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(Wired)   Famed microbiologist on teaching evolution: don't start until college. Billy Joel is not gonna like this   (blog.wired.com) divider line 200
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2240 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 Feb 2008 at 12:42 AM (6 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2008-02-22 11:37:51 PM  
You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools.

True, but you also need to learn basic math before you can even approach quantum mechanics.

One has to be quite educated to work with these concepts; what they pass on as evolution in high schools is nothing but repetitious tripe that teeachers don't understand.

I feel you could use this argument with just about any science. If the teachers are like Mr. Garrison and saying that this squirrel monkey did it with another retard fish monkey, then it's probably time to get a new teacher.

Kids are curious and you do them no service by hiding facts from them.
 
2008-02-22 11:52:21 PM  
I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.
 
2008-02-22 11:57:39 PM  
... you'd have to teach this stuff with the understanding that these are just the facts we can learn, and they don't have a religious explanation.

Seems like a good idea to me. What am I missing?
 
2008-02-23 12:17:41 AM  
Ragu-ism is the sauce Pastafarians use to keep Ninjas out of their wavy noodles.

/Ramen.
 
2008-02-23 12:45:02 AM  
Wow, Bevets showed up in the second post! That's got to be a record...
 
2008-02-23 12:48:49 AM  
Etchy333: You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools.

True, but you also need to learn basic math before you can even approach quantum mechanics.


Actually, since quantum mechanics is essentially voodoo you don't need any math to understand it, just pins and dolls.
 
2008-02-23 12:49:00 AM  
i've proposed something similar before here... not teach it until advanced classes in HS at least. not to hide it from them, anymore than you'd hide calculus from a student, but because they don't have the requisite grasp on the less advanced material yet.

if they don't know mendel, they won't understand darwin. and if they don't know the parts of a cell and how cells reproduce, alleles and so forth would be a lost lesson.

the plus side to this approach is that by removing it from the mandatory level of the class, people who wish to be ignorant can do so. i know this gets you biology nuts in a tiff, but think about it... honestly, even some of us who never question evolution or science in general don't give enough of a shiat about biology to really understand the topic. but the only reason i can vaguely understand it is because my teachers spent all their time teaching me the basics so that i at least have a decent concept of those.
 
2008-02-23 12:49:28 AM  
snake_beater
Wow, Bevets showed up in the second post! That's got to be a record...


Yup, bevets is here and this evolutionary biologist is out...

/have a nice thread
 
2008-02-23 12:51:38 AM  
by the way, i was a physics nerd in high school... we learned newton in 10th grade physical science. we didn't learn einstein til senior year.

similarly with math. alebra and precalc/advanced algebra... didn't break into the real calculus til senior year.

we were more than ready to handle the headier topics by that point, but we would have been done a real disservice to start confusing us with the shiat much earlier on.
 
2008-02-23 12:55:55 AM  
Bevets: I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

Well that is one out-of-context quotation that Bevets did not copy from another creationist.
 
2008-02-23 12:56:54 AM  
Oh, come on. You can introduce basic concepts to the students as early has late elementary grades and lay a foundation for more does the kids no good.complex subjects later on. Heck, look at how many people out there can't even handle basic ideas about natural selection, and the solution is to teach everyone even less?

Avoiding heavy thought will only hurt the kids rather than help them.
 
2008-02-23 12:57:34 AM  
img141.imageshack.us
 
2008-02-23 12:58:35 AM  
And what about the vast majority of people who do not go to college? I have to wonder if this is going to be the new strategy for creationists. Instead of trying to "teach the controversy" and have to deal with all the battles that come with that, just don't teach anything at all.

burndtdan: i've proposed something similar before here... not teach it until advanced classes in HS at least. not to hide it from them, anymore than you'd hide calculus from a student, but because they don't have the requisite grasp on the less advanced material yet.

if they don't know mendel, they won't understand darwin. and if they don't know the parts of a cell and how cells reproduce, alleles and so forth would be a lost lesson.


