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Education Science

Teachers Back Away From Evolution In Class 947

Posted by Soulskill
from the jesus-rode-dinosaurs dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "A study (abstract) from Penn State shows that a lot of teachers — some 60 percent — are reluctant to teach evolutionary theory in the classroom either because they fear controversy or they just aren't comfortable with the material (as not every biology teacher was a science major). It shows the importance, the authors say, of training teachers well before they step into the class."
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Teachers Back Away From Evolution In Class

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  • by Snaller (147050) on Friday January 28, 2011 @09:56AM (#35031234) Journal

    If even the teachers aren't educated enough to understand this - what hope is there for the rest.

    • supply and demand

      anyone with a strong science degree is making more money somewhere other than teaching. so either we have to pay science teachers more, or we need to accept that science isn't being taught by science majors. take your pick

      it's easy to demand higher standards. it's hard to think it through and figure out how to make that happen

      and i will bet you a GNP that every other country has the same problem

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:46AM (#35031910)

        and i will bet you a GNP that every other country has the same problem

        The issue of pay isn't as clear cut as you might think. The problem you run into is that if you sweeten the pot too much, you attract people who only want the benefits and have no real interest in or passion for their field, in this case teaching science. We all observed similar effects during the dot com bubble, with reams of people who really had no business getting into IT joining up because they heard the pay was good.

        I don't know, there's a rising darkness in the US, not to get too emotive on the matter. I cannot imagine something as fundamental as evolution making people uncomfortable in a widespread manner even a couple of decades ago. Your children are being targeted here, the future of your country. To add to the problem, the multiplying disciples of Dawkins (NOT actual scientists, I mean the amateur atheists) are just as likely to dig their heels in and refuse to step outside what authority figures tell them, even on scientific matters - there's a general withdrawal from creative problem solving and imagination that urgently needs to be addressed.

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:02AM (#35032188)

      If even the teachers aren't educated enough to understand this - what hope is there for the rest.

      That's not what TFA really says. TFS is somewhat misleading. Teachers aren't unprepared, they're uncomfortable. And while it doesn't say exactly why they're uncomfortable, I'd wager they're more afraid of one set of parents than the other.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:28AM (#35032598)
        The summary is also misleading in that "backing away" implies they're becoming less likely to teach evolution than in the past. In fact the article does address this, and it's the opposite of what the summary implies:

        "The data Berkman and Plutzer gathered didn't show trends over time. But Berkman says one bright spot is that standards are being imposed in more school systems. Since many of these standards include evolution, younger teachers are more likely to hew to them"

        If true, a more accurate summary would be, "Teachers Embrace Evolution in the Class."

    • by anandrajan (86137) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:10AM (#35032298) Homepage

      My wife is a middle/high school teacher and is teaching evolution in 8th grade as we speak. The other day, a student confronted her in class and said, "You may have come from a monkey but I certainly didn't." This is a charter school here in Gainesville, FL (where we also try burning Qurans every once in a while).

      You would think that the situation is better in a magnet school. Nope. In one of the magnet schools here, the teacher flat out refused to teach evolution claiming that it went against her beliefs.

      • My response to that little bastard would have been, "You're right, you came from the dirt".
        • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:42AM (#35032784) Homepage Journal

          Please never have that conversation, it only hurts. There are far better ways t deal with it and a confrontational manner will only have them dig their heels into the ground. At that age, it could very well be the last opportunity for those people to get it right.

          There are far better answers, from 'That's not what evolution says' to 'That's not where the science leads us.'

          • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 28, 2011 @12:10PM (#35033238) Journal

            The way to deal with it is to tell the student that whether or not they accept evolution, the overwhelming majority of scientists do, and since this is a science class, it's what scientists accept that will be taught. You will be graded on how well you understand the information, not on whether or not you believe it.

            As to any teacher who doesn't teach the curriculum, they should simply be fired. They, like the above hypothetical creationist student, are not required to believe any of it, but they are required to teach actual science.

            • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday January 28, 2011 @01:55PM (#35034838) Journal

              The way to deal with it is to tell the student that whether or not they accept evolution...

