Presenting Evolution

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With the recent discovery of Tiktaalik, and the paper in Science showing that yet another complex biological system has now yielded to an evolutionary explanation, evoution has been in the news quite a bit lately. That inevitably leads to thoughts about how best to present evolution to the public. I offer some thoughts on that subject in two entries over at EvolutionBlog: Part One here and Part Two here. Part One discusses Bill Nye's appearance on the MSNBC show Countdown, and some of the press releases related to the Science paper. Part two discusses this article, from today's New York Times, about the recent film Flock of Dodos. Enjoy!

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Teach the Evidence from The Politburo Diktat on April 14, 2006 11:44 AM

The Panda’s Thumb crew suggested that the “evilutionists” come up with a response to “Teach the Controversy.” It’s an interesting discussion. Here are a couple possibilities: 1. 2. click for bigger images. ... Read More


When Randy Olson (Flock of Dodos) asks evolutionary biologists “to come up with a slogan to match intelligent design’s “teach the controversy,” they fumble.”

Well: “Life’s past voices echo in the present.” “The diversity of life speaks for itself” or more even more simply “Life speaks for itself.” “Life of the past speaks through us today.” “The threads of Life binds us all.” Genetics, physiology, morphology, etc.

Vague hand waving statements that imply evolutionary ideas are fairly straightforward. The diversity of backgrounds in this group should make Ad campaign ideas a snap.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Re “evoution”

Where the “L”? ;)

“ID advocates… are perfectly happy to lay Nazism and other horrors at evolution’s doorstep…”

Amen brotha! I frequently try to have discussions, which inevitably become debates, with a fundamentalist baptist friend of mine about evolution. He makes it impossible for me as he always comes back to moral issues and says uses this whole Hitler was inspired by evolution idiocy. He refuses to just look at the evidence for evolution. It’s really quite frustrating.

uses this whole Hitler was inspired by evolution idiocy.

Why not take this on directly? Here’s a good concise write-up on the whole Nazism & evolution misinformation by The Commissar at The Politburu Diktat

Oh well, the link that works is the important one.

The article above certainly contains some good discussion about how to handle these issues in OTHER types of classes–history, history of science, comparative religion, philosophy. I’m thinking, though, that if I were a high school biology or general science instructor– feeling actually or potentially caught between smart-mouth students, pushy parents, and vaccillating or hostile administrators–I’d want some tips on what I could and couldn’t say, or should and shouldn’t say, in THAT class.

Obviously, you can’t legally teach creationism, creation science, or ID, or hold any of these up as if there is any genuine “controversy” between them and the ToE, or as if they throw doubt on the scientific evidence for ToE, etc., etc.

But what CAN you say in response to questions or pressure or student-teacher blowback?

I realize the NCSE likely has some good resources, as does Talk.Origins. I’ve seen some good pointers on different threads on this site. But what I’m talking about–what I think would really help the beleaguered HS science teacher–would be a short series of “scripted” “bullet point” responses–things that are true, that can be backed up with law or evidence (that could be provided in the form of links), and that would diplomatically but truthfully deflect the kind of pressures which will otherwise keep these teachers from teaching ANY evolutionary science at all. Stuff that’s been battle-tested, on the ground, by science teachers in science classes.

I think THAT would make an excellent topic here (not that it hasn’t been touched on before in prior posts, but it would be great to see it taken head-on, as the central theme of a post).

Or, if folks think that kind of short’n’sweet, punchy, let’s-get-past-the-religious-discussion-so-we-can-learn-some-science resource is out there somewhere, then let’s see some down’n’dirty linkage.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 7, column 10, byte 1493 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/mach/5.18/XML/ line 187.

bruce Wrote:


the problem with the evolution slogan attempts I’ve seen (aside from the fact I literally can’t remember any of them) is that they don’t trigger any political motivation. The excellent “teach the controversy” not only declares a non-existent controversy, it also says “come ON guys, it’s not FAIR to suppress a reasonable candidate for truth”. a simple talking point that even a total moron can wield without having to explain more deeply what he’s talking about. I would suggest something like “learn what evolution is before you complain about it moron”, but stated in about four words.

When Randy Olson (Flock of Dodos) asks evolutionary biologists “to come up with a slogan to match intelligent design’s “teach the controversy,” they fumble.”

How about: “Wanna get sued?”.

But what CAN you say in response to questions or pressure or student-teacher blowback?

