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Middle School Physical Science Texts: dishonesty

On Sat, 24 Feb 2001, Jane Jackson wrote:

On Feb. 20 I posted excerpts from the introduction to John Hubisz'
report on widely-used middle school texts in physical science. John and his
team of physics teacher reviewers find ALL of them UNSATISFACTORY.

Is anyone else struck by the apparent DISHONESTY of these publishers?

I mean, who would ever put an "author's" name on a book who didn't
actually contribute? The paper mentions that the definition of "author"
is different in the textbook biz. I don't buy this. Lying is lying, and
if someone didn't write part of the book, calling them an "author" is
simply lying to customers in order to sell more books. If it becomes
traditional and acceptable to lie to your customers, this doesn't alter
the fact that lies are being told.

The section about fake "authors" is not the only dishonesty mentioned. In
total, this paper on textbooks gives the impression that the publishers
are a pretty slippery, predatory bunch, sort of like used car salesmen. We
might tolerate buying cars from slimy salesmen who use dishonest trickery,
but such dishonesty in the field of education or science inspires my

The vast number of errors to me seems not to be the real problem, instead
it's just a symptom that the K-12 textbook biz is run by people with
serious character flaws. When you point out somebody's mistakes, honest
people examine themselves. Dishonest people take it as an insult and
become defensive (never actually performing an HONEST examination to see
if the mistakes are real.) As long as the publishers are the kind of
people who would prefer to lie to themselves about errors rather than
fixing them, then those who point out errors are the enemy, and the cause
of the errors has not been fixed.

What could be done? I don't know. The first thing to do is to not
underestimate the size of the problem. Fixing the science textbooks might
be as easy as converting politicians into honest people. It might be
easier to vote them all out of office. Not easy to do with businesses
unless you can institute a massive boycott.

Maybe exposing the lies would be better than exposing the errors. Hey, if
the "authors" of a science textbook loudly and publicly denounced the
publisher for their dishonest actions, that might make people sit up and
take notice. After all, it's easy for publishers to create distracting
arguments redarding whether errors are real or not, and the general public
wouldn't care much. On the other hand, publicizing blatant corruption and
asking for help in ending it could attract enough help to make a

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