Judge orders removal of anti-evolution stickers from textbooks inGeorgia school district

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Fri Jan 14 04:38:32 CST 2005

The equating of hypothesis and theory, the common thread that underlies these attempts to
consign evolution to the same status as individual belief, reflects one of the greatest
failings of science education.  We, as science educators, need to make sure that we spell
out exactly what the difference between a theory and and a hypothesis is.  The general
public, and too many science teachers, have been taught and/or allowed to continue to
believe that a theory is just a hypothesis.

The problem lies in the definitions of these terms provided in dictionaries.  For the
layman, this is the source to be consulted, and most offer something akin to this as one
definition of theory - "a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argumanet or investigation."
The fact that this is, in the dictionary I have on my desk, well down the list of
definitions, makes not one whit of difference.  The first definition ("the analysis of a set
of facts in their relation to one another") is ignored in favor of the one that is most
appropriate for de-emphasizing the significance of the theory of evolution.  I can't help
but believe that another significant component is that religious "facts" are equated with
scientific "facts."  There is no recognition that these facts are not directly comparable as
units of knowledge (e.g., by many, facts taken from the Bible are accorded the same status
as facts derived from scientific experimentation/observation).

It's a challenging problem and we have a long road to travel.  I sometimes wonder if we've
made any progress at all along this particular road.



Barry Roth wrote:

> Good news.
> http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2005/01/13/national1134EST0530.DTL
> For now, at least.
> Barry Roth
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The all-new My Yahoo! - What will yours do?
> http://my.yahoo.com

Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen

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