Monday, October 02, 2006

The War on Evolution

So, there has been commentary on this editorial by Paul Hanle from a college professor, PZ Meyers, and a scientist, John Wilkins, so, I decided to add commentary from a student's perspective.
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.
First I must say, I am thankful that I never grew up in one of those states. Except for the Association of Christian Schools suing the UC university system there hasn't been much antievolution activity on the high school level that I know of. But for those who have grown up like, in Kansas or Georgia, I like to wonder. If I was one of those people, what would I be like?

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.

OOohhhhh, the AP Bio test. I can certainly aTEST (pardon the pun) to the role of evolution in it. There was even an essay question that required a pretty thorough knowledge of evolution ( I think I can disclose knowledge on the essay questions). But even in regular biology courses, there was ample time for stuff like natural selection and evolutionary relationships. But anyways, there aren't too many creationists at my school. Those that were, were usually not very old, and used the old straw-man arguments. But at other schools, I could probably understand a fairly large number of creationists. I think about the teachers in those schools, how they're able to cope with them (especially the verbal ones). My hats go off to them.

Last year, a report from the National Academies' Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century showed us a glimpse of the future. Of all the patent applications reaching the U.S. Patent Office, the report noted, the most by far still come from the United States. However, from 1989 to 2001, the rate of increase of patent applications from the world's fastest-growing economies, such as China and India, was nearly three times that of the United States. By that measure, innovation in those economies will blow past ours in little more than a decade -- just about the time the current classes of high school biology students will be starting their research careers.

Oh great, the responsibility lies on us now. I swear, there better be a good turnout of scientists because of all the things we'll have to deal with. Oh wait, according to the article, there won't be. Aw great. I really really hope things change.

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