And This too.
 
2008-02-23 12:58:58 AM  
Should have been, "You can introduce basic concepts to the students as early has late elementary grades and lay a foundation for more complex subjects later on."

Maybe we should hold off on teaching proofreading until college, too.
 
2008-02-23 12:59:20 AM  
Etchy333: You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools.

True, but you also need to learn basic math before you can even approach quantum mechanics.

One has to be quite educated to work with these concepts; what they pass on as evolution in high schools is nothing but repetitious tripe that teeachers don't understand.

I feel you could use this argument with just about any science. If the teachers are like Mr. Garrison and saying that this squirrel monkey did it with another retard fish monkey, then it's probably time to get a new teacher.

Kids are curious and you do them no service by hiding facts from them.


This. Whatever discipline you pick, there's always going to be elements that are too advanced for any group below dissertation writers. You have to present a simplified picture at first. Evolution is no different.
 
2008-02-23 12:59:29 AM  
The problem with not teaching evolution is that not everyone goes to college, and not everyone in college takes biology. Thus, you end up with a large portion of the population continuing to insist on tripe like creationism, and in the end that hurts us all. The

I'm rather glad we have moved past the society depicted in Inherit the Wind.

As MC Hawking put it:

[Verse 1]
I'm a disciple of science
I know the universe is compliance with natural laws,
but many place reliance on the psuedo-science of quacks and
morons and fools because,
their educations deficient,
they put faith in omniscient,
make believe beings who control their fate,
but the Hawk ain't with it, dig it,
their Holy writ ain't the least bit legit,
its a bunch of bullshiat.

They need to read a book that ain't so damn old old,
let reason take hold,
though truth to be told,
they're probably already too far gone,
withdrawn, the conclusion foregone.
But maybe there is still hope for the young,
if they reject the dung being slung from the tongues,
of the ignorant fools who call themselves preachers,
and listen instead to their science teachers.

[Chorus]
Upon blind faith they place reliance,
what we need more of is science!

[Trash Talk]
Uh yeah, that's right!
Fundamentalist assholes!
Screw the hole lot of them.

[Verse 2]
Look, I ain't Thomas Dolby,
science doesn't blind me,
think you're smart? Form a line behind me,
you won't find me, truth to tell,
to be a man who suffers fools very well.
Quite the opposite in fact,
I ain't got time to interact,
with crystal wearing freaks in need of a smack.
New age motherfarkers? Don't get me started,
I made more sense than them, last time I farted.

Not to put too fine a point upon it,
but the whole new age movement is full of shiat.
Please allow me to elaborate,
explicate, expatiate.
from astral projection to zygomancy its a,
mish mash of idiocy.
Instead of the archaic worship of seasons,
they should explore logic and reason.

[Chorus]

[Trash Talk]
farking new-agers!
Is there any amount of bullshiat they won't swallow?
It's two-thousand-aught-three goddammit!
When are these morons gonna join us in the 21st century?
 
2008-02-23 01:00:30 AM  
Please can we phase out Bevets in favor of Billy Joel in the evolution threads?
 
2008-02-23 01:01:56 AM  
burndtdan: i've proposed something similar before here... not teach it until advanced classes in HS at least. not to hide it from them, anymore than you'd hide calculus from a student, but because they don't have the requisite grasp on the less advanced material yet.

SRSLY!
Y DU U HAT SCIENSE?!

/I am also tired of bullshiat-politics-masquerading-as-science.
Kids should study things that serve as the foundation for evolution theory, from microbiology to anatomy to genetics... otherwise, you're putting the cart in front of the horse for bullshiat reasons & political agendas.
/Why does America "suck" in science? One reason: Too many politicians involved on both sides of the aisle.
 
2008-02-23 01:06:46 AM  
Teaching the basics of the greatest discoveries in history is now POLITICS?

I don't think so.

Kids should not finish high school without knowing why Darwin was important any more than they should finish high school without knowing why Abraham Lincoln was important. And in both cases, kids should know how the ideas of those visionaries have evolved into their modern forms.
 
