Science Literacy and Nomadic Scientists

"Public Scientific Literacy: We Can Achieve It!" (The Scientist, Aug. 19, 1991, page 12) is a brave statement because the article's author [Frederick A. King] has assumed that most scientists and most science teachers are fully literate in science. Judging by what one sees in introductory science textbooks, there are two simple facts that are not well known by scientists and teachers: (1) The formulation and development of theories, small and large, is the central activity in the growth of sci

Frederick King
Oct 13, 1991

"Public Scientific Literacy: We Can Achieve It!" (The Scientist, Aug. 19, 1991, page 12) is a brave statement because the article's author [Frederick A. King] has assumed that most scientists and most science teachers are fully literate in science. Judging by what one sees in introductory science textbooks, there are two simple facts that are not well known by scientists and teachers: (1) The formulation and development of theories, small and large, is the central activity in the growth of scientific knowledge. (2) Embedded theories (fully developed, widely accepted theories) give logical structure to established knowledge.

The public cannot begin to become literate about the central activity in science and about the logical structure in established knowledge that this activity has produced until textbook authors and teachers know, as a start, answers to the following questions:

1. What are the embedded and active theories in the general course of your...

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