Issue 12

Issue 12: October 2003


One of the best strategies to teach science is the liberal use of metaphors – and by extension fictional narratives. There is no better way to engage and inform young children than by telling them stories, and yet when they grow up, if they become science students, this instruction tool is rarely used.  In “Fact via Fiction”, Aquilles Negrete analyses the responses of students to fact-based and narrative-based learning, and concludes that the latter is superior in terms of long-term memory retention.  It is also a more enjoyable way of learning science, and anything which promotes science as a more “fun” subject is to be encouraged – particularly against the present background of falling numbers of science students.


There have been enormous strides in recent years in the fields of medicine (for example in-vitro fertilization and organ transplantation), which by their nature give rise to ethical problems that are important to society at large as well as in medicine.  In “Socratic Dialogue as a New Means of Participatory Technology Assessment?” Beate Littig focuses on the case of Xenotransplantation (transplantation of animal organs into humans) and describes an ongoing international project to evaluate a method of addressing and communicating ethical issues called “New Socratic Dialogue”.  In issue 6 we published an article on other approaches to ethical debates (citizen juries and consensus conferences, see Ida-Elisabeth Andersen and Birgit Jaeger, issue 6, April 2002), and the present project aims to promote an innovative approach to this important area of science communication.


“Not knowing what to do or what to say, when one is expected to know, is an embarrassment for the scientist”, and: “Philosophy aims at getting clearer on things, but the first step on the road to clarity is to recognize and admit one’s confusion”.  These two quotations from “Philosophy and Contemporary Science” underline an important difference between the disciplines of Philosophy and Science.  In Sören Stenlund’s article, he warns of the danger of Philosophers treating their subject as if it were a science (in the contemporary sense of the word).

An article in issue 7 by Douglas Allchin: “How not to Teach History in Science” warns of some of the dangers and pitfalls in applying modern standards to historical experiments in teaching science.  We include in this issue a comment by David Hershey and a reply from the author.

Nigel Sanitt

ISSN 1741-1572



Fact via Fiction, Aquiles Negrete

Socratic Dialogue as a New Means of Participatory Technology Assessment? The case for Xenotransplantation, Beate Littig

Philosophy and Contemporary Science, Sören Stenlund

Comment on Douglas Allchin’s “How Not to Teach History in Science”, David Hershey

Reply to David Hershey’s Comment, Douglas Allchin