Darwinism Education

Darwin lobby’s Kevin Padian denounces misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks

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Kevin Padian, who has chaired the Board at National Center for Science Education, has written an interesting article on what’s wrong with the way evolution is taught in science textbooks:

Because the treatment of scientific subjects is so uniformamong textbooks, specific errors and misrepresentations are common to most publishing houses. These have been picked up by other media, and many of them are of longstanding. In the following suggestions I try to point out why certain conventions in science texts and popular publications are either incorrect or technically correct but could be presented better, and to suggest alternative treatments. I hope it will become clear that much of the engendered confusion is due to us scientists, who have not been as precise with their diction as we should be. Even though we often agree among each other that we know what we mean, this does not help textbook writers, reporters, teachers, or students.

He usefully identifies a number of common problems. But, seriously, one group that lack of precision does help is Padian’s Darwin lobby. The endless slip sliding of terminology frustrates informed critiques; no surprise there. And he knows perfectly well that nothing is going to change. More:

Avoid giving the impression that evolution is atheistic, or that evolutionists must be atheists. All science is non-theistic, by which is meant that it does not entail or require any concept of a god or other supernatural being or force. In fact, science is completely independent of any ideas about gods or other supernatural beliefs. But science is not anti-theistic: it does not deny such beings or forces, any more than it accepts them (or leprechauns or unicorns), because these things are not within the purview of science. There are many meanings of ‘atheism’ (literally, ‘without god’). We too often lump together various permutations of non-belief, and in so doing we allow religious fundamentalists (anti-anti-theists, so to speak) to treat scientists and others, who simply operate without reference to any particular deity, as if they were anti-religion (Figure 8; Onfray 2011).

Padian perhaps thinks it is just an accident that 78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalist atheists and that that fact has no influence on the judgements they make in the course of their work. As if.

On the whole, despite the anti-theism, he provides a good summary of problems. But decades too late, given that all this stuff has been tolerated and even defended by Padian’s camp for decades, and probably still is by most Darwin activists today. And they won’t really let it change, you may be sure.

Come to think of it, years ago, when journalist Suzan Mazur phoned Padian to discuss the growing ferment around Darwinism, he hung up on her. Wonder if he will start taking her calls any time soon …  Nah.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

12 Replies to “Darwin lobby’s Kevin Padian denounces misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    If he really wants to clean up misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks, here is a excellent place for him to start:

    Falsehoods In Textbooks – Ten Icons of Evolution – overview – Dr. Jonathan Wells – video

    The “Icons of Evolution” – video playlist – video

    Dr. Wells writes a article defending his criticism against the Ten Icons of Evolution in detail here:

    Inherit the Spin: The NCSE Answers “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution”

    (Not) Making the Grade: Recent Textbooks & Their Treatment of Evolution (Icons of Evolution update) podcast and paper – October 2011

    Selling Evolution To Young People Through Deception
    podcast – On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin sits down with CSC Fellow Dr. Cornelius Hunter, who recently signed up to take a free online course at Duke University titled “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution.” Tune in as Dr. Hunter shares about his experience & discusses the misrepresentations and fallacies that are presented in the typical undergraduate evolutionary biology course.

    Back to School to Learn about the “Darwin’s Finches” Icon of Evolution – Casey Luskin – September 22, 2012
    Excerpt: Frank J. Sulloway of Harvard University showed that, really, Darwin was hardly influenced by finches and scarcely observed their feeding habits. He did not correlate their diets and beaks; in fact, Darwin collected too few specimens to determine whether any finch species was unique to each island. He did not even keep track of where he picked up every specimen. Really, no finch species was unique to any one island. Unfortunately, some teachers and writers remain unaware of Sulloway’s historical findings.
    (Alberto A. Martinez, Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin’s Finches, Einstein’s Wife, and Other Myths, pp. 95-96 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).),,,
    It looks like Jonathan Wells has been vindicated once again. It would be nice to think that someday biology textbooks will be amended accordingly.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    One of the most blatant examples of a known falsehood being currently taught as proof of evolution is Haeckel’s Embryo drawings, even though the drawings have been known to be fraudulent for over 100 years;

    Darwin Lobbyists Defend Using Fraudulent Embryo Drawings in the Classroom – Casey Luskin – October 11, 2012
    Excerpt: embryologist Michael Richardson, who called them “one of the most famous fakes in biology,” or Stephen Jay Gould who said “Haeckel had exaggerated the similarities by idealizations and omissions,” and that “in a procedure that can only be called fraudulent,” Haeckel “simply copied the same figure over and over again.” Likewise, in a 1997 article titled “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered,” the journal Science recognized that “[g]enerations of biology students may have been misled by a famous set of drawings of embryos published 123 years ago by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel.” ,,,
    So if you’re a Darwin lobbyist defending a textbook that uses Haeckel’s inaccurate drawings, be forewarned: neither Bob Richards nor any other credible authorities I’m aware of endorse the unqualified and uncritical use of Haeckel’s original inaccurate drawings in biology textbooks today. You’re on your own.

