standard evolution practice

James J. Kruse kruse at
Sat Aug 14 00:13:09 EDT 1999

John Grehan wrote:

> This is actually standard scientific practice in the teaching of evolution.

I can not comment on this myself.


> Students (especially university students) appear to be discouraged from
> independant thinking - many seem to be parrots for their teachers or
> supervisors.

Hmmm. I have seen this, but I have also seen many independent thinkers,
even in the face of discouragement. Independent thinking that pushes
boundaries of what is known is generally how science is advanced. I like
to think science is advancing on many fronts, so I cannot agree that all
is so draconian.

> I notice that James expresses the desire to exposed to a variety of theories
> and allowed to subscribe to the theory that they desire provided they

Yes, I think that a person is obligated to know something about the theory
or method to which they subscibe in order to offer defense against
competing theories or methodologies. I think this is more reasonable than
drawing one out of a hat or siding with the first theory or method they
have explained to them. "The bible says so" or "Darwin (or my professor) 
knew what he was talking about so I believe him" isn't enough either.

>  As a practioner of a minority research program in evolution
> (panbiogeography) I have experienced the problem of defeding a 
> methodology that was so different from orthodoxy that the opponents
> could not understand enough to know whether my defense was 
> "intellegent" or not, but the very stand I chose was taken as evidence
> that I did not have an intellegent perspective in the first place!

Okay, I am impressed that you are so creative, and you must have become
very proficient at explaining it. :-) I think maybe you are selling
yourself short here.

Jim Kruse
University of California at Berkeley
Dept. of Environ Sci, Policy and Mgmt.
Div. of Insect Biology
201 Wellman Hall
Berkeley, California, 94720-3112
Voice: (510) 642-7410    Fax: (510) 642-7428

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