a long way to go

29 October 2007

So, South Africa will start requiring high schools to teach evolutionary theory. One is tempted to ask why they waited until 2007 to do so, but reading this article answers such questions: the degree of ignorance about science, both on the part of teachers and the author (consider that it is stated, apparently in all seriousness, that “evolution theory, and its growing body of followers, invariably generates tension between secular, atheist scientists and conservative religions.”, and “Evolution…is rated highly by education experts because they believe it teaches learners to think critically and analytically..”) Yes, it looks like an uphill battle, but certainly one that needs to be fought.


Sweden is Ahead as Usual

15 October 2007

Creationism to be banished from Swedish schools


‘The Swedish government is to crack down on the role religion plays in independent faith schools. The new rules will include a ban on biology teachers teaching creationism or ‘intelligent design’ alongside evolution.

“Pupils must be protected from all forms of fundamentalism,” said Education Minister Jan Bj√∂rklund to Dagens Nyheter.”

Bloody brilliant. No further commentary needed; yes, i am lazy, but this speaks for itself and it is a good thing!

Those IDiots at Uncommon Descent are at it again, gleefully quote-mining a good research paper. The argument and the actual paper, being open source is here. Now I challenge anyone to read the paper and the IDiotic exchange that follows and not get the feeling that those guys just don’t get it at all. They don’t get the scientific method; they don’t get the science itself; they don’t get reality. They are in the grip of a strange ideology that utterly blinds them to any interpretations that differ from their own. They claim that we (“evolutionists”, “Darwinists”) are blind to possibilities, without seeming to realize that their pet alternative has been considered, analyzed, found wanting and discarded a long time ago. Evolution by natural selection can certainly turn out to have been a wrong idea—even though I consider that highly unlikely—but the balderdash of Intelligent Design is certainly wrong. We shouldn’t even waste time discussing it!

The level of dishonesty and ignorance at Uncommon Descent leads me to believe that perhaps life on this planet originated on several different occasions. I do not think I share any genetic material with them…


08 October 2007

In a rather frightening development, British educators are actually suggesting the teaching of creationism in public schools: the actual article is here; the salient point is:

“(Reiss)said science teachers must treat pupils who have creationist beliefs with respect. “What I am saying is teach evolution as a really good part of science but be open to the fact that in most classes there are increasingly likely to be some children who come from families that cannot accept that – and don’t denigrate those pupils and their beliefs. The days have long gone when science teachers could ignore creationism when teaching about origins.”

This guy is apparently an Anglican priest and holds a doctorate in evolutionary biology. I am not quite sure what to make of this mess: obviously this is bullshit of prime texture and odour, along with any demand to treat religious beliefs with “respect” solely because they are religious. Since there is no evidence for creationist beliefs outside of the believers’ deluded little minds, such beliefs do not belong in a science classroom. Comparative religion, perhaps. What’s next? Should we teach racialist ideologies in class just to appease several Nazi skins that happen to hold some idiotic precepts about the superiority of the Aryan race? Or entertain the possibility of ships falling off the edge of the Earth to pacify an occasional flat-earther? And should the content of science classes be geared to reflect the cultural and religious diversity of the student population?

We can and we should ignore creationism when teaching about the origins. As far as we know (which is not much, currently, I admit freely), Flying Spaghetti Monsters had nothing to do with the emergence of life on this planet. Some people believe so. Let them; that’s their problem. But no scientist worthy of the title should present their belief systems as anything that they are: primitive guesswork illuminated by a rigid set of morals and unamenable to change and growth–the exact opposite of science.

The increasing fundamentalism is definitely a problem, but one that will not be cured by coddling it. Remember Chamberlain?

…is Letters to the editor, of course. Ignorance and a near-total incapacity to think logically are a rule rather than an exception. Consider this:

More questions on evolution

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing: Global warming Fallacies. Notice the last sentence: as if we need further proof of the dangers of religiously-motivated thought…

More later; need to sleep…

resource links

27 September 2007

For Russian speakers: a good antidote to creationist claims is here

According to a Gallup poll:

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.