The Universe of Learning and a Sense of Wonder

 

This is Part One of Bill Moyers’ interview with astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Tyson is director of the Hayden Planetarium, at the American Museum of Natural History.  In the interviews with Moyers, Dr. Tyson explores the nature of an expanding universe, accelerating universe, the differences between “dark energy” and “dark” matter, the concept of God in cosmology and why science matters.

On March 9, Tyson hosts a new television series entitled Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.  Cosmos is an updated version of the PBS series COSMOS by Carl Sagan.

In the last two posts, I wrote about anti-science and unreason being played out by the actions of the Georgia Legislature in their decision to throw the curriculum of K-12 schooling into the hands of an appointed committee.

Figure 2. Carl Sagan. source: http://technophia.org/?p=5376
Figure 2. Carl Sagan. source: http://technophia.org/?p=5376

Today, I want to focus on the thinking of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan to bring “a sense of wonder” to our understanding of learning and teaching.  In 1980, PBS broadcast Sagan’s 13-part COSMOS series, and it became one of the most important PBS documentaries that brought a level of understanding and wonder to audiences, from young students to adults.  Now, in 2014, Dr. Tyson returns to Sagan’s Cosmos, and using new technology presents a new version for us the enjoy.  If you Google “images of Carl Sagan,” you will also find on the same page, many images of Neil deGrasse Tyson.  As we watch the new series, we see how these two scientists shared similar visions for teaching and learning.

Here is bit of information about the new series:

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is an upcoming American documentary television series. It is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan. The new series’ presenter will be Neil deGrasse Tyson. The executive producers are Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow. The series will premiere on March 9, 2014 simultaneously in the US across ten 21st Century Fox networks, including National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, and Fox Life. The remainder of the series will air on Fox with Nat Geo rebroadcasting the episodes the next day with extra content.  (Wikipedia, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey)

One of my beliefs about learning is that whatever is studied should be of prime interest to the learner, to the students.  There is no body of knowledge that all students need to learn.  We do not have scientific evidence for this.  In this standards-based era of eduction, we’ve been convinced that all kids need to learn the same set of standards or same set of content.

We shouldn’t support this idea.

Instead learning should be about a sense of wonder.  Tyson and Sagan speak the language of wonder when they speak about the universe, science and learning.

Sagan and Tyson insist that we think big, that we bring students in contact with interesting questions, ones that continue to piqué their curiosity, and ones that are sure to interest them.  Where did we come from?  Are we alone in the Universe?  How big is the Universe?  Are we the only planet with living things?

In an age when we test students on content that is mandated, it is refreshing to think about content and learning that can open student’s eyes to a world full of wonder.

Many years ago Rachel Carson wrote a book entitled A Sense of Wonder. It was one of my favorites, and I remember and have used one quote from the book many times:

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

Carson’s passionate book conveys the feelings that most science teachers have for their craft, and their goal is to instill in their students, “A Sense of Wonder.”

What is your universe?  How can we as teachers instill a sense of wonder into schooling?

Jack Hills Zircon: Evidence of a Very Old Earth

Latest Story

In a report published in Nature Geoscience, a scientific team studying rocks in Australia, used Australian zircons in the Jack Hills that are embedded in the rocks to decide the age and history of these rocks.

They found evidence that the Earth’s crust first formed at least 4.4 billion years ago.  They analyzed the atoms in zircons and used them like a clock to decide when they were formed.  The clock inside the zircon is the radioactive element uranium, and over time it becomes lead.  Follow this to how zircon is used to date rocks.

Figure 1. 4.4 billion-year-old zircon crystal which is used to determine the age of the Earth.  Credit: John W. Valley/University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Figure 1. 4.4 billion-year-old zircon crystal which is used to determine the age of the Earth. Credit: John W. Valley/University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Zircon, a silicate mineral, is like a buried clock that has ticked from the time it formed or crystallized in molten magma.  Zircon crystals are tiny, but very resistant to geological process, including erosion and metamorphism.  Zircons can survive these processes, and the clock keeps ticking.

