Day 10: The Unverifiable Claim

We left Glacier National Park, headed for Spokane, WA. With just a few hours of driving and no specific plans for the day, we decided to stop in Coeur d’Alene, ID. There were two things that made this city sound interesting: a huge, child-designed playground in a park downtown, and this:

 To my wife, this sounded like a neat thing to see and do with the kids. To me, this sounded like math. 

How can they assert that this is the “world’s longest floating boardwalk?” Wouldn’t that require a comprehensive survey of cities, towns, and even villages around the globe? How can they possibly know that this is truly the longest one in the world? Don’t get me wrong, it was a neat boardwalk and the lake it’s on was beautiful. It’s the claim that bothers me. More importantly, it’s claims like this that I want to bother my students as well. 

This is related to the earlier claim that Montana is the fifth windiest state in the country. That claim is justifiable, but it’s possible that the math and science used to justify the claim are dubious. I’d like thm to be able to explore the validity of claims like that and decide for themselves whether they’re backed up by solid evidence. Here, the claim itself isn’t justifiable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t correct, it just means there’s no way to confirm with certainty it’s correct. I’d like my students to identify claims like this, too. In the past, I’ve always thought about claims like this as being found in various media sources, and particularly in opinion pieces. It was a good reminder to see this and know that these claims are easy to find in the world around us, not just in the news.

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