Science and Health

Phony science

Have students go to the Feline Reactions to Bearded Men page. Ask them to read this “study” and explain their first impressions. What evidence do they find to make them think this is a real scientific study? What evidence do they find to make them think it’s phony?

Discuss the fact that it’s easy to create a Web page; virtually anyone can publish on the Web. Knowing this, how can students know which sites to trust? Discuss the importance of figuring out the sponsor of a Web site and of corroborating the information at a variety of sources.

If you have time, have students create their own bogus “scientific” Web pages to see how easy it can be.

Verifying scientific claims

Have students locate news articles about recent scientific research. Ask them to choose an article and list the factual claims the study makes. Then have them list the steps they could take to find out whether these claims are true. They might consider looking for the evidence in a few different places, asking an expert on the Internet, or (in some special cases) testing the experiments themselves.

Tobacco Advertising

See The Media Awareness Network for activities on this topic.

Greenwashing Activity

See The Media Awareness Network for activities on this topic.

Ask each student to go to the grocery store and find two or three products whose labels claim that the contents are in some way environmentally-friendly. These might include “biodegradable” trash bags, products stored in “recyclable” plastic containers, “dolphin-safe” tuna, or a number of other products.

While at the store, students should record each product’s brand name, the corporation that owns the brand, and the environmental claim that its label makes. They should also write a brief description of how the label and packaging promote the product as environmentally-friendly. Does the tuna label have a picture of a dolphin? Does the trash bag box have a nature-oriented picture?

Back in the classroom, discuss what students have found. Which products do they think are the most likely to live up to the environmentally-friendly claims made on the packaging? Which are they most skeptical of? Why?

Further Greenwashing Resources

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