According to the researchers:

The Earth was assembled from a lot of heterogeneous material from the solar system,” Valley explains, noting that the early Earth experienced intense bombardment by meteors, including a collision with a Mars-sized object about 4.5 billion years ago “that formed our moon, and melted and homogenized the Earth. Our samples formed after the magma oceans cooled and prove that these events were very early.

Figure 2.  Time Line for a Very Old Earth showing the relationship of the Australian Jack Hills Zircon and the geological timeline of Earth. Photo: Andree Valley/University of Wisonsin-Madison.
Figure 2. Time Line for a Very Old Earth showing the relationship of the Australian Jack Hills Zircon and the geological timeline of Earth. Photo: Andree Valley/University of Wisonsin-Madison.

Although zircons were not mentioned in the recent Bill Nye and Ken Ham Debate on evolution, this research study surely adds to Bill Nye’s idea that the record in layers of rocks, ice cores, tree rings, and fossils provides evidence that the earth is very old.  On the other hand, Ken Ham would dispute the findings in the research study on Australian zircons because this is historical science, and we were not there to see this.

According to the researchers, the zircon data “confirms their view of how the Earth cooled very early“, and became habitable, pushing back even further when life began on earth.

Whether we like or not, the debate on the age of the Earth still goes on.  Nye’s ideas are supported, while Ham will continue to resist agreeing with the findings because his ideology is so strong that he will hold on to his “young earth conception.”

What are your views on the value of the Jack Hills’ zircon findings in discussions of the age of the Earth?

 

 

In Teaching, Should We Try to be Objective?

Copyright All rights reserved by cehd.comm. (www.jameslacombe.com/about.html)
Copyright All rights reserved by cehd.comm. (www.jameslacombe.com/about.html)

In teaching, should we try to be objective?

If you are a teacher, or if you have taught school, you most likely dealt with  this question at one time or another.  As you will see, it’s not as easy to answer as we might think.

It’s Not Settled

Today, there are groups who are calling for objectivity in the teaching of certain ideas, especially in science courses.  They claim that it is only fair to all students to teach theories such as evolution, cosmology, origins, and with objectivity.  In fact, some states have passed laws that require biological and chemical evolution theories to be analyzed and discussed critically.  In these cases, the tactic is to raise doubts about theories related to evolution, and suggest that not only is the “science not settled” (these proponents love this phrase), but that there are competing theories that ought be included in the science curriculum.  What are the competing theories?  Well, how about intelligent design, or creation science.

Controversial Ideas

Another word that crops up here is the idea of controversial theories or ideas.  For science educators, controversial ideas include the teaching of evolution, discussions of birth control, theories of the origins of the universe, such as the Big Bang, global warming and climate change.  School boards, parents, and politicians have gotten involved in trying to pass rules restricting what and how “controversial” topics are taught, and have lately used the pedagogy of “critical thinking” to make sure that “all” sides of each controversial topic are discussed.  Although the teaching of evolution, or I should say creation science/intelligent design was settled by Federal Judge John Jones in the famous Dover, Pennsylvania case when the judge ruled that intelligent design was not science, and had no place in a science class.

In my view, cases like the Dover intelligent design issue, the Kansas science standards controversy, attempts by legislators and state school boards in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to legislate the content of the science curriculum to satisfy their own (often religious beliefs) opinions is an assault on the integrity of the teaching profession to make professional decisions on curriculum and pedagogy.

Objectivity in Teaching

But there is another idea that teachers have to deal with, and that is the idea of objectivity in teaching.  The phrase “try to be objective” is not new.  Objectivity in teaching, especially when considered along with subjectivity in teaching is not a simple matter of leaving your emotions at the door.  Teachers are not robots, nor are their students.  They are humans with a full range of emotions, conniption, beliefs, attitudes, and goals.  If teachers are facilitators of student learning, then these attributes ought be part of the process of teaching and learning.

Objectivity in teaching is being used by some groups to affect the way science is taught in public schools.  Very much like the pedagogies of “critical thinking” and “controversial topics,” objectivity is being used to manage the way any idea that has a religious connotation is presented to students.  The rule of thumb is that student should be “objectively informed” about theories and ideas that might impact student’s religious beliefs.

