"Bringing Darwin Back"

07.17.2018

Scientific American cover

"Bringing Darwin Back," published (subscription required) in the August 2018 issue of Scientific American, discusses efforts to improve evolution education in the American science classroom  and NCSE is featured.

NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch was cited as explaining the "three distinct phases" of "the war over evolution education": attempts in the 1920s to ban the teaching of evolution; attempts from the 1970s to the 1990s to balance the teaching of evolution with biblical creationism, creation science, or "intelligent design"; and the current attempts to require or allow teachers to belittle evolution as "controversial."

"If you can't ban the teaching of evolution, and you can't balance it with creationism in some form or other, what do you do?" Branch told Scientific American. "You belittle it, you say evolution is a theory[,] or you say it's controversial." He added, "Creationists have been saying this all along. The difference is that now"  in the wake of the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover  "they don't have anything better."

Despite the passage of a handful of so-called "academic freedom" bills, the article argued, "the far larger obstacle for the vast majority of ordinary science teachers is the legacy of acrimony left over from the decades of legal battle." Survey data indicate that only 28 percent of high school biology teachers nationally treat evolution as a central unifying principle of their subject, while 13 percent explicitly present creationism as scientifically credible, and 60 percent compromise their presentation of evolution.

Accordingly, the article focuses on researchers and teachers who are studying and applying ways of effectively teaching evolution without  in the words of a researcher  "personal turmoil and student turmoil."