I suggest, “You are not teaching this class – I am. You can believe evolution or not. I don’t care. But you damn well better UNDERSTAND it, or you will flunk this class. Do we have an understanding?”

Comment #96172

Posted by Help! on April 12, 2006 01:35 PM (e)

Amen brotha! I frequently try to have discussions, which inevitably become debates, with a fundamentalist baptist friend of mine about evolution. He makes it impossible for me as he always comes back to moral issues and says uses this whole Hitler was inspired by evolution idiocy. He refuses to just look at the evidence for evolution. It’s really quite frustrating.

It had nothing to do with evolution because racists will find their justification in anything. Long before evolution was proposed by Darwin non-whites (here in America and through much of Europe) were believed to be inferior through various religious, technological and/or economic mechanisms.

Here in America, the KKK still uses many of those arguments to this day. For example, one KKK argument is that blacks are inferior because they never invented the wheel (technology). Another KKK argument is that they were cursed by God.

Other religious groups believed that blacks and Indians were cursed/inferior through the operation of their religion. The Mormons believed that the North American Indians (Lamanites(Jews))were cursed with “brownness” would become less brown and more white (delight-some) over time as they left sin and joined the people of God (Mormons). The Catholics believed, until just a hundred years ago, that blacks were cursed by God and inferior to whites. And that’s not to pick on the Catholics & Mormons, most Protestant religions had either official positions or custom and practice to the same, in the old days. There were very few religious, like the Mennonites and Amish, that held blacks and Indians (non-whites in general) to be equal and deserving of respect.

But, back to the Holocaust, besides Jews, the Holocaust included Slavs, Catholic & Protestant German Clergy, Homosexuals, the Roma, Disabled, Trade Unionists, Free Masons, Communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses among others. The following estimates are considered to be highly reliable. The estimates:

* 5.1—6.0 million Jews, including 3.0—3.5 million Polish Jews * 1.8 —1.9 million Gentile Poles (includes all those killed in executions or those that died in prisons, labor, and concentration camps, as well as civilians killed in the 1939 invasion and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising). * 3.5—6 million other Slavic civilians * 2.5—4 million Soviet POWs * 1—1.5 million political dissidents * 200,000—800,000 Roma & Sinti * 200,000—300,000 people with disabilities * 80,000—200,000 Freemasons * 100,000 communists * 10,000—25,000 homosexual men * 2,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Catholic and Protestant Clergy were just a few hundred at most.

Now, unless your friend is saying that there is some evolutionary link between political dissidents, communists, Freemasons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Darwin, his theory isn’t capable of explaining the data.

Unfortunately, you’d probably have a better chance of getting a rock to understand it than your friend. His mind is made up.

But what CAN you say in response to questions or pressure or student-teacher blowback?

Science, by the nature of its insistence that data and results be transparent and replicable, is public knowledge, suitable for discussion in the public schools, where students may come from diverse religious backgrounds. Religious belief, on the other hand is, by its nature, private, and is best discussed in the home or in the student’s chosen place of worship.

Framing it in the context of respect for all religions, which I believe is also in the spirit of the Establishment Clause.

snaxalotl wrote: I would suggest something like “learn what evolution is before you complain about it moron”, but stated in about four words.

A 4 worded political statement motivating those unfamiliar with the concepts under discussion except in the broadest terms, yet conveying the advantages of evolutionary theory. Ummm.

Are you better off now than 150 years ago? (cribbed) Don’t confuse science with belief Confusing science with belief is bad for your health (cribbed) Facts not fiction.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

I must admit Lenny’s has a certain catchiness to it that would impress school boards around the country.

Hitler was inspired by evolution idiocy.

My standard response to that idiocy:

A common charge made by creationists is that evolutionary theory is “evil” and is the source of racism in general, and of dictatorial killers in particular. The most often-heard assertion is that Hitler and his racist genocide were the product of “evolutionary philosophy”. Henry Morris, for instance, flatly declares, “However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionst.” (Morris, “Evolution and Modern racism”, ICR Impact, October 1973) Morris adds: “The philosophies of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche–the forerunners of Stalin and Hitler–have been particularly baleful in their effect: both were dedicated evolutionists.” (Morris, Troubled Waters of Evolution, 1974 p. 33)

How accurate is this creationist finger-pointing? Not very. The creationists are apparently unaware of the fact that Stalinist Russia rejected Darwinian evolution as “bourgeois” and instead embraced the non-Darwinian “proletarian biology” of Lysenko and Michurin (a disaster from which Russian genetics and biological sciences has still not completely recovered). As for Hitler, even a cursory reading of his book Mein Kampf reveals that the true source of Hitler’s inspiration and exhortations came from a source that creationists, understandably, would rather not talk about.

