A reader writes (I’ve stripped out personal details):
Dr. Briggs, I recently came across your work on The Stream. I was hoping you could point me to a resource or two for helping educate my kids. I am a Traditional Minded Catholic. Vatican II type. I am a traditional conservative and an [city removed] police sergeant. I have two tweens in public school Name_1 12 and Name_2 10. I “afterschool” them in religion history and other subjects. I love it because I learn or re-learn also.
Can you recommend a science site, DVDs or books I can help them with in the sciences. A balanced idea of creation, astronomy, physics etc.?
Bill Nye shows?
Thanks for any ideas.
Not Bill Nye, Sarge. The man is a fool. He calls those who don’t agree with his proven-false views on global warming “unpatriotic.” Plus, some of his “science” experiments teach what is false. The only thing for which Bill Nye should be relied upon is how to wear a bow tie (this is a genuine compliment).
Good news is that the fundamentals of science have not changed much for the last 100 years, at least with respect to what kids should learn. That means books written before, say, the mid 1960s, still have content not polluted by ideology. Remember this old “joke” about math books?
A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?
A logger exchanges a set (L) of lumber for a set (M) of money. The cardinality of Set M is 100. The set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?
A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost is $80, her profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20.
An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?
Let’s update this for the 2000s, readers! Have to work racism and “gender theory” in there somehow.
Anyway, back on track. Particularly find early math books. The ones produced today are half pictures and have as much math as comic books. The calculus book used my old man in 1960—George Thomas Jr’s Calculus and Analytic Geometry—is the size of a novel. I mean the dimensions of the book are normal. The margins are normal. The typeface is normal. I love this book.
That book is still in print, but it is now a bloated mess. I recall when I was a visiting professor at a large state school, the mandated statistics book was typically over-large, with 6-inch margins, lots of useless color pictures and needless bust-out quotes, etc. What got me was the cover. It was embossed. With a pair of jeans hanging on a clothes line. If I had a gift for invective, I would tell you exactly what I thought of that book.
Now let’s see. The physicist George Gamow wrote many books aimed at general audiences, and all are recommended. But perhaps, except for Mr Tompkins, they are a little advanced for your kids.
Dover has a good selection of books for kids, and they’re cheap. But many of them might be too easy for your kids. You can never go wrong with Martin Gardner. Adult readers who haven’t read Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science must.
Believe it or not, The Chemical History of a Candle by the man himself, Michael Faraday, is fascinating. That man was so brilliant he could have drawn insight from a Womyn’s Studies course.
It’s up to you, readers. Can we help out old Sarge?
(P.S. The highest title I ever held was Staff Sergeant.)