    Haeckel’s Bogus Embryo Drawings – video

    Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Haeckel’s Embryos – January 2011 – video

    There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: – Richardson MK – 1997
    Excerpt: Contrary to recent claims that all vertebrate embryos pass through a stage when they are the same size, we find a greater than 10-fold variation in greatest length at the tailbud stage. Our survey seriously undermines the credibility of Haeckel’s drawings,

    Haeckel’s Embryo Drawings Make Cameos in Proposed Texas Instructional Materials – Casey Luskin – June 2011

    This is all interesting because Charles Darwin himself considered these fraudulent embryo drawings as the ‘strongest class of facts’ in favor of his theory:

    “The embryos of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are closely similar, but become, when fully developed, widely dissimilar.” This is,,, “by far the strongest single class of facts in favor of my theory.”
    Charles Darwin – Origin of Species (1859), Letter to Asa Gray (1860)
    Quote taken from 34:44 minute mark of following video
    On Evolution (Sean McDowell) – video

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Here’s The Craziest Video You’ll Watch All Day

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: How Darwinists React to Improbability Arguments – video
    also known as,,
    Darwinism Not Proved Impossible Therefore Its True – video

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    “Darwinism is atheism in a cheap tuxedo.”- someone on UD recently

  6. 6
    Barb says:

    “But science is not anti-theistic…” Shh, don’t tell Richard Dawkins. It’ll ruin his lunch.

  7. 7
    littlejohn says:

    Certainly one of the hardest things in life to do, is to confess the fact that we may have been mistaken, or wrong.

    Hats off to Dr. Padian, and others like him willing to take that first step (hopefully) in the right direction- toward complete objectivity. Not that such a concept is humanly possible lol!

  8. 8
    goodusername says:


    This is all interesting because Charles Darwin himself considered these fraudulent embryo drawings as the ‘strongest class of facts’ in favor of his theory:

    Pretty clever of Darwin considering that the drawings didn’t yet exist when he made that statement.

  9. 9
    julianbre says:

    On the dvd Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Carl Werner is speaking with Kevin Padian about whale evolution. Kevin says he had just seen an exhibit of Rodhocetus discovered by Dr Philip Gingerich at the University of Michigan (with the tail fluke and flippers drawn on). I’ll paraphrase Mr. Padian “After seeing this exhibit on Rodhocetus, you would have to be three days dead not to believe in whale evolution”. Three days dead? Really? I had to replay that part several times because why would anyone say such an odd thing? Mr Padian is a propagandist, nothing more. He left science behind years ago so he could push his religion on others. As Dr Gingerich now admits, “I speculated that it might have had a fluke … I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluked tail.”

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Good catch Good user name, my bad, will delete the word ‘drawings’ from my notes. However the main point remains:

    The Strongest Single Class of Facts – 2011
    Excerpt: “[E]mbryology is to me is by far the strongest single class of facts in favor” of my theory of evolution, was the claim of Charles Darwin. The nineteenth century embryological evidence was pivotal for the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    Just two months before the release of the first edition of The Origin of Species in September 1859, Darwin wrote to Charles Lyell, “Embryology in Chapter VIII is one of my strongest points I think.”

    Founded as a field of science by German biologist Karl Ernst von Baer (1792–1876), embryology was just an emerging science in the nineteenth century. As the first to discover the mammalian ovum, Baer is now recognized as the founder of modern embryology.

    With the available technologies of the nineteenth century, Baer formulated a set of laws now known as Baer’s Law. According to Baer, the general characteristic of a group to which an embryo belongs develops before special characteristics. Embryonic changes were thought to be the driving force to produce the final form.,,,

  11. 11
    KRock says:

    Good to see someone on the otherside of the fence, finally taking notice of the many misrepresentations that the Darwin lobbyists have been denying, exist!

  12. 12
    johnnyb says:

    You can tell when someone is being disingenuous about how religion is outside the purview of science based on the other things in their list next to God.

    For instance, we can tell that Kevin Padian is being disingenuous, because he lists God next to unicorns and leprechauns. Presumably, none of them exist, which is why they aren’t under science’s purview.

    If someone was not being disingenuous, then they would have in their list of things next to God things like “beauty”, “love”, “perfection”, “goodness”, and “justice”. This are things which presumably exist but are in fact outside science’s purview.

    With the former list, saying “evolution doesn’t disprove God any more than unicorns” one is just being coy. With the latter list, they would be making a serious point.

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