Friday, August 28, 2015

Jerry Coyne doubles down on his criticism of how evolution is taught in Ontario schools

A few weeks ago, Jerry Coyne got his knickers in a knot because the Ontario school curriculum didn't specifically prescribe the teaching of evolution in the way that he would like [Ontario schools require teaching evolution—except human evolution].

I replied to that post, quoting the Ontario curriculum and pointing out that it was pretty damn good when it comes to evolution [Teaching evolution in Ontario Schools]. The curriculum concentrates on fundamental principles of evolution as they apply to all species. It does not cover any details of the history of life per se. It doesn't specifically mention the evolution of whales, or birds, or any other lineage. It doesn't say which examples have to be included in the classroom instruction. It refers frequently to the fact that humans are not different than any other animals when it comes to biology.

Jerry take this to mean that detailed descriptions of human evolution are specifically excluded and he now claims that this is due to government policy [Ontario school officials respond—or rather, fail to respond—to queries about why they don’t require teaching human evolution].
Until I learn otherwise, then—and the Ministry of Education hasn’t seen fit to answer my letter—I’m going to assume that Ontario doesn’t require the teaching of human evolution because it’s giving a sop to creationists. Of course some enlightened teachers will go ahead and teach about our own species in the evolution unit anyway, but the point is that that isn’t required. Bowing to “cultural sensitivity”, the government of Ontario says it’s ok to prevent children from learning what is probably the most important thing about their own species.
Just about everyone who has ever taken biology in Ontario, and everyone who has ever taught it, is telling Jerry that he is wrong. Human evolution is covered in class as a good example of evolutionary concepts.

This jibes with the experience of my own children and with the three different high schools that invited me to talk about evolution. It's also consistent with the views of several colleagues (university professors) who were involved in creating the curriculum. Members of the Ontario Legislature, including the Minister of Education who I've met, are not creationists, nor are they sympathetic to creationism. The professors and teachers at the Ontario Institute for studies in Education (OISE) (part of the University of Toronto) are not creationists and are not sympathetic to creationists. I been to many talks at OISE and I've met many of the people who are in charge of designing and implementing school curricula.

I don't know why Jerry Coyne is ignoring all of the advice he's getting from people who live in Ontario and who know that he is misrepresenting the teaching of evolution in this province. It's very disappointing to see him behave like that.


82 comments :

  1. "Until I learn otherwise, then—and the Ministry of Education hasn’t seen fit to answer my letter—I’m going to assume that Ontario doesn’t require the teaching of human evolution because it’s giving a sop to creationists. Of course some enlightened teachers will go ahead and teach about our own species in the evolution unit anyway, but the point is that that isn’t required. Bowing to “cultural sensitivity”, the government of Ontario says it’s ok to prevent children from learning what is probably the most important thing about their own species."

    I think that's a reasonable deduction. When a bureaucrat is evasive, it's smoke.

    My high school biology book from 1970 -- a very expensive one with transparent anatomy overlays -- didn't teach creationism. It just omitted any mention of evolution or change over time. Not that such omission should be construed as a sop to creationists.

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  2. Having read the curriculum and the letter from the Ministry, you think it's a "reasonable deduction" to conclude that the Government of Ontario is "preventing" children from learning about human evolution as a sop to creationists?

    What planet are you living on?

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    1. Planet cynical.

      Omission does not actively prevent teachers from supplementing the curriculum, but when the omission seems so obviously driven by politics, I think it prevents some kids from being exposed to the idea.

      My old textbook did not actively prevent my teacher from teaching evolution, but the motive for the omission was pretty transparent. Omission gives teachers permission to avoid a subject.

      I think it would be a good idea to test Jerry's hypothesis by asking kids whether they learn about human evolution in school.

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    2. Obviously driven by politics? In what way?
      I teach high school biology in Ontario. I am required, as in have to, must, am obliged to etc. etc. to teach evolution.
      Why do you think it is necessary to teach *human* evolution as opposed to dinosaur evolution or horse evolution or plant evolution?

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    3. Is it "necessary" in a biology class, to teach that humans are animals? Could you, in good conscience. teach biology without mentioning that humans are animals?

      And what do you mean by animal? How on earth could you define animal in a high school biology class without mentioning descent? just asking.