              There is an even better way which points out that really they probably believe in evolution too. Just ask them whether they were worried about the swine flu outbreak last year or the bird flu a few years before. Assuming that they respond that these were valid causes for some concern ask them why because, if there is no evolution, then there will be no change in infectious diseases either so there is nothing to be concerned about. Then let them think about that for a while.

              While many people may profess otherwise when push comes to shove they do believe in science. This latest science-religion controvesy is utter nonsense. Science and religion have coexisted well for hundreds of years. Yes, with occasional conflicts - but lets not forget that a lot of science was actually conducted by religion early on. It only seems to be recently that a few idiots on the fringe of religions seem to have garnered undue support...which is probably not unrelated to the declining educational standards in schools.

            • by turkeyfish (950384) on Friday January 28, 2011 @01:57PM (#35034876)

              " it's what scientists accept that will be taught."

              This is total antithetical to science. The fact that scientists accept it is not the reason it should be taught, rather the reason is that all evidence scientists accept it is because ALL evidence points to the inescapable conclusion that evolution is a fact. We are the way we are because our ancestors evolved in ways that left us with the genetics that we have. There is no other rational explanation.

              The teacher should have pointed out the fallacy in the student's reasoning. The student nor the teacher evolved from "monkeys", but it is virtually certain that both evolved from an ancestor that shared an ancestor with ancestor of monkeys. In this context the teacher would then be in a position to begin to enumerate the great many reasons scientists know this to be true. Namely, the many features their ancestors share in common. More importantly, not only do they share such features in common but what we know about the genetics of each of these features indicates that these features share their "similarity" all the way down to the molecular level of organization. Consequently, if they did not descend from a common ancestor one is forced to confront the necessity of developing an alternative explanation that doesn't involve anything about these organisms that science has been able to learn in the past 200 years, whether it be their anatomy, their physiology, their genetics, their ecology, their behavior, or any other known aspect of their biology. There is no testable, scientific alternative explanation that has yet been proposed. Scientists accept the theory of evolution 1) because there is no credible alternative explanation, 2) all efforts to scientifically reject Darwin's theory have been rejected as inconsistent with observable facts, and 3) because of its explanatory power. We can learn even more about the biology of these animals by examining the consequences of evolution by means of natural selection.

              America hasn't jumped the shark. Sharks will probably outlast America, as it lets its education system fall behind in science and technology to other nations, such as the Chinese. In the end, survival of the fittest has some very real consequences.

        • by NiteShaed (315799) on Friday January 28, 2011 @12:04PM (#35033138)

          You would have missed an opportunity.

          You could have said, "You're right, and neither did I", and launch into a discussion about the common misconception about "evolving from monkeys", and correctly explained common ancestry, and the theories about how various apes and humans diverged from that common ancestry. Challenges to science can, if handled well, be a great opportunity to teach, assuming the audience is willing to listen. Even if that particular kid refused to listen, that's fine, the rest of the class might benefit from the discussion.

      • by LordNacho (1909280) on Friday January 28, 2011 @12:21PM (#35033422)

        I went to an international school in Europe, where evolution isn't really up for debate. Not the high school level material anyway. So, one day, a girl from the US, a recent arrival, says "wait a minute, I've read that it isn't that way and my bible studies guy says it's different. The Earth isn't that old, etc..."

        So teacher says something ala "Don't be ridiculous! That stuff you've been told isn't science, in fact it's all lies, and you won't pass the exams saying things like that."

        The exchange went on for a bit, but in the end we ended up having a bubbling, tearful American girl crying her eyes out. Come to think of it, I didn't give bio teacher as much credit at the time as I should have. She truth, while painful, is good for you.

        • That is the thing (Score:4, Informative)

          by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday January 28, 2011 @01:03PM (#35034146) Journal

          In Europe, this ain't even an issue. Evolution isn't taught in school, it is fact. School explains the fact same as school explains gravity. You have to be educated that gravity exists, just how it actually works.

          That evolution is even up for debate shows a LOT about the USA. There shouldn't even be a debate. You don't debate facts. And if you claim evolution is not a fact... happy beard in the sky day.