Hitler’s goal was the “purification” of the “Aryan race” through the elimination of “subhumans”, which included Jews, gypsies, Asians, black Africans, and everyone else who was not a white Aryan. Despite the creationists claims that this was based on Darwinain evolutionary theory, Hitler’s own writings give quite a different story. The ICR claims that “Hitler used the German word for evolution (Entwicklung) over and over again in his book.” (ICR Impact, “The Ascent of Racism”, Paul Humber Feb 1987) Like so many of ICR’s claims, this one is simply not true—a quick scan of several online English translations of Mein Kampf shows only ONE use of the word “evolution”, in a context which does not refer at all to biological evolution, but instead to the development of political ideas in Germany: “This evolution has not yet taken the shape of a conscious intention and movement to restore the political power and independence of our nation.”

Had ICR made even a cursory reading of Mein Kampf, they would have seen a quite different source for Hitler’s racist inspiration than the one they would have us believe. White Aryans, Hitler writes, are the special creations of God, the “highest image of the Lord”, put here specifically to rule over the “subhuman” races: “Human culture and civilization on this continent are inseparably bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he dies out or declines, the dark veils of an age without culture will again descend on this globe. The undermining of the existence of human culture by the destruction of its bearer seems in the eyes of a folkish philosophy the most execrable crime. Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent Creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise.” (all quotes from Hitler, Mein Kampf, online version) Actions which aid the “subhumans” at the expense of the Aryan master race, Hitler declared, were an offense against God: “ It is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator if His most gifted beings by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands are allowed to degenerate in the present proletarian morass, while Hottentots and Zulu Kaffirs are trained for intellectual professions.”

Rather than basing his racism on any evolutionary theory, Hitler based it squarely on his view of white Aryans as the favored people of God. In fact, Hitler solemnly declares that his program of removing Jews and other “subhumans” from the earth is a divine task forced upon him by the Lord Almighty: “What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproductionof our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purityof our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that ourpeople may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the Creator of the universe.”

Hitler concludes: “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord,” adding “Compared to the absurd catchword about safeguarding law and order, thus laying a peaceable groundwork for mutual swindles, the task of preserving and advancing the highest humanity, given to this earth by the benevolence of the Almighty, seems a truly high mission.” For Hitler, removing the subhumans from earth was not a matter of biology or evolution—it was a divine mandate from God Himself, the “work of the Lord”, a “truly high mission”.

Even in discussing racial purity and “race-mixing”, Hitler chooses not the words of evolutionary biology or eugenics, but points instead to his divinely holy mission: “Historical experience offers countless proofs of this. It shows with terrifying clarity that in every mingling of Aryan blood with that of lower peoples the result was the end of the cultured people. North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture. The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood. The result of all racial crossing is therefore in brief always the following: To bring about such a development is, then, nothing else but to sin against the will of the Eternal Creator.”

The goal of the “folkish government”, then, Hitler declares is to “finally to put an end to the constant and continuous original sin of racial poisoning, and to give the Almighty Creator beings such as He Himself created.”

“The folkish-minded man, in particular,” Hitler concludes, “has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will.”

In Mein Kampf, Hitler makes an emotional appeal to God to aid him and his Nazis in their divine task: “Then, from the child’s story-book to the last newspaper in the country, and every theatre and cinema, every pillar where placards are posted and every free space on the hoardings should be utilized in the service of this one great mission, until the faint-hearted cry, “Lord, deliver us,” which our patriotic associations send up to Heaven to-day would be transformed into an ardent prayer: ‘Almighty God, bless our arms when the hour comes. ‘ “ Later, when Nazi troops swarmed over Europe, each of them wore an army-issue belt buckle inscribed with the words “God is With Us”.

