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A note on Darwin icons lingering in textbooks

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Further to: What’s happened since Icons of Evolution (2002)?, anticipating a 2016 edition,

Not only that, but long-exploded Icons were still in 22 taxpayer-funded textbooks in 2011. Probably still are.

Part of the reason is certainly the efforts of the Darwin-in-the-schools lobby. But there is an economic issue as well.

I used to be a textbook editor, among other things. It takes a long time and a lot of work to develop rigorous new teaching materials. One must, for one thing, recruit up-to-date teachers who can write.

By contrast, just regurgitating the same old same old onto the printing press, in conformity to guidelines, is easy and profitable.

And if the textbook committees are not asking for any changes, it would be practically suicidal to introduce them. Even if the editors themselves have long accepted that Darwin’s icons are peeling paint badly and the wood rot bugs have set to work.

One screaming Darwin teacher can quickly assemble a crowd of busybodies to harass a clueless administrator, and the book might not be adopted. Massive losses. Including job losses in publishing.

Honestly, I would never have risked my clients’ capital and resources that way myself. That was one of the reasons I had a good reputation.

When I started questioning the flood tide of Darwin culture bilge, I severed connections with the textbook publishers, slowly and quietly. They could not afford to know me under the circumstances, no matter what the state of the evidence.

Here is a possibly constructive suggestion: Parents who work in STEM industries who are conversant with the issues should scan the textbooks. They should start writing polite, literate letters to the superintendents of schools outlining the problems.

For example, if horizontal gene transfer is now widely understood as a key way bacteria share genes, why is antibiotic resistance explained solely in terms of Darwinian natural selection? Or why is the Tree of Life presented as if nothing had changed in our understanding since Darwin’s famous illustration in Origin of Species?

There may also be questionable material in the book, not suited to a STEM subject, like evolutionary psychology. Again, one would politely advise that this material does not, generally speaking, meet the standards of science. Like much of the social sciences, it would appear to be more a work of the imagination. Nothing wrong with that in principle, just not a STEM subject.*

Please don’t make it a cause or a boycott. That only attracts armies of Darwin trolls, some are Big Gov Science Education, others are Clever State Residents for Science, etc., etc.

We don’t need their street drama. We need to bring textbooks up to date in what is clearly shaping up to be a post-Darwinian age. So we accept personal responsibility to set forth a reasoned case for reform.

When enough letters quietly come in, and there is no sense of an organized campaign, just growing awareness, thoughtful people in government (there are some) start asking questions.

See also: Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back

* Indeed, it is sometimes used to excuse errors in science by spinning a tale about the savannah.

One Reply to “A note on Darwin icons lingering in textbooks

  1. 1
    cantor says:

    Great post Denyse.

    Oh, and I absolutely love your metaphors. Peeling paint. Wood rot bugs. Culture bilge.

    .

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