Teaching Science

science lavoisier“Richard Feynman idealized the good scientist as someone who displays “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.” (link)

These two posts, and the comments, could be the basis for a rewarding discussion with your high school kids on the scientific method, peer review, and related topics.I like these two posts and the comments for such a discussion because there are good and weak arguments on both sides.  I see the point of this discussion not being to come down on one side or the other in the end, but to gain some insight into the types of questions anybody ought to be asking when seeking out the best information possible in the most unbiased way possible.

You might have your student read through each post and the comments and make a list of the best arguments presented by each side.

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Two Good Reads on Fats

Transfats and the Chemistry of Evil- I love this research getting out in the public eye so people can make smarter, healthier, better informed choices.

The questionable link between saturated fat and heart disease: are butter, cheese, and steak actually bad for you?

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

I maliciously love research like this getting out into the public eye so much these days for one very shallow reason: because I was called ignorant and uninformed back in the day when I had this argument with a relative who shall remain nameless some 20 years or more ago.  Every time I read another study validating the healthy option of butter over the poison of margarine, I have an internal giggle of schadenfreude (yes, I do hold petty grudges, why?).

Some of my relatives had discovered that I did not buy margarine, that we only had butter in the house and they narked on me (yes, I am that old) to other relatives and they collectively tsked tsked over my irresponsible dietary ways (My dad had a stroke at 48 years of age, and all his many aunts and uncles died of diabetes or heart disease by the time they were fifty, so we’re all walking time bombs, like everybody else) (Yes, I use too many parentheses, why?).

So. Anyway.  One of the relatives on the end of the gossip line called me to task, in loving, concerned, because I care fashion, and I said “Butter is actually good for you.  It’s all that margarine the rest of you eat that’s gonna kill you in the end.”  There was eye rolling and the ignorant word was lobbed out there along with the ‘fad’ accusation.

Which…. that’s really funny if you think about it.  Butter’s been around for millenia.  Margarine was the new kid on the block, and the alleged research about how unhealthy butter supposedly is was even newer.  Fad?

The studies that were used to support the low-fat/non-fat, pro-margarine lifestyle were seriously flawed, but that didn’t matter.  It was the consensus:

 Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.


Tell me what other science issue that reminds you of.

In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet’s potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass…..

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.

The health problems connected with the massive shift from animal fats to vegetable oils are serious, and sometimes bizarre.  More cancer, more gallstones, and also more accidents and violent deaths (they now think this is because of the alterations in brain chemistry when our brains are denied healthy animal based fats).

It’s in vogue to blame big business for everything, but you cannot ignore the fact that it was big government that issued most of the anti-fat warnings and supported the seriously bad science.

Seeing the U.S. population grow sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position. Recently, the response of many researchers has been to blame “Big Food” for bombarding Americans with sugar-laden products. No doubt these are bad for us, but it is also fair to say that the food industry has simply been responding to the dietary guidelines issued by the AHA and USDA, which have encouraged high-carbohydrate diets and until quite recently said next to nothing about the need to limit sugar.

Indeed, up until 1999, the AHA was still advising Americans to reach for “soft drinks,” and in 2001, the group was still recommending snacks of “gum-drops” and “hard candies made primarily with sugar” to avoid fatty foods.

I still can’t get our local grocery store to carry whole milk yogurt- it’s all non-fat or low fat. I have to special order it via our co-op or drive to town 40 miles away – where it’s also not available in every store.

We’ve been seriously brainwashed for a very long time.

Of special interest to me is what the article had to say about the difference between men and women and how they handle cholesterol, yet all the studies pretty much tossed out the data they had for women and recommendations are based entirely on men and how they process cholesterol. Low cholesterol levels are bad for women. Seriously, read it all. Have your kids read it. Pass it on to your relatives.

