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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What happens if Darwinism is subjected to natural selection in the Louisiana bayou?

In "Louisiana Confounds the Science Thought Police" at National Review Online, John West of the Discovery Institute* comments on the new Louisiana "it's okay to question what they tell you" law:

Students need to know about the current scientific consensus on a given issue, but they also need to be able to evaluate critically the evidence on which that consensus rests. They need to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories.

Yet in many schools today, instruction about controversial scientific issues is closer to propaganda than education. Teaching about global warming is about as nuanced as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Discussions about human sexuality recycle the junk science of biologist Alfred Kinsey and other ideologically driven researchers. And lessons about evolution present a caricature of modern evolutionary theory that papers over problems and fails to distinguish between fact and speculation. In these areas, the “scientific” view is increasingly offered to students as a neat package of dogmatic assertions that just happens to parallel the political and cultural agenda of the Left.

Real science, however, is a lot more messy — and interesting — than a set of ideological talking points.
Ah yes, brings back memories ...

One of the ways I first became interested in the intelligent design controversy yeas ago was encountering a long-departed science teachers' Web site. A teacher opined that the Monarch and Viceroy butterflies' similarity may not really be due to Darwinian evolution, but it nonetheless made a good illustration of Darwinian evolution.

Huh? Yes, but only if Darwinian evolution isn't true. On the other hand, that's not what the teacher was trying to say ... He was trying to say that Darwinian evolution is so true that the material that illustrates it need not be factual.

In which case ... I sensed a story developing.

I went on to study the Monarch and Viceroy similarity myself and discovered that they probably do not resemble each other due to Darwinian evolution.

A couple of years later, I completed a book about the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?

(Note: The images are from the Government of Canada's excellent guide to the butterflies of Canada. The left is a Monarch and the right is a Viceroy. Actually, we do not know why they resemble each other, despite not being closely related.

(*Yes, yes, those evil Discos who hide their vast wealth in shipping containers in the basement of a shabby Seattle office building, and tilt the world toward theocracy while keeping "bad boy" Berlinski as one of their key proteges. Now go get more of the "truth" about their global conspiracy from "truther" Barbara Forrest.)

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