Monday, October 14, 2013

Misrepresentations of Evolution in Textbooks: Definition of Evolution According to Kevin Padian

Kevin Padian is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Curator of Paleontology at the University of California Museum of Paleontology. He is also President of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

He wrote an article for Evolution: Education and Outreach in which he describes misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks (Padian, 2013). Since he is a prominent leader in the fight against creationism, we need to pay attention when he tells us how evolution should be taught in public schools.

Before examining some of those "misconceptions," let's review some earlier papers in Evolution: Education and Outreach. The very first issue contained an article by John N. Thompson where he defined evolution as ...
Evolution is quite simply heritable change in the genetic structure of a population. There is nothing in this or any similar standard definition of evolution that requires that genetic change in the average size, shape, or any other trait be maintained for a hundred, a thousand, or a million years before it can truly be called evolution. (Thompson, 2007)
Unfortunately, Thompson is under the mistaken impression that natural selection is the only significant mechanism of evolution but that's not the point. The point it that he, and many others, see evolution as a continuous and ongoing process that includes the minor fluctuations that Kevin Padian dismisses.

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