Scientific Literacy – A Study in UFOs and Astrology

One thing Henry Bauer, in his book “Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method,” criticizes in the first section of chapter 1 are several studies that came to the conclusion that many Americans are scientifically illiterate.

He criticizes these studies because they asked questions like “How confident do you feel about DNA, Sound Waves, etc.”  With many of these things, Bauer claims, many scientists who know the most about these things will recognize that they are not confident in what they know because we don’t know everything about these things.

Not only that, but Bauer also comments that these studies asked participants about how scientific UFOlogy and Astrology were.  If they answered that they were scientific, they were deemed scientifically illiterate.  However, Bauer makes a point for the idea that these areas use the scientific method and are scientific, but science just hasn’t seen an exigency (An importance) in them.

If we were to find something about UFOs, what would that help us at all?

One of the examples he gives for Astrology as a science is a man who looked at all of the baseball players who dunked a bunch of goals (I don’t know baseball terminology), basically, those who did very well.  He looked at when they were born and found that Mars was in the same alignment on each of their birthdays.  Technically, he used a scientific method.

However, science decided that that is too far-fetched, so studies like that are claimed to be pseudoscience or ignored. But, many scientists don’t say that it is bunk because it is possible, but scientifically, there’s nothing we can do with that information.

So, how does this relate to my thesis?  Excellent question!  1) Bauer is criticizing something that claims to be measuring a particular thing, but actually is not measuring that thing.

This is almost the exact same thing as Theory of Mind.  Theory of Mind claims to be measuring the ability to know what other people are thinking, but the tests they require mastery of skills that have nothing to do with that ability.


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