Sunday, February 18, 2007

Teaching Anti-Evolution Promotes Greater Acceptance of Evolutionary Theory

An interesting post at Telic Thoughts reports on a study in which teaching both evolution and anti-evolution (ID/Creationism) in class leads to students' greater acceptance of evolution:

At the end of the course, the students were invited to take a voluntary, anonymous survey about possible changes in their outlooks. The results, published in the November 2005 issue of the journal BioScience, found that 61 percent of students exposed to both creationism and evolution changed their outlooks, while only 21 percent of students exposed only to evolution did so — and nearly all of the changes were from the creationist to the evolutionist direction.

The post is followed by the usual ID hand-wringing (led by Sal Cordova) about how the study must be "flawed" because, logically, students would always choose ID over evolution when confronted with both (Cordova reports that Dembski gets 100% turnover from evolution to ID when he teaches!).

While the study may have some methodological issues, the overall result is interesting and backs up some anectodal information from my own college classes here in Susanvlle. When the significant flaws in Intellilgent Design are pointed out to students and the disinformation ID activists hand out about evolution is corrected, my experience is that a large proportion of students, if not becoming strict adherents to evolutionary theory, at least realilze they've been fed a line of BS from Behe, Dembski, Wells and the pastors, teachers and other adults in their lives who regurgitate ID propaganda back to them. Certainly greater numbers of students walk away thinking there is something more susbstantial to evolutionary theory than what they have been lead to believe by local creationists.


Anonymous said...

If the teacher-professor tell the students that Intelligent Design is a lie what do they expect the kids to believe. Students in most schools believe their teacher is the fountain of knowledge and would never think they would give them bum dope. But it does happen, they do get bum dope nearly every time evolution is taught.

Christopher O'Brien said...

Sorry, but students I teach are not expected to take my word for everything. I talk quite upfront about my biases in presenting information. But I am also adament about correcting the errors regarding evolution that are spouted daily by anti-evolutionists, the ID crowd in particular. Also, in a small, conservative town like Susanville, most of the information presented is needed to correct the highly misinformed view of evolution many of these students have had. The most frequent comment I get at the end of a course is "Gee, I never knew THAT's what evolution was about"...
So what "bum dope" about evolution do you think is being presented? Do actually have a specific example or are you just spouting the "radio talk-show" version of evolution where some talk show host told you something that fits with your preconceived notion of how the world works, so you assume it must be true?