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More on Evolution Conflict

Ed Brayton has again weighed in on the framing of the conflict over science education. I agree with the way in which Ed has laid out the issues, and strongly recommend reading his piece.

As an advocate of sound science education, I would like to repeat some things I’ve said before, but that are often forgotten in discussion.

I am not opposed to free speech for intelligent design advocates. In fact, I see them exercising free speech all the time. What I would suggest they do about the peer reviewed publication is to simply establish one or more publications with peer review and publish scientific research in those publications. If it is done well, scientists will begin to read and respond to the new evidence they present. Of course I think the reason they are not generally published in peer-reviewed journals is because they are not doing research that is worthy of such publication.

Further, I have no problem with ID being discussed at the college or university level to whatever extent the people who are teaching there want to discuss it. I went to college at a place where young earth creationism was a regular topic. Nobody is actually being repressed here, no matter how loud the whining becomes.

But more important than my perception of repression or its absence–after all, I could be totally wrong–is the simple fact that there are other avenues open. In this age of the internet and various easy print publication opportunities, it’s quite easy to get something into print. But the real complaint is not getting published or not, it’s where one is published, or how much respect one gets from scienfic colleagues.

That respect from scientific colleagues, however, has to be earned. And earning it is hard work. New ideas do work their way into the scientific community only slowly, and most new ideas get thrown out in the process of discussion. That is appropriate. One can argue that there should be more room or less room for new ideas, but ultimately, science must test ideas thoroughly before they are accepted.

And that leads me to the place where I do not think that ID has a place–the high school science classroom. Why? Very simply I believe that the high school curriculum is packed enough with consensus science, and that it should be limited to that. Let new ideas be discussed elsewhere and when a scientific consensus arises, that will be time enough to add that material to the high school science curriculum.

Framing the debate a s religion vs science, however, makes this difficult, no matter which side frames the discussion in that fashion.

(Note: Read Ed’s piece before you comment here. I’m only making a small subpoint.)

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  1. I think you are right about high school science. That is, unless the h. s. teacher, curriculum, or text says something dumb like “there is no creator.” That’s an unscientific statement, and also has no place in high school science, but, if made, there should be a reasonable allowance for an equally non-scientific rebuttal.

  2. I agree on the matter of unscientific statements. The best answer, in my view, is to have science teachers stick to teaching the content of the science standards (after we make those standards as good as possible), and leave the further philosophizing to other venues.

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