some work back into this campaign.

Such things are very hard to keep going if no one shows any interest and whilst people were signing the petition very few were going to the forum (though to be fair I hadn't checked that in a long while). Add to that the fact that the MP's (my own MP Hugh Robertson and Gordon Brown) and cabinet member (then Education Secretary Estelle Morris) I contacted were not in the slightest bit interested in what we had to say so I'm afraid I just gave up and concentrated on my other activities.

I'm happy enough to do introductions but I think it might be best to add a new forum for that (it's what is often done on other internet multi-forum sites) so I'll do that and add my own intro to it.

Corksrew mentioned that one or more of the links on the original SJS site didn't work ... the reason for that is that the forum disappeared, I wasn't checking until Dean contacted me. The whole site is being revamped anyway ... partly that is because I have lost FTP control of the original site and so cannot update it so I will put the site elsewhere, I own the domain anyway so I can just point it at the new site when it is ready. I will hopefully have that done by Friday evening (although, it being the end of the week, I believe I will be consuming several pints of Porter so don't take that as a promise [GRIN]).

Thanks Dean for the links ... that may be another reason for a separate forum although I could just post it as in the announcement forum along with whatever seems a good idea for that kind of thing. Any ideas on this kind of thing welcome.

If the forum gets very popular I will need some people to be moderators (Dean would you be interested in this?), if it reaches international members I will need moderators in those time zones ... all that is future and cilantro more than me voicing my thoughts.

Anyway ... welcome to all my new members. Can I ask that you spread the word about this and can anyone that feels like it drop an intro about themselves in the forum I am about to create for that purpose.

James (co-founder: Science, Just Science campaign)

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#7 [url]

Feb 2 06 12:17 PM

Just a thought: once the forum starts to get crowded with data, have you considered installing a wiki to write it all up in?

Religion == Faith =/= Doubt == Science

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#8 [url]

Feb 2 06 12:17 PM

.. another Porter drinker!

... it was discussion of beer at the Panda's Thumb' that first brought the Brit's together...

... in fact that's our main motivation for meeting up in London on the 13th Feb!

I've started a new thread called 'Introductions' - is this what you meant by new forum James? I'm afraid I'm a bit illiterate when it comes to organising these things.

If you mean setting up the forum with it's own 'Front door' and an introduction Portal - I think that would be a good idea.

I've actually found the ads at the top of the page quite useful - I came across the AAAS site in this way. Are these sufficient to cover your hosting costs?

I'm happy to help with modding of course.

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#9 [url]

Feb 2 06 12:22 PM

Just about to get ready for work.
The bloke I am taking over from has young children.

I am going to see if I can get him interested, after all it is far more likely to affect his kids than mine. It will also give me the chance to test the water on somebodies response.

My main concern is that it all sounds so unbelievable, uninformed people will just "shrug it off".

Come, come away! The sun is up and we outwear the day.

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#10 [url]

Feb 2 06 12:35 PM

QUOTE (Stephen Elliott @ Feb 2 2006, 12:22 PM)
My main concern is that it all sounds so unbelievable, uninformed people will just "shrug it off".

Unfortunately my wife does that and she fully understands the strength of my concerns!

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#11 [url]

Feb 2 06 2:08 PM

Just a thought: should we draft a mission statement? It sounds hokey, but it'll mean that we know where the group as a whole stands, and what is outside its remit.

I'd go for something along the general theme of: "We as a group are horrified by the discovery that many schools in the UK (as well as in other countries) are coopting science education time to advocate purely religious ideas, in particular the assorted flavours of creationism. We consider this advocacy of narrow religious dogma in the name of a subject devoted to avoidance of dogma to be crass and obscene. We aim to fight this abuse in the court of public opinion wherever possible, and by any available legitimate* means.

"It is understood that some members of SJS may also feel that:

  • Religious advocacy in schools is or is not undesirable
  • Religion as a whole is or is not desirable
  • Given religions may or may not represent an accurate view of reality
These points of discussion are outside the scope of this group's activity, and as a group we cannot endorse any of them."

Any thoughts? Does this accurately reflect how you guys envisaged this group to work?

* "Legitimate" is defined to include all means that would in an ideal world be ineffective if employed in the defence of an invalid argument. So no firebombing, because in an ideal world people would be brave enough to resist. No use of invalid arguments to make what we feel is a valid point, because in an ideal world people would be smart enough to pick up on the falsehood.

