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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education by Daniel T. Willingham

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Chapter 4

How to Use Science

“A plowed field is no more part of nature than an asphalted street—and no less.”

—Herb Simon1

When President Obama extols science, saying, “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been before,”2 he does not seek to persuade Americans of the importance of science. They already believe it. Surveys show that very high percentages of Americans (usually close to 90 percent) say that they are “very interested” in new scientific discoveries, and think that such discoveries have a positive impact on our quality of life. Furthermore, relatively few Americans see a downside to science. When prompted with possible negative effects—for example, that science ...

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