The author of the above article is publishing a book that will be out in mid-May. You can pre-order it at Amazon: The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet One of the blurbs at Amazon says:
A page-turner story of science gone wrong: what Gary Taubes did in Good Calories, Bad Calories for debunking the connection between fat consumption and obesity, Nina Teicholz now does in Big Fat Surprise for the purported connection between fat and heart disease. Misstep by misstep, blunder by blunder, Ms. Teicholz recounts the statistical cherry-picking, political finagling, and pseudoscientific bullying that brought us to yet another of the biggest mistakes in health and nutrition, the low-fat and low-saturated fat myth for heart health. (William Davis, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Bac)

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What a Charlotte Mason Education Looked Like

charlotte mason parent reviewThere’s a handful of sample lessons from three or four subjects in this Parents’ Review article.

The history lesson is taken from a book called The Story of the World (more on the correct title below), and was specifically about the war between Philip II of Spain and the Low Countries. To begin the lesson, the teacher first had:

“….the children tell me the meaning of the “Reformation,” and how it resulted in the rise of “Protestantism,” and how these two in their turn gave rise to the “Counter-Reformation” and the long struggle between Protestants and Catholics all over Europe….

I then explained that the struggle between the Protestants and Catholics was most bitter in Catholic countries under Protestant rulers, and in Protestant countries under Catholic rulers, and that to-day we were going to read about a struggle that took place in a partly-Protestant country which was ruled over by a Catholic king. At the same time I reminded them of the special interest we would take in this lesson since part of this same country was now taking part in another great struggle. [This lesson was given in 1915, or during WW1]…

After describing the character and rule of Philip, and after showing them his portrait, I read to them from The Story of the World (since only three of the children had copies of their own) a description of the scenery of the Low Countries which included the story of the little boy who saved his country by stopping up with his arm a hole which he found in a dyke.

Then, after a short narration, I showed the children, on the blackboard, a map of the Low Countries in which I had marked the towns of which we were going to read, at the same time reminding them of the present fate of some of these towns. I then read to them from The Story of the World the account of the beginning of the war with Spain, the arrival of Alva and his cruel tyranny, the capture of Brill by the “Beggars,” the sieges of Haarlem and Leyden by the Spaniards, and how the latter town was eventually saved by the opening of the dykes at the order of William the Silent, and then how the struggle at length ended in the Northern Provinces becoming the independent Protestant kingdom of Holland, and the Southern ones, the Catholic kingdom of Belgium.

The lesson ended in a narration which, in nearly all cases, was very good.”


This lesson was supposed to last 25 minutes.  The teacher introduced the lesson by first having the students narrate what they knew about the background.  Then the teacher added some additional information they might not be expected to know, and connected the places in the lesson with places currently in the news (this won’t apply to every lesson, of course), as well as some biographical information and a portrait of one of the main characters in the day’s lesson.

She read from the book, had narrations, some mapwork related to the reading, additional reading, and then concluded with narration.  That’s a lot to pack in to 25 minutes.  That’s also more than most people think is included in Charlotte Mason’s methods.

The history book mentioned is probably the one authored by Margaret or M.B. Synge, also at googlebooks. That particular history by Synge is not at Gutenberg or Amazon, but A Book of Discovery The History of the World’s Exploration, From the Earliest Times to the Finding of the South Pole is. I really like her works.

Picture Talk was also 25 minutes-

Picture Talk.

The picture chosen was “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes” by Raphael.

raphael miraculous draught of fishes

The teacher began by asking the students what they could tell about the painter.

“Next I told them of the history of this picture, how it had been designed for a tapestry, and how after finding it, and 6 others, in Brussels, cut into strips, Rubens brought them over to England, where they were bought by Charles I, and were afterwards repaired.

Then, so that the children should have the events of the picture before their minds, I read them the account of The Draught of Fishes from St. Luke’s Gospel.

After studying the picture for several minutes, the children, in turn, described it to me….

Then, after a few appreciative words from myself, on the life and energy displayed, on the beauty of the forms, and on the beautiful shading of the picture, I let the children draw the chief lines of the composition.

I think that in every “Picture Talk” lesson we have some proof that art can be appreciated by even the youngest children….