One group’s mission, Citizens for Objective Public Education, “is to promote objectivity in public school curricula that address religious questions and issues so that the educational effect of the teaching is religiously neutral.” (Citizens for Objective Education, c. 2012)

Another group promoting objectivity defines objectivity as resulting from the scientific method without philosophic or religious assumptions, when questions like, Where do we come from? are asked (Intelligent Design Network (IDN)).   This group believes that intelligent design is one of those ideas that competes scientifically with the theory of natural selection and biological evolution.  This organization believes that ID is inherently objective and neutral.  Most in the science education community would disagree.

If you check the websites of these organizations, and court documents which one group filed the claim is made that science is an orthodoxy which is used to indoctrinate the minds of students.  According to COPE and IDN, science promotes a materialistic/atheistic Worldview and not an “objective and religiously neutral origins of life education.”

So now, science educators need to push back against groups calling for objective and neutral teaching of evolution, and related concepts.

Should we try to be objective (fair, balanced) in teaching?  Yes, if we think that teaching should be analytic, antiseptic, cold, detached, disinterested, emotionless, impersonal, and unemotional, just to mention a few.  No, if we think teaching should be characterized as abstract, idiosyncratic, instinctive, intuitive, personal, introspective, inventive, rational, thoughtful, just to mention a few.

Nel Noddings talks about the notion of trying to be objective in education.  She says:

Probably you, like all people who have undergone higher education in Western institutions, have been encouraged throughout your school career to “try to be objective.” With this exhortation, your teachers have been urging you to put aside your personal opinions and prejudices—to avoid “subjectivity”—and give an account backed by impartial evidence. Not only do postmodernists deny that this can be done, but they also claim that the very attempt to do so has already biased any investigation. An investigation or argument so launched is riddled with the assumptions of standard modernist thought.  Noddings, Nel (2011-07-26). Philosophy of Education (pp. 78-79). Westview Press. Kindle Edition.

Trying to be objective in teaching flies in the face not only of science, but what we know about learning.  COPE and IDN want to control the classroom and the teaching of science by imposing their beliefs and religious assumptions in the public sphere.  Their notion of objectivity is a narrow definition.   Nodding talks here about how our views of science and education are changing:

As in epistemology, there is a current trend away from the notion of science as normatively controlled and objective. Many philosophers now construe science as a social practice, one influenced by group biases as well as individual ones. In social science, the biases of both the scientist and the scientific community are further aggravated by the fact that its objects of research are themselves subjects replete with their own biases and idiosyncratic responses.  Noddings, Nel (2011-07-26). Philosophy of Education (p. 219). Westview Press. Kindle Edition.

The teaching of origins and evolution in public schools has been a curriculum issue in American schools.  John Scopes violated a rule that made it unlawful to teach human evolution in a state funded school (Scopes Trial, 1925).   From the 1960 forward, the fundamentalist Christian effort masked as a science (creation science) resulted in the publishing of curriculum and textbooks that focused on concepts from Biblical Genesis.  In 1989, the notion of Intelligent Design appeared a biology book entitled of Pandas and People.  From that point on, there has been a continuing effort, primarily through the efforts of the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design (non scientific) organization.  Now we add the notion of objectivity in teaching as a way to restrict the science curriculum.  These curriculum issues are still part of American science education.

What is your view of objectivity in the teaching of science?

 

 

 

 

NBC’s Climate Debate: Enabling the Deniers

On NBC’s Feb. 16 edition of Meet the Press a “debate” was broadcast between Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Marsha Blackburn, a Republican Rep. from Tennessee and David Gregory, the media enabler.

Figure 1.  By using split screen imagery the media presents the illusion that climate change is a debatable issue between Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Rep.
Figure 1. By using split screen imagery the media presents the illusion that climate change is a debatable issue between Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Rep.

On the one hand, its unfortunate that Bill Nye agreed to go on the program and acknowledge by his presence that global warming is a debatable issue.  Marsha Blackburn, who has no credentials in science (at least Nye is an engineer and science educator), teamed up with David Gregory to voice the side of denialism.  This irrational thinking is part of the tactic of “persistent distortion” of climate change.