          • Re:That is the thing (Score:4, Informative)

            by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Friday January 28, 2011 @07:58PM (#35039498) Homepage

            In Europe, this ain't even an issue. Evolution isn't taught in school,

            Not true: when I went to school (England in the 1970's) evolution was taught. Competing theories such as larmarkism and the bible story where given as alternatives and we were then shown that the evidence (experiments, observation, ....) supported evolution through natural selection. That was done the right way.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:01AM (#35031298)

    It's ridiculous, but science is being bullied in our Western democracies...

    There are fights about the greenhouse gas, about evolution, and several other topics... and if teachers say something about that, they are said to choose a side and teachers should be politically neutral.

    That, of course, is ridiculous. If teachers can no longer teach science, because some theories (which have a lot of evidence) might undermine the political course set by our Great Leaders or because they might upset certain religious people (science always does that), then we might as well close our schools.

    • by Gunkerty Jeb (1950964) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:09AM (#35031412)
      I've said it before and I'll say it again. We are doing an excellent job preparing our children to be the future slaves of China. I just hope I'm dead before I see their economy surpass ours.
      • You won't be. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aussersterne (212916) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:43AM (#35031876) Homepage

        As someone who was born in the U.S. but grew up in a Chinese family, let me tell you that the differences are stark. The U.S. is already a third world country by ideological and cultural standards. The population is lazy, self-entitled, undereducated, science-illiterate, unversed in either informal or formal logic, and completely averse to quality standards, quality control, or doing quality work.

        All that's left is the resultant 1-or-2 generation slide into broken economy, broken infrastructure, broken governmental systems, etc. America is getting by on inertia and its population isn't doing the work to maintain its current standard of living and production, much less return it to some past glory or other.

        China, on the other hand, is ruthlessly pragmatic, wholly rational-instrumental in its current approach to the world, science and math obsessed, achievement-oriented, and completely cold-blooded about it. The achievements are stunning to anyone that looks at what has been done in a few short years, and the expectations and determination are much higher. People that are busy worrying about "human rights" in China really don't get it; most of the Chinese couldn't care less about human rights right now. They want Progress, capital "P", they believe it comes from science, work, and sacrifice, and they're willing to give up almost anything to get it. They want to dominate the world economy and they're well on their way.

        The recent furor over Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" demonstrates at the micro-level, in very clear terms, why China will shortly surpass the U.S. Incidentally, I grew up in a family much like that. Grades were all-important, people were called "trash" and "garbage" when they didn't achieve or perform, and standards were witheringly high. I resented it very much when I was a teenager. By the time I was in my 20s, I recalled it all with fondness and in my 30s I wish I had worked even harder than I did to meet those expectations. And at the end of the day, I don't feel "abused" at all and plan to work hard to raise my own daughter with very high academic and intellectual standards.

        My wife and I are currently trying to decide whether this process will require us to leave the U.S. for either China or Eastern Europe (where she's from, and was a child prodigy at top schools under the old Soviet satellite system) in order to get a good education and avoid the dead weight of American anti-intellectual culture holding our daughter back.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by geekoid (135745)

          Much of China is ignorant people buried in a false history of ideological crap.

          If you want your child to not only be buried in memorization, but instead learn to think, put them in a good American school. Do you have any clue about schools in China? or are you just carrying on your parents racist attitudes? Because all that hard work your parent put you through, and they utterly failed at teaching you how to think. Simple research would have shown you all the studies facts and tool you need to have actuall

        • Contrarian... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bayankaran (446245) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:58AM (#35033002) Homepage
          I am from India. I have to differ from your world view. I travel between India, US and a bit of China. The idea of Americans as lazy, self-entitled, undereducated, science-illiterate is lazy generalization. The same can be said of any community.

          The idea of America still remains. This country still attracts the best of the talent across the world (even if getting a visa is a pain in the back for anyone out of G7.) This is the only country where you become an 'American' the moment you are in the political borders. And the political system more or less works (compared to the rest of the world.)

          What can cause a decline to US is the assault on the American middle class...I hope the plutocrats are not so stupid as to kill the golden goose.

          You can bring up your child in China or India or anywhere else. Nothing wrong with that. Your child should be fine if you give him/her the right values. But I can see you made sure your child is an American citizen.
      • I, for one, would like to welcome our new Chinese overlords...

