Padian on getting evolution right in textbooks

| 13 Comments

Open access in Evolution: Outreach and Education. The abstract:

Topics related to evolution tend to generate a disproportionate amount of misunderstanding in traditional textbooks, other educational materials, and the media. This is not necessarily the fault of textbook and popular writers: many of these concepts are confusingly discussed in the scientific literature. However, faults can be corrected, and doing so makes it easier to explain related concepts. Three general areas are treated here: ideas and language about evolution, historical and philosophical aspects of evolution, and natural selection and related concepts. The aim of this paper is to produce a template for a more logical, historically and scientifically correct treatment of evolutionary terms and concepts.

It’s a valuable resource not only for textbooks but for science writers and journalists.

Hat tip to NCSE on Facebook

13 Comments

So its the textbooks fault?! Thats why evolutionism is so rejected by so many despite all the learning. Its sounds like the old attempt to enforce the common prayer book on a divided Religious 1600’s England! Unless they address well made creationist criticisms of evolution, so popular and historical, then all teaching on evolution holds a bug in the matrix. It discredits itself be denying the aggressive opposition.

Evolution seems to lack confidence in making its case to kids in schools. The kids smell it and it blocks their acceptance of one side of controversial conclusions. Creationist kids get both sides and have no problem rejecting evolution. Its impossible to make a great case out of a error.

No, it is not the textbooks’ fault. Scientists who write textbooks often cannot comprehend the depth of creationist denialism and mendacity about evolution. Textbook publishers tend to fight shy of aggressive political attacks by the creationist noise machine, not for any reason having to do with truth or accuracy.

There are no well-made creationist criticisms of evolution.

This is not like the attempted imposition of a prayerbook. Evolution is not dogma, it is established physical fact.

No, evolution is not controversial in science, only among the ignorant and prejudiced.

No, “creationist kids” do not “get both sides”. They are neither honestly taught about the theory of evolution, nor are they allowed a free choice about what to accept.

Every single statement in the post above is false.

Robert Byers said:

So its the textbooks fault?! Thats why evolutionism is so rejected by so many despite all the learning. Its sounds like the old attempt to enforce the common prayer book on a divided Religious 1600’s England! Unless they address well made creationist criticisms of evolution, so popular and historical, then all teaching on evolution holds a bug in the matrix. It discredits itself be denying the aggressive opposition.

Evolution seems to lack confidence in making its case to kids in schools. The kids smell it and it blocks their acceptance of one side of controversial conclusions. Creationist kids get both sides and have no problem rejecting evolution. Its impossible to make a great case out of a error.

I teach High School and teach human evolution in an anthropology-type class (my grad work was in that field). I have taught numerous kids from creationist and fundamentalist families for years.. Not once, I repeat, not ONCE have I encounterd even one of those kids who understood evolutionary science even at the high school level. I don’t even ask them to accept the science, just to understand the evidence and the arguments. These students come to school with their minds so filled with misconceptions about basic science that their families and churches have taught them, that they cannot even begin to engage in any kind of actual conversation about the topic. I first have to help them unlearn the basic science errors and straw men. Even then, virtually none manage to learn the basic science. The misconceptions run so deep that they keep hearing them “taught” even when I am actually saying the opposite. In the end, their need to believe mom, dad, and pastor know what they are talking about, leaves these young minds empty of real learning and filld with anxiety. And again, I’m not asking them, to believe it, just to understand it. And most are so blocks that they can’t even do that. It’s tragic, because many are bright curious kids whose indoctrination and fear has crippled them in ways that they sense but don’t seem to have any choice about. The usual trolls here are examples of the consequences this has for adulthood.

I noticed that in the html version of the article whenever the letter combinations “para” would be encountered (as in paragraph or separated), it is truncated to “p” (as in pgraph or septed). I assume this is a formatting error, as it does not seem to occur in the pdf version.

