Kansas definition of science out of step with the rest of the country

Robert L. Crowther, II

Associated Press reporter John Hanna’s story about the definition of science currently used in Kansas appeared in papers all across the country over the weekend, and other reporters have touched on this issue as well.
And rightly so. This is one of the most important issues before the Kansas state board of education, namely, what is the proper definition of science.

Some Kansas scientists see the fight over a proposed definition of science – which will appear in the introduction to the standards – as setting the tone for the standards themselves. They’re frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for what they observe in the natural world.
“It’s a completely unscientific way of looking at the world,” said Keith Miller, a Kansas State University geologist.”

This is just simply not true.

According to CSC biologist Jonatha Wells: “No one is proposing that supernatural explanations should be included in science.
The definition of science in the current Kansas science standards is unlike any other in the U.S. By defining science first and foremost as “seeking natural explanations,” the current standards subtly shift the emphasis in science education from the investigative process to the end result. This shift is out of step with modern science education, which gives priority to the activity of formulating and testing hypotheses.”

Wells submitted to the KSBOE an exhaustive (and probably exhausting) study of all 50 states’ definition of science when he testified. You can read a summary of it here, as well as download the entire report.
The minority report proposes a traditional definition of science which is nearly identical to the definition of science adhered to in 40 states across the country. Kansas is the only state that does not have a traditional definition of science. The usual definition of science recommended is: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.” This not changing the definition of science as the Darwinists have charged. Indeed, this would get Kansas back into step with the way science is defined nationwide.
Hanna also reports:

In a recent letter to the board, Philip Skell, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, said intellectual freedom is vital to science.
“Learning to think creatively, logically and critically is the most important training that young scientists can receive,” he wrote.

Robert Crowther

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.