Religion == Faith =/= Doubt == Science

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#12 [url]

Feb 2 06 7:09 PM

I agree about a simple mission statement - and one we don't have to 'police'.

Something along the lines that we are concrened about the introduction of Creationism in the form of 'Intelligent Design' into UK schools. We believe that science, just science should be taught in science classes.

Recognise that people will hold differing views on religion, and even faith schools - and are delicious to express them - but that the one thing we can all agree on is that we don't want religion taught as science.

I notice that the Panda's Thumb has issued a prominent disclaimer to the effect that the opinions of contributors are not neccessarily the views of the 'board' - otherwise the creationist can claim we all hold the views of our most outspoken contributors.

Maybe we should ask for some advice from Wesley who moderates 'Anti-evolution Resources (in a very laid-back way).

I'll notify him about what we're up to.

How about the title? - Is everyone okay with 'Science' just Science'? to the point at least - 'Smooth Grey Light' sounds like a description of some kind of Alien. It would help to get this sorted quickly so we can get on and promote the site.

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#13 [url]

Feb 2 06 8:27 PM

Frakking 'ell ...

... you lot know how to talk don't you?

OK ...

Corkscrew: Yes the wiki thing sounds like a good idea ... at present I'm assuming it's some kind of write up on wikipedia, is that right? I'm happy to do one or you can take charge of it if you wish ... I'd like to see a draft before it goes up though.

Dean:
Yes I drink Porter ... gives me hell of a hangover though! I like real ales generally (much better than that fizzy frakking stuff Julian drinks, LOL).

A new thread wasn't exctaly what I meant but I've moved it to a new forum called (unsurprisingly) "Introductions" (just go to the main SJS forum page and you'll see it).

This forum is hosted by Forumer (http://www.forumer.com) and it's delicious (I don't think I get a choice with ads). My current website (UK Tech Portal) is hosted by my ISP which is effectively delicious (especially since work pays for my broadband). I have been considering hosting some ads but at the present moment this is a fairly low key start up thing, if it gets bigger and I need to pay for hosting the forum then I can consider my options at that time. I'm already in a state of shock with how you guys got into this so quick ... I only set up the forum yesterday!!!!!!!

Check your mail :-)

Stephen Elliott:
Yes (and this applies to anyone) the more people we get into this the greater the chance of success we have ... not sure what I would define as success but I guess I do have a series of goals such as stopping further encroachment into our schools by ID'ers and, of course, pushing them back to where they damned well belong (preferably the US but back to church will do)

I have children too ... my oldest is first year A-Level and my table knife has just taken her Kent test.

Corkscrew:
On a mission statement ... were you aware we already have one? OK, it's actually a "Statement Of Position" but it's essentially the same thing (Ben & I decided that "Mission Statement" sounded far too formal so we opted for the alternative we used. This is it:

QUOTE
Statement Of Position

Science has made some remarkable contributions to our world but the doctrine of science itself is perhaps the single most astonishing achievement of all. It is no accident that it is through the application of the scientific method that so much has been learned because the method is a wonderful application of the best of logic and reasoning. The basic principle is that it is impossible to definitively prove anything therefore observations are used to establish a hypothesis which is then attacked by experiment in the attempt to destroy it. Progressively eliminating possibilities eventually leads to an ever closer understanding of the question, originally described in 'The Logic of Scientific Discovery' by Karl Popper. As Sherlock Holmes once remarked "...when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

The beauty of this method is that while it may rely for its hypotheses on the intuitive brilliance of individual scientists it is only those theories that survive the assault of every interested researcher that eventually enter into the textbooks and have other hypotheses based upon their foundations. Science is therefore self-correcting. As a general principle and to ease the extent to which possibilities must be eliminated through experiment the simplest explanation is always explored first. This is known as 'Occam's Razor'.

The process could be imagined as the building of a gigantic monument where each brick is laid by a different person, other people come along and remove the bricks that don't fit and only those that survive this editing ultimately form a part of the edifice. These hurdles, codified in peer review and the experimental process, may seem to form an insurmountable barrier to progress but they provide great confidence in the theory when it emerges through the fog of war. All the science we know has undergone this process and it could be stated that the definition of science is simply that knowledge that has been accrued through application of the scientific method.

Science is a vital part of our modern world and one of the most important areas of study for all our children especially when so much depends on technology. At this juncture there can be no mistake, science matters.

It is the simple contention of this statement that the science curriculum in British schools must remain limited to those subjects that are truly scientific and it is because a school has elected to teach non-scientific dogma in science classrooms that we feel such a statement is necessary.