        ... and I'm only half kidding. The Chinese culture and people are actually really fascinating and worthwhile once you study them. When you look at China's history you realize that their being a super economy was actually always inevitable. In the first place, it won't be the first time. Do you know how immense Chang'an was during the Tang dynasty? It was like four times the size of the ancient city of Rome at their respective peaks. It was the
    • by Vahokif (1292866) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:15AM (#35031480)
      Speak for your own democracy.
      • Speak for your own democracy.

        You're lucky, you chose your place of birth well -- or you made a wise move. Please send help our way, or at least sponsor us for residency.

    • by Alarash (746254) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:46AM (#35031908)
      It's really only in the US I think. Nobody in Europe will contest (except the occasional, marginal and fortunately exceptionally rare nutjob) the teaching of evolution. Maybe it's because Public Schools are actually good in Europe, and many countries are officially agnostic, so it's a moot point ; whereas in the US there are much more private schools that have to tread carefully not to alienate their customers.. err.. student's parents?
    • by omglolbah (731566) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:02AM (#35032186)

      "It's ridiculous, but science is being bullied in the US..."

      There fixed that for ya.

      Here in Norway... if a teacher were to teach creationism in a biology class they would most likely be fired...
      Religious theories and differing views like creationism and FSM (flying spaggeti monster) would most likely be covered in a class covering religion.
      Before everyone goes batshit:
      The classes covering religion and alternate belief systems are structured around facts about said groups. Like pillars of faith, holy texts and history about the origins of the religions. It has been decided long ago here that it is essential for our population to at least have a minimum of information about such issues as it makes society a whole lot less ignorant and hateful.

      Both my parents are teachers and teach sciences. There is the occational student with anal parents making demands but they usually shut up after being introduced to the actual content of the lessons... If they continue and disrupt the education more likely than not a "letter of concern" would be sent to child services. (Routine thing in schools here, to help discover unhealthy home environments and abuse etc).

      Amusingly my father has a muslim student and he attended the Advent christian protestant ceremony before christmas. He was given a letter to be signed by his parents if they wanted him excused from it but their reply was simply "It doesnt matter, he has his own belief and experiencing the christian ceremony wont harm and might be useful for him". The kid had no issue and put it more bluntly "I dont believe in any of it anyway so why make a fuss?".

      Less BS and more common sense please!

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      That's why I home school. That way I don't need to worry about the ultra-religious/ultra-conservatives poisoning education with their inane rhetoric and beliefs. After the absolutely idiotic display of ignorance and political hackery provided by the Texas board of education, I'd had enough.

      Unfortunately not everyone has the capacity, time, and resources to do so.

    • Or just tell the fundies to go fund their own private school and drive themselves back to the stone age at their own peril.
    • It's ridiculous, but science is being bullied in our Western democracies... There are fights about the greenhouse gas, about evolution, and several other topics... and if teachers say something about that, they are said to choose a side and teachers should be politically neutral.

      It's no longer illegal to teach evolution. It was illegal at least 43 years ago, when the Butler act was repealed. [wikipedia.org]

      43 years is a long time on our time scale, but when it comes to beliefs changing, that's pretty short. Science is winning.

      Greenhouse gas is not really science being bullied. It's science ignored for convenience's sake. That's not specific to science. How often do our politicians ignore basic morality or the constitution because it's politically convenient.

      I'm often overly optimistic, but I'

  • God bless America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:02AM (#35031308)

    Now the evolutionary theory, which follows a degree of scientific rigor (compare it to other theories to explain the same phenomenon) is controversial. What's next? Advanced physics teaching that the sun goes around the earth? Carbon dating deemed heresy because we all know the earth was created in 7 days?

    God Bless America.

    • by thijsh (910751)

      God Bless America.

      ... and no place else! :)
      This always reminds me of "Gott mit uns [wikimedia.org]".

    • What's next? Advanced physics teaching that the sun goes around the earth?

      Of course. To promote the heliocentric model is racist, because it values the European contributions of Copernicus over the African contributions of Claudius Ptolemy.

      -=Steve=-

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      What's next?

      At least one "educator" [conservapedia.com] has a beef with relativity, citing that Jesus acted faster than the speed of light in performing miracles.

