Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Education NEWS

Texas Reviewers Reject Accurate Evolution Curriculum Because It "Contradicts Biology Textbooks"

In our recent report on proposed Texas teaching materials, we found that many of the materials on evolution were full of errors. Not only did some of the materials include Haeckel's embryo drawings, they also included inaccurate claims about supposed "vestigial" organs, and myths about the Miller-Urey experiment. Nearly all of the proposed materials present evolution in a one-sided fashion, entirely ignoring the following requirement of the Texas Science Standards (called "TEKS"):

(3) (A) in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student;
Out of all the proposed teaching materials, there was one single proposed curriculum which actually would fulfill that standard, encouraging critical thinking and exposing students to all sides of the scientific evidence pertaining to Darwinian and chemical evolution. These teaching materials were submitted by a group called International Databases, LLC.

While this particular curriculum had some of its own problems (see our report for details), it did make a serious attempt to fulfill the TEKS' call for meaningful critical analysis of biological and chemical evolution.

For example, the International Databases materials accurately note that "Miller type spark discharge experiments with their limited production of amino acids have not produced a realistic explanation for the chemical evolution of life from non-life."

In another section on the Cambrian Explosion, the materials note that "the rapidity and diversity of phyla and genera appearing in the Lower Cambrian is an apparent departure from Darwinian gradualism," and "[t]he lack of a robust record of transitional forms is contrary to traditional Darwinism."

Again, the curriculum was not 100% problem free, but none of its problems were a failure to fulfill the TEKS' call for critical analysis, logical reasoning, and examining all sides of the scientific evidence.

How did the various review committees treat the proposed materials from International Databases when they met in Austin? The reviewers asked the question, "Is the TEKS addressed? Yes or No," and in all cases regarding standard (3) (A) above, they answered "No."

In one case, the review committee was supposed to determine whether International Databases had produced any materials that "evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules." Despite the fact that the International Databases' materials extensively discuss the Miller-Urey experiments and prebiotic synthesis, the review committee claimed there were "none found."

In another case, the Texas curriculum reviewers criticized the International Databases material because supposedly it "does not address the TEKS and contradicts biology textbooks."

What a joke! At this point it should be evident that some Texas review committee members must live in alternative universe (or they are Darwin lobbyists). As we documented, biology textbooks are largely inaccurate when compared with peer-reviewed scientific critiques of the Miller-Urey hypothesis. If such materials contradict outdated textbooks, people who care about objectivity and accuracy should see that as a good thing, NOT a reason for rejecting instructional materials.

But in the parallel universe of the Darwin lobby, apparently the facts don't matter: if proposed instructional materials "contradict" the inaccurate pro-evolution-only biology textbooks, then that becomes a convenient pretext for censoring accurate materials that would otherwise promote critical analysis of evolution.

It seems that at least some of the reviewers of proposed teaching materials in Texas are card-carrying members of the Darwin lobby, willing to use weak arguments to keep scientific accuracy out of the classroom.