The invocation of God and the Bible in support of racism continues with modern hate groups in the US. Aryan Nations, which also calls itself the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, begins its web site by proclaiming “Praise Yahweh” and its intention to “serve the Lord of Glory and His Holy Race”. The American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan note that only those of “Christian faith” can be members, and asks every new recruit “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” The White Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan declare that “at some point God’s people must take action in the defense of our Christian, racial and political beliefs”. The Camelia KKK website also explicitly states “We base our beliefs on our Biblical interpretations, not ignorance, superstition or blind hatred.” How does the Camelia KKK justify its opposition to “race-mixing”? “White Christian Israelites are under God�s law and covenant. The other peoples of the earth are under nature�s law, which God also created… Nature�s law, which is a creation of YAHWEH, dictates that kind reproduce after kind. The different people of the world were never supposed to mix.” The Imperial Klans of America declares, “We are a gathering of White Christian men and women.” The National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan website declares that they “reverently acknowledge the majesty and supremacy of Almighty God and recognize his goodness and providence through his Son Jesus Christ. We avow the distinction between the races of mankind as decreed by the Lord our God, and we shall ever be true to the maintenance of His Supremacy.”

None of these racist websites mentions “Darwin” or “evolution” as a justification for any of their beliefs. All of them talk about “God” and “The Creator” instead.

Thanks to Lenny and CJ O’Brien. These are appropriate responses for certain teachers in certain situations.

I still think it would be helpful to those we’re most concerned about–the teachers and students–to gather some more “tips and scripts” together in one place.

Anybody familiar with TO know if they’ve already got something along these lines?

Bruce Thompson GQ Wrote:

Are you better off now than 150 years ago? (cribbed) Don’t confuse science with belief Confusing science with belief is bad for your health (cribbed) Facts not fiction.

If you’re going for a bumper sticker quote, shorter is better. I want a bumper sticker that says:


Short, to the point, a little in-your-face, but I think tugging on that same sort of internal fairness node as “teach the controversy”.

“PROVE IT” That would be a bumper sticker for me!

Johnny Vector Wrote:

If you’re going for a bumper sticker quote, shorter is better. I want a bumper sticker that says:


Short, to the point, a little in-your-face, but I think tugging on that same sort of internal fairness node as “teach the controversy”.

I’m not sure about that…might therefore suggest that you want to teach the controversy. After all, scientists can’t actually prove anything, so it’s all just theories, so we should teach everything, etc.

How about a contrast slogan? Something like:

“Genesis in church. Science in schools.”

Possible variations on Science - Biology, Evolution, Genes, Darwin, etc. e.g “Genesis in church. Genes in school.”

Also, we could prefix both parts with “Keep …” But I think it’s better left implicit. “Keep Genesis in church” could be misconstrued as anti-religious.

Other variations on the word “Genesis” could be “Creation” or “religion,” but since our problem is with the teaching of the Creation account, not with all religion (PZ Myers notwithstanding), the narrowest possible objection, i.e. “Genesis” is best. The notion that we respect both science and religion, and merely want them in their distinct spheres, is, IMHO, a good argument.

In general, whatever form, the slogan should appeal to the broadest segment of the population. If should ‘frame’ an argument that most folks agree with. We’ve all seen the poll numbers. A slogan that says “evolution is RIGHT” isn’t so hot. “Humans from apes; get over it.” also wouldnt appeal broadly. But … preserving the separation of church and state? Sure most people can get behind that.

Another part of the frame is using the word “Science.” Yes, ID is opposed to science; it is dressed up Creationsim. Let them holler that “ID is too science.” It is NOT, and we have a Republican Federal judge who ruled that it is not. There may not be any scientific controversy, but there sure is a PR controversy. We’ve gotta have one of these stupid debates. So, if we have to have one of them, the debate to have is “Is ID science or not?” and “Do we want separation of church and state.”

I’d appreciate suggestions and modifications of this basic structure. Maybe different words. Maybe a few more words. Maybe a different order.

(I may post a revised version of this comment on my blog.)

How about

Study now, ((Carp)) later

where “carp” is inside a Darwin Fish.


How about ‘Show me the evidence’, and we can nominate Thomas as the patron saint of scientific research.

You’re right - the scientific community needs its own response to ‘Teach the controversy.’ Dunno if this is it, but it’s surely the key point.

Look at the Evidence.

Interesting to see that a number of other posters have come up with the same thought.

It’s the strongest part of your case. You do science. Science is based on data and the scientific method. Anything that wants to be considered science has to be built on the evidence. Not the supernatural.

The other side want to make it into a debate about world views and morality. Don’t go there. Look at the evidence.

