Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Thu 26 May 2005

What is it with Kansas?

Category : world

As a biology undergraduate in the late 80's, I enjoyed the irony of being taught the theory of evolution by a creationist, no less! The professor would lead us through the various aspects of the theory, spew the voluminous facts supporting the issues and feature evidence about ongoing studies - all heavy duty stuff we only really put together and comprehended just before the exams - and then ended each lecture with a 5-10 minute comeback for creationism.

We weren't feeble-minded then so it didn't hurt. Instead, it had me digging through the treasure trove that is university's Science Library - I really miss the joy of such unimpeded undergraduate pursuits. Well, the scientific magazines and articles revealed that Kansas had been a real hothouse for some really disingenous debates. I read arguments, court cases, attempts to supress the teaching of evolution and highlights of court battles.

I got the the impression that the anti-science movement then was deactivated by logic and objective ears.

The natives are restless once more. Locally, even Cheng Puay was stimulated enough to put up a post in dismay on The Biology Refugia. Kansas is back on the map.

Blow by blow reports and arguments have been reported, sometimes scathingly, by the biology blogs Pharyngula and The Panda's Thumb. They, and others, are fighting the good fight.

The Panda's Thumb just pointed to an article by Richard Dawkins, entitled God's gift to Kansas. Apparently, an abridged version was published in the The Times (London) on 21st may 2005.

"Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the least, when enemies of science turn those constructive admissions around and abuse them for political advantage. It is worse than galling. It threatens the enterprise of science itself."

One can sense he's peeved. Almost two decades ago, in the Science Library, I had wondered why the arguments against evolution emanating from Kansas (and elsewhere) relied similarly on misleading defaults. Well, this has not changed; read the discussion on The Panda's Thumb.

I asked the most recent American biologist I met, Sabrina Russo, about Kansas, and she shook her head as she recalled the issue, almost in disbelief. Looks like that's a long story for another day.

Posted at 3:27PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .