One of my most memorable interactions when I first started at NCSE was a conversation I had at an educator conference with a chemistry teacher. I was talking to him about teaching climate change, and he turned to me and said, with a straight face, “I don’t teach climate change, because it has nothing to do with chemistry.” I was so dumbfounded by his comment that I could hardly respond.
I’m going to admit that I’ve been procrastinating on fulfilling this reader request for a while now. As any of you who are writers can attest, the hardest things to write about are those that you know a lot about and those that you know very little about. The sweet spot is somewhere in between, where you don’t have to worry about overwhelming your audience with details and yet you know enough to make things interesting. Unfortunately, this topic is both something I know too much about and something I know too little about. Strange, I know, but it’s true. Still, James Colbert requested this topic; it’s certainly right up this blog’s alley; and, well, I aim to please. So here we go.
Misconception: Evolution is a theory about the origins of life.
While exploring Israeli politicians’ views on evolution, and the similar rate at which the US and Israeli public rejects evolution, I wondered how the Israeli public would compare with Jews in the US. It seems more apt to compare the 5.4 million US Jews to the 6.1 million Israeli Jews (or 8 million Israelis) than comparing the US at large to Israel at large, after all.
Strange to say, but it wasn’t until May 2012, when he spoke at a conference marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Edwards v. Aguillard that the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and NCSE organized, that I met Ron Numbers in person for the first time.
I first learned about science historian Naomi Oreskes in 2004, when she published a paper in Science documenting the scope of the scientific consensus behind climate change.
While discussion of Israeli elections has largely (and reasonably) focused on the different parties’ views on the occupation of Palestine and the prospect of war with Iran, the ongoing effort to craft a coalition government may carry risks for science education, too.
It’s getting harder and harder to come up with new misconceptions to cover here. Not because there aren’t more out there, but because misconceptions about evolution overlap significantly and we’ve covered enough of them now that finding one in virgin territory is getting more and more difficult. As a result, I’m looking everywhere for inspiration. At lunch last week, I found some—two young mothers in an adjacent table were discussing their children’s eye color. Where did the baby get her blue eyes? one wondered. The other said that she thought she remembered from school that if one parent has brown eyes and one has blue eyes, the children should all have green eyes, not blue, so they declared it a mystery. I looked despairingly at my husband, but he whispered to me, “just eat your food.”