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Global guidelines

  1. Sep 23, 2010 #1
    This rationale is disingenuous - Global Warming is being taught across the country by physicists in all UK schools - this implies that physicists, if anyone, ought to be the ones who are effectively able to moderate on the issue

    The fact that moderators of PF recognize their own lack of authority on the issue runs to the very core of the debate - not of whether the premises of GW are true or false - but as to whether this is a topic that physics teachers should be teaching. This is a question which should and ought to be open for discussion on PF. Is global warming a subject that physics teachers in general ought to be able to instruct on given their training and secondly whether they should - two issues?

    1) Should physicists ought to be able to give credible instruction on the issue of global warming based on their knowledge of physics? The implication being that any such inability is the fault of the individual physicist and not of physics in general. Physicists, if anyone, ought and should be able to debate and moderate debate on this question.

    2) Even if 1) were deemed to be correct, should physics teachers teach global warming issues as they appear in modern exam papers? Physics is an enabling science, it teaches what capabilities man has to understand, modify and control his environment. Do moral perspectives on which tools mankind should and should not employ fall within the province of the science itself? Physicists if anyone, ought and should be able to debate and moderate debate on whether it falls within the province of physics tuition to proclaim X technology is better than Y within a global warming context.

    I can appreciate that given the divisive and emotionally charged nature of the global warming debate, PF would like to keep the topic off the forum. But the question of whether the issue as a whole - whichever side one aligns with - is and should be part of the GCSE physics syllabus for all UK schools, really ought and should be open to moderated debate by physicists on a credible "physics" forum.
     
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  3. Sep 23, 2010 #2

    Gokul43201

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    Sure, probably any decent physicist can teach the subject to a high school class, but it takes an expert in the field to determine if some particular interpretation of an analysis of measured data presented in a journal paper (or if a refutation of the analysis) holds water.
     
  4. Sep 23, 2010 #3

    Pengwuino

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    In other words, our forums are moderated at a level above what's required to teach a high school class :biggrin:
     
  5. Sep 28, 2010 #4

    Bystander

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    "Interpretation" vs. "analysis?" Politics/religion vs. science.
     
  6. Sep 29, 2010 #5

    Gokul43201

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    I wasn't even going that far - at least that wasn't the intention. I meant 'interpretation' simply in the sense of 'interpreting results'. You start with some data, perform some mathematical analysis, and interpret the results.
     
  7. Sep 29, 2010 #6
    And I'd add that the teaching of science requires an "expert witness", meaning someone with direct hands on experience with the subject matter, something that virtually no high school physics teacher has when it comes to Global Warming.

    Should teachers teach something that they are not personally an authority on? Isn't that the basis of religion - just taking someone elses word for it and passing it on?

    For most concepts within a traditional physics syllabus, the physics teacher is personally able to demonstrate a principle in his lab. Kids are taught to conduct their own experiments, so they too in effect become "authorities" to the extent that they have some appreciation of to what extent in practice a theory holds true, and some insight to its limitations etc.

    With GW, beyond perhaps being able to demonstrate that burning fossil fuels gives off CO2 and that plants absorb CO2, a physics teacher really just regurgitates what they've been told by "higher" authorities many of whom themselves are no more expert witnesses than the physics teachers - its like Chinese Whispers!!!

    If anything, if GW is to be taught in schools, then it should be taught by climatologists, who have at least personally conducted studies into global climate change and man's contribution to it. But even then, can climatology really be the kind of science that can be taught in schools - the methods of climate study perhaps, the results maybe, but the interpretation.......? Isn't that rather like a teacher of a course on meteorology having taught basic metereological principles, showing a current severe weather system in the Atlantic and saying that it will definitely hit New Orleans 100%, no debate, "THE SCIENCE IS IN!!!".
     
  8. Sep 29, 2010 #7

    ZapperZ

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    I am not sure why there should be correlation to what is done in schools versus what we do here on PF. If anything, in some instances, we have HIGHER standards that what is done in schools. Many of our experts have Ph.Ds in many different fields and can provide expert responses on advanced topics. Already, this is WAY different than what you get in high schools!

    Not all subjects on PF requires the presence of an expert. In many instances, many of us can moderate and monitor a ton of topics. However, when the subject is as divisive as global warming, and when people are throw out data after data, then in THAT situation, it requires an expert in that particular field to decipher who is playing lose with facts and who isn't. It's not as if we haven't tried having such a topic. Your short stay here so far may indicate that you've missed plenty of ugliness related to such topics. So yes, we have had that as a topic, and we didn't simply ban the discussion because we feel like it.

    If you feel that there is a problem with teaching a subject matter in school by those who are not experts in that area, then that's another topic, and it has nothing to do with this forum. We have the General Discussion, Philosophy, and even the Education forum for you to air your rants about such a system. Or better yet, write to your school authorities.

    PF simply can't be everything to everyone. That is impossible.

    Zz.
     
  9. Sep 29, 2010 #8
    I originally posted this site....

    http://www.petitiononline.com/gcsephys/petition.html

    ...and asked if other physics GCSE teacher's had similar sentiments to those expressed by the site's author - that their subject seems to have been hijacked.

    Apparently my post - to the General Discussion forum - was deleted without reprimand or comment. I checked the Forum Guidelines and found buried within a list of conspiracy theories - how ironic - that discussion on Global Warming was off the agenda.

    Now whilst I could understand why debate as to whether the contentions of the Global Warming establishment versus the skeptics might be problematic for the forum, I couldn't understand why the question of whether or not it ought or should be GCSE physics' teachers function to promote one side or the other in class, would be off the table?

