Appalling that this would occur at an NEA meeting. Science denialism, including as it relates to evolution, deserves a place alongside of phrenology, and Creationist literature has all of the scientific validity of Der Ewige Jude.
In front of me [at the National Education Association (NEA) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2013] were hundreds of books, DVDs, and handouts spouting creationist myths and targeting evolution as falsehoods being distributed to teachers. It nearly paralyzed me to watch as teachers, attracted by the glow of free, new materials, took stacks to distribute back home. I saw thirty years of NCSE’s good work slowly wash away as each teacher took a book or DVD. What was worse was the knowledge that many, if not all of them, thought they were receiving good and legitimate science. The teachers were being fooled.
Now, I could spend the rest of this post talking about the many reasons why this is a problem. I could talk about how creationist myths misrepresent the evidence for evolution and the nature of science. I could talk about how by distributing this material, the creationists are setting teachers up for painful and expensive lawsuits, as teaching creationism in public schools has been found to be unconstitutional. Or I could simply ask if it wouldn’t be better not to waste students’ time.
But I want to talk about what NCSE is doing about this.
A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students, Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs.
Poll: Republican Belief In Evolution Has Plummeted In Recent Years
Belief in evolution among Republicans has dropped more than 10 percentage points since 2009, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.
Pew found that 43 percent of Republicans said they believed humans and other living beings had evolved over time, down from 54 percent in 2009. More (48 percent) said they believed all living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
The percentages for Democrats and independents were considerably more stable: Democratic belief in evolution went from 64 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2013; independent belief dipped from 67 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2013.
Among all American adults, 60 percent said they believe in evolution, according to Pew, and 33 percent do not.
The poll surveyed 1,983 Americans ages 18 and older from March 21 to April 8.
There is only one scientific explanation for how species originate. It's called the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. It's not a theory in the everyday and conversational sense of the word theory--i.e. a guess--but a theory in the formal scientific meaning of the term: a concept larger than the sum of its parts, one that incorporates various scientific laws, observations, and facts into a more unified whole and that has been verified by subsequent findings and research, like with the germ theory of disease, the theories of special and general relativity, the theory of plate tectonics, and the theory of a heliocentric solar system.
To not "believe" in evolution--as is the case with a shockingly large number of conservative religious adherents in the U.S.A. and majority-Muslim countries--is like not believing that the Earth orbits the sun or not believing in oxygen or x-ray radiation. Especially since the modern evolutionary synthesis of the 1930's that integrated genetics into evolution, thereby revealing the means of heredity--which is something evolution's main discoverer, Charles Darwin, did not know--evolution has become an increasingly important and dynamic topic of research and tool for understanding how species evolve. To not believe in it is to walk away from a rich and amazing reality about we scientists are discovering more and making interesting refinements and corrections to those discoveries on an daily basis.
Image: click to enlarge - (via Wikipedia) "A highly resolved Tree Of Life, based on completely sequenced genomes."
There's a temptation to review each new book that makes the case for intelligent design by publishing a laundry list of every fact, experiment, subtheory, and interpretation that the author gets wrong. I'll spare you that exercise, partly because it's been done elsewhere, by scientists, and partly because Stephen Meyer, the author of Darwin's Doubt, is not your typical creationist hack.
Instead, Meyer, who holds a PhD in the philosophy of science from Cambridge, is that odd hybrid: the philosopher-huckster. His arguments are, for the most part, precise, his research is extensive, and many of his points echo those made by leading biologists. Like many other proponents of intelligent design, he's not committed to defending the details of Genesis. He accepts that the world is old, and that evolution does happen—at least in a limited way. As a result, he not only sounds like a scientist, but for much of the book he almost acts like one.
All of which is to say that a laundry list of errors doesn't get to the meat of Darwin's Doubt. Meyer is the finest kind of huckster: he doesn't tell lies, he merely rearranges truths. Darwin's Doubt is a toxic blend of hasty conclusions, cracked arguments, and terminological confusions. It's also, for those who are keeping count, a New York Times bestseller. More plausible than the arguments of 6,000-year-old-earthers, and much slicker than the earlier, bumbling efforts of intelligent design-ers, creationism 3.0 has arrived.