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    4. While it's understandable that we are particularly interested in our own evolutionary history, we are one species among millions and there is no special theory of human evolution. This focus on humans is exceptionalism à rebours.

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    5. Petrushka, what makes you think that teachers in Ontario don't tell kids humans are animals?

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    6. Piggybacking off a question i asked earlier. If humans are not exceptional in evolutionary terms, why the fuss about focusing on teaching human evolution specifically? Does Coyne believe humans are exceptional in some right or do his motives lie elsewhere?

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    7. In Texas, I hear, they have omitted mention of slavery as a cause of the Civil War. While some of us have a particular interest in slavery, one mustn't ascribe political motives to such an omission.

      Now is the curriculum guide for evolution says that all living things are related by descent, I will bow to Larry's view.

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    8. Re Petrushka

      Actually, the Civil War was fought over the ownership of coal mines in West Virginia, at least according to Internet troll Don Williams.

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    9. If humans are not exceptional in evolutionary terms, why the fuss about focusing on teaching human evolution specifically? Does Coyne believe humans are exceptional in some right or do his motives lie elsewhere?

      His motives lie elsewhere. It is because it is human evolution that would be considered most controversial and opposed for religious reasons. I dare say, if it wasn't for the implications about human origins, the whole issue of evolution would not be viewed as the cultural controversy it is.
      I have no opinion about the curriculum in Ontario, but it is clear that Coyne is motivated to make sure details about evolution are not minimized or avoided all together just to appease religious sensitivities. It is a noble goal even if misplaced in the case of Ontario.

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    10. Petrushka: I think you have a somewhat confused view of what our curricum documents are for. Do you live in Ontario? It is hard to tell.

      Up here the government curriculum documents tell us the topics we must cover within each of the subjects. It is divided into two groups of concepts called "Expectations". We also have four categories of learning we must cover: knowledge and understanding; thinking and investigation; communication; and application. There are Overall Expectations which are very broad and are what we must evaluate students on, and there are Specific Expectations that outline the key ideas and core concepts that are worked into the Overall Expectations.

      Now--these are not prescriptive in the sense that they do not dictate exactly how we must teach or what precisely we have to talk about in class, as long as we cover the key ideas. You see, up here, we *are* treated as professionals who do know what we are supposed to do. So, being rather general, the specific expectations do not say "all living things are related by descent" on those terms because the language of the documents is not that precise. However -- students *are* expected to be taught about phylogeny, and speciation.
      What is even more interesting is that there is a unit called "Diversity of Living Things" that is rather closely connected to the unit called "Evolution". In that unit as well students are taught about phylogeny, taxonomy, classification and so on. So it would be rather difficult to teach the Diversity unit *without* teaching that humans are animals, and likewise without teaching that all life is related since that underlies modern classification and -- phylogeny.

      To make a long story short: Jerry Coyne doesn't know what he is talking about.

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    11. @ Beau Stoddard

      Piggybacking off a question i asked earlier. If humans are not exceptional in evolutionary terms, why the fuss about focusing on teaching human evolution specifically? Does Coyne believe humans are exceptional in some right or do his motives lie elsewhere?

      I had a similar thought, though obviously (or so one would think), Coyne's "motives" are simply that he is aware of a widespread movement by religious zealots to ensure that children are not taught that they share ancestry with other organisms, and he believes the omission of human evolution from the curriculum guidelines is a concession to this. I'm not sure what other "motive" you might be ascribing to him.

      That said, it is not mandatory that the curriculum acknowledge creationism, anymore than the geography curriculum must mention flat earth theory. And, other than arguing against creationism, there is no other reason to specifically mention humans in the evolution curriculum, since humans are not exceptional compared to any other organisms.

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    12. @Luitesuite

      It seems to me Coyne is more concerned with upsetting religious beliefs. I think if a person rejects human evolution they reject evolution in all of its forms. It seems like he's creeping toward forcing students into rejecting God to receive their science credits. Teach the science and let the chips fall where they may. I agree that our world views should not interfere with schooling buy it should go both ways.

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    13. So how does including human evolution in the teaching of evolution as a whole involve the imposition of a "world view", Beau? Would you object to curriculum guidelines that required that it be made clear to students that humans share common ancestry with all other life forms?

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    14. If that's what science declares then yes I would.

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    15. You would object to teaching that humans share common ancestry with all other life forms, if that's what science declares?

