Teaching Evolution

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

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What is a Germ?

Stories like this bother me because of their use of the words "resistant" and "germ" without putting them into context.

The story talks about a "germ" that caused three deaths and says it's "resistant" to drugs.

But how hard would it be to make clear that the "germ" is not a virus, but bacteria, and that bacteria become resistant to drugs because of natural selection? It's very easy for people to understand that the bacteria that can't resist antibiotics are killed, those that can resist antibiotics survive, and when they reproduce, the drug-resistant bacteria are all that's left.

Of course, evolution is the bedrock of biology, and the way bacteria become resistant to drugs is a case study in how evolution works. Sadly, I think many journalists fail to understand this, and their readers suffer.

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