  • by Matt_Bennett (79107) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:07AM (#35031382) Homepage Journal
    Teachers don't want to get fired! I live near Austin, TX and the Austin Independent School District just announced plans to lay off 450 teachers next year due to budget cuts. Administrators will be looking to anything to give them an excuse to fire a teacher- for cause: no unemployment... Bonus! The problem lies in the extremely vocal minority of parents that protest (generally anything that falls outside of their narrowly defined set of "values"). They get the administrator's attention, and the teacher gets fired. When there is a need to re-hire, there are plenty of underqualified Teach-for-America supplied teachers (who, as new teachers, get paid much less). While the TFA teachers may be qualified on the subject matter, they don't have much basis on *Teaching* the subject matter- an entirely different skill. Don't worry, most of the TFA teachers get a hard dose of reality (low pay, no respect, long hours) and quit teaching in a few years.

    [my wife is a teacher (15 years teaching), she's just glad she's got an engineer husband to support her teaching habit... I'm just an enabler, I guess]

    • by supermank17 (923993) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:38AM (#35032724)
      That's depressingly true. My wife is a teacher, and when she gave out report cards at the end of the semester, the administration censored all of the negative comments in them because they were afraid of parent backlash (for elementary kids!). She was upset at the time, because they were things the kids genuinely needed to work on, but now she's somewhat relieved; another, more senior teacher was able to keep her negative comments intact, and now is dealing with irate parents who want her fired. This is all because their children have comments saying they have issues with behavior in class, or need to work on their math skills, on their ELEMENTARY School record. It's just bizarre.
      There's a reason the average teacher only works 6 years, and its not the children or administration that are the (main) problem.
  • by Loomismeister (1589505) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:10AM (#35031424)

    Unsurprisingly, the summary is wrong. 28% actively teach evolution as if it is a correct theory, 60% teach both evolution and ID and do not make claims as to their validity. The last 12% actually only teach creationism. All of this survey was done with biology highschool teachers.

    • by gardyloo (512791) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:14AM (#35031464)

      You call that "not so bleak"? When ~72% of teachers actually give sky-daddy-dunnit some credence in a science classroom? Holy shit.

      • by cptdondo (59460) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:36AM (#35031776) Journal

        +1. I find that terrifying. If we're teaching our kids that a scientific theory, which all about validating a logical chain of though based on observation, and which, by definition, must make valid predictions about the world around us, and a creation myth are the same, then we're screwed.

        Don't get me wrong, I like creation myths; some are absolutely wonderful. And on that score, biblical creationism and ID come in at the lowest end of the creative scale; as creative writing I'd give them a C-.

        Evolution works because it can make predictions about the gaps in our knowledge. It's called a "theory" because that's the tag scientists picked early on. We should not be teaching that a "scientific theory" and "something I made up while sitting on the crapper and reading the comics" have equal validity - even by omission.

    • by witherstaff (713820) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:18AM (#35031532) Homepage
      How is 72% still teaching superstition any better? I went to a catholic school and they taught evolution as fact, of course there was a religion class but biology was science.
    • by PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:24AM (#35031604)

      So, according to your numbers, 72% of US biology highschool teachers teach ID as potentially valid "theory". If that's "not so bleak", I don't know what is.

    • by gsslay (807818) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:46AM (#35031914)

      Fixing this for you;

      "28% actively teach evolution as it is a correct theory"

      Beyond that, I can't imagine anything more depressing than a biology high school teacher giving instruction on something so fundamentally anti-science and disingenuous as "ID". No matter what claims are made about validity. The very fact it's mentioned gives it credence.

      Creationism is not so bad, at least it's honest about what it is. But totally out of scope in a science class. Do history teachers cover trigonometry? So what's a religious subject doing in a biology class?

  • Credentials. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:16AM (#35031508) Homepage

    It's almost like shuttling weak students who are afraid of math and science into teacher training programs was a BAD idea.

    (Disclaimer: I'm employed by a college with a tremendous population of education majors.)