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    16. If that's what science declares then yes I would.

      I share John's confusion, but I suspect you meant to say you would not object.

      My questions:

      What do you mean "if"?

      And, if I am correct in my interpretation of your answer and you would not object, then why do you accuse Coyne of nefarious hidden motivations when he suggests teaching just that?

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    17. I think you should be able to teach science as it's understood but leave out the atheism. Maybe I'm wrong about Coyne but I've read of other teachers and professors pushing atheism. Can't have it both ways.

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    18. That didn't any of my questions, Beau, but I guess it's you prerogative to ignore them.

      I'm interested to hear some examples of what you claim are "teachers pushing atheism." I'm not aware of that happening in any elementary or high school, but that doesn't mean it never happened. Enlighten me.

      I suppose you didn't bother mention teachers pushing Christianity because, as anyone knows, examples of that are legion. You'll find quite a few here, for instance:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/?s=school

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    19. "I think you should be able to teach science as it's understood but leave out the atheism."

      I agree completely. "Teaching" atheism would be inappropriate in a science class. Atheism is simply the provisional conclusion that gods do not exist based on the available evidence. Why would someone bring that up? If you wanted to talk about standards of evidence you could talk about the lack of evidence for the existence of Santa Claus.

      What atheism is being "pushed" when you talk about the evolution of humans?

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    20. Lutesuite, didn't i say both should be left out? You make agreeing with you so difficult.

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    21. Okay we all agree evolution should be taught. Let's get to a scenario that leaves me a bit confused, which happens often because I'm an idiot. Let's pretend professor Moran and professor Privine are teachers at the same high school. They both are instructed to focus on genetic drift in their respective classes. They don't see eye to eye on the issue. Who's view is to be taught and why?

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  3. Autocrat: someone who insists on complete obedience from others; an imperious or domineering person.

    That's Coyne.

    And hey, Jerry, haven't you heard that pangolins are endangered?

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  4. The Evolutionary Landscape of Alternative Splicing in Vertebrate Species
    Science 21 December 2012:
    Vol. 338 no. 6114 pp. 1587-1593
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1230612
    Would Jerry like to include this article from University of Toronto?

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  5. "I don't know why Jerry Coyne is ignoring all of the advice"

    Does somebody who still keeps up with Coyne have an example of when Coyne ever "took advice" and admitted he was wrong about something?
    Honestly I stopped following him ages ago due to his bull-headed nature and inability to competently asses viewpoints that differ from his (his comment section is heavily moderated with opinions that differ harshly from his own, even when not rude at all, commonly being deleted). That and the cats and boots grew more and more tiring with time.
    (And at some point he made some anti-feminist remarks and doubled down on them which killed any desire I had of ever returning and skimming his writing in the future.)

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    1. He's not as bad as PZ Myers in this regard.

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    2. In the bull-headed regard? Perhaps. In the comment moderation - no way, and at least PZ shows in big red letters when he deletes and bans unlike Coyne's secret and silent moderation style (it's his blog and he can do as he pleases of course, but that doesn't make me a fan of that style). Also at least PZ is feminist and has minimal blunders on that front where as from what I've seen of Coyne he seems to be naively indifferent at best.

      But I'm gonna pull out of this topic now because I don't want it to keep going (it's clearly headed for bad places).

      I just wanted to offer a (of course biased but hey, aren't we all) drive-by observation that I've never actually seen Coyne "take advice", and the behavior Larry is writing about is not at all surprising to me.

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    3. Re Uncivilized Elk

      Prof. Coyne usually give a warning before he wields the banhammer. I have yet to see Myers do likewise. I have been given the heave ho twice by Myers with no explanation.

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    4. Coyne doesn't issue retractions even after fellow scientists have published evidence refuting his views. At least one of his errors was already falsified before he even published on stuff, but he didn't even bothered to read basic embryology textbooks otherwise he' have known he was wrong. He opines about how engineers should build optical systems and then uses his lack of comprehension as evidence for his views, publishes on it, and makes no retraction.

      Not the brightest lightbulb in the house if you know what I mean.

      Two examples of Jerry's scientific faux pas which he won't retract:

      http://www.uncommondescent.com/physics/jerry-coyne-proven-wrong-by-physicists-about-the-eye/

      and


      http://blog.drwile.com/?p=1309

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    5. Yeah, because you're so bright that you think "lanugo has a function, hence it screams design" is a valid refutation of Coyne's argument? Hilarious.
      Of course the fact that ALL other primates and notably whales also have lanugo also screams design and has nothing to do with common descent right?

