Teachers in Houston have reportedly been prohibited from purchasing a book full of obviously fake science facts for use in their class because of concerns that it mocks the school district.
In a Houston Independent School District memo to teachers obtained by the Houston Press blog Hair Balls, a request to use Fake Science 101 as an "alternative textbook" is refused on the grounds that "it will reflect poorly on the district."
The memo continues:
A book like that may be intended humorously, but it is mocking the quality of education in our district.
We cannot have our district ridiculed as a non-scientific one (see many Westinghouse/Intel awardees). This book is not permissable for you to distribute or your students to have. Our textbooks are not "fake" and no textbook should give that impression. It would negatively impact students.
A spokesman for the district told Hair Balls he had not seen the memo in question, but agreed that "spending taxpayer funds on what you've described as a 'spoof' publication with little or no educational value would be difficult to defend at a time when schools are losing state funding."
For his part, Fake Science 101 author Phil Edwards thinks the book is a great conversation starter and also "encourages the skeptical thinking that makes science work." He adds: "That thinking shouldn't be prohibited."