Again, the teacher introduces the lesson by first asking the children what they already know about the painter.  Then the teacher fills in with a bit of background information, and then the children quietly study the painting themselves for a bit and they describe it (I am assuming without looking at it, as this is the method described in Miss Mason’s books).  The teacher makes a few appreciative comments, and the children block out the basic composition of the painting.  We did this a few times when my children were younger.   I didn’t ask for sketches- it was basically a stick figure drawing, or even a geometrical abstraction with ovals of different sizes to show where different figures were in the picture, blocks showing furniture, that sort of thing.  It was interesting to me how often even such abstract work would open my eyes to something I’d missed before.

There was a 25 minute natural history, or nature study lesson. You can click through the link at the top of the post to see how that worked.

There was a ten minute geography, or map work lesson consisting of:

map questions on North America, from the term’s work in From Pole to Pole.

The children were able to recognise an outline map of North America, and after giving me the two great divisions of North America, were able to fill in all the boundaries.

In From Pole to Pole, the children are introduced to this continent by following the travels of a Swede, named Gunnar, and so, after questioning them as to where Gunnar landed, and what places he visited after leaving New York, I asked them to learn from their atlases the exact position of several of these rivers, towns, and mountains, after which they filled in the names of the places, from memory, on the outline map.

The Geography Book mentioned is From Pole to Pole, which is online at googlebooks as well as gutenberg (by Sven Anders Hedin). It’s also free at Amazon: From Pole to Pole A Book for Young People.  It’s interesting to skim through it, but it’s too dated to be useful as a geography book for today, I think.

Mama Squirrel also did a post about this PR article and the sample lessons.

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Teach Your Boys To Own Their Own Sins

Pendulum swings- that’s what we do.  Churchy people have been addressing immodestly dressed women for, well, as long as I can remember and I have a very long memory and I’m in my fifties.

It’s not that this is entirely a bad thing- it’s perfectly true that immodest dress is an issue that Christian women should care about and the Bible does say that quite clearly.  It’s just that we’ve only been addressing one side for most of those 50 years.  We don’t fix that by trying to toss all concerns about dressing modestly out the window, as I have seen many do lately.

We do it with good strong admonitions like this one, addressed to men:

We blame women for our struggles with sexual sin. Drawing attention like that sent the message: “Look what she’s doing to me! I am pure, but she tries to make me unclean!”

It’s time for Christian men to stop having immodest reactions to immodesty. Yes, female immodesty is a real thing, the Bible makes that clear. And women have responsibilities when it comes to modesty. But I believe it does you no good to think overmuch on that. After all…

1. Your purity is your responsibility. 

Does that mean you can do it on your own? No, but by the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, we are talking about your house, your responsibility. Why am I emphasizing this? Because too many men blame women for their struggles with lust, even to the point of anger.

There’s more, and it’s really good stuff to teach your sons.  When we teach them that lust is something the girls make them do, we, and not those ‘bad’ girls, are actively putting stumbling blocks before them.  We are telling them that when they sin, it’s somebody else’s fault. They cannot overcome something if they don’t even think it’s their responsibility.



I have touched on this before

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This is, in one way, a shameless plug.

But in another way, it really isn’t, because in spite of the fact that The Equuschick hasn’t posted for months since her laptop broke, she is now on the HG’s laptop and she got on to do some pretty serious business, but she can’t because all she has in her head right now is Frog Trouble: . . . And Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs. She checked it out on a whim from the library and just blew all of her current Amazon credit on its purchase, because Sandra Boynton is every bit as musically awesome as she is lyrically awesome. Big name bluegrass/country artists such as Alison Kraus and Josh Turner perform some kid-friendly and yet some truly musical pieces. The Equuschick has been accosting various friends and family members for weeks to tell them how much fun this is all is.

And sometimes, it is more than fun. It makes you sniffle, just a teeny tiny litle bit.

blog pic

Beautiful baby, beautiful child. Gentle and maybe, just a little bit wild. When I hear you laugh, its music and gold…You bring to my life miracles untold.

