Monday, February 9, 2009

Darwin Week at GeekDad

It's Darwin Week at GeekDad, the blog for which I am privileged to be the token mom. When I suggested the theme week I hoped to contribute a few posts about my family's exploration of opposition to teaching evolution. However, the final consensus was to leave out any mention of creationism/intelligent design. Of course, the commenters have brought it into the discussion anyway. Unlike last year's post on the topic, the comments to the post I contributed this year have at least been coherent. But it's still upsetting that people want to "let kids decide what to believe." Here's my reply to that suggestion:
We should teach evolution to our kids because:
1) It is the basis of all modern biology;
2) It provides the best explanation of how living things came to exist in their present form;
3)It fits the observations of thousands of scientists working over hundreds of years (Darwin used earlier discoveries to formulate his theory);
4) It makes predictions which have been verified (for example, that transitional -- "missing link" -- fossils will be found between one species and another);
5) Like the laws of physics and facts about the Earth's place in the Solar System, it is somewhat counterintuitive -- meaning it is not something kids will necessarily figure out on their own from direct observation;
6) After a certain age it is difficult to correct inaccurate ideas about the world. (Go to the article Unlearning Bad Science by John Merrow to read about the study which asked graduating Harvard seniors why it's warmer in summer. Nearly all said it's because the Earth is closer to the sun!)
7) We want our children to have accurate information about how the world works, so that they can make good decisions about how to run it when it's their turn.

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