Friday, December 9, 2011

Big things are made of little bits.

There's an interesting read from a ex-professor of genetics, Steve Jones on The Telegraph. The interest is piqued not so much in that there is conflict between religious students and the teachings of evolution in undergrad biology classes, I know that's been around for a bit. Nor in the bewilderment that people are trying to enter into a profession whilst deliberately attempting to remain ignorant of it's basic underpinnings - as soon as you are aware of the conflict twixt students and curriculum, that one becomes pretty obvious. The interest is piqued by this:
I have tried asking students at quite what point they find my lectures unacceptable: is it the laws of inheritance, mutation, the genes that protect against malaria or cancer, the global shifts in human skin colour, Neanderthal DNA, or the inherited differences between apes and men? Each point is, they say, very interesting – but when I point out that they have just accepted the whole truth of Darwin’s theory they deny that frightful thought. Some take instant umbrage, although a few, thank goodness, do leave the room with a pensive look.
That you can teach each individual part of the theory of evolution and it gets accepted, when it's pointed out that each of the individual parts makes up a whole, it gets rejected. I'm sure there's something deep and profound in there for the purposes of science communication, it's Friday, the day after the first of the Christmas parties though and I haven't got the energy to tease it out.

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