Parent24 carried an article yesterday purporting to be a letter from a father to his son. In this piece the author, Sipho Yanano, states “When teachers tell you that evolution is a fact, always remember that it’s just a theory" indicating absolutely no understanding of the use of the word theory in the scientific world. Gravity is a fact; it is also a scientific theory. Evolution by natural selection is one of the most tested and now well established scientific theories backed up by work done in 9 specialized areas in natural science: paleontology; Morphology; Molecular biology; Vestigial evidence; Embryology; Geochemical; Paleoenvironmental research and evidence; Paleobiographical and Chronological research. These are the scientific disciplines that support evolution in studies independent of biology. If anyone were to be able to provide proof/s of error in any of these areas of study the whole evolutionary theory would collapse but in the past 150 years this has not happened.
These facts raise two main questions. The first concerns the posting of an item containing as much inaccurate information and on as a contentious a subject as this only covered by the standard disclaimer: “The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.” Would it not be conducive to good practice to publish a comment from an informed source together with the item? The insidious creep of the influence of religious belief into the classrooms of our country, the twisting and outright rejection of established scientific facts to maintain dogma and beliefs will undermine an already weak education system resulting more unprepared candidates for higher education than ever before. Does Patent24 support these trends?
The second question would be posed to all of those who appear to agree with Sipho. Evolutionary theory and studies have led to amazing progress in medical research; do those who reject evolution also reject the results of research based on evolution? The treatments for various afflictions where the vector has built up resistance to various drugs or where the vector is in a state of constant change (evolving) and needs to have either inoculations or treatments developed to meet the evolved strains are all examples of evolution in the modern world; are these treatments rejected too? Studies of the human genome have led to the identification of DNA that has influence on the propensity of the individual to various diseases. This research is still in the early days yet already people who are more likely to suffer from specific illnesses are identified and are able to be tested and where needed given early interventions, are these studies also rejected?
My beliefs in child rearing include teaching and encouraging the development of an enquiring mind. The child does not need to be told what to believe or what the truth is but to be given the alternatives, the means to research and the opportunity to discuss them in order to make an informed decision on the questions asked. The letter from a “Dad” only instructed and appears to allow little leeway to question.