Teaching Science in the Schools

Francisco J. Ayala, Teaching Science in the Schools American Scientist, Volume 92, Number 4 July-August 2004

… It is often argued that the American tradition of fairness and “equal time” beckons that these alternative theories be taught. But these theories are not scientific and therefore have no place in the science curriculum. Not all scientific knowledge is equally certain. When there is uncertainty, alternative hypotheses should be taught in science classes, but only those grounded on naturalistic explanations subject to refutation by empirical observation and experiment. Schools should not teach astrology as an alternative to astronomy, alchemy as an alternative to the periodic table or witchcraft as an alternative to medicine.

The theory of evolution needs to be taught in the schools because nothing in biology makes sense without it. Modern biology has broken the genetic code, deciphered the human genome, opened up the fast-moving field of biotechnology and provided the knowledge to improve health care. Students need to be properly trained in science in order to improve their chances for gainful employment and to enjoy a meaningful life in a technological world.

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