Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Thursday, April 14, 2005

National Academy of Science in USA asked to defend evolution

The president of the NAS of the USA, Bruce Alberts (coauthor of one of the most widely used textbooks on cell biology), has written to all members of the academy, asking them to publicly defend evolution against the quasi and pseudoscientific claims of intelligent design and creationism. Spurred by Michael Behe's egregious misrepresentation of Alberts' views in defence of ID, he writes:
I write to you now because of a growing threat to the teaching of science through the inclusion of non-scientifically based "alternatives" in science courses throughout the country. ...
Recent tactics to cast doubt on the veracity or robustness of the theory of evolution have included placing disclaimer stickers in the front of high school biology textbooks (Cobb County, GA and Alabama; proposal before the Missouri House of Representatives), mandating or recommending the inclusion of Intelligent Design in high school biology courses (e.g., Dover, PA; Cecil County, MD, respectively); development of statewide lesson plans that encourage students to examine "weaknesses" in the theory of evolution (Ohio), and plans to revisit parts of state science standards that focus on evolution (Kansas State Board of Education). If these challenges have not yet reached where you live or work, they are likely to do so in time.
We stand ready to help others in addressing the increasingly strident attempts to limit the teaching of evolution or to introduce non-scientific "alternatives" into science courses and curricula. If this controversy arrives at your doorstep, I hope that you will both alert us to the specific issues in your state or school district and be willing to use your position and prestige as a member of the NAS in helping us to work locally.
I hope that he is heeded in this matter. Scientists generally do not like to get involved in public controversies - they are not trained for it and often come across looking like the caricature the media has for scientists - as elitist ivory tower types. But if they don't step on the rise of "fake" science, which finds its way into television shows such as the X Files and (by report) Revelations, in which science is always shown to be wrong in favour of whatever is the latest popular superstition (often someone who claims to be able to cure cancer if only the Establishment would allow him), then science will become a marginal feature of modern life.

This condition is known, generally, as a "dark ages".

[Via Sarkar Lab]