She tells an interesting story in her first post on the Science Laegue of Amercia blog [A New Finger in the Pie].
An editor friend of mine asked me the other day to read an activity she’s developing for middle school, one of the soon-to-be plethora of activities aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. This particular one was about evolution, and asked kids to look for variation in a number of human traits and then infer adaptive explanations. For example, they could measure finger lengths and then come up with a reason that longer fingers are more adaptive than shorter ones. What followed was a half-hour conversation in which I tried my best to explain why that was a terrible idea for an activity. And here’s the thing—this friend of mine, she’s super-smart and has an advanced degree in biology from Harvard University. Now, she completely understood, once we discussed it, why that kind of activity will reinforce misconceptions about evolution (that every feature is adaptive, that you can infer a structure’s adaptive value from its current function, etc.), but we still had to have the discussion.Most of you will be familiar with this idea since I've been complaining about adaptationism for decades. In order to "get" evolution, you need to know about Neutral Theory and random genetic drift—and that's just for starters. We need to work much harder to dispel misconceptions about evolution.
I have worked for the past decade-plus with scientists, science writers, and science educators, all of whom have the best intentions in the world, all of whom would have no problem declaring their allegiance to the cause of an authentic science education grounded in evolution. But—and I don’t want to point fingers at anybody here—many of them would have not batted an eye if that activity had come across their desks. And this, I believe, is one of the most important truths we have to face: many of us don’t really get evolution. It’s such a beautiful, simple, and powerful idea, but it’s also finicky, demanding vigilant attention to detail to be properly explained and explored.
Lot's of people don't really "get" evolution but, in fairness, they don't study it either. But if you are going to write about evolution—or teach it—then you'd better make sure you understand it. Unfortunately, there are far too many people like Stephanie Keep's friend. We have to fix that.
There's one group that spends an extraordinary amount of time "studying" evolution without ever "getting" it. I'm referring to creationists, especially the Intelligent Design Creationists, otherwise known as IDiots. They've been told time and time again that there's much more to evolution than just adaptation. Recently, some of them actually seemed to "get" the ideas of Neutral Theory and random genetic drift although that turned out to be an illusion. They still don't get evolution.
A New Hire at the National Center for Science Education Admits "Many of Us Don't Really Get Evolution"]. Here's part of what McLaughlin says,
Bear in mind, too, that the very educators who don't get evolution are also the ones who fuss and complain whenever a state legislator or science standards committee member proposes language about "teaching the strengths and weaknesses" of evolution. From the way they kvetch, you would think there are no weaknesses in evolutionary theory. But if many of them don't get evolution in the first place, how would they know?This is ironic and confused on so many levels that I'm not even going to try and point them out. I just post it here for your amusement.
Keep says that evolution is a "beautiful, simple, and powerful idea, but it's also finicky, demanding vigilant attention to detail to be properly explained and explored." Perhaps Keep could provide a helpful list of exactly what those details are so educators like her Harvard-trained friend can stay on the straight and narrow Darwinian path, lest they join the chorus calling for a new theory of evolution.
1. Here's his profile on the Discovery Institute website.Donald McLaughlin joined Discovery Institute in August 2013, as a Development Officer and Regional Representative in the upper Midwest and Northeast regions. His areas of responsibility include cultivating and stewarding major gifts, and planned giving. Donald has had a successful career in development, including 8 years as a Regional Director of Advancement for Prison Fellowship Ministries, 2 years as National Director of Major Gifts for Teen Mania Ministries and 5 years as Regional Director of Advancement for Taylor University.He also has a religious profile at: Donald McLaughlin.
Donald is a 1975 graduate of Taylor University where he earned his BA in Speech and Drama. In 1977, he earned an MA in Clinical Audiology from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. While at Prison Fellowship, Donald also participated in the Centurions Program. Prior to his work in Development, Donald spent more than twenty years in financial services with both AG Edwards and Merrill Lynch. Donald lives in Granger Indiana, near South Bend, with his wife of 35 years, Elizabeth, who is Chair of the Communications Department at Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. Donald enjoys reading, traveling, and music.