2008-02-23 01:07:20 AM  
burndtdan: Good post. I agree with you mostly. The microbiologist smacks a little of academic elitism, though, from what he said. I agree that evolution is a very complex science, and it is probably a good idea to not get too heavy into it in highschool. Still though, I think that some mention of it, and a basic understanding of the founding principles, should be part of HS biology. I mean, evolutionary theory is the back bone of modern biology fer Chrissake. Leave the heavier stuff for honors/AP biology and college. You gotta learn to crawl before you walk. and as someone said, while you wouldn't spring calculus onto middle schoolers, you'd still want to prepare them and give them the building blocks to eventually grasp calculus. And I don't see how you can completely not mention evolution in biology class and then just dump it all them all at once.
 
2008-02-23 01:11:02 AM  
burndtdan:

I went and read the article and as soon as I saw which nutcase was speaking I choked. The man is actually clinically insane but his comments really get to the heart of why someone with no educational background should be kept from talking about education.

The purpose of education is not simply to inform or even to learn; it's purpose is also to expose, interest, excite, and appriciate. I don't need to know anything about physics or biology to be able to grasp the beauty in a woman's face. Do you really mean to suggest that I should never be exposed to women before college because really I'm just confused and don't understand what I am seeing? That's plain silly. We are exposed to, are grateful for, and utilize things everyday that we don't understand. So let's stop most women from driving cars...hmmmm...good idea. The shear intellectual hurbis in such a position is shocking and astounding to anyone with even a iota of human deceny. Let's put it in plain language: "I know what best for you because I have white hair so STFU GBTW".

The essence of human growth is the ability to explore and one cannot explore what one never sees or is exposed to. Just because you would rather stay at home and play WOW doesn't mean that most people do or should. The mere fact that a teenager doesn't understand all the details about eveolution does not mean that evolution should be kept from them; if the teaching is of any quality, and the interest is there, the student will be excited and interested enough so that when they get to college they will actually sign up for a biology class on their own with it being stuffed down their throat.

But of couse having a human being operate on their own freewill is exactly what the you and that nutcase abhor at all costs.
 
2008-02-23 01:12:40 AM  
matt2891: And I don't see how you can completely not mention evolution in biology class and then just dump it all them all at once.

This is what happens in math, and it's a major reason some people struggle with college math. High school math is taught poorly and rarely includes anything at all to do with real math, so when the real stuff comes out of nowhere in college, a lot of students walk out of their first real analysis course with bad grades and bad attitudes toward math in general.

Then it happens again in grad school with manifolds.


Biology teachers should not make the same mistake.
 
2008-02-23 01:21:52 AM  
img.photobucket.com

/this is fun.
//I assumed this was the inspiration behind the Billies.
 
2008-02-23 01:22:24 AM  
legion_of_doo: ...otherwise, you're putting the cart in front of the horse for bullshiat reasons & political agendas.

Yes, without basic understandings of certain biological principles, evolution won't make much sense. And it is certainly reasonble to say that certain educational benchmarks should be met before going onto a complex subject like evolution.

But where you lose me is where you act like people are trying to keep evolution in the classroom for political reasons. Really? I could have sworn it was because, to date, evolution is the only sound scientific theory to explain how life works on this planet. As has been repeated over and over again in many many fark evolution threads: evolution is the only truly scientific theory out there, the only other alternatives being offered at the moment are creationism and creationism-lite (otherwise known as Intelligent Design). Both of which are demonstratably non-scientific, based off the fact that both hinge on the existence of a supreme being, something that cannot be tested scientifically. Therefore neither of these 'theories' can be considered scientific in nature. Which automatically excludes them from being a part of any science curriculum. To put it in perspective, keeping creationism out of biology class is no more political than keeping alchemy out of a chemistry class. Its nothing more than keeping non-science out of a science classroom. Now, when the day comes when there is an opposing view that is truly scientific, peer reviewed, demonstratable and sound, then by all means teach it side by side with evolution.
 