Re Racism and evolution: I’m surprised no one has mentioned the so - called “Curse of Ham” as the root for much of the racism directed towards the African races by Europeans:

People should also be aware that believing in evolution can result in Satanism:

“If you can’t test it, don’t teach it.”

I vote for just “Teach the science”. It pretty much says it all - people can intuitively see why it’s sensible and the onus is then on the proponent of X to demonstrate that X is scientific. That’s very easy with evolution (it’s predictive. Game over.) but apparently impossible with ID.

I have suggested this before, because the public really believes in DNA evidence for solving crimes. Something like, “The DNA evidence for evolution is rock-solid.”

It’s short, accurate, and links evolution to something that a large majority of the public accepts.

“Teach the Evidence”

Clearly, my wussy suggestions are not going to make any headway.

The Commissar is quite right in presenting the issue as a dichotomy, this has been the approach of the antievolutionists, so why not take advantage of their tactics and turn their argument upside down.

PR is only front that has not been seriously addressed by the scientific community. The vast majority of society is unaware of the underlying issues and the DI’s catch phrase sounds reasonable without bringing religion into the issue. They have allowed the more radical elements of the religious right to interject the religious aspects of the argument without sullying their hands. This leaves the scientific community to counteract both the “scientific” aspects of ID as well as the perceived religious aspects. I think one battle at a time.

I prefer the Commissar’s second suggestion “If you can’t test it, don’t teach it.”

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

“Follow the evidence”.

Accompanied by a representation of an intriguing fossil like archaeopteryx.

Glen D

Oh yeah, there has to be a DNA molecule alongside the fossil. Perhaps it should be the first image, to tie historical biology in with other sciences that reliably discover what happened when no witnesses were around (and no matter how clicheed DNA is, it seems to work).

Glen D

How about “Test, then teach.” ?

The problem I have with talking about testing and teaching is that ID proponents like to frame this as a debate between a rarefied evolution inference and a rarefied design inference (the catch, of course, being that a rarefied evolution inference is no more falsifiable than a rarefied design inference).

Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, like to frame this as a debate between specific evolutionary hypotheses and the complete lack of specific ID hypotheses. If we’re gonna talk testing, it’d be a good idea to in some way indicate that we’re talking about the latter not the former.

Maybe go for something like “test the controversy”, and then when you’re asked what the hell you’re talking about suggest that the best predictions of evolution (the human double chromosome, Tiktaalik, etc) against the best predictions of ID ([insert predictions here]). That’s accepted scientific practice - the presence of a genuine scientific controversy is an indicator that someone needs to do more experiments.

Corkscrew suggests “test the controversy”, where evolutionary theory is pitted against ID and “the best predictions of ID ([insert predictions here])” are enumerated.

What are the best predictions of ID, that seems to be the problem. ID is a slippery fish, it morphs depending upon who you talk to. It’s “predictions” are a function of who you talk to. A coherent model is lacking, as such “the best predictions” are difficult to list.

The predictions of ID, at least coming out of several mouths, tends to be cooption of current evolutionary thought, or indistinguishable from evolutionary predictions, or reinterpretations of evolutionary data. It’s people disagreeing on the interpretation of the data (the New Mexico syndrome). It’s just reframed with a designer inserted to explain the data. In doing so, it reduces the biological sciences to natural history, observation, explain that the designer did it, move on to the next system. In this respect, ID is not inherently testable because it does not make independent predictions. Systems can be explained using the explanatory power of evolutionary theory but ID can not say the same.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

I’m liking “Teach the Evidence” with a fossil graphic (e.g. archaeopteryx.) It’s a good riposte to ‘Teach the Controversy.’ Kudos, Ken!

Glenn – “Teach” is more the issue than “Follow,” but I love the graphic idea.

Corkscrew – Our slogan should not mention the alleged “Controversy.” Scientifically, there is no controversy. Let’s emphasize what we DO want to do, what we DO want to focus on.

Bruce – glad you liked “If you can’t test it, don’t teach it.”

But “Teach the Evidence” is shorter and punchier. This is PR, a slogan, a bumper sticker, that we’re talking about here.

How about “Test, then teach.” ?

You’ve just described learning from experience. Test first, lesson second.

I agree that shorter is better, but I will add one other that was contributed by someone else at DebunkCreation which is appropriate when discussing ID.

