Consequences of The War on Evolution

The battle to prevent the teaching of intelligent design in science classes is not just an abstract debate over religion. As evolution is a fundamental part of modern biology, students who are not accurately taught about evolution are at a disadvantage both on standardized science tests in their careers should they desire to pursue a career in science. Paul Hanle of the Biotechnology Institute had an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post on these adverse consequences of teaching intelligent design:

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.

By teaching intelligent design or other variants of creationism in science classes at public schools — or by undercutting the credibility of evolution — we are greatly diminishing our chances for future scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations, and are endangering our health, safety and economic well-being as individuals and as a nation.

There’s further discussion at The Volokh Conspiracy. (Hat tip to Panda’s Thumb).

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    mbk says:

    saw in the paper a few days ago (haven’t been able to track down the source yet) an article about Kansas. As I remember (quote may not be exactly word for word), one Kansas politician explained his recent conversion from Republican to Democrat thus: “I got tired of debating whether Darwin was right.” So, in fact, am I. It’s the 21st century, everyone. We’ve had more than 150 years to get used to this idea. It’s time to embrace reality and move on.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    It’s not only the Kansas politicians. A while back I had a blog post quoting a newspaper article on Kansas businessmen who objected to restrictions on science teaching in the schools as they wanted educated people coming out of the schools and into the work force.

    Failure to embrace reality also goes beyond evolution. So many of our differences with conservatives involves not only disagreements over principles but disagreement arising from their lack of acceptance of reality or promotion of a false reality. This includes WMD in Iraq, claims of ties between al Qaeda and Saddam, the Swift Boat lies, Bush and Clilnton’s responses to terrorism. . .

  3. 3
    David Hadenouf says:

    If find it interesting that there are people who will still back a guy on a boat after 150 years. He has been proven wrong on too many levels to mention, but it is my opinion that evolution is wrong. There is no proof anywhere that man evolved at all. You have separate ‘versions’ of ‘mankind’, all conveniently in the ‘distant past’ but no difinitive connection between them. What about the skeletons that were found in Bimini? Well over 15000 years old, and NOT native to this region. What about ‘Nebraska Man’, ‘China Man’, ‘Java Man’, the midgets you guys found on that island in the pacific, and so on.
    What do you call people who are proven wrong time and time again, yet they persist in foisting thier theories on the public and calling it science?
    It’s like an inventor going to factory and saying, “I have a better car.” They say, “Where is it?” and he replies, “I haven’t built it yet, but believe me, it’s better!”
    You still haven’t proven the origins of life, let alone the universe. You get an ‘A’ for effort, but that’s it. Is it true you can put the entire evolutionary side of the arguement in the bed of a small pickup? I want to see proof, not theory. I will make up my own mind.
    It’s time to put up or shut up…

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    David,

    Don’t even try with your pseudo-science.

    Darwin has been proven right, repeatedly. Evolution is established science.

  5. 5
    kj says:

    “….their lack of acceptance of reality or promotion of a false reality.”

    I’m sorry, I can’t help but refer once again to my husband’s experience as a professor in Rural Red. For gawd’s sake, do NOT in any way, shape or form encourage your students to look beyond what they are told and to question authority, and what passes for reality, for themselves.

    Do not do this. You will scare people.

  6. 6
    kj says:

    And yes, do not disagree with the professor who told his biology class, “No one believes in evolution anymore.”

    Do not do this. You will scare people.

  7. 7
    kj says:

    David Hadenouf said: “I want to see proof, not theory. I will make up my own mind.”

    I dunno David, I suggest you ask your God for proof. I’m sure you’ll get the exact answer you want, and then you’ll be able to make up your own mind.

    Just a thought.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    kj,

    Come on, you are writing as if our guest is a totally off the wall follower of the religious right. “I suggest you ask your God for proof.”

    No where does he claim to have the ability to speak to his God. Most likely, rather than getting his misinformatin from God, he gets it from people who claim to speak for God. I’m certain he must have sought out the proof that those who speak for God are doing so accurately. :)

    He says “I want to see proof” and he made sure he got the proof of what he wanted to see. It is clear from the comment that he has checked out the pseudo-science of the Discovery Institute (or got it second hand from those who send on their nonsense talking points). This guarantees that he get “the proof” he seeks which is contrary to established science.

    It is also clear that he has no understanding of the scientific basis establishing evolution. After all, if you want proof of one thing, why clutter your mind with evidence to the contrary? Beyond having absolutely no understanding of evolution, his misuse of the word “theory,” along with all the other absurdities of his post also suggests he has no understanding of the scientific method either.

    This is what happens when you have people going to church regularly, and exposed to the right wing noise machine regularly, but on average have minimal scientific education beyond the high school level.

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