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:21AM (#35031570)
    On the other hand, I wonder what the numbers would look like if the survey asked teachers if they were reluctant to teach creationism in class. Probably much higher, in public schools at least. (Given that trying to teach religion in public school is *illegal* for good reason). I'm not sure there is anything to worry about here. Unless you happen to be a creationist.
  • by Securityemo (1407943) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:24AM (#35031596) Journal
    If I got it right, both chemistry/biochemistry teachers had chemistry degrees, the maths/physicists had degrees, but I'm not sure who taught biology since I was in the Sci/Tech program intead of Sci/Nat. The thing is though, the "controversy" never came up at all. While we got some backstory on "scientific thought" and the evolvment of the scientific model, the focus seemed to be on teaching us basic physics neatly intertwined with the math courses. That the scientists who worked out the models was using fallible tools and understanding, and that the models themselves where so "high up" from our understanding that we would have to study a lot more to concretely understand them where sort of implicit.

    The religion courses where compulsory, but that guy (who at least seemed like he had a degree of some sort, he "seemed academic") mostly seemed keen on trying to teach us to think about religion in the abstract besides teaching us about the fundamentals of the major religions like Chatolicism and Islam etc., (Eg., "what is sin, as a concept, from a christian perspective?") but I'm quite certain creationism and related concepts where only mentioned in passing unless I missed that class.

    In "Junior High" I don't think the (all female) bio teachers had a degree either, since they taught mostly from the books (it seemed). We had "sex ed" in bio class, but it was more like "genital anatomy". They took in some sort of weird female consult (who I now am perfectly sure had Aspergers) for actual sex ed, which included condom usage, oral/anal sex (briefly) and "the importance of cuddling". The most fun part of that year was our Social Sciences teacher (great guy, had been in the jaeger corps when he was younger, apparently had enough "teaching" university education to give him a Masters equivalent) putting on the Monthy Python "Every Sperm is Sacred" skit.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:39AM (#35031824)

    I've spent many years learing about evolutionary theory. It seems quite intuitive to me. But it isn't intuitive to many people because it's unlike anything they observe normally. Among scientists, evolution isn't controvercial, but among others, it is. Therefore, others need more convincing. But telling them to "just believe because you're an idiot if you don't" is just religion. To most people, evolution vs. something else is just a war between factions. There's no science in it. And while religion remains relatively stable, evolutionary theory keeps changing; what's "true" one day is "false" the next. The way that evolution is taught is partly responsible for this controversy.

    I'm sure it exists, but I've never been able to find it; there's something that would really help: An up-to-date complete treatise of all the basic evidence that demonstrates the foundations of evolutionary theory. Observations of microevolution in the lab, sequences of fossils and how they were dated and how we're certain that they're from the same lineage, numerous clear examples, multiple convergent lines of evidence (fossils vs. dna), etc. In science class, they don't teach this. They teach the end results of the science as though it were FACT, but it's NOT. It is a fact that it's a good theory, but the theory itself cannot be deemed fact.

    I have a little girl, and I don't want to just tell her "evolution is true, and those creationists are idiots." I want to show her the science. Besides, its misleading to say that "evolution is true". Evolutionary fact observed in the lab is true. Evolutionary theory is a MODEL that we STRIVE to MAKE true and is the best model we currently have. If it were TRUE, we'd be done. No more to discover. Rather, it is a gradually improving approximation.

    • by MattSausage (940218) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:10AM (#35032304)
      I once made my fundamentalist christian boss at an old job pratically swallow his tongue because I almost forced him to understand evolution. Along with loving Jesus, he was a super gear-head. So I broke Evolution down into car terms (very basic terms since I'm NOT a gearhead).

      First I asked why we don't drive Model-T Fords anymore? Because someone added pedals to the next car. The car people bought after that had a hardtop roof or windshield wipers. Then some came out with larger engines, those cars survived longer in the marketplace because they were a better fit to what people wanted from their money. Some cars had innovations that didn't work, and they died off (Edsel, et al). And now we have lamborghini's and Bentleys and Chevys and Fords of all different makes and models, with GPS and remote start, and some will do better than others, and continue to be developed. Others will be too expensive, or too fuel hungry, or too feature-poor, and those won't sell as well, and over time, those models will disappear.