The media supports this distortion by using their “split-screen” imaging to pretend that there are two equal and competing views on what ever issue they put up for debate.

The research on the “media wars” is quite compelling, and sheds light on why we continue to witness debates such as the Nye-Blackburn debate on climate change, and Nye-Ham debate on origins.

A few years ago, I reviewed Stephen Schneider’s research on climate change politics and climate change science as it is portrayed in the media.  His book, Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate (public library), documents the history of how climate change has been distorted, and how to understand the media’s approach to enabling science denial.

Figure 2.  In the beginning there was the famous Keeling Curve showing the increase of CO2 in the Atmosphere.  Source: Science as a Contact Sport
Figure 2. In the beginning there was the famous Keeling Curve showing the increase of CO2 in the Atmosphere. Source: Science as a Contact Sport

Dr. Schneider was professor of biology at Stanford University, and internationally recognized for research, policy analysis and outreach in climate change.  In particular he focused on integrated assessment of the ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change.  He was senior participant in the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

As Dr. Schneider points out in his book, we have been warned that human technology could disturb the functioning of nature.  He reviews for us the Swedish chemist Arrhenius in 1896 who theorized that CO2 and H2O trapped the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, connecting CO2 the burning of fossil fuels.

And of course he cites Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, which showed the interconnectedness of nature and how human technology was ravaging nature.  As he points out, the Rachel Carson story is one example of how it is possible to take action to prevent the further threat caused by insecticide technologies.  But the most compelling work that Schneider points to is the atmospheric measurement of CO2 levels at Mauna Loa by David Keeling (Figure 2).  The resulting graph became known as the “Keeling curve” showing the steady increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, from 315 parts per million (ppm) in 1958 to 392 ppm in 2011.  There are many other scientists who delved into climate change during this time, including James Hansen, S. Ichtiaque Rasool, and Schneider.  You can read one of the best histories of the environmental movement to not only bring awareness to the climate change associated with increased CO2 levels in Schneider’s book.

Figure 2. Global annual mean temperatures since 1900.
Figure 3. Global annual mean temperatures since 1900.

Given this early work, and the research done by independent researchers around the world, and the most  research compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, why do we continue to debate the question, Is Global Warming Real?  Or is the Earth warming up, and is this warming attributable to human engineering and technology?

Well, its obvious that the media thinks that the “debate on global warming goes on.” And in these debates, not only does the media enable the continued denial of the evidence for global warming, but the method used is called “balance journalism.”  The tactic that was identified by Schneider is the tactic of persistent distortion.  He puts it this way:

One of the key reasons for distortion in the media reports on climate change is the perceived need for “balance” in journalism.  In reporting political, legal, or other advocacy-dominated stories, it is appropriate for journalists to report both sides of an issue.  Got the Democratic view?  Better get the Republican.

In science, the situation is radically different.  There are rarely just two polar-opposite sides, but rather a spectrum of potential outcomes, which are often accompanied by a history of scientific assessment of the relative credibility of each possibility.

In the NBC debate, there is not another side of global warming.  There is only denial.  But in the debates that do occur, the denier uses the scientific notion of skepticism, that people in the field of science generally welcome.   But in our view, such as, in the Nye – Blackburn debate, there was only one skeptic.  The other was a denier.

Schneider helps us distinguish between skeptics and deniers.

When I give a public talk on aspects of climate change, I always take the time to explain the difference between climate deniers and skeptics.  All good scientists are skeptics—we should challenge everything.  I was a big-time climate skeptic, changing from cooling to warming and nuclear winter to nuclear fall when that is where the preponderance of available evidence led.  As more solid evidence of anthropogenic global warming accumulates, the numbers of such legitimate climate skeptics are declining.  Climate deniers, however, are not true skeptics, but simply ignore the preponderance of evidence presented.  Skeptics should question everything but not deny where the preponderance of evidence leads.  The latter is, at best, bad science, or, at worst, dishonesty.

Crap Detection

We need to heed Neil Postman’s classic essay “Bullshit and the Art of Crap Detection“which was presented at the National Convention of the Teachers of English in 1969.

