Evolution Yet Again
One of the dangers of blogging infrequently is that you only post when you’re angry. Such is my dilemma.
I’m generally OK with religious people, but it makes me fume when I think of what they will do to the nation if the latest nonsense against evolution actually succeeds:
I recently addressed a group of French engineering graduate students who were visiting Washington from the prestigious School of Mines in Paris. After encouraging them to teach biotechnology in French high schools, I expected the standard queries on teaching methods or training. Instead, a bright young student asked bluntly: “How can you teach biotechnology in this country when you don’t even accept evolution?”
I wanted to disagree, but the kid had a point. Proponents of “intelligent design” in the United States are waging a war against teaching science as scientists understand it. Over the past year alone, efforts to incorporate creationist language or undermine evolution in science classrooms at public schools have emerged in at least 15 states, according to the National Center for Science Education. And an independent education foundation has concluded that science-teaching standards in 10 states fail to address evolution in a scientifically sound way. Through changes in standards and curriculum, these efforts urge students to doubt evolution — the cornerstone principle of biology, one on which there is no serious scientific debate.
This war could decimate the development of U.S. scientific talent and erode whatever competitive advantage the United States enjoys in the technology-based global economy. Already, U.S. high school students lag near the bottom in math skills compared with students in other developed nations, and high school seniors are performing worse in science than they were 10 years ago.
These trends can only worsen if students come to regard evolution as questionable or controversial. Thirty-seven percent of the high school Advanced Placement biology examination tests knowledge of evolution, evolutionary biology and heredity, according to the College Board. Students who do not thoroughly understand evolution cannot hope to succeed on this exam; they will be handicapped in competitive science courses in college and the careers that may follow.
The article goes on to mention that some young person in one of the states that is attacking evolution will be robbed of a future by this nonsense; her head will be filled with superstition rather than science, thus limiting her ability to work as a scientist.
I may return to this later when I’m not quite so upset.
Via Jonathon Adler.