The Miami Herald just published a story online about some state legislators getting worked up over evolution in the state science standards. Of course, that’s bad news. But the overwhelmingly good news from my perspective is how the reporter prominently featured the correct definition of a scientific theory! It’s about time.
”It’s technically a theory. Let’s present it for what it is” Coley told The Miami Herald on Tuesday.
Coley’s proposal concerns backers of mainstream science because they fear the word ”theory” could be easily manipulated to cast doubt on evolution, a pillar of biology.
In common usage, a theory is just a guess. In scientific terms, a theory — like gravity or quantum mechanics — is a testable explanation of a phenomenon based on facts.
”If you use the word theory to imply that scientists think evolution is just a hypothesis and is not real, that gives an incorrect impression,” said Prof. Joseph Travis, the dean of Florida State University’s Arts and Sciences College, who reviewed the state’s science standards.
”If you use the word theory to say it’s the best idea to explain how it works, then that’s good,” he said.
Thank you, Prof. Travis! You are my hero of the day.
‘We are prepared,” said Coley, who raised the issue the day before during a conference call concerning class size. Coley hasn’t filed legislation but has discussed that option with next year’s House Speaker designate, Ray Sansom of Destin, and his likely successor, Dean Cannon of Winter Park, and Will Weatherford, Republican of Wesley Chapel.
Cannon said intelligent design should ideally be taught, but would leave that issue up to the ”curricular experts.” And Wise, who said he is considering ”legislative remedies,” went a step further by saying that creationism should be taught in schools.
”Put them side by side,” he said of evolution and biblical teaching.
And Wise, you are definitely my villain of the day.
Travis, the FSU professor, said teaching evolution is key because it underpins the biological study of everything from dinosaurs to diseases. He also wondered why the critics aren’t pushing to have the word ”theory” precede mentions of gravity in the standards.
Asked if it should be called the ”Theory of Gravity” in the standards, Coley said: “Sure.”
But, she said, people aren’t calling her about gravity.