A rather oblivious howler

Simon Jenkins doing a “Damn those uppity scientists, having their profession destroyed by shitty “with it” GCSEs and chronic underfunding and having the cheek to protest about it” piece for the Guardian (I’m sure they employ him just to piss people off):

My own science O-level included trigonometry, advanced algebra and differential calculus, and related them to physics, engineering, statics and dynamics. I can not remember any of it, nor have I found the slightest use for it. I imagine more people use Latin than trigonometry.

Uh, Simon, quite a lot of people use trig – to take an appropriate example, if you’re pointing missile A at WMD facility B you’re going to need to work out what bloody angle it needs to point in. Is that a howler or what?

It’s a totally useless article on an interesting debate: as someone studying for a science degree entirely due to excellent teachers in high school, although in the much less compromised Scottish system (where combined science splits into chem/physics/biology at GCSE-equivalent rather than at A-level equivalent), I feel that people should have more opportunities to encounter science at school, whether segmented or not. At the same time, this science GCSE sounds terrible: whether it will actually be any good when taught is a different matter, but it doesn’t sound like it’s there to lay down the basics as a good intro science course should do. Shame, huh?

Incredibly, even the cesspool that is Comment is Free manages to produce an interesting comment discussion, proving that even it can be redeemable sometimes. And this is the kind of thing that Ben Goldacre usually has for lunch; if only the Guardian let him write more often.


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