      You're so bright and convincing...not

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    6. By all means let Jerry Coyne's writings and opinions be taught to school kids, especially this gem by Jerry himself:

      "In science's pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to [the pseudo science of] phrenology than to physics."

      Of course, given evolutionary biology is at the bottom of science's pecking order relative to say chemistry and physics, one has to wonder why he's getting bent out of shape over a minor point in a bottom-lurking hypothesis. I mean, creationists don't need to believe monkeys are the cousins of humans in order to be good neurosurgeons like Ben Carson.

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    7. No, and you don't need a PhD in physics to be a good plumber. But if you don't accept the common descent of all living things, it totally disqualifies you as a biologist. Shall I tell you why or do you already know?

      And your sensitivity to irony is abnormally low, if you take Coyne's opening sentence in "Of Vice and Men" at face value.

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    8. Re liars

      Ah gee, a link to the Dishonesty Institute's web site. About as authoritative as Pravda and Izvestia were during the regime of the former Soviet Union. Also a link to Christian apologist Jay Wile, whom I am ashamed to say holds a PhD degree from the same university that I do.
      Well, Jonathan Wells and the late and unlamented Duane Gish hold PhDs from the same university where I received my BA.

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  6. Cone (and others I've noticed in this discussion there) don't seem to be wrapping their minds around the fact that public attitudes about evolution and creationism in Canada and the USA are not expressed and acted upon in the same way.

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    1. Yeah...go figure.

      The professor who taught me human evolution at the University of Toronto came up from the US; he would tell us how, when he taught the same course in America, always began the course with a discussion about how creationism is an inappropriate (his words) way of understanding evolution. After two or three semesters of blank looks from his students here, he realized he didn't have to do that any more.

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  7. Damn, auto correct and no editing. Sorry I didn't double check that before hitting post.

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  8. Education needs to be secularized. Evolutionary biology should be introduced in Grade 1 and embellished in subsequent grades. If a 4-year old can be told religious stories of the supernatural as absolute truths, they can surely be told, in school, of the actual truth of their existence and the 4 billion year old back story.

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  9. Jerry Coyne is my favorite clown. I'm not sure if he does it deliberately, just making a fool of himself in public? God help him, if he doesn't.

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    1. You lack sufficient intelligence to carry Prof. Coyne's briefcase.

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    2. I'm glad someone is sticking up for Jerry Coyne. He has written two of the most important books of our time. The debate about the Ontario curriculum is like arguing about whether a pile of shit should have a cherry or a strawberry on top. Evolutionary biology should begin in Grade 1.

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    3. Tell us, Septic Mind, how Jerry made a fool of himself in his book "Why Evolution Is True"? In which chapter? Page numbers, please.

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  10. is it possible mr coyne's investigation of this is as faulty as his investigation of the merits of evolution? HMMM. A common law here of blinders eh!

    the truth is what the kids deserve.
    Censoring creationism is state policy that its not true. so a attack upon christian doctrines that were the foundation and culture of the Protestant, i think Catholic, peoples who created THEIR nation.
    its just like in third world countries where some religion is attacked by the state in some way. REALLY!
    Creationism is our nations first love and must be included as a option in origin subjects otherwise the charge of state persecution of religion is right.
    The truth must be told and so in a contention both sides. Creationism is the only ideas that is censored because its so important and because there is a attack on christianity.
    its irrelevant if the bosses are sympathetic to creationism.
    This is our nation and the cAnadians are sympathetic enough and/or sympathetic with each other enough to tolerate both sides.
    canada should lead on this because america fails so badly. Because they have a greater history of freedom and liberty.
    it should be Canadians demanding equal time to creationism and no censorship of conclusions about important things like origins. Not foreigners demanding what is taught. suggest but don't demand.

    Anyways Canucks are apathetic c about everything in schools. In one ear and out the next.

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  11. Missing from all the lengthy posts defending Canada's honor is a simple declarative sentence affirming that common descent is taught and that humans are included in common descent. That's really all it woud take to demonstrate that Coyne is off base.

    Perhaps a quote from a major textbook or equivalent.