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Free4Kindle, Six Books for Believers

The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts (A Long Line of Godly Men Profiles)
In an age of simplistic and repetitive worship songs, the church must not forget Isaac Watts, “the Father of English Hymnody.” In this profile of the great hymn writer, Douglas Bond writes that Watts’ life and words can enrich the lives and worship of Christians today.

It looks really interesting. There are only a handful of reviews. The only negative one says the writing is dry and he objects to the author’s criticism of the shallowness of current evangelical worship trends.

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A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer

“The mediaeval theologians were very fond of classifying things by sevens. In the symbolism of Holy Scripture seven appears as the number of perfection, it being the aggregate of three, the number of Deity, and four, the number of the earth.”

Reader review: Massachusetts Episcopal churchman Huntington compiled _A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer_ (BCP) from various lectures presented and papers published over a number of years. It certainly has a lot of history in it, but it is more than that, because it also presents his own opinions about revisions made to the during the process of its several revisions over the centuries. This is clearly a book of the nineteenth century–he still used the old term “divines” for ordained clergy of the established and dissenting churches–but his writing doesn’t come across as antiquarian as some of this contemporaries’ did even after 1900. He was generally careful to delineate and separate the historical record, historical scholarship, and his own opinion one from the other. To great literacy about a very serious topic he wed a sense of humor that I enjoyed, at least.

This is clearly a book for people like me who love church history as well as literary history; you don’t have to love or respect the BCP–which I do–but it certainly helps. The title does not indicate what I think is very important to whether someone would be interested in reading this book. After the first part of it, which covers the origins and subsequent history of the BCP it focuses upon the American prayer book, that is, that of the Episcopal Church of the United States. It does a good job for the general reader of explaining why and how the first revision of the BCP was made for the newly independent country, and some of the factors relating to the revision under consideration in those early days of independence.

Huntington was very much involved in efforts to revise the prayer book in his own day, and many other of the most important issues facing the Episcopal church during his life. No “ivory-tower” academic or churchman, even in this short and specialized work his humanity and his groundedness comes through in his recognition that the church and its prayer book had to change as life changed around them due to industrialization, urbanization, and more. This book is surely not for everyone, given its topic and its dated style. But if you’re a church geek like me, and especially if like so many others today across Christian denominations you’ve discovered and embraced made a part of your life the spiritual treasury that is the _Book of Common Prayer_, this book is for you.

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THREE WORDS That Should Rock Your World

Blurb: Does your walk with God need a boost?
Do you ever feel like you need an energy drink for your spiritual life? Here’s something that SHOULD rock your world. Like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, it was always there,

but I’ll bet you never saw it.


are you ready?

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Fox’s Book of Martyrs Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs

a staple in Protestant homes for centuries.

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The Pursuit of God

A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctorate degrees. Among the more than 40 books that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. His books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God. Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need. Tozer had seven children, six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: “A. W. Tozer – A Man of God.” Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life. He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them.

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The Daily Walk Bible NLT: 31 Days with Jesus

Most people agree that Jesus was an amazing teacher and someone we could all learn from. At the same time, most of us have spent little time actually reading his story. The Daily Walk Bible NLT: 31 Days with Jesus is an open invitation to do just that. In just one month you will read through all four gospels, seeing Jesus and gaining insight into his purpose and message for us.

This special eBook, taken from the pages of The Daily Walk Bible, includes a simple reading plan to help you through. Each day includes an Overview that provides a bird’s-eye view of that day’s reading, an inspirational and practical My Daily Walk devotion, and an Insight that offers an interesting fact about the passage. Every seventh day you will be invited to pause and reflect—looking back over what you have read, looking forward to what is coming, and most importantly looking up to God.

It’s that simple, but be warned, Jesus has been changing lives for two thousand years—31 days and yours won’t be the same either.

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Snort. MSNBC commentator thinks Animal Farm is about the evils of capitalism

“MNSBC host and “Democratic political strategist” Krystal Ball” says George Orwell’s book Animal Farm is about the evils of income disparity.

It is true that Orwell was a socialist, but that seems to be about all Ball knows about him or his works.

