Science Curriculum-Instruction-Assessment that includes historical vignettes & case studies, humor, discrepant event demonstrations, real-world applications (including mathematics) and STS issues/controversies sends a message that science should be considered a “FUNdaMENTAL humanity.” That is, science has been and continues to be a very human endeavor carried out by an ethnically, politically, and personally diverse group of individuals united by a common “need to know &/or create” drive. If presented this way, science invites students to participate in the ongoing process by opening their minds and increasing their motivation to do the “hard work” necessary to be involved in the “game of scientific play.” The following references can help you show your students that science is a human adventure worth pursuing as either a vocation or avocation and “a” useful lens through which to view both human history and the natural world. For an extensive listing of live links to Internet resources on these same topics, go to the Binghamton University, SEHD, Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education website:




Dr. Thomas O’Brien ( or 607-777-4877)

Binghamton University, School of Education & Human Development

Many (but certainly not all) science misconceptions and societal “debates” surrounding the philosophical and/or religious implications of science can be linked to fundamental misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the nature of science both as a product and a historical and ongoing process. Regrettably, pseudoscience is propagated not only by science ignorant novices and profit-focused hucksters, but also by some overly zealous scientists pushing their personal, ascientific beliefs (e.g., atheistic evolutionists who claim science disproves the “hypothesis” of a “god” & individual souls) and textbook authors and teachers who present science as “wisdom from on high to be ‘believed’ without question.” Science relies on empirical data, logical argument and skeptical review (NAS, 1996; NSES); it combines both creative and critical thinking and remains forever open to revision. “t”ruth is pursued by successive generations “standing on the shoulders” of their predecessors (& sometimes reworking fundamental “t”ruths ). Science education needs to accurately represent the nature of science by attending to both its historical and philosophical foundations and its real-world STS implications.

Alexander, Denis. (2001). Rebuilding the Matrix: Science and Faith in the 21st Century. Oxford, England: Lion Publishing. Critical re-examination of the reality of the historical conflict.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for Science

Literacy. NY: Oxford University Press. Online:

Aiken, Frederick. (1991/1984). The nature of science. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Aron, R, et. al, “The Persistence of Selected Geographic Misperceptions: a Survey of Junior High through Undergraduate College Students.” Journal of Geography Vol. 93 1993. pp. 247-253.

Baker, V. (2004). Beyond appearance: Students' misconceptions about basic chemical ideas: A report prepared for the Royal Society of Chemistry:

Cerf, C. & Navasky, V. (200?). The Experts Speak. 1000+ “expert” mistakes & miscalculations. See also books by Coffey and Youngson (history section of this bibliography)

Comins, N. (2001). Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions about the Real Nature of the Universe. NY: Columbia University Press.

Cromer, Alan. (1993). Uncommon sense: The heretical nature of science. NY: Oxford. University Press. (1997). Connected knowledge: Science, philosophy, and education.

DeBoer, G. (1991). A history of ideas in science education. Teachers College Press.

Derry, Gregory N. (1999). What science is and how it works. Princeton Univ. Press.

Driver, R, et al., (1994). Making sense of secondary science: research into children’s ideas. NY: Routledge. Summary of research on mis/alternative conceptions.

Duschl, Richard. (1990). Restructuring Science Education: The Importance of Theories and Their Development. NY: Teachers College Press. 155pp demonstrate how the history and philosophy of science (i.e., discovery & justification of theories) can be applied by teachers and curriculum writers to the effective teaching of science.

Duschl, Richard & Hamilton, Richard J. (eds.). (1992). Philosophy of science, cognitive psychology and educational theory and practice. Albany, NY: State Univ. of New York Press.

Ehlrich, Robert. (2003). Eight Preposterous Porpositions from the Genetics of homosexuality to the Benefits of Global Warming. PrincetonUniv. Press. 360pp. Turns a skeptical eye to the evidence-based merits of far-out, supposedly scientific idea such as placebo cures, global warming. extraterrestrial life, psychokinesis, the dangers of cholesterol, intelligent design as a scientific alternative to evolution, the genetics basis for homosexuality, and the rise/decline average inintelligence. In each case, Ehrlich shows readers how to use the tools of science to judge the accuracy of strange ideas and the trustworthiness of ubiquitous "experts;" as entertaining as it is instructive. See also earlier book:

(2002). Nine Crazy Ideas in Science. 256pp. Some of the crazy ideas relate to our lives: AIDS, gun control, sun and radiation exposure. Others are further out there, such as the double sun theory, the possibility of time travel, and the theory that oil, coal, and gas have abiogenic origins. For each, Ehrlich scrutinizes who the idea's proponents are and what their agendas might be. He looks for internal consistency, misapplication of statistics, how open the proponents are with their data and methods, and more.

Gardner, Martin. (1983). Science: Good, bad and bogus. Oxford University Press.

Giere, Ronald N. (1988). Explaining science: A cognitive approach. Univ. of Chicago Press. A study of scientific progress & judgment that argues that the development of science (including case studies of contemporary nuclear physics & plate tectonics) is analogous to biological evolution; it is shaped by cognitive choices of individual scientists choosing among rival theories. Challenges fundamental presuppositions & relativism inherent in modern philosophies & sociology of science.