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    1. Nah...I have a funny feeling even that would not be enough for you. From there we would have to move on to youtube videos of teachers in classrooms making said declaration. Meh.

      This may come as a major surprise to you, but the curriculum here is designed to provide a half-decent education to students, not to satisfy the dogmatic minutia-driven zeal of crusaders of any stripe.

      Please -- continue believing that there is some hidden political agenda at work here; I would hate to see you unhappy. Meanwhile I will continue to teach my students about evolution in the way I think is best and using the examples that I think will best fit the specific group of students and the circumstances in the class.

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    2. Perhaps a quote from a major textbook or equivalent.

      Do you think Ontario writes its own science textbooks?

      My kids both went thru the Ontario public school system up to the 8th grade and were taught that evolution includes humans.

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    3. I can accept that as an affirmative statement. At least about Ontario. But I still think Coyne is justified in being suspicious of words like diversity. It hardly seems consistent that this website would be upset by a confrontational stance.

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    4. But I still think Coyne is justified in being suspicious of words like diversity.

      Really? Why?

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    5. Because the word diversity, in the academic world, has become a code word for shutting down discussion that offends people.

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    6. I don't doubt it. However, in the context of the Ontario Ministry of Education, it more commonly connotes things like programs to reduce bullying of LGBTQ students, which tend to cause creationists to have conniptions.

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    7. There are similar concerns in the U.S., but also movements to remove mentions of ham and bacon, lest they offend Muslims.

      The problem is getting past incendiary headlines and finding actual trends. At least I find that difficult.

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    8. There are similar concerns in the U.S., but also movements to remove mentions of ham and bacon, lest they offend Muslims.

      If such things are becoming common in America, then I can understand Coyne's wariness of the word "diversity." That is, if he has little awareness of the situation in Canada, where such incidents occur rarely, if ever.

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  13. I don't know what Ontario teaches, nor do I care that much. I can tell you, however, that in my entire public school career in the rural Midwest, I received approximately one class period's worth of instruction on evolution. As far as I can recall, it did not involve humans at all. Even then, however, students (not their parents!) got upset with the teacher and argued with her during the middle of class. Granted, this was over 15 years ago, and perhaps things have changed, but I kind of doubt it.

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    1. They have probably changed for the worse.

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    2. My kids went to a Christian school and started learning evolution in 2nd or 3rd grade i believe. I remember this distinctly because their teacher told them they came from monkeys. They thought she was being racist and maybe she was but either way they were taught they were products of evolution.

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    3. Re Beau Stoddard

      That's not even an accurate statement. Humans and monkeys came from a common ancestor who has long since gone extinct.

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    4. What, that again? The common ancestor of humans and monkeys was a monkey. By the rules of cladistic classification, humans are monkeys. So the teacher was indeed accurate.

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    5. I'm wondering why Beau thought the teacher was possibly being racist in saying that, however.

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    6. @lutesuite,
      Because they were the only black students in their school and the way they desribed it was questionable.

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    7. Beau,

      You mean the teacher singled out the black students as the only ones that came from monkeys?

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  14. The curriculum concentrates on fundamental principles of evolution as they apply to all species. It does not cover any details of the history of life per se.

    Maybe Jerry Coyne should do something about the details of the history of life per se to be taught in Ontario schools?

    It seems strange that each time he is asked about those details of life, he waves them away as if it was a fly and never insists on pursuing those details to be taught in any schools.

    This is what I have to say to Jerry Coyne:

    Until people like you stop avoiding the inconvenient truth about how life developed; the origins of the first self-replicating molecule (whatever that was), the origins of the first cell, the origins of eukaryotic cell, the origins of information and so on, people like me will be criticizing the human evolution and many other aspects of evolutionary baseless assumptions.


    I also have another challenge for Jerry Coyne this time about human evolution:

    Are humans evolving or regressing?

    If humans are evolving, why has the human genome accumulated so many mutations and useless stuff? If humans are evolving, why is 90% of human genome junk?

    If humans are evolving, shouldn’t our genome be improving rather than the other way around?

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    1. people like me will be criticizing the human evolution

      People like you reject evolution a priori, no amount of evidence will ever be enough for "people like you" AKA creationists. And you've been told a million times that just because we don't know everything doesn't mean we don't know anything.

      If humans are evolving, why has the human genome accumulated so many mutations and useless stuff? If humans are evolving, why is 90% of human genome junk?

