With the need for online education escalating in light of social dynamics responding to pandemic politics, it is crucial that evolutionary science—the bedrock of our civilization—not be exploited as a mass-mind tool of financial interests, which is currently the case regarding Khan Academy.Suzan Mazur, “Sal Khan, End Mass-Mind Teaching of Darwinian Natural Selection” at Oscillations
Mazur provides valuable background within which computer scientist Khan’s enterprise is situated, noting that when the College Board pulled Unit 7 (the Natural Selection unit) from the AP biology exam,
… while Khan did a knee jerk, and removed Unit 7 from its prep menu for the AP digital exam—the academy is still dishing out natural selection as part of its instruction.Suzan Mazur, “Sal Khan, End Mass-Mind Teaching of Darwinian Natural Selection” at Oscillations
Here’s a thought: The problem with natural selection (survival of the fittest) as a concept is that it inevitably leads to notions of superiority/inferiority, which come to dominate thinking about evolution. That’s probably the main reason that evolution got mixed up with racism.
Consider: Quantum mechanics, like evolution, was dominated by white European males. It was getting started not too long after evolution. But the ideas QM generated don’t tend particularly to underwrite racism. They lead to entirely different cultural assumptions (Schrodinger’s cat, for example, but not human zoos). Sure, a few of the ideas sparked by quantum mechanics sound at times like a lunatic fringe—but it is one we can easily ignore. Not so with racism.
We now know that evolution happens in a number of ways in addition to direct inheritance (for example, horizontal gene transfer, epigenetics, genomic doubling, hybridization, convergence, devolution… ) Some patterns persist longer than others. But it is not a game of winners vs. losers, rather, a living pattern that is constantly unfolding. If it were taught that way, there would likely be a lot less controversy.
See also: At Oscillations: Natural selection issue stirs again at College Boards. The course and exam framework put heavy emphasis on Darwinism even though, as noted earlier, it simply isn’t treated any more as an explain-all. Independent journalist Suzan Mazur asked Richard Phelps, founder and editor of the Nonpartisan Education Review and an expert in educational testing for comment.