Brogan should give up UFO ‘pseudoscience’
Florida’s scientists and science educators recently completed a year’s work revising the standards for teaching and learning science in the state’s public schools. In the end, most of the energy spent by the standards writers, policymakers and citizens was focused on the threat of pseudoscience undermining scientific literacy in our state.
That’s why it is so discouraging that the Brogan Museum of Arts and Sciences has chosen to feature an exhibit (“The Roswell Exhibit”) and to host a speaker (well-known charlatan Stanton Friedman) that feature UFO pseudoscience.
The Brogan is going to alarming lengths to sell tickets to Friedman’s talks. Last week, the museum sent an e-mail to a number of FSU physics professors asking them to award extra credit to students in their classes for attending Friedman’s lectures and coughing up the $10 ticket price. The Brogan staff was presumably inspired to make this request by Friedman’s claim that he is a nuclear physicist.
The Brogan should make a new commitment to promoting genuine science. There are too many scientists and educators working hard to improve the scientific environment in Tallahassee to allow the Brogan to undermine it.
The museum executive director responded with his own letter to the editor:
Learning inspires, should not be shamed
Kudos to Florida scientists and science educators who recently spent a year revising the standards for teaching and learning science in the state’s public schools. Much energy was spent by standards writers addressing the controversy between creationism and Darwin’s theory of evolution. I think this is what Mr. Cottle was really referring to in his recent letter when he mentioned “pseudoscience undermining scientific literacy in our state.” Last I checked, Florida public education was not including beliefs about UFOs among testing standards. The state’s first science center opened more than 50 years ago with a conch shell, a goat and an iguana on a string. Then and now, museums use a variety of entertaining experiences to attract audiences to science, mathematics, technology and other ultimate educational goals. UFOs and dinosaurs attract people of all ages to, we hope, seek truth, learn more and perhaps be entertained while inspired.
Brogan staff did send an e-mail to Florida State University professors hoping that they would encourage students to visit the museum, experience the exhibit and the lectures. Shame on us. In addition to some members of the Physics Department, the e-mail was also sent to professors who teach about UFOs in literature, history, pop culture and astronomy.
Stanton T. Friedman received B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from the University of Chicago in 1955 and 1956. He was employed for 14 years as a nuclear physicist for such companies as GE, GM, Westinghouse, TRW Systems, Aerojet General Nucleonics and McDonnell Douglas.
He has provided written testimony to congressional hearings and appeared twice at the UN. Friedman takes an unambiguous stand that some UFOs are alien spacecraft. Maybe, just maybe, he will inspire a child to learn more.
The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science