      Maybe because jDNA is neutral and not deleterious? It's unbelievable that after so much time spent posting crap here you can't grasp a single concept like this, so simple and which has been explained and discussed ad nauseam.

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    3. Hey screwed up mind, do you really believe that no scientists are working on and figuring out the details of the history of life? Have you ever actually looked into what scientists are working on and figuring out? Here's a hint: You won't find it in the bible or other impossible myths and you won't find it on websites like ENV, AIG, ICR, etc.

      "Are humans evolving or regressing?

      If humans are evolving, why has the human genome accumulated so many mutations and useless stuff? If humans are evolving, why is 90% of human genome junk?

      If humans are evolving, shouldn’t our genome be improving rather than the other way around?"

      What makes you think that evolution should always cause and/or result in improvement in any or every detail of organisms? (I'm being really generous when using the word "think" in any regard to you.)

      "I have been "around the corner" for too, too long to buy "maybe's.""

      Yeah, you "buy" impossibilities, such as your imaginary sky daddy.

      "I don't reject evolution."

      Yeah, riiiight.

      "I reject the claims of evolutionists like Jerry Coyne regarding what evolution can accomplish."

      Aw, poor little screwed up mind. It's terrible, just terrible and so unfair that your chosen, imaginary sky daddy isn't included in scientific evolutionary theory. I'm crying a river for you.

      "I'm not blind but I don't buy into "science without evidence"that makes ridicules claims."

      ROFLMAO! Stop, please stop, I hurt from laughing so hard. You don't "buy into" science at all, except in the ways that you take unappreciative advantage of the many things that science has provided, and while doing that you "buy into" horrible, impossible religious crap that has never provided anything worthwhile, and never will.

      "Do you want to change my mind? No problem. Provide evidence for your claims and I will evaluate them"

      What's left of your regressive mind is obviously too screwed up to change in any positive way, and your evaluation of anything, especially anything scientific, is unimportant, to put it mildly.

      "But, don't sell me your beliefs as science! I have enough of that among the many creationists."

      Says the IDiot-creationist who's trying to sell his wacky beliefs as science.

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    4. "If humans are evolving, why has the human genome accumulated so many mutations and useless stuff? If humans are evolving, why is 90% of human genome junk?

      If humans are evolving, shouldn’t our genome be improving rather than the other way around?"

      Here's a thought: instead of wasting your time and the time of others by posting completely inane ridiculous BS that demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that you comprehend nothing about the theory of evolution, spend that time reading what Larry actually writes and learn.

      It's impossible to be skeptical when you are incompetent at comprehension. At that point you're merely being septical.

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  15. Jerry might have a point with respect to the government. Not that they are actively preventing the teaching of human evolution. But they are actively avoiding the subject. This may stem from the devil's agreement that Canada has with the Catholic Church and education. Our constitution protects Catholic education. And Ontario has decided to fully fund it through tax dollars.

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    1. Catholics nominally accept evolution, but not also believe some magic was required to make humans. I'm guessing this is the contentious part.

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    2. If you "believe some magic was required to make humans" then you don't accept evolution.

      If one then goes on to say that one does believe in evolution then you are at best delusional and at worst dishonest.

      In either case one has abdicated rationality and responsibility and amply demonstrated that one is not fit to participate fully in a secular society.

      This religiously motivated distortion of a scientific fact is not just some endearing eccentricity on the part of the deluded, it contaminates our public discourse and erodes our hard won post enlightenment secular society.

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    3. I've never heard of any problems with the teaching of evolution in the Catholic schools, no more than might exist in the secular school system. The Ontario Catholic school system isn't even all that Catholic. For instance, there has been some loud opposition from Muslim and Evangelical Christian groups regarding the recent revisions to the sex education program, but the Catholic schools have been supportive of it.

      I still disagree with the very existence of that system, though.

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    4. LS, I went through the secular system so I can't say much about the Catholic system. But, being Christian, I assume that it still believes in some form of Devine intervention in human evolution.

      I just think that it is possible that the curriculum may be silent on human evolution out of the fear of blowback. You brought up the sex Ed curriculum. I have read it and it is well thought out and simply deals with reality. But if you believed the religious nut jobs (eg, Charles McVety) who oppose it, you would think that it is an instruction manual for oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, homosexuality and how to give consent to sex. The authors of the science curriculum may simply have left out specific reference to human evolution out of fear of this type of reaction.