      Effectively the slow progression the car industry makes in response to market forces is analogous to the evolution of life in response to changing environmental pressure.
      • I once made my fundamentalist christian boss at an old job pratically swallow his tongue because I almost forced him to understand evolution. Along with loving Jesus, he was a super gear-head. So I broke Evolution down into car terms (very basic terms since I'm NOT a gearhead). First I asked why we don't drive Model-T Fords anymore? Because someone added pedals to the next car. The car people bought after that had a hardtop roof or windshield wipers. Then some came out with larger engines, those cars survived longer in the marketplace because they were a better fit to what people wanted from their money. Some cars had innovations that didn't work, and they died off (Edsel, et al). And now we have lamborghini's and Bentleys and Chevys and Fords of all different makes and models, with GPS and remote start, and some will do better than others, and continue to be developed. Others will be too expensive, or too fuel hungry, or too feature-poor, and those won't sell as well, and over time, those models will disappear. Effectively the slow progression the car industry makes in response to market forces is analogous to the evolution of life in response to changing environmental pressure.

        Just wait until someone turns that analogy on it's head, as the vehicles you are referencing were designed by an intelligent being (or group thereof).

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:20AM (#35032482)

      I'm sure it exists, but I've never been able to find it; there's something that would really help: An up-to-date complete treatise of all the basic evidence that demonstrates the foundations of evolutionary theory.

      You can't find it because it would be a massive encyclopedia. There are dozens of scientific journals devoted to evolutionary theory, churning out thousands of pages each year. But if you're looking for a basic summary, try a textbook on evolutionary theory -- there are a number of college-level textbooks (500-1000 pages long) on evolutionary theory that should give you what you want, as well as having a bibliography to track down more information.

      Observations of microevolution in the lab, sequences of fossils and how they were dated and how we're certain that they're from the same lineage, numerous clear examples, multiple convergent lines of evidence (fossils vs. dna), etc. In science class, they don't teach this.

      Of course not, anymore than they teach a complete history of Newtonian physics in high school or go into the methodology of meteorology or vulcanology before giving basic concepts of cloud formation or the dynamics of volcanoes. I agree that it would be good for middle school or high school students to see more scientific methodology that is critically evaluated, rather than just results. But evolutionary theory is not unique here -- you could ask the same for almost any topic presented in a science class.

      They teach the end results of the science as though it were FACT, but it's NOT. It is a fact that it's a good theory, but the theory itself cannot be deemed fact.

      It's all theory. What's an example of a "fact" to you? Are there scientific "facts"? Almost any collection of information that combines raw data in any way is an interpretation of that data. In essence, it is a "theory." Whether that theory is expressed in equations or collections of artifacts or accounts of historical events, they all require someone to put the data together, and in my view (and in the view of most scientists), no interpretation is ever final. Beyond raw data, there are no "facts" -- there are only "theories," so don't get hung up on terminology.

      Evolutionary fact observed in the lab is true.

      No, data we observe in the lab may support an interpretation consistent with evolutionary theory. For every such experiment observed in the lab, I'm sure some creationist or other scientist could come up with a different explanation that interprets the data in a different way, which might conflict with or complement evolutionary theory but not require it.

      Evolutionary theory is a MODEL that we STRIVE to MAKE true and is the best model we currently have. If it were TRUE, we'd be done. No more to discover. Rather, it is a gradually improving approximation.

      Again, one could say the same for EVERY area of science. Would you require physicists to summarize all the evidence for theories of mechanics, optics, electromagnetism, etc. before they present it as well? What about this atom theory, with electrons buzzing around? "Where's the EVIDENCE?" you say. We should teach students to think critically, but we can't introduce every idea of elementary science like this. Why is evolution special, except for political reasons, rather than scientific ones?

    • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:25AM (#35032540)

      When chicken embryos first start to develop they have teeth buds along their jaw lines and the beginnings of multi segmented tails. As they develop their DNA tells the developing embryo to absorb them. Much like human embryo's absorb our own embryonic gill slits. Now if you turn off the genes that control this absorption instruction you get chicken embryos that develop long multi segmented dinosaur tails and meat eating dinosaur teeth complete with the serrated inside edge.