Sylvilagus said:

I teach High School and teach human evolution in an anthropology-type class (my grad work was in that field). I have taught numerous kids from creationist and fundamentalist families for years.. Not once, I repeat, not ONCE have I encounterd even one of those kids who understood evolutionary science even at the high school level. I don’t even ask them to accept the science, just to understand the evidence and the arguments. These students come to school with their minds so filled with misconceptions about basic science that their families and churches have taught them, that they cannot even begin to engage in any kind of actual conversation about the topic. I first have to help them unlearn the basic science errors and straw men. Even then, virtually none manage to learn the basic science. The misconceptions run so deep that they keep hearing them “taught” even when I am actually saying the opposite. In the end, their need to believe mom, dad, and pastor know what they are talking about, leaves these young minds empty of real learning and filld with anxiety. And again, I’m not asking them, to believe it, just to understand it. And most are so blocks that they can’t even do that. It’s tragic, because many are bright curious kids whose indoctrination and fear has crippled them in ways that they sense but don’t seem to have any choice about. The usual trolls here are examples of the consequences this has for adulthood.

I grew up a YEC, although I’m now an ex-YEC. I attended a combination of private fundamentalist parochial schools and public schools. Even in public school, I don’t think I heard the “E word” even once; being in a very conservative area, teachers probably felt very strong outside pressure to water down their curriculum. It wasn’t until I took intro biology and geology in a secular university did I slowly realize the strong disconnect from scientific reality that my YEC private schools had. It was only then that I really learned about things like radiometric dating and learned info that I had been totally unexposed to such as how exact matching genetic defects are found in humans and many other apes. Despite this, it was spiritually difficult to leave YECism and it took roughly another year before I more fully accepted evolution.

Yet another reminder:

Robert Byers,

When are you going to get around to fully discussing SINE insertions? Here’s a link to the post about SINEs that you have ignored: http://pandasthumb.org/bw/index.htm[…]mment-300136

Also,

What about finally giving us a full review of an evo-devo book like Sean B Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful (click here)? Remember, it’s a popular level book for the public.

Furthermore,

Are you ever going to address this Christian link about Christian scientists that accept and routinely use radiometric dating? You repeatedly look away and run from this (Byers, click here to see).

As this matter is somewhat offtopic for this thread, it’s ok if this post along with any reply by Byers is posted/moved to the BW.

Quote form the abstract:

“This is not necessarily the fault of textbook…”

Quote from BB immediately following:

“So its the textbooks fault?!”

And that folks is all you have to know about Bobby Byers.

My understanding is that textbook publishers are often pressured by some states to fudge the language to meet the demands of religious and political interests. Wasn’t that the case in Texas? And in my own state of Louisiana, there’s a proposal now being ‘studied’ that would allow individual school districts to set their own curricula, and choose whatever textbooks they like. I have no idea how responsible textbook publishers could possibly deal with it.

DS said:

Quote form the abstract:

“This is not necessarily the fault of textbook…”

Quote from BB immediately following:

“So its the textbooks fault?!”

And that folks is all you have to know about Bobby Byers.

Ironic that Byers clumsily misquotes Kevin Padian of all people. During the Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board trial, Padian was a highly effective expert witness for the plaintiffs. So much so that during cross-examination, defense lawyers didn’t even bother countering much of Padian’s direct testimony that explained scientific acceptance of evolution while refuting anti-evolutionist misconceptions.

The Kitzmiller transcripts are easy to find online, I highly recommend that they be read.

Richiyaado said:

My understanding is that textbook publishers are often pressured by some states to fudge the language to meet the demands of religious and political interests. Wasn’t that the case in Texas? And in my own state of Louisiana, there’s a proposal now being ‘studied’ that would allow individual school districts to set their own curricula, and choose whatever textbooks they like. I have no idea how responsible textbook publishers could possibly deal with it.

