[Taxacom] Fwd: evolution education

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at istar.ca
Sat Feb 5 00:30:36 CST 2011

On 2/4/2011 11:13 PM, Don.Colless at csiro.au wrote:
> For the record, I first heard of evolution in 2nd. year at University (but that was 1940!). I was wide open to ideas, and I wonder what might have happened if a lecturer as persuasive as Wally Waterhouse had taught Creation!

* I remember my father (soon to become a clergyperson) explaining 
"descent with modification by natural selection" to me in the parkinglot 
of a Long Island Sound beach in about 15 minutes when I was about 10-12 
years old.

This was Darwin's sledgehammer argument that "if there is heritable 
variation, then it must affect fitness, and therefore must produce 
evolutionary change," and I wonder if reflecting on the simplicity of 
this argument doesn't suggest a strategy for teaching evolution, in 
parallel with the stories of progress in stories of astronomical 
physics, which are less emotionally fraught for those who incline 
towards "don't believe in evolution."

Linnaeus' recognition of the existence of "natural groups" can be 
considered to parallel Copernicus' recognition of the heliocentric solar 
system, while Darwin's application of selection from the artificial to 
the natural realm is comparable to Newton's assimilation of terrestrial 
and astronomical graviation, and the stochastic character of the 
population genetics of the "New Synthesis" is analogous to that of 
quantum mechanics, while the spatial regularities of allopatric 
speciation and geographic variation corresponds to relativity.

These parallels leave out post-1940 advances in both fields, but it 
seems to me that much "evolution education" material, that I've seen, is 
structured somewhat like a mud pie, and this might be a useful way to 
bring out the historical and intellectual structure of the stories for 
those who already have assimilated the physics stories.

fred schueler
          Frederick W. Schueler & Aleta Karstad
Bishops Mills Natural History Centre - http://pinicola.ca/bmnhc.htm
now in the field on the Thirty Years Later Expedition -
Daily Paintings - http://karstaddailypaintings.blogspot.com/
     RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
   on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
    (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at istar.ca> http://pinicola.ca/

More information about the Taxacom mailing list