Here is how Postman explained the title of his speech:

With a title like this, I think I ought to dispense with the rhetorical amenities and come straight to the point. For those of you who do not know, it may be worth saying that the phrase, “crap-detecting,” originated with Ernest Hemingway who when asked if there were one quality needed, above all others, to be a good writer, replied, “Yes, a built-in, shock-proof, crap detector.”

Is climate change real? Is the greenhouse effect based on fundamental science? To what extent are “debates” on TV news outlets using split screen technology peer review or rhetoric? Do large companies abuse the concept of peer review by using rhetoric to cast doubt on scientific findings?  We need to practice the Art of Crap Detection in these situations.

These are questions that should underscore student’s pursuit of an understanding of climate change, and the skepticism that has inverted the public’s view of global warming, the greenhouse effect, and the burning of carbon. For many years, large corporations, starting with the tobacco industry, have led the public and politicians down a path that leads to denial (of the science) that has been established by scientists through the publication and peer review process. Casting “doubt” on the “science,” has been a tactic used to put a wedge between real scientific information and the rhetoric of the deniers.

There is almost no accountability for the “skeptics.” They don’t publish in peer-reviewed journals, and they spend most of their time on media outlets giving their point of view, but with almost little data based on scientific evidence.

We need to call these deniers out, and tell them that we understand their tactic of persistent distortion.  You are not going to change their minds.  But at least you can call it when you see it.

What is your view?  Do you think the media enables the deniers of climate change and global warming?

In Science Teaching, What Does it Mean to Teach Evolution Objectively?

In a comment about the earlier post on this blog, Evolution Might be a Law, But Student Ideas are Important, Dr. Robert Lattimer, President of Citizens for Objective Public Education, raised an important idea about science teaching.  When evolution is taught in our schools, it should be taught objectively.

In context, here is what Dr. Lattimer wrote:

You say “there is now no alternative explanation of evolution….” That is only true if you accept methodological naturalism (an unproven assumption) and ignore the lines of evidence listed above.

You say that science teaching “should not be dogmatic.” I agree. But right now it is dogmatic – by employing MN (methodological naturalism) and offering only materialistic explanations for origins.

You say “multiple sides of an issue ought to be part of teaching,” but you apparently agree with current teaching methods that present an evolution-only view of origins.

Mine is not an argument that the teaching of evolution should be removed from the science curriculum. My plea is simply that it be taught objectively. The use of MN should be disclosed and explained, and the evidence challenging evolution and inferring design should be included along with the evidence supporting unguided evolution. Only then, quoting your article, will student learning “take place in an environment of openness….”

I responded to Dr. Lattimer’s comment.  Here are my comments.

Thank you for your comment, and that you to read my blog. I visited your organization’s website, http://www.copeinc.org/, and understand your point of view, and the philosophy that undergirds your position on evolution, and the teaching of evolution in America’s classrooms.

Although Darwin used the word evolve only once in his On the Origin of the Species (he did not use evolution), his theory of natural selection or descent with modification is the definition that I would use for evolution. I also refer to the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology which describes evolution as descent with modification, and this encompasses small-scale (micro) and large-scale (macro) evolution.

I am not sure why historical science (such as paleontology, paleoclimatology) does not have the same validity as lab science. Findings in the field are based on data and observations,  just as finding in lab science, and are in the world of science, not considered inferior, or any more tentative. At least that is what I think. See, Carol Cleland, Historical Science, experimental science, and the scientific method.

I do not accept yours or Ken Ham’s notion that science findings that are based on any sense of scale, in particular, historical scale are more questionable than bench or lab science. Nor, as you would say, does mainstream science.

The Big Bang theory posits that there was a Big Bang. It doesn’t imply pre-Big Bang, nor does it imply a creator. See The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe by Steven Weinberg. Weinberg describes the the universe including pre-first second.  

I am not sure if most biology teachers in American high schools would accept the points you list and include them in their biology curriculum. There is also the issue of what you mean by objectivity. Does it only apply to concepts that have some connection to religion. Too what extent is any learning objective? Emotions, subjectivity, and motivation are all important constructs to embrace as a teacher, and a learner. So, we are left with what is the meaning of objectivity, and does it make any sense to try to purify learning in this way.