Ken Miller and Joe Levine are well known as co-authors of a series of high school biology textbooks. They have had several versions over the years, including at least one with a somewhat milder treatment of evolution with Texas and other states in mind. The Dover PA teachers were happy to support this milder version textbook, but despite this the pro-ID school board still wanted their ID pseudoscience book “Of Pandas And People” offered to students which was one of several factors that lead to the Kitzmiller court case.

Despite Miller’s strong defense of evolution throughout his career (such as being lead expert witness for the plaintiffs at the Kitzmiller trial), Miller and Levine apparently felt a little compromise was needed (even if unfortunate) to sell more books, especially if competitor books sellers were doing likewise.

Tenncrain said:

Richiyaado said:

My understanding is that textbook publishers are often pressured by some states to fudge the language to meet the demands of religious and political interests. Wasn’t that the case in Texas? And in my own state of Louisiana, there’s a proposal now being ‘studied’ that would allow individual school districts to set their own curricula, and choose whatever textbooks they like. I have no idea how responsible textbook publishers could possibly deal with it.

Ken Miller and Joe Levine are well known as co-authors of a series of high school biology textbooks. They have had several versions over the years, including at least one with a somewhat milder treatment of evolution with Texas and other states in mind. The Dover PA teachers were happy to support this milder version textbook, but despite this the pro-ID school board still wanted their ID pseudoscience book “Of Pandas And People” offered to students which was one of several factors that lead to the Kitzmiller court case.

Despite Miller’s strong defense of evolution throughout his career (such as being lead expert witness for the plaintiffs at the Kitzmiller trial), Miller and Levine apparently felt a little compromise was needed (even if unfortunate) to sell more books, especially if competitor books sellers were doing likewise.

I’m curious what “milder” means. If it just “eases into” the topic and/or avoids terms that are usually taken the wrong way anyway, then it could be a pragmatic solution (what good is being right if you lose?). But if it does anything that helps spread common misconceptions about evolution and/or the nature of science, then it would not be good. I can’t imagine Miller allowing the latter to happen.

Frank J said:

Tenncrain said:

Richiyaado said:

My understanding is that textbook publishers are often pressured by some states to fudge the language to meet the demands of religious and political interests. Wasn’t that the case in Texas? And in my own state of Louisiana, there’s a proposal now being ‘studied’ that would allow individual school districts to set their own curricula, and choose whatever textbooks they like. I have no idea how responsible textbook publishers could possibly deal with it.

Ken Miller and Joe Levine are well known as co-authors of a series of high school biology textbooks. They have had several versions over the years, including at least one with a somewhat milder treatment of evolution with Texas and other states in mind. The Dover PA teachers were happy to support this milder version textbook, but despite this the pro-ID school board still wanted their ID pseudoscience book “Of Pandas And People” offered to students which was one of several factors that lead to the Kitzmiller court case.

Despite Miller’s strong defense of evolution throughout his career (such as being lead expert witness for the plaintiffs at the Kitzmiller trial), Miller and Levine apparently felt a little compromise was needed (even if unfortunate) to sell more books, especially if competitor books sellers were doing likewise.

I’m curious what “milder” means. If it just “eases into” the topic and/or avoids terms that are usually taken the wrong way anyway, then it could be a pragmatic solution (what good is being right if you lose?). But if it does anything that helps spread common misconceptions about evolution and/or the nature of science, then it would not be good. I can’t imagine Miller allowing the latter to happen.

After a quick dirty search, the modifications Miller and Levine did for Texas in 2009 were apparently unique for Texas and not necessarily the same as other changes in version that did tone down evolution a bit (the latter which was bought by many schools including the Dover PA school district before the Kitzmiller trial). Here’s a link about the Texas changes.

At the moment, I can’t locate the changes for versions that toned down evolution. When I get more time, I’ll try to find that and get back with this.

Thank you very much for such valuable information. Custom papers by Effectivepapers.com

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on June 26, 2013 8:29 PM.

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