Sunday, October 25, 2009

 

British Reserve


Wow ... just wow:

More than half of British adults think that intelligent design and creationism should be taught alongside evolution in schoolscience lessons – a proportion higher than in the US.

An Ipsos Mori survey questioned 11,768 adults from 10 countries on how the theory of evolution should be taught in school science lessons.

About 54% of the 973 polled Britons agreed with the view: "Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism."

In the US, of 991 adults responding to the survey, which was organised by the British Council, 51% agreed that evolution should be on the curriculum alongside other theories, like intelligent design.

Needless to say, British educators are appalled:

Lewis Wolpert, emeritus professor of biology at University College London (UCL), who is vice-president of the British Humanist Association, said: "I am appalled. It shows how ignorant the public is. Intelligent design and creationism have no connection with science and are purely religious concepts. There is no evidence for them at all. They must be kept out of science lessons."

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at UCL, said: "This shows the danger of religions being allowed to buy schools, hijack lessons and pretend that they have anything useful to say about science – which, by definition, they do not. The figure seems much too high, although no doubt there is a substantial minority that does think this."

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It would be wholly wrong to include creationism in the science curriculum. An overwhelming body of evidence, not assertion, supports the concept of evolution and therefore evolution must form the basis of the science curriculum. Consideration of creationism might not be out of place in religious education."

Fern Elsdon-Baker, head of the British Council's Darwin Now programme, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birthday this year wins the understatement of the year award:

Overall these results may reflect the need for a more sophisticated approach to teaching and communicating how science works as a process.


Comments:
I think some of that result has to do with they way the questions are formulated.

Consider "Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives,"

The average person, seeing other possible perspectives, expect a vetted list of perspectives after that. They didn't get one.
 
Yeah, the questions are suspect since, as John Lynch pointed out, Britons were almost three times more likely than Egyptians to want creationism and intelligent design to be included in the teaching of evolution, which seems unlikely if there wasn't something else going on.
 
Not that I'm suggesting this is what happened, you understand, but there are some Brits who are so pissed of with polls that they succumb to a mischievous urge to screw with them by telling the pollster the exact opposite of what they really believe.

Besides, I have no objection to it being mentioned in a science class as an example of what some people believe particularly if it is used to illustrate what is and isn't regarded as scientific.

Of course, it was saying something like this that resulted in Professor Michael Reiss's resignation from the Royal Society, wasn't it?
 
"Yeah, the questions are suspect since, as John Lynch pointed out, Britons were almost three times more likely than Egyptians to want creationism and intelligent design to be included in the teaching of evolution, which seems unlikely if there wasn't something else going on."

I found the poll online, at the Disco'tute's blog, of all places, here [pdf].

The Egyptians either didn't know (36%) or didn't want anything about origins taught in school (19%). For evolution only in science classes were 18 %, compared to 21 % in Britain.

IMO the questions were well-worded, nothing fishy about them.
 
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