CJ Ciaramella says that Ball has “the reading skills of a potato,” at which I spewed some coffee. He writes:

This is such a willfully stupid misreading that it doesn’t warrant much comment. However, for those who haven’t read Animal Farm since high school, as seems to be the case with Ball: The book is a satire of Soviet Russia specifically and a parable about totalitarianism in general. Every major event in the book mirrors an event in Soviet history, from the Bolshevik Revolution to Trotsky fleeing the country to Stalin’s cult of personality.

At the end of the book the once-egalitarian farm has devolved into a dictatorship where the animals toil harder, longer, and for less food than they did under the yoke of human masters before the revolution.

So Animal Farm might be the worst analogy for the problems of late capitalism. A better example might be that our system has produced someone with the critical reading skills of a potato, and then allowed her to rise to the position of a national TV news host, mostly by virtue of her membership in the entrenched political class.

What is most impressive, though, is that MSNBC couldn’t locate an appropriate reference to inequality in the works of a lifelong socialist. It’s not as if one has to search hard to find Orwell railing against class divisions.

To make Ball’s Animal Farm gaffe even more mockable, it was actually part of some sneering commentary about the ‘ostensibly economically literate’ Wall Street Journal.

All I can say is bless her heart. But Orwell said it better. In 1984 he wrote of a female employee at the Ministry of Truth:

“She was an attractive woman of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the Party depended.”

(if you haven’t read both these books, you should: Animal Farm and 1984)

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The Benghazi Scandal Starts Unraveling

Discovery of smoking gun in the newly released Benghazi email like discovery of the Nixon tapes.

CBS Employee Confesses That Ben Rhodes Email Proves It Was the White House Which Inserted the False Narrative About the Internet Video Into the Benghazi Narrative, and Yet Claims There’s Nothing to See Here

Once Again, the Democrat Partisans of the Media Pivot Their Defense From “It’s Not True and You’re Crazy to Believe It’s True” to “Of Course It’s True, and You’re Crazy to Make Such a Big Deal About It”

“The White House lied about its role here for eighteen months, always claiming it was other agencies who made these changes, and that the White House only requested the changing of a single word.

They hid emails that would contradict that narrative.

This is now proven.”

ABC’s Jon Karl points out the lies the WH is having Carney tell.

CBS told me it wasn’t relevant to our Benghazi coverage that the president of the news division is Ben Rhodes’s brother- Reporter Sheryl Attkisson

Jake Tapper: Carney’s dissembling is insulting.

former Whitehouse spokesman, ‘but dude, this was, like, two years ago.’

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Dobson’s Speech at the Prayer Breakfast

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn issued an injunction preventing the federal government from imposing the abortifacient mandate or its penalties against Dobson and his radio ministry, Family Talk.

““I believe in the rule of law, and it has been my practice since I was in college to respect and honor those in authority over us. It is my desire to do so now. However, this assault on the sanctity of human life takes me where I cannot go. I WILL NOT pay the surcharge for abortion services. The amount of the surcharge is irrelevant. To pay one cent for the killing of babies is egregious to me, and I will do all I can to correct a government that lies to me about its intentions and then tries to coerce my acquiescence with extortion. It would be a violation of my most deeply held convictions to disobey what I consider to be the principles in Scripture. The Creator will not hold us guiltless if we turn a deaf ear to the cries of His innocent babies. So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.” Dobson’s speech at the prayer breakfast

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/dobson-obama-is-abortion-president/#mCKqZ4E2u6omX145.99

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They Don’t Trust Human Nature

This is a couple years old, but it still interests me-

Did you hear about the study showing that Tea Partiers are more likely to have negative views of blacks than Tea Party opponents? Well did you know that the same study showed that Tea Partiers are more likely to have negative views of whites than their opponents as well?  And the gap between their view of whites and blocks is far wider for TP opponents.  This is fascinating.
Example: 57% of strong opponents of the Tea Party view blacks as trustworthy, but 72% of that same group view whites as trustworthy.  For Tea Party proponents the numbers are 41% and 49% respectively.

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