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(Miller-McCune)   Ever wonder why students in the US are behind most other countries in science and math? This explains that   (miller-mccune.com) divider line
    More: Sad, sciences, science education, curriculum framework, Penn State University, biology, creationists, maths, Scopes trial  
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15462 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Feb 2011 at 7:09 PM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2011-02-03 10:59:39 AM  
These are silly arguments, science is not an explanation of the entire universe it is a mixture of theoretical and empirically derived constructs that best describe the world as we experience it, it has nothing to say about absolute truth or so called objective reality. Metaphysics is not determined by physics, the existence or non existence of god is not in the realm of science to prove or disprove so if you want to believe in god then believe in him/her or it
 
2011-02-03 12:01:58 PM  
My own highschool barely addressed the topic and I didn't really learn about evolution until my senior year... in an optional class.

Very conservative district and teachers seemed afraid to touch certain topics with a 10 foot pole.
 
2011-02-03 12:02:29 PM  

rubi_con_man: This actually makes my argument for me, which is that God is creating us all using the processes we observe in evolution.


That's always how I figured it for believers.
 
2011-02-03 12:13:46 PM  

TaGirl_Keri: I see Bevets has been drinking the metal polish again


I thought about putting him/her on ignore, but I'm getting a kick out of this.
 
2011-02-03 1:25:35 PM  

Bevets:
So 'Why would I want my doctor to have studied evolution?' I wouldn't. Evolutionary biology isn't important to modern medicine. ~ Michael Egnor


sciencefun.files.wordpress.comView Full Size
 
2011-02-03 2:52:28 PM  

prjindigo: In the context of the workbook, we have absolutely no means to determine the precision of the measurements given because precision is an evaluation of accuracy of report, NOT the ability of the measurement system to resolve a more accurate answer.


Err... perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but I believe you may be mistaken. In scientific, engineering, and other technical usage, precision refers to the number of significant digits given in the number; accuracy, to how close the number is to the actual value. They're two different things. For example, 4.78926403 inches is the more precise value for the height of my coffee mug, but 4.5 inches is the more accurate value.

starsrift: WTF does evolution have to do with math?


Purifying selection results in exponential decrease over time; neutral drift results in random-walk distributions of variants; favorable selection involves exponential growth, or more exactly a logistic curve growth to the environmental carrying limit.

Also, algorithms are fundamentally mathematical in character; others have mentioned the use of evolutionary algorithms for various sorts of programming.

Babwa Wawa: Study after study shows


imgs.xkcd.comView Full Size
 
2011-02-03 2:53:53 PM  
teaching or not teaching evolution has nothing to do with it. underqualified teachers, and underachieving students is much more likely the culprit here.
 
2011-02-03 4:31:48 PM  

abb3w: Purifying selection results in exponential decrease over time; neutral drift results in random-walk distributions of variants; favorable selection involves exponential growth, or more exactly a logistic curve growth to the environmental carrying limit.

Also, algorithms are fundamentally mathematical in character; others have mentioned the use of evolutionary algorithms for various sorts of programming.


Seems more like you're answering the question, "what does evolution have to do with math?" by stating areas of study were biology specialists employ mathematics.

As a computer programmer, it strikes me that the implication of needing an understanding of biologic evolution to write or evaluate genetic algorithms is extremely misleading. Sure, many genetic algorithms were inspired by evolution, but the comparison oversimplifies both in order to work.
 
2011-02-03 8:45:05 PM  
So *this* is how america will fall?

every nation falls and with different cause...
 
2011-02-03 9:18:00 PM  

Feepit: As a computer programmer, it strikes me that the implication of needing an understanding of biologic evolution to write or evaluate genetic algorithms is extremely misleading.


Misleading may be a bit too strong; but yes, it's a purely conjectural notion that understanding how evolution works in biology might allow better evolutionary algorithms in computer science.

In hindsight, there were probably better answers to the original inquiry, perhaps on the lines of "understanding both requires developing reasoning abilities, which are sometimes useful".
 