      And a few news sites discussing this:

      • http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/03/05/dinosaur-chicken.html
      • http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/12/60minutes/main5629962.shtml
      • http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-08/scientist-vows-backwards-engineer-dinosaur-chicken

      Some of the people involved:

      • Raul Cano, professor of microbiology at California Polytechnic State University
      • Jack Horner, professor of palaeontology at Montana State University
      • Hans Larsson, a paleontologist at McGill University in Canada
      • Matt Harris and John Fallon, developmental biologists at the University of Wisconsin
      • Dewey Kramer, at Texas A&M University
    • by thijsh (910751) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:34AM (#35032668) Journal
      Asimov's essay "The relativity of wrong" [tufts.edu] should be required reading... It puts some perspective on 'truth' and 'wrong'. Religious people love to point out small errors in the theory of evolution and claim that all must be wrong, that's an inherent property of blind faith (you either believe the whole thing no matter how ridiculous or you have to abandon your whole faith, it's an all-or-nothing game). The scientific way that Asimov illustrates has degrees of 'wrongness', but a steadily improving model that gets closer and closer to the truth.
  • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Friday January 28, 2011 @10:56AM (#35032074) Journal
    Honestly, I find this report hard to believe.
    I wouldn't be totally shocked to find it was embellished to make a point or generate sympathy for evolutionists, because I just can't beleive creationism is gaining a foothold over real science.
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:14AM (#35032374)

    Genetics Proves Evolution: The Creationist's Galileo Moment

    When chicken embryos start to develop they have teeth buds and the beginnings of multi segmented tails. As they develop their DNA tells the developing embryo to absorb them. Much like human embryo's absorb embryonic gill slits. Now if you turn off the genes that control this absorption instruction you get chicken embryos that develop long multi segmented dinosaur tails and meat eating dinosaur teeth complete with the serrated inside edge. Other studies have also been successful in regressing feathers into scales.

    This is not hypothesis. This is not supposition. This is not interpretation. This cold hard, hold in your hands see with your own eyes type reproducible proof. It has already been done, in Canadian universities no less, and is documented and reproducible. One more thing. No DNA was ever added to the bird DNA. This was done using 100% pure chicken DNA.

    They have proved that bird DNA contains genes that create dinosaur characteristics. The only way this can happen is through the evolutionary process.

    So like when Galileo first pointed his telescope at the heavens and learned that Aristotle was wrong modern scientists have pointed their microscopes at developing bird embryos and learned that they are correct. Evolution is real.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1026340/Jurassic-Park-comes-true-How-scientists-bringing-dinosaurs-life-help-humble-chicken.html [dailymail.co.uk]

    Note:The 'Daily Mail' isn't the gold standard for scientific reporting but here it does a good job of describing the research so the public can understand it (creationists excepted). Names of people and institutions where the work was done are given allowing Internet searches to the relevant papers and science reporting.

  • by eepok (545733) on Friday January 28, 2011 @12:17PM (#35033352) Homepage

    I'm not calling teachers wimpy, but they have very little to fight for anymore. They *are* going to fold on their curriculum if there's enough public pressure (read: further threat of job security). Often they quit teaching altogether.

    Here are some example of topics that teachers just won't teach in California:

    1) All 4-6 grade students in California have to learn about the Spanish Catholic missions built throughout the state and how much the natives welcomed the religion and the establishment of permanent cities. Except that's not how it happened, teachers know it, and they teach it because it's part of the California standards. If they say, "The Catholics came to the west coast, enslaved natives, forced their religion on them, and killed those that tried to keep their own religions.," they'd be tossed out on their asses.

    2) No president chopped down a cherry tree and then ratted himself out to his father.

    3) Many of the founding fathers owned slaves.

    4) Slavery was popular and the entirety of the initial financial success of the states was built on the backs of kidnapped, raped, beaten, and worked black people.

    5) The Civil War still produces some animosity throughout the South.

    6) The "first Thanksgiving" may have happened, but it was cautious and tenuous at best. The pilgrims soon saw the natives not as temporary saviors, but as savages who needed to go away or be purged. Even if they changed to Puritan Christianity, they would have still been seen and treated as beings just above animals and far below humans.

    7) The US is *not* a meritocracy. That was the plan, but classes carried over from Europe and further developed here. That's a myth perpetuated by people who want *you* to work hard for *their* benefits.

    8) No, not everyone can be president. Not anymore. You need to have a saintly background and/or a TON of money. ... the list goes on and on. Essentially, anything that forces children to confront tradition is sharply argued against and often the source of bad reviews. Call it the "snowflake" or "hover-parent" phenomenon if you wish, I call it the "litigation scare".

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