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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How to Teach Evolution?

You're not going to believe this. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the Office of Science Education (OSE), and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) sponsored Matt Nisbet to give a lecture on Communicating About Evolution.

Who knew that Matt was an expert on evolution? Here's what Matt says about the lecture on his website [Video for NAS Lecture: Communicating about Evolution].
For readers of this blog and followers of the "Framing Science" thesis, the National Academies presentation is the most detailed lecture I have given on how to effectively engage with the public on the relationship between science and religion and the specific topic of evolution. The lecture follows closely articles and book chapters that I have previously published or that are forthcoming.
Near the end of his lecture Matt defends the "frame" of emphasizing that religion and science are not in conflict (~50 minutes). In this context, frame is not much different than spin and spin is not much different than lie. The truth is that science and religion are often in conflict. Any statement to the contrary is not the truth.

Matt's views about framing have been so thoroughly rejected by scientists that The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the Office of Science Education (OSE), and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) should be ashamed of themselves.

See Matt Nisbet Endorses Francis Collins for Presidential Science Advisor - The Kiss of Death for an example of how Nisbet wants to frame the debate.


  1. Me mam says, if you can't say something nice about someone, then say nothing:

    He's got pretty hair.

  2. Nothing.

  3. It's hard to read thru Nisbet's scienceblogs page without throwing up. The scientific community seems to have given up on this guy, and his threads are comment free apart from being content free.


  4. His blog is comment free because he has to approve the commenters post before it appears. Many people have complained that he's refused to allow comments that are critical of his posts. I experienced this a little while back when he wrote a post saying that the new movie from Sacha Baron Cohen (which I've heard takes on some religious people who have an anti gay agenda) will make it 'embarrassing' to be an atheist.
    I wrote a post to remind him that Baron Cohen is not atheist, he's a practicing Jew and thus its ridiculous to blame atheists for the fact that some fundamentalist positions may be made fun of in this movie. Naturally enough this comment never made it through the screening process.

  5. The problem of how to teach students such a controversial topic is challenging for educators. Some fear that teaching two opposing theories would confuse the students while some believe this approach would encourage students to think.