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October 29, 2003

ID in schools? (II)

From the message board:

The issue here isn't whether evolution is true, but whether it's wise to teach it to young children

Do you really want your children to be taught that life is a constant struggle of person against person, family against family, class against class, sex against sex ...

... and of children against parents?

(yes I know this is simplistic, but that's how most kids in their early teens will see the situation)

Sounds like a recipe for social chaos to me

Kids who want to pursue careers in biology can learn about evolution in college. i.e. when they're old enough to understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their opinions and actions

Folks who push evolution in schools are being either (a) stupid or (b) deliberately malicious and socially destructive

I won't get into the depth of the caricature here of "evolution," just note that the description above seems closer to Social Darwinism writ large than any theory of biological evolution. In any case, got me thinking, I remember reading an article back in 1990 in the Skeptical Inqurier about the beliefs that newspaper editors had about evolution. The basic tenor was something similar to Social Darwinism, not anything close to Darwin's theory, let alone something approaching the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Here are the only snippets I could find on the web:

Dr. Zimmerman has surveyed the top news executive at each of the 1,563 daily newspapers in the United States. Only 51 percent of the editors disagreed strongly with the statement "dinosaurs and humans lived contemporaneously." Only 57 percent disagreed strongly with the statement "Every word in the Bible is true." Although 16 percent of the editors think that "creation science" has a valid scientific foundation, approximately one-fourth of them indicate that they personally accept the premises of "creation science."(20)
Gatekeepers? Hm....
Posted by razib at 11:48 PM

To the extent that media are not rich men's money-losing vanity mouthpieces (e.g. Rev. Moon's Washington Times), they tend to be run by people who have been promoted up from advertising sales. This is especially true of radio, but the Newhouse papers, for example, are overwhelmingly concerned with the bottom line rather than ideology or professionalism. (The rightward pull from advertising and management which tends to cancel the supposed liberal tendencies of reporters. Or do you think that maybe these opinion-leaders were *leftist* creationists?)

A LOT of the animus against Darwinism comes from its association with sexual liberation -- "We're all really just animals, let's behave animalistically!" (This, of course, is not based on careful observation of the sexual practices of animals, which vary a lot; mostly probably from watching dogs when a bitch is in heat).

And oddly, conservative Christians of the Texas type have integrated a complacent version of the Social-Darwinian Law of the Jungle into Christianity. (LA New Age conservatives also use the idea of karma to justify their privilege, though this is hardly a distortion of the original function of the doctrine).

The political and ethical interpretation of scientific ideas is a messy business.

Posted by: Zizka at October 30, 2003 08:08 AM

I do think it's unfair to say as evidence of their belief in evolution that only 51% of news editors storngly disagree with "every word of the bible is true" for Christans and those with similar beliefs , that is the case in fact that arguablly defines the bible for them-where they would dispute (and hence many might support evolution) is in what sense Adam and Eve and the Seven days (partiuclaryu given the Hebrew of the orignianl in the latter case) are true is it a metaphor the human conditon perhaps?

The dinonsarus example seems to me again to be unfair- it could just as easily be to scientific ignorance by a sincere evolutionist as anything else. An incredible number of well educated people-include fanatical Darwinists are very badly educated scientifically.

Posted by: tom at October 30, 2003 09:29 PM