NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Science Textbooks Flunk The Test

January 15, 2001

About 85 percent of middle school children in the U.S. use one or more of 12 science textbooks. After a two-year team evaluation, North Carolina State University physics professor John Hubisz concluded that none of the 12 texts has an acceptable level of accuracy. He found the books riddled with errors and called them "terrible."

  • The study compiled 500 pages of errors -- ranging from maps that depicted the equator passing through the southern United States to a photograph in which singer Linda Ronstadt was identified as a silicon crystal.
  • Hubisz said the books have a very large number of errors, many irrelevant photographs, complicated illustrations, experiments that could not possibly work, and drawings that represent impossible situations.
  • One textbook even misstates Newton's first law of physics -- a staple of physical science for centuries.
  • He identified the Prentice Hall "Science" series as having the most errors -- including an incorrect depiction of what happens to light when it passes through a prism.

Textbook publishers "get people to check for political correctness... they try to get in as much cultural diversity as possible," Hubisz charged. He added: "They just don't seem to understand what science is about."

He says the researchers reached publishers, who for the most part either dismissed the panel's findings or promised corrections in subsequent editions. But reviews of later editions turned up more errors than corrections.

Source: Associated Press, "Science Textbook Gaffes Put Publishers to the Test," Washington Times, January 15, 2001.


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