The Natural History Museum (NHM) has issued a press release on the 5th December 2008, extolling the virtues of its new book ‘99% Ape: How evolution adds up’ and why Intelligent Design is flawed.
This book has been written by academics at the Open University (OU) in the UK, and it is aimed at pre-university level (level 1), either for general interest, or to prepare potential students for study at university levels 2 and 3 – written, apparently, for those with no prior knowledge of science. Pointing out errors in such works is in the public interest to maintain scientific accuracy. It would be a disgrace for anyone to suffer for merely pointing out that material in a textbook from leading academic institutions is out of date, or wrong, and I offer my support to Richard.
This book is part of the Darwin200 celebrations, which are being used to give fresh impetus to the 2009 Darwin evangelical campaign. Seemingly, not enough people in the UK are yet Darwin believers, with 39% either creationists or intelligent design supporters according to a BBC Survey .
Not having read the book, it probably would not be fair to comment further. But as noted leading journals such as Science have called the figure of 1% a ‘myth’. (Relative Differences: The Myth of 1%, Jon Cohen, Science, 316, 29 June 2007: 1836). (The ENCODE research project has also revealed that the bulk of DNA should no longer be classified as junk with at least 93% coded in the cell in some way, thus making it even harder for evolution to ‘add up.’)
It will be interesting to see whether the NHM and OU will now withdraw the book from sale and update the work with the latest scientific findings for the sake of scientific accuracy. Or are they happy to knowingly present a ‘myth’ as scientific truth at the level of popular science? Failure to act will not inspire confidence in their position as guardians of standards in science education.
(The NHM still also has a video clip from 22nd May 2003 claiming 99.4% similarity – perhaps that needs removing as well) video clip