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    5. You'll notice, however, that the Sex Ed curriculum is moving forward as planned, despite the protestations of the likes of Charles McVety. So I'm not sure why you think education policy would be more concerned about those protestations in formulating its biology curriculum.

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    6. LS, I think that the difference is that evolution can be taught quite well and thoroughly without ever mentioning human evolution specifically. It would be hard to provide effective and fact based sex education by leaving out all of the issues that people like McVety want left out.

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    7. "... According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, any believer may accept either literal or special creation within the period of an actual six day, twenty-four hour period, or they may accept the belief that the earth evolved over time under the guidance of God. All Catholics must accept that God initiated and continued the process of his evolutionary creation, that Adam and Eve were real people (although they may have not been the only two humans existent in the beginning of time), and that all humans, whether specially created or evolved, have and have always had specially created souls for each individual. Catholics can believe in evolution just as long as God's involvement is acknowledged."

      http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=882980

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    8. "The view prevailing among most theologians today is that there is no conflict between the evolution model of the origin and development of life and the truths presented in the Book of Genesis. It still remains true that the origin of every human soul is a new act of creation by God and creator. (That is why the evolution model cannot explain completely the leap from highly developed animal form to the fully conscious, thinking, feeling and deciding human person.)"

      http://www.stjameshopewell.org/questions/question_evolution.html

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  16. The big difference in our two nations is that america has a heritage of freedom and liberity and rebellion against authority and all this backed up by the consent of the people in forming their government. Including the constitution verifying the consent of the people in living under thier form of government.
    So this means great dexterity of words/concepts must be invoked to bring state control over conclusions and religious truth and censorship agendas.
    thats why America struggles with the origin issue in public institutions.
    Thats why evolution guardians like Mt Coyne are suspicious about intents/words and so about other nations.
    in Canada we do not have a heritage of liberity/freedom/rebellion. Can'y explain why right now.
    so its very easy for the establishment to dictate what is done. Even if there is resistance its not able to bring effect as not having the same tools as the Yanks.
    When a people are under authority more and so society is less a reflection of themselves then they are more disinterested in how society is run. Canucks are apathetic more then yanks. They don't feel it as much.
    If they introduced creationism and censored evolution , relatively, then would hardly be a yelp.
    It matters more in america then canada. Its about truth and freedom/liverity to pursue the truth.
    The good guys will prevail in time. We always do.

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    1. Whenever I read your comments on the history of Canada I'm reminded of the phrase "not even wrong."

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    2. I am pleased, however, to see that Jerry Coyne has now had a mountain named after him. I guess he was just too modest to mention that on his blog.

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    3. Hey Robert,

      I was going to respond to your "post" but then I thought, why bother ?

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    4. dr moran.
      its an interpretation of real differences between different nations. i'm not the first to say things like this.
      There is a heritage of liberity/freedom in america that was not here.
      In fact all the men did not get the vote until the late 1800's.
      Its measurable and definable and explains why there is a difference in interest and vigour in affairs between the two nations.
      We do have a trust in authority that the Yanks don't. We are wrong and they are right. Its why Canada exists and is not a part of America. the old ones didn't want to be a part. Only later thought independence was a good idea.
      its true history.

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  17. I see a lot of religion and creationism here. But debating religious faith and fundamentalism hardly may be of any value. People cherish their faith and beliefs, right or wrong.I'll just point out that "My kingdom is not of this world" and "The Kingdom of Heaven is within".

    And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

    It is a gift.

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  18. I was educated in Ontario in the 90s and I didn't understand evolution by natural selection until I was in my 20s researching it on my own. Of course I managed to know of the theory of evolution, that is, that scientists say we evolved from primordial goo into humans. I did not understand natural selection. When I learned exactly what it was, my mind was completely blown, my entire conception of nature was transformed, and I thought to myself "how in the hell did the most powerful explanatory theory in the history of mankind not get properly explained to me?" Testing for a proper understanding of the mechanism of evolution is paramount. I passed all of my classes... how did I get out of the 8th grade still not understanding this basic and all encompassing theory? Anyone trying to sell me the idea that Ontario teaches evolution just fine will need to explain the changes that have been made in the last 15 years.

    thank you

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