2011-02-03 9:52:33 PM  
Feepit:

As a computer programmer, it strikes me that the implication of needing an understanding of biologic evolution to write or evaluate genetic algorithms is extremely misleading.

abb3w:

Misleading ... yes, it's a purely conjectural notion that understanding how evolution works in biology might allow better evolutionary algorithms in computer science.

In hindsight, there were probably better answers to the original inquiry, perhaps on the lines of "understanding both requires developing reasoning abilities, which are sometimes useful".


This could be said about ANY academic pursuit rendering your "conjectural notion" moot.
 
2011-02-04 3:09:11 AM  

Bevets: In hindsight, there were probably better answers to the original inquiry, perhaps on the lines of "understanding both requires developing reasoning abilities, which are sometimes useful".

This could be said about ANY academic pursuit rendering your "conjectural notion" moot.


And, notably, reasoning abilities are discouraged by creationists, who ostracize those members of their various ingroups who dare to question their dogma, unlike the sciences, where questioning of existing theories is a contant activity required as part of the normal course of action. The trick is, of course, that they require questions that actually have some logic or meaning, as opposed to the same old tired debunked creationist talking points.
 
2011-02-04 3:21:41 AM  

Bevets: Ghastly: This is exactly what it is like trying to debate science with creationists. It's not a case of both sides presenting facts to back up their case. It's a case of one side presenting facts and the other side saying "I reject your facts because they contradict my faith in the existence of mythological creatures".

A rational person would not even be bringing up the existence of Leprechauns in a debate on the issue of my zoning permits. A real estate developer should not even have to debate the existence of Leprechauns. This is why Creationists are so frustrating and annoying. They waste time and resources debating things that simply have no meaningful place in the issue at hand.

You cannot legally teach religion in state schools, at least not in biology and other science classes. That was the issue in Arkansas and Dover. (I am not talking about current affairs or like courses.) But now ask yourself. If "God exists" is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is "God does not exist" not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught? ~ Michael Ruse


Using that logic we should reasonably insist that evolution be taught in religious studies classes
 
2011-02-04 3:30:10 AM  

SkinnyHead: He conjured an America where today's fifth-graders could become the globe's go-to experts in solar engineering, high-speed rail design and supercomputer construction. But in a sign of the distance between that universe and the one Americans really live in, it turns out many public school students aren't even properly exposed to one of the most fundamental principles of science -evolution.

What does Evolutionism got to do with solar engineering, high-speed rail design and supercomputer construction?


it has to do with how far you can advance in your field of expertise and the contributions you can make to the expansion of human knowledge.

I knew worked with an engineer (religious in nature) who claimed he he did not believe we were looking back in time when we viewed stars through a telescope. I don't know if he actually didn't believe or chose to say he didn't to up his chances at a pleasant after life, but not accepting that light has a measurable speed would undoubtedly be career limiting for an engineer. It certainly would limit what contributions he could make to the field. It's also just plain silly.
 
2011-02-04 6:36:23 AM  

Bevets: Consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticized most severely and often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer. ~ Paul Feyerabend


KiltedBastich: And, notably, reasoning abilities are discouraged by creationists, who ostracize those members of their various ingroups who dare to question their dogma, unlike the sciences, where questioning of existing theories is a contant activity required as part of the normal course of action.


I was viewed as an intellectual terrorist.~ Richard Sternberg

I have little doubt that I would have tenure now if I hadn't done any professional work on Intelligent Design. ~ Guillermo Gonzalez

If you give any credence to [Intelligent Design] -- whatsoever -- which means 'just writing about it', you are just finished as a journalist. ~ Pamela Winnick
 
2011-02-04 7:08:19 AM  

abb3w: starsrift: WTF does evolution have to do with math?

Purifying selection results in exponential decrease over time; neutral drift results in random-walk distributions of variants; favorable selection involves exponential growth, or more exactly a logistic curve growth to the environmental carrying limit.


Uhhh, that's using math in biology. And generally speaking, math at a higher level than grade school, except perhaps grades 11 and 12. It doesn't point to evolutionary theory assisting math or engineering.