2008-02-23 01:28:33 AM  
Bevets: I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.


img.photobucket.com

But srsly, evolution is far from catechism. It is criticized. It has been under constant criticism and scrutiny for 150 years, but it still stands strong, the evidence still backs it up. You didn't attribute that quote, but I hesitate to give you credit... either way, whoever said it is silly if they think evolution is bland.

Evolution is a seven course, savory meal, delicately prepared over time and is as amazing to observe as it is to.. uhm... taste... ok, the analogy got a little off-track, but the point remains: anyone who thinks evolution is "bland" doesn't understand it at all. It is beautiful.
 
2008-02-23 01:30:22 AM  
NetOwl: This is what happens in math, and it's a major reason some people struggle with college math. High school math is taught poorly and rarely includes anything at all to do with real math, so when the real stuff comes out of nowhere in college, a lot of students walk out of their first real analysis course with bad grades and bad attitudes toward math in general.

I dunno. I came out of high school with a decent grasp of algebra and geometry. Never took calculus, and didn't really do triganometry till college. However, what math skills I do have get me through my life just fine. When you say real math, what exactly do you mean?
 
2008-02-23 01:30:36 AM  
matt2891: I mean, evolutionary theory is the back bone of modern biology fer Chrissake. Leave the heavier stuff for honors/AP biology and college. You gotta learn to crawl before you walk.

The backbone should come first. Know the inter-relationships between species, including anatomy & genetics & actual biology.

This is why science should be taught well, including the scientific method.

Ideas about Evolution follow an understanding of the science that leads up to it... otherwise, you have incomplete understanding that leads to pseudo-science like Intelligent Design.

Why do American children trail other children in math and science? Is it because we don't teach the Evolution bogeyman, or because we don't teach the core competencies well?

I say we are too concerned with politics, and not concerned enough with science.

matt2891: Yes, without basic understandings of certain biological principles, evolution won't make much sense. And it is certainly reasonble to say that certain educational benchmarks should be met before going onto a complex subject like evolution.

But where you lose me is where you act like people are trying to keep evolution in the classroom for political reasons. Really?


I think it's the influence of my Comparative Anatomy professor.

He was EXTREMELY ticked off about his colleagues who would run around and make a jackass of themselves by spouting off about some "missing link"... when such a thing is ridiculous in terms of the actual science. You can't insist to someone else that one pile of bones is the missing link any more than you can insist to someone that Jesus was a real human being.

He made a point that his class was not about "Evolution"... rather, it was about understanding the relationships between physical phenomena in species.

He saw the political aspects of "Evolution" as an unnecessary interference with the transmission of knowledge about anatomy.

You monkey with the message too much if you try to force the "one true path" message about Evolution. Understanding a little bit about "Evolution" simply follows naturally if you understand what you learn in his Comparative Anatomy class.
 
2008-02-23 01:34:03 AM  
There are children in other countries that understand how plant and animal reproduction works in the genetic scale BEFORE they even pass the 6th grade. In a private catholic school.

/I don't see why we can't RAISE the bar on education...
//Instead of lowering it.
///Even a mentally hilarious person can understand evolution if you can teach them the Punnett Square.
 
2008-02-23 01:34:10 AM  
Dan the Schman: Bevets: I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

But srsly, evolution is far from catechism. It is criticized. It has been under constant criticism and scrutiny for 150 years, but it still stands strong, the evidence still backs it up. You didn't attribute that quote, but I hesitate to give you credit... either way, whoever said it is silly if they think evolution is bland.


Could you please read the article, is that too much to ask? The quote is from the nutcase biologist. He's saying that what is being taught in HS is so dumbed down, so bland, that it's harmful.
 
2008-02-23 01:34:42 AM  
Bevets: I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.


at least you're dedicated you ignorant SOB.
 
