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Hal Harris's picture

Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style

Sat, 01/02/2010 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

One of the most memorable lectures I have ever experienced was given by Nobelist Willard Libby. He spoke at University of California, Irvine in 1968 or 1969, but the essence of his talk about the atmosphere of Venus is still fresh in my mind because he told such an engaging, entertaining story.

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Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

Fri, 01/01/2010 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

The world has never more needed public understanding of science than it does now, and those of us in science education have a special obligation in this regard. The answers to health care, climate change, conservation of the environment, and so forth are not going to be found in science alone, but if they are to be addressed rationally, science literacy will be necessary.

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Mammogram Math (The Way We Live Now)

Wed, 12/02/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

Imagine a highly reliable cancer test. It detects 95% of a certain type of cancer, and has a "false positive" rate of only 1%. This test is used on a population in which this type of cancer occurs in 0.5%. One day your doctor tells you that you have tested positive. What is the chance that you are actually sick? Surprisingly, it is only about 32 percent!

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Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist

Tue, 12/01/2009 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Isaac Newton was a complex man. Every student learns of (but few master) the laws bearing his name that govern the motion of objects from bullets to planets. Many know that the same great mind invented calculus along the way toward his Principia Mathematica.

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Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives

Sun, 11/01/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

One part (but only one part) of the decline in science in the US is the growing minority of citizens who semiautomatically adopt positions antagonistic to those of the scientific consensus, regardless of the issue. The "scientific community" is not a monolith, and skepticism and dissent are essential to the process of science.

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Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America's Public Schools

Thu, 10/01/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

America's public schools are in trouble, and there are few who would disagree. But despite billions of dollars spent in "reform" efforts, little real progress seems to be occuring. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a step (or a misstep, perhaps) toward greater accountability by schools for student achievement.

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Tue, 09/01/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

Meet Flavia de Luce. You are going to like her. It is 1950 and Flavia, a very precocious eleven year old, lives in a small village in England in a deteriorating grand mansion with her father and two older sisters. Her passion is chemistry, which she has learned on her own by reading a textbook owned by her deceased mother and practiced in a laboratory inherited from her uncle.

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Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

Sat, 08/01/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

When I saw this new book on the subject of evolution, I thought it would probably be one side or the other of the very tired evolution/creationism-"intelligent" design debate. I was delighted to find instead a very smart discussion of the status of our understanding of the origins of life, how life has changed over the millennia, and how we have learned about those things. Mr.

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Science Teaching as a Profession: Why it Isn't How it Could Be

Wed, 07/01/2009 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

The shortage of well-trained science teachers is widely recognized, but the solution to the problem requires first an appreciation of its causes. This little book, which is available free online, addresses the tangible and intangible reasons why fewer talented people choose science teaching as a career or choose not to stay in teaching.

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