Also, algorithms are fundamentally mathematical in character; others have mentioned the use of evolutionary algorithms for various sorts of programming.

Yes. Well, programming is math. Speaking as a programmer, "evolutionary algorithms" are typically more along the lines of genetic selection, rather than open-world adaptation. Put succinctly, we haven't written programs that can write their own code, yet. That's futuristic AI. The genetic algorithms we use, well - I'm pretty sure even Bevets doesn't deny human-bred designs of cow, dog, etc.

But all of that's skipping the entire point of my post, which is that teaching evolution or not doesn't explain a wholesale decline across the range of academic subjects.
 
2011-02-04 8:25:14 AM  

starsrift: I'm pretty sure even Bevets doesn't deny human-bred designs of cow, dog, etc.


So he believes in inches but not miles?
 
2011-02-04 8:52:01 AM  
starsrift: I'm pretty sure even Bevets doesn't deny human-bred designs of cow, dog, etc.

spookidooki: So he believes in inches but not miles?


I believe a snail is capable of traveling an inch a minute. I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.
 
2011-02-04 9:02:42 AM  

abb3w: Misleading may be a bit too strong; but yes, it's a purely conjectural notion that understanding how evolution works in biology might allow better evolutionary algorithms in computer science.


I would say that the sharing of knowledge across academic fields is, generally, where improvement comes from. For example, while they may exist in biologic evolution, patterns describing populations, change, isolation, and competition are not exclusive to it. Code in libraries, including genetic algorithms, should be designed to be as program-agnostic and extensible as possible, and those who write it require little to no knowledge in biology or chemistry or literature or psychology. On the flip side, when writing code for a set of data, it is vital to understand that data. Don't program a bacterial growth simulation that you want to have any merit without consulting a specialist in the field.

But hey, we're off topic. It is one of the following, I believe:

* religious fundamentalism obstructing education;
* teaching to the lowest common denominator damaging student inquiry;
* female teachers with huge jugs distracting from learning;
* class sizes being too large to facilitate a meaningful education experience;
* : the Internet!
 
2011-02-04 9:31:10 AM  

Ghastly: Bevets:
So 'Why would I want my doctor to have studied evolution?' I wouldn't. Evolutionary biology isn't important to modern medicine. ~ Michael Egnor


Thank you.

I have been looking for that for a while.
 
2011-02-04 12:21:23 PM  

Bevets: I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.


It must have taken these snails FOREVER to get up to the International Space Station then.
 
2011-02-04 1:13:21 PM  

ninjakirby: Bevets: I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.

It must have taken these snails FOREVER to get up to the International Space Station then.


Does disliking someone justify deliberately taking their claims out of context?
 
2011-02-05 10:56:42 AM  
starsrift:

I'm pretty sure even Bevets doesn't deny human-bred designs of cow, dog, etc.

spookidooki:

So he believes in inches but not miles?

Bevets:

I believe a snail is capable of traveling an inch a minute. I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.

ninjakirby:

It must have taken these snails FOREVER to get up to the International Space Station then.

Feepit:

Does disliking someone justify deliberately taking their claims out of context?

Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know. ~ Eric Hoffer

People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to. ~ Malcolm Muggeridge

You can learn a lot about the discussion if you look past the answers and observe how both sides engage in the discussion.
 
2011-02-05 2:37:25 PM  

starsrift: Uhhh, that's using math in biology.


Yes. Specifically, key portions of evolutionary biology.
More practice in using math, more practice understanding how it can be applied to the world. More practice usually results in improved skill.

As is, there's so much objection to any sort of teaching about evolution that they can barely introduce the idea, much less the math that makes it seem obvious.

starsrift: And generally speaking, math at a higher level than grade school, except perhaps grades 11 and 12.


