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For Texas Textbooks, a Victory For Evolution 626

Posted by timothy
from the evolving-attitude dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC."
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For Texas Textbooks, a Victory For Evolution

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  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:01PM (#36864924)

    What happened is this - a bunch of slashdotters who appear to be obsessed with the notion that there are a lot of people who believe in creationist theories (even though they are a tiny minority) are now surprised that there is hardly anyone who thinks teaching creationism is a good idea.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:05PM (#36864954)

    They might be a minority, but there's still enough of them so as to pose a threat to education in the US. Or have you not noticed all the "Intelligent" Design proponents that have been having success watering down the science curriculum.

  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker (132337) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:14PM (#36865012) Homepage

    The scary part is that this subject was even up for debate.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:16PM (#36865032)

    US still need to work a lot. 51% [cbsnews.com] of americans do not believe in evolution.

    A lot of work has been put into conversational doublespeak such that the same word "believe" is used for both:

    1) Irrational brainwashed notions to be assumed unthinkingly as fact; evidence is irrelevant because if in support, duh, if not in support, its just devil testing the viewer.

    2) Scientific bets made using this theory haven't been proven wrong yet, despite immense intellectual effort, so its unlikely to be proven completely wrong in the future.

    It's intentional that conversations are phrased that way... keeps the masses under control and unthinking.

    Personally I don't "believe" in evolution either, at least not in the first sense above. I think its about 1e100 times more likely that evolution is correct than any one of the ten thousand mutually incompatible known non-extinct religions is correct.

  • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:23PM (#36865080) Journal
    Agreed, mod parent up. On topic, and pertinent. Not an effective sample of the general population but still likely to be indicative of attitudes held by a particular subset.
  • Re:Proof? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:26PM (#36865118)

    This is the second time in two weeks I've had mod points. Apparently NOT visiting slashdot is how you get picked. (shrug)

    Back on topic:

    Why do people keep posting things like "even texans have to evolve"? Maybe I've spent too much time listening to College PC curricula, but that strikes me as being highly offensive. Imagine replacing "texans" with "women" or "blacks" or "retards" instead.

    -1 for Anon. Coward

  • Re:You mean... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @06:11PM (#36865464) Journal

    One question I'd like to ask Darwin, if he were still alive, is this: If man evolved from apes, then why do we still have apes? Why didn't all species evolve like man supposedly did?

    They did evolve. They just didn't evolve into humans, but into chimpanzees and bonobos.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @06:13PM (#36865478)

    Most of it was depressing, I agree. A few (and I really do mean, a *few*) responses were encouraging--Miss California's for example.

    It's amusing how so many responses follow the same, superficial notion of "teach both sides! Knowledge is good! Let people make up their own minds!" That misses the whole point entirely. The question itself is poorly phrased. Evolution isn't something that requires belief, at least not in the sense of personal faith. It isn't something that you "should" or "should not" be taught. Evolution by natural selection MUST be taught, if you are to teach biology. To not do so would be like attempting to teach mathematics without discussing multiplication, or chemistry without talking about the periodic table, or American history without mentioning the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Thus, to ask the question "should evolution be taught in schools" is no different than asking "should biology be taught in schools," or more broadly, "should SCIENCE be taught in schools." You can't separate the two.

    You can't really blame these contestants for being so hopelessly ignorant. They didn't get on that stage with their brainpower.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @06:15PM (#36865496) Journal
    Nah, the board just evolved. As the electorate gets more worried about the future of their kids who might not be able to compete in the global marketplace, the board members who adopted a more pro-science stance prospered. And those who have stuck to a 2000 year old mind-set got weeded out. Well, that is just the theory.
  • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @06:21PM (#36865554) Homepage
    The parent post is currently modded "funny", and while the post should definitely be modded up, "funny" is not what I'd associate with that video. It's sad, especially because it's so recent. And these vacant mannequins are held up as "role models"? This isn't just sad, it's genuinely harmful.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @07:47PM (#36866140)

    Typical. US people don't believe in what doesn't happen to them.

    (I got karma to burn, mod away!)

  • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:29PM (#36866502)

    but pretending that there must exist a single speciation event, rather than an accumulation of change

    Kind of on that note: One day a few years back I was walking along a trail in the jungles of Hawaii with my extremely-religious aunt. As she was admiring all the beautiful flora and fauna she said "This is proof that God must exist. How else could all this beauty just instantly appear out of nowhere?" I wanted to say something but didn't feel like debating with a religious psychopath who also happens to be a family member that I love and don't really want mad at me. But that right there showed me that they really don't understand what evolution means. Perhaps it's because they don't care to investigate and learn about it, or maybe the information is simply overwritten and blocked by their belief in an almighty creator. Who knows? The fact is it's hopeless to try and teach them actual science.

  • by Empiric (675968) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:58PM (#36866660) Homepage

    I have to say... I deeply enjoyed this.

    I've never seen an argument that is basically exactly the same as saying "There's no difference between you winning a coin toss and winning the lottery, they're both probability, idiot" sustained with such conviction.

    No, macro- and micro- evolution are absolutely quantitatively distinct due to the probabilities involved regarding the number of mutually-reinforcing mutations that must occur for the necessary outcome, while maintaining survivability.

