Thursday, February 09, 2006
AIBS: Scientists Rally to Fend Off Attacks on Evolution
From an editorial by Robert Gropp, director of Public Policy at the American Institute of Biological Sciences:
High-profile attacks on evolution education, such as those in Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, have rallied scientists. All too often, these attempts to redefine science have resulted from a perception among political activists that the science and education communities lack the organization and sophistication to fend off their efforts. Moreover, these political attacks have been made possible by the inadequate public understanding of what does and does not constitute science. Thus, the political interests behind the intelligent design/creationism movement have been able to prompt the formation of coalitions of activists.
Introductory biology courses are an excellent forum for university faculty to improve the understanding of science among future teachers, scientists, and college graduates. However, only a fraction of the public attends college, and only a fraction of these individuals take a biology course. Thus, biologists must continue to participate in myriad informal science education initiatives that reach the general public. Museums and other science centers provide excellent means to reach the public, yet those who visit these institutions are often not the individuals in greatest need of an improved understanding of science. Other means to reach the public must be pursued.