Much to talk about here. I do appreciate your comments, and welcome them always.

Teaching Evolution Objectively?

What is objective  (or balanced? science teaching?  In some people’s mind, public school science teachers should tread carefully when they teach evolution.  According to some, objective teaching of evolution means that science teachers include supernatural, teleological and intelligent design principles along with the natural selection or descent with modification.

Is the idea of teaching objectively trying to impede, limit, or block the freedom to teach science based teachers’ professional knowledge of the content pedagogy of science.  As you will see here, there is some evidence trying to “objectify” teaching does this.

For example, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) have filed a legal complaint against the Kansas State Board of Education (COPE, Inc., et al. v. Kansas State Board of Eduction, et al. In the Federal District Court of Kansas).  In particular COPE’s complaint is about the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  According to the COPE complaint, the NGSS takes students into the religious sphere by asking question about the cause and nature of life, e.g. “where did we come from.”   According to COPE, the NSGG pose an indoctrination to establish a “religious world view” based on what they call methodological naturalism or scientific naturalism.  According to the Complaint, the orthodoxy of the NGSS is an atheistic faith-based doctrine.  Finally, the Complaint alleges that the NGSS will infringe on the student’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

What’s very interesting about this Complaint is that it may not be very objective.  In fact, in the Motion to Dismiss, some of the Plaintiffs do not belong to COPE, and one of the Plaintiffs is Managing Director of the Intelligent Design Network, Inc., a Kansas non-profit to promote ID, and objectivity in “origins science.”   Further, the Motion to Dismiss suggests that the Complaint might not be “straight up”:
Plaintiffs’ Complaint attempts to transform the Framework and Standards into implements of religious indoctrination. To do this, Plaintiffs rely on conclusory allegations, none of which are tied to specific standards. It also contains numerous words and phrases in quotation marks , many of which do not appear anywhere in the Framework or Standards. See, e.g. , Complaint (Doc. #1) ¶¶ 12, 15, 66, 89, 91, 105.
As pointed out in the Motion to Dismiss, the key question raised by the Plaintiff, e.g. “Where did we come from” is not asked in the NGSS.  But surely it is an important question.  Studying science might lead kids to want to ask such a question.

Social Impacts of Evolutionary Teaching

It may be that orthodox science teaching may be more balanced than what COPE is asking for.  What happens when you bring people together representing different religious affiliations and raise the question, What does it mean to be human?
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has established a committee, Human Origins Initiative, Broader Social Impacts Committee.  One of the committee members is Dr. Wes McCoy, biology teacher and Science Department Chair, North Cob High School, Kennesaw, GA.  I know Dr. McCoy from our work together while he was a doctoral student at Georgia State University.  He is a leading science educator in Georgia, and in particular is a mentor to many science teacher, especially biology teachers.  As a Smithsonian committee members, he shares his insights about how to teach evolution in today’s high school classrooms.
41Kccr+fKrL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Another committee member is Dr. Connie Bertka, an astrobiologist, theist and Unitarian Universalist.  In her edited book, Exploring the Origin, Extent, and Future of Life, she asks questions such as Where did we come from?  Are we alone?  Where are we going?  As she says, an important driver for astrobiologists is evolutionary theory.   From the introduction of the book is this:
In this book, philosophers, historians, ethicists, and theologians provide the perspectives of their fields on the research and discoveries of astrobiology. A valuable resource for graduate students and researchers, the book provides an introduction to astrobiology, and explores subjects such as the implications of current origin of life research, the possible discovery of extraterrestrial microbial life, and the possibility of altering the environment of Mars.
We don’t need a debate between natural selection and intelligent design.  We need to talk about how to improve the teaching of natural selection in American high schools, not put barriers in front of professional science teachers and their students.  Teaching by its very nature is subjective, emotional, communal and personal, and to regulate teaching by insisting on some form of “objectivity” misses the mark with me.
What about you?  What is your view of objective science teaching?