    I could only assume that my post violated the Guidelines. But reviewing the Guidelines, I found this not to be so, and so challenged it. Now you claim that it was not a violation but I posted in the incorrect forum. Do you see the obvious contradiction. Now, I'm okay with this - perhaps just a knee jerk moderator's reaction to a GW topic or even an automated filter response to a phrase found in a post, it doesn't really matter.

    Sure, I can see that there is no reason why PF should follow or have any comment on GCSE physics tuition. I just find it quite unusual why self proclaimed "physicists" would shy away from what is essentially a debate about what physics is and what physics is not.

    I'm not suggesting in any minute way that PF is part of a cabal of some form of global warming conspiracy nor that there even is a global conspiracy on GW. I'm not even questioning whether PF deems whether GW as a topic, is physics or not, I'm only questioning whether PF deems the topic of GW - not its interpretations one way or the another - is a legitimate part of debate as to what constitutes physics as a subject for GCSE tuition or not.

    Can physics teachers debate whether GW ought/should be part of their GCSE syllabus?

    PF can try and distance itself from this question and say that the GCSE syllabus &/or education in general is none of its concern, but this is effectively tacit consent and can be hardly considered unbiased - neutrality being what I truly believe was what the Global Guideline was striving at.

    So, can a thread be opened on whether GW ought/should constitute GCSE physics tuition or not?
    Its a simple question for physicists, GCSE physics teachers especially, to ask themselves and to post replies - is GW really part of our scope of work?
     
  10. Sep 29, 2010 #9

    Gokul43201

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    I can't speak for the Mods, but here's my opinion. I think it's very difficult to keep such a thread going without it very quickly getting into those interpretations. I imagine that the intended discussion may well be allowable, but I suspect any such thread will end up being locked in short order, for wandering into disallowed topics.
     
  11. Sep 29, 2010 #10

    ZapperZ

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    I can't speak for the reason why your thread was acted upon. I can speak for myself that *I* don't shy away from such a discussion. So try not to make wholesale characterization of which you have no sufficient data. That habit is downright annoying and silly.

    Zz.
     
  12. Sep 29, 2010 #11

    Doc Al

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    Just for the record:
    Your post was made to the General Physics forum, not the General Discussion forum.
    You were given a 'warning' (really an explanation) via PM regarding the deletion of your post.

    (No, I wasn't the one who deleted your post, but it was perfectly reasonable to do so given our current policy.)
     
  13. Sep 29, 2010 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    It isn't a list of conspiracy theories, it is a list of closed/banned topics. And I specifically added a comment to make clear that the topic was closed due to our inability to moderate the subject, and not due to any staff bias.

    Bottom line: If our members wish to start paying for salaries, we will be glad to recruit an expert who can manage the topic.
     
  14. Sep 29, 2010 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    In order to avoid confusion, the GW disclaimer in the banned topics list has been changed to bold red. It was also moved to the top of the page to help separate it from the other topics.
     
  15. Sep 30, 2010 #14
    I'm sorry, but this is a list of conspiracy theories, banned topics or otherwise - "Conspiracy" in the context of conspiracy theories appears no less than four times - and now even more ironically, Global Warming has gone to the top of the list of conspiracies. 2+2=5 LOL.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  16. Sep 30, 2010 #15
    I stand corrected, I thought it was the General Discussion forum, whichever. If I recall correctly the explanation came after I queried what had happened to my post - which I made prior to finding GW listed in the banned topics list - and not as result of the post itself.

    I agree its removal was reasonable given the current policy, I just find the policy odd - that physicists on a well known and respected physics forum - would not be open to a debate on GW to the extent that they are unwilling to even allow debate on whether GW should be part of a GCSE physics curriculum.
    But as was pointed out, being new to the forum I have likely missed a lot of bad blood in past debates that resulted in the topic being banned. I still find it hard to believe that a little controversy should lead to essentially drastic censorship though.

    I highlight the fact that almost all the other topics on the banned list are conspiracy theories because it strikes me as almost like a subconscious Freudian slip that GW should end up among them, I had to chuckle when I first saw it.
     
  17. Sep 30, 2010 #16
    We went through about two years of bad blood. Trust us. We tried.
     
  18. Sep 30, 2010 #17
    I was not specific as to claiming which individual physicists shy away from any topic, just that some evidently do and it was to those that the reference was made. If this doesn't apply to you then it doesn't apply to you, if it does, well then if the cap fits.....
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  19. Sep 30, 2010 #18
    This makes the most sense, but I still find it somewhat incredible that an topic like GW would be off limits, however divisive. Its rather like a Biology Forum banning debate on Intelligent Design when the education authorities have imposed its instruction on the national curriculum.

    "We know absolutely nothing about it, yet we are happy to accept that it is ours to teach, but we won't allow discussion on it because we know nothing about it and debate on the topic tends to get heated".
     
  20. Sep 30, 2010 #19
    Out of interest, where did the major fault lines lie? Was it simply a case of accepters vs skeptics with each throwing their respective weights of evidence or lack thereof at each other, or did the debate run deeper?

    Personally, I'd be disinclined to call it one way or the other, which is why I raised my original question, though I guess this position would automatically put me in the skeptic camp even if I may be less certain than the more ardent GW skeptics out there.
     
  21. Sep 30, 2010 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    I think rehashing the very debates that caused us to make this decision would not be useful now.
     
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