Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Creationist science teachers in the US

So what percentage of US science teachers are creationists? Hmm...16%!!

Well...here is the graph:
There you go...Now we can cry together. And these are not just proponents of Intelligent Design nonsense. These 16% actually believe in a 10,000 year old Earth!! Yikes! (Although, they still look good compared to the 48% of the general public who are young Earth creationists)

And it turns out that 12% also teach ID or creationism as valid scientific alternative to evolution:

The researchers polled a random sample of nearly 2000 high-school science teachers across the US in 2007. Of the 939 who responded, 2% said they did not cover evolution at all, with the majority spending between 3 and 10 classroom hours on the subject.

However, a quarter of the teachers also reported spending at least some time teaching about creationism or intelligent design. Of these, 48% – about 12.5% of the total survey – said they taught it as a "valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species".

The results are published in Plos Biology (go Plos!!) and the paper is titled: Evolution and Creationism in America's Classrooms: A National Portrait

The authors of the study conclude that requiring high school teachers to complete one evolutionary biology class can significantly improve the situation:
These findings strongly suggest that victory in the courts is not enough for the scientific community to ensure that evolution is included in high school science courses. Nor is success in persuading states to adopt rigorous content standards consistent with recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations. Scientists concerned about the quality of evolution instruction might have a bigger impact in the classroom by focusing on the certification standards for high school biology teachers. Our study suggests that requiring all teachers to complete a course in evolutionary biology would have a substantial impact on the emphasis on evolution and its centrality in high school biology courses. In the long run, the impact of such a change could have a more far reaching effect than the victories in courts and in state governments.
Read the full paper here, and the New Scientist story here.


Marina said...

You know, Salman, I like your blog, but one of these days it is going to drive me to drink. Or just start weeping in public. Neither would be a particularly pretty sight.

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks, and yes, the blog's purpose is to encourage drinking and spontaneous outpouring of emotion in public sphere :)

While the creationist science teacher news is depressing (and so is the John Hagee story), check out George Coyne's lecture (or at least the Q&A session) for some good-natured science & religion interaction and humor.


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