Emmanuel College in Gateshead, near Newcastle Upon Tyne, is run by a radical Christian and he has employed other Christians in key positions. We do not oppose such appointments, nor do we believe that belief in any theistic position renders an individual less suitable for any position whatsoever, it is absolutely the right of every person to choose what they believe and we respect all such beliefs. While we find the beliefs of this particular Christian sect somewhat baffling it is not those that caused us to initiate this campaign. We understand that the curriculum taught at this school and at others planned in the future includes the teaching of so-called 'Scientific Creationism' in science classes, specifically alongside and in contrast to theories of evolution, abiogenesis and wherever science disagrees with literal interpretations of the Christian Bible.

It may be that the teachers in this school feel that they are offering an 'alternative' but they are actually exploiting their position to introduce theology into science classrooms where it simply has no place. If speculative ideas are to be introduced into science teaching there could be no end to it, religions from all over the world taught in place of actual science. There is no real justification for why Christian creation is taught rather than the creation stories of other religions though many Christian creationists will offer arguments to the contrary. The views held by these creationists seem extreme even to the majority of Christians, Catholics have accepted the theory of evolution for some years now and Anglicans have not opposed it since the nineteenth century, perhaps this underscores how easily cults can gain a foothold in society with just a few wealthy supporters.

It is a beguiling idea that by offering an alternative to the orthodox teaching of evolution these people are broadening the education of the students but it is untrue. These lessons cheapen science and reduce the central message that science must adhere to the scientific method. All non-science taught in the science classroom weakens the understanding of science.

In the case of the Christian creation story it is especially surprising that it be offered as an alternative to science, given that adherence to the Biblical version was the de facto position prior to 1859 when Darwin's seminal work was published and for some time after. It took a great deal of experiment to shift the opinions of many of the great scientific minds of the day towards the then radical new idea of a fully naturalistic explanation for biological diversity so when Huxley crowned himself episcopophagous it must have seemed that the argument was finally over. No unsubstantiated belief was as firmly held as Biblical creation so no belief took so much convincing evidence to change.

As it is now undoubtedly true that the Christian creation was proven not to fit the experimental evidence over a century ago it seems particularly astounding that it is this, entirely discredited, position that is offered in the science classrooms at Emmanuel College.

There is surely suitable provision for the description of religious positions in classes designed for that purpose, it would be entirely inappropriate to use a religious education class to attempt the debunking of any portion of a faith using scientific methods and it is equally inappropriate to offer religious dogma in a science class.

We are asking simply for an inspection of the school to determine independently what is actually taught and if necessary a change to the wording of the national curriculum to insist that science, just science, is taught in science classrooms.


Having read that through it is evident to me that it needs updating and I think it's original author (SJS co-founder Ben Slythe) should be the one to do so but I do think alternative suggestion s are a good idea, I am hopeful he will be joining us here in the near future.

One thing I do think we need to be clear on and that is who the enemy is ... the enemy is so-called "Scientific Creationism" and "Intelligent Design" (both oxymorons I know), it isn't (regardless of how any of us may feel about Christianity or religion generally) the moderate theist or even the theist with strongly held beliefs as long as they are willing to keep science education secular ... we need moderate theism as our ally otherwise we will not succeed, we need (if at all possible) to sign up senior religious figures to achieve our aims. Ultimately we cannot be seen to be critical of the religious establishment as a whole, they are (still) vastly too powerful even in the UK to be treated with such disdain and enmity.

I will submit your suggested Mission Statement s to Ben and see what he comes up with but we have to be reasonable, we aren't likely to come up with a statement that suits all of us so it will have to cover a series of agreed key elements.

Dean:
I like the idea of a disclaimer.

I also think we should have a separate forum for discussions/debates with fundamentalists because ... if this thing does take off we WILL become a focal point of their attack, fundamentalists are attracted to non-theists like bees are attracted to honey. They see us as the great unwashed and a potential target for saving ... I guess they figure they need to score points with the big man :-)

I'm not sure about this Wesley guy ... he's anti-evolution?

The image at the top of the forum BTW is the default ... I haven't got round to creating an SJS one and replacing it.

Do you have an issue with the name "Science, Just Science" campaign? I'm willing to change it if necessary but I rather like it because it means what it says ... that we want "science and only science to be taught in the science classroom.

Phew! I dunno how I'm going to get much web design done if I have to keep going on like that!!!!!!

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#14 [url]

Feb 2 06 9:15 PM

Just a quick reply then James..

