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Biology majors recruited to face rearward promoting Darwin

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From Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C. and Avelina Espinosa at Evolution: Education and Outreach:

The controversy around evolution, creationism, and intelligent design resides in a historical struggle between scientific knowledge and popular belief. Four hundred seventy-six students (biology majors n = 237, nonmajors n = 239) at a secular liberal arts private university in Northeastern United States responded to a five-question survey to assess their views about: (1) evolution, creationism, and intelligent design in the science class; (2) students’ attitudes toward evolution; (3) students’ position about the teaching of human evolution; (4) evolution in science exams; and (5) students’ willingness to discuss evolution openly. There were 60.6% of biology majors and 42% of nonmajors supported the exclusive teaching of evolution in the science class, while 45.3% of nonmajors and 32% of majors were willing to learn equally about evolution, creationism, and intelligent design (question 1); 70.5% of biology majors and 55.6% of nonmajors valued the factual explanations evolution provides about the origin of life and its place in the universe (question 2); 78% of the combined responders (majors plus nonmajors) preferred science courses where evolution is discussed comprehensively and humans are part of it (question 3); 69% of the combined responders (majors plus nonmajors) had no problem answering questions concerning evolution in science exams (question 4); 48.1% of biology majors and 26.8% of nonmajors accepted evolution and expressed it openly, but 18.2% of the former and 14.2% of the latter accepted evolution privately; 46% of nonmajors and 29.1% of biology majors were reluctant to comment on this topic (question 5). Combined open plus private acceptance of evolution within biology majors increased with seniority, from freshman (60.7%) to seniors (81%), presumably due to gradual exposure to upper-division biology courses with evolutionary content. College curricular/pedagogical reform should fortify evolution literacy at all education levels, particularly among nonbiologists. (public access) More.

Science historian Michael Flannery writes to say,

Of course, the very first sentence of the abstract is completely inaccurate: “The controversy around evolution, creationism, and intelligent design resides in a historical struggle between scientific knowledge and popular belief.” The statement creates false divisions and, as so often, fails to really define evolution. But as the introduction makes clear, the authors definitely mean “Darwinian evolution” in which case it is (again) falsely assumed that Darwinian evolution is “science” and everything else is just “popular belief.”

By their criteria William Whewell, John Herschel, Adam Sedgwick, Louis Agassiz, Louis Pasteur, Richard Owen, Pierre Paul Grasse, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Harold Morowitz,Marcel Schutzenberger, Lynn Margulis, Fred Hoyle, Ernst Chain, Mike Behe, Michael Denton, Cornelius George Hunter, and many others aren’t “scientists” and cannot by definition be “scientists.” Why? Apparently because they question the Darwinian paradigm which has now become synecdoche for “science.”

Their statement is not only wrong but profoundly unhistorical since, historically speaking, the vast majority of natural philosophers (“scientists”) would have argued for some form of creationism or intelligent design.

This being the case, their data can be their own condemnation since they demonstrate that “majors’ acceptance of evolution increases with their academic level, from freshman to senior.” This is obvious indoctrination. Of course, if Thomas Kuhn was right, I suppose we might expect this, but it remains a disconcerting and sad commentary. But is it too much to ask for a little historical accuracy? And, by the way, intelligent design is NOT “a doctrine born in the 1980s”, it began at least as early as Anaxagoras (500-428 BC).

A friend tells us that Guillermo Paz-y-Mino is a hard-core Darwin ideologues citing Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (Science, Evolution and Creationism) That’s the sort of thing, unfortunately, that passes for science in pop culture. Actual science happens out of reach.

See also: What the fossils told us in their own words

One Reply to “Biology majors recruited to face rearward promoting Darwin

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    There are some answer-forcing questions on the survey.

    “I prefer not to answer questions concerning evolution” could come from two separate attitudes. It could mean I’m so sure of evelution that I don’t allow questions about it, or it could mean I’m so firmly opposed that I don’t allow questiona about it.

    Similar to common survey questions like “I’m concerned about environmental issues”. An agreeing response could mean that I’m a loyal Gaian, could mean that I’m concerned about the tyranny of Gaians.

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