    To do a definitional two-step and claim that "macro-evolution" can be equivalently called "speciation" (well, no, but let's leave that aside--I don't want to interfere with the acceptability of a word now that you personally used it rather than another term from someone else you say says the same thing), and then stating we've seen speciation -of bacteria-, and then inferring that addresses the probability issue of "macro-evolution" is just astonishing in it's sheer evasive bluster.

    Follow the probabilities of the necessary mutations. That's all anyone on either side is contending, redefine, reject terms, propose other terms, whatever. It's all evasion outside of this.

    Anyway, for what it's worth, I fully accept "evolution occurs" (testable, scientific), and do not accept "only evolution occurs" (untestable, unscientific, and unfortunately for some absolutely required for their worldview's viability), so I am not contending with evolution per se, just your desperate overreach into the untestable and unscientific.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:30PM (#36866848)

    Science adjusts its views based on what's observed.

    Faith rejects observation so that belief can be preserved.

  • by Empiric (675968) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:56PM (#36866954) Homepage

    Well, interesting, but it seems if this is your stance, it is false right at the root.

    You are saying that 100 mutations occurring in a single organism, is of equivalent probability to 100 mutations occurring in 200 generations? Well, no, simply false as a matter of chemistry, and additionally contradicting the core proposed mechanism of mainstream evolutionary thought.

    I'd like the link to Dawkins--he's often wrong, but this is an unexpected level of -astonishingly- wrong to me.

  • by Empiric (675968) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:50PM (#36867166) Homepage

    Okay, now moving past the irrelevant personal critique spice up with and Appeal to Authority and Ad Hominem fallacies...

    Exact same question--is it your position that the probability of 100 mutations occurring in a single organism, as opposed to these 100 occurring over 200 generations, are equivalent? If so, are you thereby opposed to the position of mainstream evolutionary biology?

    Don't care in the least about your parading your supposed qualifications that exempt you from even deigning to answer a troublesome question. Just answer the question.

  • Re:You mean... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alsee (515537) on Monday July 25, 2011 @02:55AM (#36868152) Homepage

    If man evolved from apes, then why do we still have apes?

    You had grandparents, and for the moment lets assume you have a cousin. Let's label your grandparents all "doctors" and we'll also label your cousin a "doctor", and we'll label you a "cardiologist".

    Now, the question you asked is.... if you evolved from doctors, why does your cousin exist?

    And just to make the picture even more clear, just because you generally refer to yourself as a "cardiologist" does not change the fact that you are still in fact a "doctor". Just because you generally refer to yourself as "human" does not change the fact that you are still an "ape" and that you are still a "mammal".

    Humans and dogs and lions and horses and whales are all mammals. We all evolved from the same mammal ancestor.

    Why didn't all species evolve like man supposedly did?

    That's like asking why all species didn't evolve like horses. All species did evolve. They live in different places or eating different things or surviving in different ways, and they all evolve to get better at their specialty.

    Humans, horses, hippos, lions, whales, and chimpanzees are all mammals. At one time there was just a single mammal species. Those mammals had lots of children, and over generations they spread out to live in many different places in many different ways and eating many different things. Over time some mammals lived on grasslands eating grass, and evolved the ability to run really fast and really far to escape predators. Those mammals evolved into the horses we see today. Some of those mammals specialized in living in and near water, and they evolved into the hippos we see today. Some mammals survived by hunting, and they specialized into the lions and other carnivores we see today. Some mammals started out living in and near water like hippos, but further adapted to an entirely aquatic lifestyle.... those are the mammal whales we see today.

    And some mammals adapted to a certain style of forest life, evolving into chimpanzees (and other "apes") we see today.

    And along the way, some of those forest-dwelling primates moved out onto the grasslands and standing upright. And this freed up our hands to be able to make and use tools. To specialize in making and using tools.

    When whales moved into the water, when they evolved to specialize in living in water, the land mammals kept evolving too. Land mammals continued to evolve to be better at living in the place (and way) they lived. Carnivores evolved into better carnivores while whales adapted to aquatic life.

    Some primates were living in the forest and some primates moved out onto the grasslands... the ones that kept living in the forest evolved to be even better at living in the forest while the ones on the grasslands evolved to stand upright and specialize in using our hands to make and use tools... to specialize in bigger brains.

    Everything is always evolving. It's just that a single species spreads out to live in different places or different ways, and then splits into separate groups that evolve in different directions getting better at different specialties.

    Asking why gorillas didn't evolve the same size brain as us is like asking why hippos can't run as fast as horses. Hippos are protected against lions by swimming into (and under) the water, and horses are protected against lions by their speed and endurance at running.

    Chimpanzees got better at climbing through the trees. We got better at standing up and swinging a treebranch as a club or throwing a rock.... and eventually at sharpening that branch into a spear and chipping that rock to a point. Other primates kept on evolving while we evolved.

    And don't underestimate how difficult and expensive it was for us to evolve our modern brains. Your brain accounts for only about 2% of your body mass, but you burn over over 30% of your food just to fuel it. Humans require a continuous and ridiculously high energy diet to fu

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