Under the current standards. However, I'm a kook who thinks the math curriculum in this country sux. (A logistic curve isn't that different from an exponential curve, and an exponential isn't that different from a geometric series progression. They should be able to get those basics in by the end of 8th grade. Random walks is a bit trickier, but the idea could be introduced in a probability unit.)

starsrift: Speaking as a programmer, "evolutionary algorithms" are typically more along the lines of genetic selection, rather than open-world adaptation.


Largely because modeling in software is usually cheaper than modeling in hardware. Same principle, however.

starsrift: Put succinctly, we haven't written programs that can write their own code, yet.


Pedantically but categorically not true.
Self-modifying code is also fairly routine; it just doesn't do it very intelligently, and is only used in very limited scope because debugging is bloody hard. Perhaps even simplest done as an evolutionary process.

starsrift: But all of that's skipping the entire point of my post, which is that teaching evolution or not doesn't explain a wholesale decline across the range of academic subjects.


Ah, that point was not clear; no, it doesn't. Loosely speaking, the opposition to evolution (and the teaching thereof) is more a symptom of a problem than the underlying problem; the conjecture is that treating the symptom will also help the underlying problem.

Bevets: I believe a snail is capable of traveling an inch a minute. I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.


The key limitation from the standpoint of Bevets and similar being the time constraints of the sub-10000 year timespan allowed. With the larger time scale, the snail's pace is more adequate to crawl from New York to San Francisco.

Of course, there are secondary problems, for which the uniform rate of travel becomes a bad metaphor. While the rate of mutation is (relatively) uniform per telomere-reproduction, the degree of benefit/detriment of mutations is not, and the rate that changes propagate is exponential with the degree of benefit times time. (Detriment, as I noted earlier, simply corresponds to a change of sign. For near-neutral mutations, the probabilistic drift effects dominate; random walk mathematics means drift from the origin tends to increase logarithmically, IIR.) Thus, the rarity of beneficial mutations is overcome by the speed at which those rare benefits spread.

Feepit: I would say that the sharing of knowledge across academic fields is, generally, where improvement comes from.


Sometimes, certainly; whether it's the most common, I'm not sure; you might ask a historian that specializes in the history of technology.

My impression is that several of the big-and-fast developments seem to have come when one group stumbles across abstract reasoning tools (EG: math) developed in some other arena and figured out how they can be applied elsewhere. Some of it, however, has come from simple brute-force exploration of alternatives (EG: the Edison light bulb).

Feepit: Code in libraries, including genetic algorithms, should be designed to be as program-agnostic and extensible as possible, and those who write it require little to no knowledge in biology or chemistry or literature or psychology.


So, sort of how many bacteria will tend to NOMNOMNOM up almost any DNA from their environment and try using it?

Feepit: But hey, we're off topic.


Welcome to Fark. =)
 
2011-02-05 6:07:20 PM  
starsrift:

I'm pretty sure even Bevets doesn't deny human-bred designs of cow, dog, etc.

spookidooki:

So he believes in inches but not miles?

Bevets:

I believe a snail is capable of traveling an inch a minute. I do not believe the snail is capable of traveling a mile a minute.

abb3w:

The key limitation from the standpoint of Bevets and similar being the time constraints of the sub-10000 year timespan allowed. With the larger time scale, the snail's pace is more adequate to crawl from New York to San Francisco.

Of course, there are secondary problems, for which the uniform rate of travel becomes a bad metaphor. While the rate of mutation is (relatively) uniform per telomere-reproduction, the degree of benefit/detriment of mutations is not, and the rate that changes propagate is exponential with the degree of benefit times time.


Darwinists don't ask whether life evolved from a sea of chemicals; they only ask how it evolved. They don't ask whether complex life forms evolved from simpler forms; they only ask how it happened. The presupposition is that natural forces alone must (and therefore can) account for the development of all life on earth; the only task left is to work out the details. ~ Nancy Pearcey

Occasionally, a scientist discouraged by the consistent failure of theories purporting to explain some problem like the first appearance of life will suggest that perhaps supernatural creation is a tenable hypothesis in this one instance. Sophisticated naturalists instantly recoil with horror, because they know that there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn't do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson
 
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