Shocking: Most Biology Teachers, Afraid of Controversy, Don't Teach Evolution

We know that the debate over evolution is being continuously and ridiculously waged in the halls of power. But who knew that this wavering over real science vs. unproven mumbo-jumbo had such a serious trickle-down effect into the nation's classrooms?

The New York Times has a surprising breakdown of the numbers, based ona national survey conducted by Science Magazine. The results were that just under 30% of teachers follow the National Research Councils's recommendation on teaching evolution: you know, presenting the evidence for it and making it clear that this theory is "the unifying theme of all of biology.  Meanwhile, 13% devote serious time to creatinism, leaving a huge swath in the  middle who hedge their bets, teaching evolution but not "endorsing" it.

Even worse, the survey pointed out that for many students, biology will be the only science course they take--so the buck stops with these educators who are falling down on the job. Are you smacking your hand against your forehead yet? The Times reports:

The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs.
Eric Plutzer, a co-author of the paper, said that the most enthusiastic proponents of creationism were geographically widely spread across the country.

Between climate-change denial, the assault on women's healthcare, and this, the attack on the use of logic and reason and the scientific process continues apace.

Remember the scientific revolution and the enlightenment? Apparently, we're still fighting the culture wars of the 17th century. 

Read the full story at the New York Times.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at February 9, 2011, 5:03am

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