The Sun does go around the Earth!

This sort of thing that really pisses me off:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says
It is actually based on a question used to assess science literacy according to OECD and similar organisations’ criteria about the place of the earth in the universe.

But that assessment is usually done with the question:
“Does the Earth go around the Sun or does the Sun go around the Earth?”
And the second of those gets marked incorrect!

There are lots of “respected” publications that quote the “poor” answer as evidence of ignorance. Ignorant the people might be, but this is not evidence. How can you take any author seriously if they deny the patent evidence and current orthodoxy and deride others because they don’t agree?

But most importantly, how can we expect kids to learn science and scientific method (as opposed to just answering questions about the “facts”), if we ask them to deny their observations and all experiments that they can perform, just because teacher tells them it isn’t true?!!!!!

In fact the Sun going around the earth wins 2-1. It goes around the Earth every 24 hours, and it goes around the Earth every year.

Now I come to think of it, I had a very pleasant time recently with my granddaughter at sunset in Israel explaining how the sun goes down and then comes back up again, having gone round the other side of the earth. It never crossed my mind to try to explain it from the sun’s or even the earth’s frame of reference – why do that? I used her frame of reference. Of course, it is hopefully part of an ongoing conversation that will of course include the rotation of the earth, as well as a heliocentric view of the solar system, and a something-centric view of the galaxy…, but I can’t bring myself to lie to her and suggest a non-relativistic mechanics.

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One thought on “The Sun does go around the Earth!”

  1. I had a similar dilema recently when describing the eclipse of the moon. It started all well when I used my son as the frame of reference (us on earth), the sun was a light globe and the moon was a mirror (non light emitting). It rapidly deteriorated into a dance around a mirror with disco lights… so we just rode to the top of a hill to see a huge moon gradually appear over an hour. I’m hoping he just adds this experience to many others so that he has enough interest to go on pursuing the facts.

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