TABLE Responses to the proposition that human beings as we know them today developed from earlier species of animals

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As a biological educator, I find myself pathetically consoled by another result from the Eurobarometer survey revealing the large number (19% in Britain) who believe it takes one month for the Earth to go around the sun. The figure is more than 20% for Ireland, Austria, Spain and Denmark. What, I wonder, do they think a year is? Why do the seasons come and go with such regularity? Are they not even curious about the reasons for such a salient feature of their world? These remarkable figures shouldn't really be consoling, of course. My emphasis was on 'pathetically'. I meant that we seem to be dealing with a general ignorance of science - which is bad enough, but at least it is better than the positive prejudice against one particular science, namely evolutionary science, which seems to be present in Turkey (and, one can't help guessing, in much of the Islamic world). Also, undeniably, in the United States of America, as we saw in the Gallup and Pew polls.

In October 2008 a group of about sixty American high-school teachers met at the Center for Science Education of Emory University, in Atlanta. Some of the horror stories they had to tell deserve wide attention. One teacher reported that students 'burst into tears' when told they would be studying evolution. Another teacher described how students repeatedly screamed 'No!' when he began talking about evolution in class. Another reported that pupils demanded to know why they had to learn about evolution, given that it was 'only a theory'. Yet another teacher described how 'churches train students to come to school with specific questions to ask to sabotage my lessons'. The Creation Museum in Kentucky is a lavishly financed institution entirely devoted to history-denial on this advanced scale. Children can ride on a model dinosaur with a saddle - and it's not just a bit of fun: the message is explicit and unequivocal that dinosaurs lived recently and coexisted with humans. It is run by Answers in Genesis, which is a tax-exempt organization. The taxpayer, in this case the American taxpayer, is subsidizing scientific falsehood, miseducation on a grand scale.

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