Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

All Sciences Have Unanswered Questions

Sharon Begley of the Wall Street Journal (reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where I'm linking because the site is free) has a great piece on the misunderstanding of science. In a nutshell, she says that there are things we don't know about evolution, but those gaps in our knowledge are no greater than the things we don't know about physics or botany or any other field.

Even some basics of physics are disputed if you dig deep enough. Introductory courses teach that mass is conserved, for instance. "But that couldn't be more wrong," says Frank Wilczek of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics. "Massive particles such as protons are built of quarks and gluons, which have zero mass (unless they are moving). Mass is far from conserved."

The law that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" isn't universally true either. "It fails for magnetic forces between charged particles," Prof. Wilczek says.

Teach the controversy? Then try the one over water. After the assertion that water's formula is H2O, add an asterisk: There is (controversial) evidence that it is sometimes H1.5O.

The Journal is a far-right newspaper, but its readers are far too sophisticated to buy into the creationist crap that many right-wing media outlets are offering these days.


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