Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Deception From The BCSE

In The Beginning...

I started this blog because I felt offended at the deception which a small group of individuals were perpetrating on the public.

They were doing it in the Times...

... in the Financial Times ...

... and even persuading one (obviously predisposed) MP ...

... and in other places too (including BBC Radio Manchester and other newspapers).

It all sounded very authoritative. The nation's scientific experts had spoken! Note what Messrs Stanyard and Lowe wrote. Not "I am deeply concerned" but "The British Centre for Science Education is deeply concerned". What letters editor would refuse to publish an announcement from such an important body?

It Could All Have Been Different...

If they had written in their own names, I would probably never have started this blog. If Roger Stanyard had written to MPs as himself, explaining that he was neither a scientist nor an educator, but a management consultant with no qualifications or experience in science education but simply a grudge against those whom he calls "fundamentalists", then "BCSE Revealed" would probably never have existed.

But this small group of Internet activists, with no science educators and no practising scientists, who had only launched themselves but a few weeks earlier, decided to represent themselves to the public in all these places as experts - and on a national scale, no less! And they used this false claim to gain a platform to deride even professors at top universities - such as the infamous (to readers of this blog!) occasion when Roger Stanyard, with no relevant qualifications in physics since leaving school, accused a Fellow of the Institute of Physics on BBC Radio of being ignorant of the subject... Integrity? Whatever is that?

I, however, knew that the BCSE was really (and still is) mostly the work of a single unqualified individual, with a few encouragers to help out here and there. And I knew that almost all of them were atheist activists with a philosophical commitment to naturalism and to whom silencing criticisms of Darwinism was important on that account. And so I started blogging.

So What's New?

It appears that the BCSE have learnt very little over the last few months. Despite having been publicly exposed, and their infamy extending even to blogs which have several thousand readers a day, they carry on regardless. Here's what Michael Brass, chairman of the BCSE committee, posted to the BCSE's news forum just seven days ago:

On the 26th January 2007, the BCSE received a request by the National Learning Centre to comment on the short reports emanating from "four 24-hour stakeholder conferences to explore how the new A Level courses under development, in biology, chemistry, physics and psychology could meet the needs of the next generation of science students", held at the National Learning Centre at the end of October.

"...A high-level implementation group composed of the Royal Society, Wellcome Trust and other funders and supporters of the conference, will meet on the 21st February to help ensure that the recommendations of the report are considered in the writing of the courses and texts currently being drafted, and in the presentation of the curriculum in the classroom. The group is also keen that future curriculum development can benefit from the process undertaken. I would therefore welcome your comments on the short reports, accessed through the following link:
http://www.slcs.ac.uk/national/alevelconferencereports where hard copies can also be ordered."

(snip - the rest is further down)

The link given lists the funders and supporters of this discussion over the future of A-Levels as being "the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society ... QCA, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics, Nuffield Curriculum Centre, Salters’ Institute, the Institute of Biology, Biosciences Federation, the British Psychological Society and the ASE".

In other words, those are real scientists and educators. People with qualifications. And experience!

What did the BCSE do when receiving a communique from them? Did they say - "Look - you've made a mistake. We know what our name says - but not one of us has actually ever stood up in a science classroom. None of us is a practising scientist, and none of us have ever been a scientific educator of any kind. We're just a group of IT workers, consultants and businessmen. We can't really respond to your consultation papers, because we're completely unqualified to make statements about the future direction of A-Level science subjects." Did they just quietly ignore it?

The BCSE's Response

No, they didn't. Here's the remainder of Mr. Brass's note:

The BCSE has submitted a comments report as requested and welcomes this opportunity to have a positive input into the development of the above curricula.


That's right. The BCSE didn't put the National Learning Centre right. They didn't even quietly bin the request and have a chuckle that the fellow who used the Internet to gather a few names and addresses but didn't read enough of the BCSE website to spot what kind of organisation it was. No - they actually had the brass neck to reply(*). And then they put up a notice in their public forum to tell everyone!

If that's not a brass neck... just what is?

I have no way of knowing what the BCSE put in their response. It would surely make interesting reading!

One thing is now clear. The BCSE's reality blindness is not just a little thing. It's gone nuclear. They now believe their own propaganda, and act in accordance with it. Not only do they want you to believe that they are a voice of authority - they have begun believing it themselves. And they are apparently willing even to deceive a list of bodies that reads like the "Who's Who" of real science education in the UK, in the pursuit of their goals.

The BCSE. You couldn't make it up.

David Anderson

(*) I'm not sure if the pun was intended, or if the word was just floating around in my head...

Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail. Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

1 comment:

mattghg said...

Richard Dawkins erroneously thinks that a commitment to philosophical naturalism is required in anyone who would call himself a scientist. The BCSE seems to be going one step further: they seem to think that this commitment is all that is required.