Gilovich, Tom. (1991). How we know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life. NY: Free Press. 216pp with numerous examples where statistics shows human reasoning to be faulty.

Gould, Stephen Jay. (1999). Rock of ages: Science and religion in the fullness of life. NY: Ballantine. Examines the “conflict” between science & religion by shedding light on the widely accepted pseudo-history of cases such as Galileo, flat earth, Darwin & Huxley, Scopes Trial & modern day creationists’ legal battles and argues eloquently for mutual respect & dialogue between these two nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA)

Gross, Paul & Levitt, Norman. (1994). Higher superstition: The academic left and its quarrels with science. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. ... and Lewis, Martin, eds. (1996). The flight from science and reason. NY: NY Academy of Sciences.

Guillen, Michael. (2004). Can a smart person believe in God? Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 170pp book by (Christian) theoretical physicist & former ABC News science correspondant; presents a personal view of complementary nature of scientific IQ and religious SQ/spiritual quotient.

Hazen, Robert M. & Trefil, James. (1990). Science matters: Achieving scientific literacy. NY: Doubleday.

Haught, John F. (2000). God after Darwin: A theology of evolution. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. The director of the Georgetown (University’) Center for Science & Religion argues that both the Darwinian evolutionists and the Christian apologists underestimate the importance of novelty (relative to “design & order”) as a necessary component of evolution & the essence of the unfolding of the divine mystery. As such, evolutionary biology can enrich theological convictions, & vice versa.

Kuhn, Thomas S. (1972/2nd ed). The structure of scientific revolutions. University of Chicago Press. Groundbreaking book on history & philosophy of science; introduced the idea of paradigms.

Kurtz, Paul, Karr, Barry, & Sandhu, Ranjit (ed.). (200x). Science and religion: Are they compatible? 39 essays by distinguished scientists that delve into the history & philosophy of science & religion. Some will dismiss many of the essays as arrogant and contentious, but they nevertheless present important and provocative voices too often drowned out by the move to assert complete compatibility between science and religion. See also books by Alexander, Gould, Guillen, and Singham.

Malone, John. (2001). Unsolved mysteries of science [21 unanswered ?]. NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Matthews, M.R. (1994). Science Teaching: The Role of History and Philosophy of Science. NY: Routledge.

Miller, J.B. (1998). An Evolving Dialogue: Scientific, Historical, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on Evolution. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Miller, Kenneth R. (1999). Finding Darwin’s God: A scientist’s search for common ground between God and evolution. HarperCollins. Cell biologist & textbooks author argues that properly understood, evolution adds depth & meaning to both strictly scientific and spiritual views of the world.

National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. .

Park, Robert. (2000). Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud. NY: Oxford University.

Paulos, J.A. (1988). Innumeracy: Mathematical illiteracy and its consequences. NY: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Plait, P. (2002). Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed. NY: John Wiley. 277pp by the creator of

Popper, K. (1959/1968). The logic of scientific discovery. NY: Harper Torchbooks. [philosophy] (1962). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. NY: Basic Books.

Raymo, Chet. (1998). Skeptics and true believers: The exhilarating connections between science and religion. NY: Walker & Co.

Rothman, Milton A. (1992). The science gap: Dispelling myths & understanding the reality of science. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

Rutherford, F. James & Ahlgren, Andrew. (1990). Science for all Americans: Scientific literacy, What is it? Why America needs it & How we can achieve it. Oxford Univ.Press.

Sagan, Carl. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. NY: Ballatine Book.

Shamos, M. (1995). The myth of scientific literacy. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ.

Shermer, Michael. (2003). How we believe: Science, skepticism, and the search for God. Henry Holt & Co. (2001).The borderlands of science: Where science meets nonsense. NY: Oxford Univ. Press. (1997). Why people believe weird things: Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time. NY: W.H. Freeman & Co.

Singham, Mano. (2000). Quest for Truth: Scientific Progress and Religious Beliefs. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa. A theoretical physicist delves into the philosophy of science & ways of knowing. See also books by Alexander, Guillen, Kurtz, and Shermer. 184pp.

Stavy, Ruth & Tirosh, Dina. (2000). How students (mis-)understand science and mathematics: Intuitive rules. Teachers College Press. 128pp give a detailed framework for predicting, explaining & addressing cognitive problems.

Stepans, Joseph. (2003/2nd ed). Targeting students’ science misconceptions: Physical science concepts using the conceptual change model. 17 units: matter, density, buoyancy, air pressure, liquids, forces, levers, motion, electricity, magnetism, heat waves, sound, light/color, energy transformations, mental model building & geometry. Gr.5-12. 232pp. National Science Teachers Assn.

Taber, K. (2002). Chemical misconceptions: prevention, diagnosis and cure (vols. 1 and 2). London: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Tobias, Sheila. (1990). They’re not dumb, they’re different: Stalking the second tier. Tucson, AZ: Research Corporation. See also: (1992).Revitalizing undergraduate science: Why some things work and most don’t and with Tomizuka, C.T. (1992). Breaking the science barrier: How to explore and understand the sciences. NY: College Entrance Exam.

Wolpert, Lewis. (1993). The unnatural nature of science: Why science does not make (common) sense. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Youngson, Robert . (1998). Scientific blunders: A brief history of how wrong scientists can sometimes be. NY: Carroll & Graf. 338pp..

Last Updated: 3/28/16