University of Texas, Austin molecular biologist Andy Ellington has posted a “live-blog” from today’s Texas State Board of Education hearing on whether to adopt curricula that teach evolution in a one-sided fashion. His blog provides insight into the mind of the average evolutionary scientist at a state university. Let’s just say that he looks down upon those who don’t agree with him. For example:
- He uses ridicule, stating that Texas must “determine whether or not [to be a] laughingstock with respect to the teaching of evolution.
- He uses namecalling, saying that “every idiot gets their say”
Based on his incendiary rhetoric, Dr. Ellington is obviously of course well-schooled in the talking points of the Darwin lobby. His online testimony thus further states:
Watering down the fact and theory of evolution in your textbook will be viewed as capitulation to an anti-competitive, no-nothing attitude that does not serve our nation well.
Of course the precise opposite is true. This isn’t about “watering down” anything but rather it’s about teaching evolution as a science rather than a dogma. And teaching evolution scientifically could solve many problems facing science education.
Authorities identify two major problems in American science education: Students are not adequately taught critical thinking skills, and insufficient numbers of students are inspired to pursue careers in science.
If there are problems with science education, they must be linked to the status quo. In this regard, for decades the Darwin lobby has successfully pushed its dogmatic agenda across the country. But something isn’t working. Allowing students to weigh the pros and cons of modern evolutionary theory would work towards solving those problems.
First, teaching students the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution will improve critical thinking skills. According to a paper published last year in the journal Science, “[c]ritique is not  some peripheral feature of science, but rather it is core to its practice.” As a result, students learn science best when asked “to discriminate between evidence that supports … or does not support” a given concept. Teaching evolution critically would implement this exact approach, improving critical thinking skills in students.
Second, presenting the controversy over neo-Darwinism will increase student interest in science. Teaching students that the answer to “How humans arose?” is “Darwinian evolution,” and no further fundamental questions need be asked, only squashes their interest in science. In contrast, informing students about a robust scientific debate over origins is the perfect catalyst to inspire students to pursue science.
Darwin-only lobbyists preach a dumbed-down version of modern evolutionary theory that purportedly has no weaknesses–but this is a bluff designed to stifle debate. In fact, in a subsequent article we’ll discuss controversy over the very scientific claims that Dr. Ellington made in his testimony.