The Promotion of ‘Bad Science’ (Scientific Literacy)

The Promotion of ‘Bad Science’ (Scientific Literacy) – Anna Best, Isla Keith, Briony Elizabeth, Rebecca McQuet.

The concept of scientific literacy is the known as the understanding of scientific concepts and the theory behind it. The understanding of the literacy will help to process scientific decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs and economic productivity. (Durant, 1994) Someone who understands scientific literacy will be able to intelligently identify the scientific issues underlying national and local decisions. They will have the capacity to assess the quality of scientific information and link back to its source and the methods used to create it. They will also have the skills to read scientific based articles and will be able to participate in conversation and discussions about it. (Deboer, 2000)
An example of where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media promotion is a discovery made by Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D; who found that chocolate actually assists weight loss rather than increasing your BMI. (Bailey, 2015) However, Johannes Bohannon is a created alias and the individual behind the experiment is actually a journalist who holds a Ph.D himself, but in molecular biology of bacteria. (Bohannon, 2015)

He was asked by a German reporter to aid for a documentary about ‘bad science’ being the reason behind fad diets. To make it look like a legitimate experiment they ran tests and trials with subjects who were provided with different diets; however, the results did not mean anything and the articles the newspapers published were not based on any authentic research.  (Bohannon, 2015)

Their paper was accepted for publication and their fake science discovery was shown in headlines in 20 countries, in several different languages and had even been discussed on a televised news program. (Bohannon, 2015) Articles appeared in newspapers including The Daily Mail article “Pass the Easter Egg”, The Daily Star and magazine “Shape”.

The purpose behind this experiment was to prove that bad science, if carried out in a seemingly professional way, can be advertised as genuine and believed by members of the public and by this example it is true. (Godoy, 2015)

The teaching of fair testing in a school environment is a simple way of introducing the idea of scientific literacy to children. The two concepts link to one another to allow children to opportunity gain a greater understanding of the importance of learning science. (The School Run, 2017)

Changing the variables in order to carry out a fair test links with the idea of scientific literacy. Children will gain knowledge regarding the scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, thus defining scientific literacy. The pupils will use the concept of decision making when carrying out their fair test when deciding which variables to manipulate and change. A fair test experiment is a good way of helping children to understand the meaning of scientific literacy and how it is used in our daily lives. (Science Buddies, 2002)

Linking both scientific literacy and fair testing when teaching primary science will allow children to broaden their knowledge and understanding regarding the importance of scientific literacy and the concepts and ideas that define it.


Bailey, S. (2015) Pass the Easter Egg! New study reveals that eating chocolate doesn’t affect your Body Mass Index! Available at: http://o (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

Bohannon, J. (2015) I fooled Millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss. Here’s how. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

Deboer, G.E. (2000) ‘Scienti®c literacy: Another look at its historical and contemporary meanings and its relationship to science education reform’, JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN SCIENCE TEACHING, 37(6), pp. 582–601.

Durant, J. (1994) ‘What is scientific literacy? | European review | Cambridge core’, European Review, 2(1), pp. 83–89. doi: 10.1017/S1062798700000922.

Godoy, M. (2015) Why A journalist scammed the media into spreading bad chocolate science. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

Science Buddies (2002) Doing a fair test: Variables for beginners. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

The School Run (2017) What is a fair test? Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

Why teaching?

Why teaching? This is the question I have been asked on numerous occasions throughout the past year. The answer? Honestly, I am unsure of it.

This time last year I was preparing to pursue a career in journalism, yet when it came to doing my work experience, something didn’t quite ‘click’. I have never had a ‘dream career’ by definition. From year to year I would discover something else I would want to study. astronaut to English teacher, too many things piqued my interest to come to my sixth year and have to choose one.

Yet, when it came down to making the decision, part of me always knew I would study teaching. After working within a classroom for just under a year, it became obvious that education was the correct direction for me.

From working with classes ranging from Primary 1 through to Primary 4, seeing the different stages of development was something that fascinated me. Having the oppurtunity to see a person grow, not only with age but with ability, was something I loved being exposed to. Seeing a child learn is one of the most rewarding experiences I believe a person can be apart of, whether it be learning their alphabet or completing algebra, the motivation a person receives through visible development is extensive.

I definitely feel as though I made the correct choice in studying education. Whether the answer to the question “why teaching?” is because I wish to see children develop or whether it is to be employed in a working environment which differs depending on the day. Why teaching? Because at the end of the day, it’s what I want to do.