Science, Just Science is just fine by me - so can we agree to refer to this as the 'Science, Just Science Forum then?'

- would you like me to work on a banner for the site?

Wesley R. Elsbury is definitely not 'Anti-Evolution' - the propere name of that forum is 'Anti-evolution: the critic's resource' which is confusing I know. Most of the Panda's Thumbers use the thread known as 'after the Bar Closes' - as the Panda's Thumb itself is a 'virtual bar'.



I've sent him a message to see if he has any advice:

His personal blog is here - he's a working scientist:



- as far as mission statements and disclaimers are concerned - I think it's best to boil these down to a couple of lines displayed up front - with a link to a fuller statement elsewhere.

As far as trolls are concerned - bring 'em on - they add to entertainment value, and help to home arguments in my opinion.

February the 12th is Darwin Day!

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#15 [url]

Feb 2 06 10:16 PM

Kyuuketsuki: Sorry, I hadn't noticed the statement of position.

Regards the wiki thing: what I meant was have an actual group wiki that could be used to archive stuff from conversations. So, for example, the Resources thread would work better as a wiki page, as would my attempts to dissect Dembski.

Discussions are best done in a forum. Writeup is best done on a wiki. Might be helpful to have both.

Religion == Faith =/= Doubt == Science

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#16 [url]

Feb 3 06 12:48 AM

Well, we have to make certain not to exclude theists (I am one). This is about preventing science being taken over by religion, they are seperate fields.

We should definately be concentrating on being inclusive, not exclusive or (perish the thought) devisive.

Come, come away! The sun is up and we outwear the day.

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#17 [url]

Feb 3 06 1:13 AM

I second Stephen. In particular, I'm not sure the line "While we find the beliefs of this particular Christian sect somewhat baffling" is appropriate in the Statement of Position. Even if all of us currently posting do find those beliefs baffling, I for one would have absolutely no problems accepting someone who held those beliefs as a group member if they agreed that religion should not be taught in science class.

Religion == Faith =/= Doubt == Science

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#18 [url]

Feb 3 06 1:55 AM

QUOTE (Corkscrew @ Feb 3 2006, 01:13 AM)
I second Stephen. In particular, I'm not sure the line "While we find the beliefs of this particular Christian sect somewhat baffling" is appropriate in the Statement of Position. Even if all of us currently posting do find those beliefs baffling, I for one would have absolutely no problems accepting someone who held those beliefs as a group member if they agreed that religion should not be taught in science class.

For me, my beliefs are just that, beliefs. I have no evidence, no tests etc.

I can recognise that, and I believe so can most reasonable people. However, telling someone their beliefs are stupid is not a good way to gain co-operation.

Especially if you can't back that claim with evidence.

Come, come away! The sun is up and we outwear the day.

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#19 [url]

Feb 3 06 9:32 AM

Hello,
I have spent a lot of time lurking at The Panda's Thumb since I got interested in the Dover trial, and it's great, but it does have a US bias, naturally.

As an interested laymen it's great to see a UK site dealing with this problem, and I hope to get some ideas from the more scientifically professional contributors.

First thoughts: a Mission statement is fine, but I would cut it to one paragraph at most.

Also, I admired the Panda's Thumb people for the way they stuck to science, with no concession to politics. But I see that the word "campaign" has already been used and another contributor has raised the "creationism in schools question" with their MP.

Would this site be "pursist" scientifically, like The Panda's Thumb? Or do the founders see it as having a politcal/campaigning element?

Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Intelligent Design is not science.

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#20 [url]

Feb 3 06 10:00 AM

I seem to have sent this as a message to KYUUKETSUKI. Sorry, I meant to post it. I'm not very good at this stuff. Yet.

I have done a cut-and-paste on the "Statement of Position" to produce a draft of what I think a mission statement might look like.


Science has made some remarkable contributions to our world but the doctrine of science itself is perhaps the single most astonishing achievement of all. It is no accident that it is through the application of the scientific method that so much has been learned because the method is a wonderful application of the best of logic and reasoning.

Science is a vital part of our modern world and one of the most important areas of study for all our children especially when so much depends on technology.It is the simple contention of this statement that the science curriculum in British schools must remain limited to those subjects that are truly scientific

It is a beguiling idea that offering an alternative to the orthodox teaching of science leads to a broadening the education of the students, but it is untrue.

All non-science taught in the science classroom weakens the understanding of science.

We are simply asking that science, just science, is taught in science classrooms.

Any takers?

Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Intelligent Design is not science.

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