Social justice in science class

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by wegs, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Can science be a catalyst to bringing about social justice and tolerance? Can deductive and inductive reasoning help to mitigate racism, sexism, and bigotry?

    Our school recently had a painful episode, when a group of mostly white students at our predominantly white institution made disparaging comments about a historically black university. The comments were public and meant to humiliate. While school authorities took steps to denounce the remarks, I overheard other students defending some of the comments and those who made them. It seems they had fact-checked one of the statements and, finding it factual, decided that the comments could not show bias.

    As a science educator, I noticed that these students had used scientific thinking to analyze the situation. Why were my conclusions so different?

    The answer is that scientific analysis can be thought of as a two-way street. One way it can progress is through the inductive method. In this method, a scientist gathers facts to create a consistent picture of the world. But science can also be deductive. Deductive methods start with an idea of how the world is and then seek to confirm that idea by gathering evidence to support it.
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  3. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Yes, if accurate observation, reasoned analysis and honest assessment become habits of thought that the general population adopts in public life.
    But it's not enough as a personal life-skill or social adjustment. You have to add emotional intelligence - empathy, sympathy, compassion and a sense of justice.
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Science can dispel myths and explode prejudices, both of which can be sources of social injustice and intolerance.

    However science can also be hijacked and twisted by those with a political agenda, with adverse social consequences. c.20th history is littered with examples, most famously in both the communist USSR and Nazi Gemany.
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I would note that often a pure application of science is seen as racist, when it is not. It's the interpretation of that science which can be racist. (or not)
    "Black students in an IQ test administered at X Y Z showed an average IQ of 96, compared to an average IQ of 102 seen in non-black students." - an example of a (fictitious) output of a study.
    "Black people are dumber than white people" - interpretation of that science
    "IQ tests have a cultural bias against non-whites" - interpretation of that science
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  8. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    In both cases, ideology distorted the science for political gain. Just like white supremacists have been distorting (lying about) the science of races for a long time.
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes, that's what I said.

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