Monday, April 02, 2007

Bad science on the march in Canada

The Toronto Star has an upsetting article for those of us who fights bad science. It seems like Creationism and it's bastard child, Intelligent Design, is becoming more prominent in Canada.

Creationism debate continues to evolve

The battle over creationism in the classroom is not unique to small town America, prominent Canadian biologists warn. It's creeping into this country's public school science classes and it's up to parents to do something about it.

Brian Alters, director of the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill University, says the problem stems from a general de-emphasizing of evolution in our classrooms – from curriculum that barely mentions it, to teachers who avoid a topic they fear will be controversial with students or parents.

"If you know you are going to get a lot of flak, there are ways to dance around it," says Alters, in Toronto recently to speak on the issue.

Alters says informal research by his centre has found that about one-third of teachers report pressure from parents to teach creationism or intelligent design, the theory that God directs the development of life, in the class as an alternative to evolution.

Most respond by teaching neither evolution nor creationism, leaving students with the impression that the two are of equal merit, he says. Others tiptoe around the issue, acknowledging that people of some faiths believe in creationism.

Either way, he says, scientific education in our schools is undermined.

One-third is a very high number, even if it is found through informal research. One teacher would be too many, so this kind of number is quite alarming.

I think it's good that Alters, and others, speak out against this trend, and he is quite right when he later in the article states that parents need to get involved in this.

The lunatic fringe was also interviewed in the article

Toronto-based fundamentalist author Denyse O'Leary charges that Alters is overstating the situation, saying the problem is not that intelligent design and creationism are creeping into schools, but that only evolution is taught.

"He and his colleagues are essentially importing a controversy that doesn't exist here," says O'Leary, who describes herself as a "post-Darwinist."

Funny, I think most evoolutionary biologist consider themselves as post-Darwinist in one way or the other, but probably not in the anti-science sense that O'Leary uses it.
And it's rich for a creationism/ID apologist like O'Leary to talk about importing controversies while complaining about it's only evolution that is taught. What ould they suggest should be taught? Lemarckism?

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