“Advance in science comes by laying brick upon brick, not by sudden erection of fairy palaces.” J. S. Huxley

Perhaps the bumper sticker could be combined with your inner fish (Tiktaalik)?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Any slogan that is derivative of the ID slogan just makes scientists look like copy-cats. Sure, “Teach the evidence” makes the point, short and sweet. But it looks like we’re trying to spin it our way. Besides, IDiots will happily natter on about flagella and IC as “evidence”. An effective slogan would not remind people of the ID slogan.

Any slogan that is derivative of the ID slogan just makes scientists look like copy-cats.

Do we concede the PR campaign to a “think tank”?

An effective slogan would not remind people of the ID slogan.

That’s why the inclusion of a graphic is so useful, it visually reminds people of “evidence”.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

A few slogan ideas…

“Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, somebody intelligent did something”: You call that science?”

Where’s the beef?

That last one is a reference to a particular advertising campaign a few years ago… the last word might need changing…

Where’s the science?

Where’s the evidence?

Who designed the Designer?

ID = Intentional Deception

I think a clear and concise slogan is “Intelligent Design is religion, not science.”

I suggested “Teach the Evidence” as a right-between-the-eyes riposte to the ID slogan. I admit, I was thinking of it more as a response (an effective one, I think) than a mantra.

For instance, every time someone hits you with the ID slogan (usually at the end of a poor and error-filled argument, like it was some crowning final flourish), you counter “No. Teach the evidence”. It knocks the wind out their previous grand concluding mantra, and leads in perfectly to your own reasoned response - and focuses on the evidence.

If you have someplace using bumper stickers that say “Teach the Controversy” a bumper sticker that shows a line through Controversy and the word Evidence written strongly in its place, it is one way of gutting their sloganeering. But it’s a jarring response to slick PR - not a parallel descent into it.

And let’s face it, part of the PR battle is not to become “slick” ourselves, but to effectively counter (and highlight) their slickness. Yes, we have to battle the Snake-oil - hence the counter-slogan pointing to ‘evidence’. Yes, we have to popularize some very detailed disciplines - hence the Sagans and Novas of our world. But let’s not lose sight of the real key to victory. Ultimately, Science wins because it’s real and it works. In the end, it wins with evidence.

Let’s teach that.

Sorry for the long post.

There’s a problem with “teach the evidence”, which is that it is theory which need to be taught. Yes, the evidence is taught sufficiently to ground the theory, however we would be nowhere in science, or in the teaching of science, without theory-driven intellection. Darwin noted that without theory we may as well be cataloging pebbles in a quarry.

Sometimes the IDists will say, ‘just teach the evidence, and let the students decide’. We typically say ‘no’, that the way that science comes to its conclusions is in fact the most valuable lesson, and that we need to teach how we inferred our models from the evidence. We would rather have theory taught because that is what advanced science uses in the vast majority of cases. It is the IDists who slight sound theory, treating one bit of garbage as quite the same as well-honed integrations of inference and evidence that comprise scientific theories.

The problem is not that “teach the evidence” is the slogan used by IDists, but that they really think that heaps of evidence are what make up biology. They have no regard for the beautiful cross-correlations in evolutionary biology, rather they would prefer to teach “biology” as a set of disarticulated “facts”, each to be “explained” by the whim of the “designer”. It is a throwback to the capriciousness of the gods, and the antithesis of theory, however it is not against teaching “the evidence”.

IDists are in fact willing to “teach the evidence”, but not the sound inferences from that evidence. To destroy theory to make way for caprice is their goal, and it is not one for us to advocate in any way.

Glen D

Site admin —

(Sorry to spam your comments section.)

I have hotlink protection on my site. I would be indebted if you would save the bumper sticker images locally and display them on The Panda’s Thumb, either in the comments thread, the post, or a new post.


Feel free to delete (or not approve for posting) this comment.

The Commissar has the response to “Teach the Controversy”.

Teach the Evidence

We come back to what evidence can ID produce and what theories have they tested? Natural theology, Paley’s watch, arguments against evolution. A flagella is not evidence for ID. The component proteins are not evidence for ID. The relationships to other proteins in other species is not evidence for ID. Evidence for ID would come in the form of a testable hypothesis. But biological ID is not in the business of describing how design comes about only in detecting design and with the flagella it has not shown it can’t do it. There is no rigorous methodology to test any biological system for evidence of design.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on April 12, 2006 1:15 PM.

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