GCSE Science – Bad Science is good for schools

What is Bad Science? Well, bad science is when people have misused scientific procedure, such as by cherry picking evidence to prove their case or assuming a causal link by ignoring other factors. However, Bad Science is more than that.

Ben Goldacre is both a doctor and a journalist; he has written a book (Bad Science, published by Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0-00-728487-0), writes a regular column in The Guardian and runs a website. His mission is to track down and expose, amongst others, “credulous journalists misrepresenting good science for the sake of a headline, advertisers, with their wily ways, and good scientists who have passed to the dark side.”

Now this represents a real opportunity for science teachers. A lot of bad science can be exposed by applying concepts that are covered in secondary school science. Despite what some people might say, you don’t absorb water into your body by holding it in your mouth, you can’t stimulate your carotid arteries by gently massaging your chest and the interlocking of the fingers of both hands doesn’t set up a circuit around which positive energy may flow. There is, however, real opportunity in science lessons by getting pupils to sort out the good science from the bad. It gives them a chance to use their understanding to evaluate assertions and to suggest why some ideas are better founded than others.

Eight of the ideas from the Bad Science book have been turned into lessons for pupils in secondary schools.  Download some of them and turn your students into “Science Detectives”!

Ed Walsh
Science Advisor with Cornwall Learning

Other Articles

Exploring the rich world of the Maya, Aztec and Inca in KS3 History

Laura Aitken-Burt explores the fascinating societies of the Maya, Aztec and Inca and how you can integrate teaching this exciting topic into your KS3 teaching. Read More

The Sociological Imagination: Promise or Problem?

Dr Sarah Cant explores why there has never been a more important time to study sociology and how you can integrate contemporary studies into your A level teaching. Read More

Practical approaches to teaching KS3 Shakespeare

By Hannah Appleton Reframing or reimagining how we tackle Shakespeare in schools begins with our perception of it being boring, irrelevant or too difficult, especially if we teach in schools with high numbers of SEND, EAL or FSM. It is, however, precisely those complexities and layers Shakespearean texts provide, which… Read More