The Sciences

One backwards leap for Texas

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitSep 20, 2009 5:00 PM


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I keep wondering what kind of dumbosity people associated with the Texas Board of Education can come up with next, and I keep being surprised at the depths of teh stoopid. And this time it's not creationism! It's NASA. According to Houston Chronicle blogger Eric Berger, there's a proposal to remove Neil Armstrong's name from social studies textbooks. Yes, you read that correctly. The proposal was suggested by teachers and parents reviewing materials, because Armstrong "is not a scientist". Wha wha whaaaa? I could argue that technically that's correct, since Armstrong's an engineer, which is different than a research scientist. Still, he did do some modicum of science when he walked on the frakking Moon. I think maybe he should be given the benefit of the doubt on this one* Plus, his foot was the first planted on another world, and maybe we're not being too tough on students to know that. And the irony that this is Texas! They have a big city there called Houston which has some NASA ties, as in "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." So, to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review team, this one's for you:

Tip o' the ten gallon hat to BABlogee Earl Ware [Update: the comments below are raging, and many people seem to have missed my point. it has nothing at all to do with whether Armstrong is a scientist or not. The point I am making is that he was the first person to walk on another world! That's why I bolded that phrase in the article above. Leaving him out of the history book is madness, scientist or engineer or otherwise. And another point: I understand history books cannot cover everything that ever happened ever. But leaving this particular person out is -- stop me if you've heard this before -- madness, especially when the people thinking of leaving him out are from Texas in the first place.]

^* I'll note, however, that Carl Sagan's name will be left out of the textbook as well, though he was in fact a scientist, and a good one. On the other hand, without knowing his relevance to the issues discussed in the textbook I'm not too concerned about this -- it's just that the BoE's excuse for Armstrong strikes me as a little weak given this.

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