2008-02-23 01:35:09 AM  
By college you have lost half the population, assuming that by college you mean the 16,000 institutions that bear that name in the US and not merely the handful where you can get a reasonable approximation of a liberal education (in the historical sense). The situation would be worse in many other countries. Religionists indoctrinate children in their delusions, prejudices, politics and rites from birth.
 
2008-02-23 01:42:22 AM  
TheIncredibleShinkingFilipino: There are children in other countries that understand how plant and animal reproduction works in the genetic scale BEFORE they even pass the 6th grade. In a private catholic school.

Exactly.

If people were more concerned about teaching our children rather than arguing over the existence/non-existence of God, then we'd have smarter kids.

Instead, we have a proxy war between Atheists & Christians in this country over the Evolution issue.

IMO, it's a non-issue, and there should be more real science in school rather than a politicized Evolution agenda.
 
2008-02-23 01:43:35 AM  
NetOwl: The problem with not teaching evolution is that not everyone goes to college, and not everyone in college takes biology. Thus, you end up with a large portion of the population continuing to insist on tripe like creationism, and in the end that hurts us all.

I personally think that it's not critical that everybody have a solid grasp on the theory of evolution (or quantum mechanics or special relativity or any other single theory).

If I were designing a middle and high school science curriculum, the only critical part would be teaching the scientific method. The whole feedback loop between observation, hypothesis, rigorous testing, refinement or rejection of the hypothesis, etc.

That's it. Anything else taught in science classes are nice, but the point is to set up the curriculum to teach kids how to think.

Unfortunately, all too often high school classes (and, to be honest, some college courses) merely have the teacher presented knowledge to be learned, often by rote. Because that's a much easier way to teach.

Teach people the power of the scientific method (and critical thinking in general) and they won't be so quick to believe the tripe they're spoon-fed.
 
2008-02-23 01:52:23 AM  
legion_of_doo: TheIncredibleShinkingFilipino: There are children in other countries that understand how plant and animal reproduction works in the genetic scale BEFORE they even pass the 6th grade. In a private catholic school.

Exactly.

If people were more concerned about teaching our children rather than arguing over the existence/non-existence of God, then we'd have smarter kids.

Instead, we have a proxy war between Atheists & Christians in this country over the Evolution issue.

IMO, it's a non-issue, and there should be more real science in school rather than a politicized Evolution agenda.


Evolution is real science. Any teacher who even *mentions* God in the class (other than to say that whether or not He exists is irrelevant) is part of the problem. The basics of evolution are simple: Nobody says discussing it has to talk about the intricacies. Just tell the kids how animals evolved. Maybe have them study series' of transitional fossils. They don't need to study evolutionary *theory* (ie how evolution happened), just basic evolution. And NOT teaching them just gives the Creationists more time to spoon-feed them their ignorant, close-minded bullshiat.
 
2008-02-23 01:52:33 AM  
snake_beater: Wow, Bevets showed up in the second post! That's got to be a record...

I think submits all these evolution threads.
 
2008-02-23 01:54:41 AM  
Corydon: Teach people the power of the scientific method (and critical thinking in general) and they won't be so quick to believe the tripe they're spoon-fed.

worlddan: Etchy333:
Actually, since quantum mechanics is essentially voodoo you don't need any math to understand it, just pins and dolls.


So is most of the economics and most of darwinian evolution, both are in full defense mode as reality is busy hacking away at their pretenses
 
2008-02-23 01:58:51 AM  
I had the basics of genetics in eighth grade, in high school bio, I had even more genetics, cell structure, alleles etc. That was basic bio my freshman year. The idea that you should wait until college to teach evolution is just utter crap.
 
2008-02-23 02:01:11 AM  
ok, no taking kids to church until they're in college either.
 
2008-02-23 02:02:42 AM  
bolzy: both are in full defense mode as reality is busy hacking away at their pretenses

There are economists who admit a lot of econ is just verbose mathematical gibberish. Just read what John Kenneth Galbraith thought about econ. As for evolution, what pretenses and who's hacking away at it and who's defensive?
 
2008-02-23 02:03:25 AM  
matt2891: NetOwl: This is what happens in math, and it's a major reason some people struggle with college math. High school math is taught poorly and rarely includes anything at all to do with real math, so when the real stuff comes out of nowhere in college, a lot of students walk out of their first real analysis course with bad grades and bad attitudes toward math in general.

I dunno. I came out of high school with a decent grasp of algebra and geometry. Never took calculus, and didn't really do triganometry till college. However, what math skills I do have get me through my life just fine. When you say real math, what exactly do you mean?


Here, I mean the sort of stuff you study as a major in math or something related, not the sort of stuff normal people or engineers use.

I think math can get away with this better because there aren't any political groups attempting to organize against the concept of imaginary numbers, so those who study it do not have ot worry about kids being taught that the whole subject is a lie.

Biology does not have that luxury, so I think it is more critical to ground kids in the subject.
 
2008-02-23 02:04:05 AM  
BTW if you can't differentiate between evolution, a process, and evolutionary theory, what explains it, you make a fool of yourself claiming the first doesn't happen, because the second is wrong.
 
2008-02-23 02:06:17 AM  
adammpower: ok, no taking kids to church until they're in college either.

If they don't get them while they're young, they won't get them at all.

Not that that's a bad thing.
 
2008-02-23 02:22:39 AM  
wow this debate even has this microbiologist lowering his expectations.

in 10th grade, we learned evolution, and while some kids for some reason didn't "get it" right off the bat, it's not because it was a confusing subject. I mean for gods sake, it takes like 15 minutes to get the gist of.

If we can't teach 10th graders something basic as evolution, then I'm glad I got the fark out of there before we start a "protect our snowflakes" curriculum.
 
2008-02-23 02:23:13 AM  
worlddan: Dan the Schman: Bevets: I certainly don't want any intrusion of religious ideas in the name of science -- but I don't want this bland soup that's taught as evolution in the name of science, either. It's not science -- it's catechism.

But srsly, evolution is far from catechism. It is criticized. It has been under constant criticism and scrutiny for 150 years, but it still stands strong, the evidence still backs it up. You didn't attribute that quote, but I hesitate to give you credit... either way, whoever said it is silly if they think evolution is bland.


Could you please read the article, is that too much to ask? The quote is from the nutcase biologist. He's saying that what is being taught in HS is so dumbed down, so bland, that it's harmful.


Fark evolution threads: serious business.
 
2008-02-23 02:33:16 AM  
Some "God" indeed, if a flimsy piece of Aluminum a few micrometers thick is enough to keep "Him" out...
 
2008-02-23 02:49:43 AM  
Oh dear. Atheist Fark circle-stroke in -127, -128, -129. . .
 
2008-02-23 02:50:41 AM  
I learned the basics of evolution and genetics my freshman year of high school in Biology 1 Honors. Of course, being a catholic school, there weren't too many creationists in the school in the first place, which may have contributed to how well it went. We learned first of all the basics of natural selection, heredity, and some of the simple aspects of the theory. Following that, we studied genetics, which helped to reinforce the stuff we learned about evolution.

Teach the basics in a sufficiently advanced high school class (which really isn't that advanced).
 
2008-02-23 02:52:19 AM  
shrapnil77: Oh dear. Atheist Fark circle-stroke in -127, -128, -129. . .

I see no circle jerk. I myself am a lapsed catholic agnostic Christian theist.
 
2008-02-23 02:57:21 AM  
I know I'm going to get into trouble for this, but. . .

Inside the known laws of the universe, what would constitute disproof of/ evidence contrary to evolution?
 
2008-02-23 03:00:45 AM  
shrapnil77: Inside the known laws of the universe, what would constitute disproof of/ evidence contrary to evolution?

Irreducible Complexity. If it could be found, it would be evidence contrary to the theory of evolution. However, no example of irreducible complexity in nature has been found to date.
 
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