Sarah Palin’s Still Dangerous Views on Teaching Evolution

Well, Palin has clearly revised her public position on teaching evolution. In part of her interview with Katie Couric it was addressed (I got the transcript here. )

Couric: Do you believe evolution should be taught as an accepted scientific principle or one of several theories?

Palin: Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won’t ever deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth, especially coming from one of the most beautiful states in the Union and traveling around this country also in this last month. My goodness, just seeing, you know, the beautiful landscape of New Mexico recently. That was just breath taking and seeing the rolling hills in Virginia and all … the beauty that is this Earth, I see the hand of God in that. But that is not part of state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught in science class.

Sounds promising right? I mean, previously, she seemed to be wishy washy on the separation of science and religion and now she seems to be trying to do the right thing. But just when you might have thought the anti-science part of her was winning out, look at her response to the next question:

Couric: Should creationism be allowed to be taught anywhere in public schools?

Palin: Don’t have a problem at all with kids debating all sides of theories, all sides of ideas that they ever – kids do it today whether … it’s on paper, in a curriculum or not. Curriculums also are best left to the local school districts. Instead of Big Brother, federal government telling a district what they can and can’t teach, I would like to see more control taken over by our school boards, by our local schools, and then state government at the most. But federal government, you know, kind of get out of some of this curriculum and let the locals decide what is best for their students.

This basically follows the script of the Intelligent Design supporters who have been pushing for changes in the education curriculum by local school boards. And it is pretty dangerous in my mind. There should be separation of church and state. Period. At the federal level. At the state level. And at the local level. And this is clearly an attempt to circumvent that concept. So – Palin is towing toeing the ID line here pretty closely and who knows who what havoc she would wreak on science in this country if she were elected. McCain-Palin is starting to look more anti-science than Bush-Cheney, hard as that is for scientists to imagine.

See my earlier post on Palin and evolution here.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

7 thoughts on “Sarah Palin’s Still Dangerous Views on Teaching Evolution”

  1. Reading this transcripts is much worse than watching her speak. You can actually examine all the things wrong with what she is saying. The sheer fact that she B.Ss every question she answers should be enough for people not to want her to run the country.


  2. One question for Evolutionists: how can you explain gene information? How can you explain that genes have essential information on each invidual’s characteristics. So far we know that information can only come from Intelligence.So, how evolution managed to develop genes that contain important information in them?


  3. I know I am not supposed to respond to silly things, but anyway here goes. Nel — perhaps you are unaware of the approximate 100,000 scientific papers discussing the topic that answer your question in detail? Or perhaps you are unaware that there are approximately zero scientific papers backing up the statement “information can only come from intelligence.” If you need more detail on all the papers, please consult my recent Evolution textbook or any of the other ones out there.


  4. Well, I’d like to see a link for a theory on that.I have looked on some sites, and nowhere is explained how could genetic information be generated through evolution or other natural means.On topic: I don’t think that Creationism should be taught on classes, is merely religion. And Intelligent Design is not science. However, this “genetic information” argument seems like a good one for me.Palin kind of flip-flopped on that issue. She was a “teach ’em both” promoter. Perhaps she’s just pandering to people to not look like a whacko, lol.


  5. nel you will have to elaborate on what exactly you mean … but here is one example for you to ponder … researchers have taken random DNA sequences and in a test tube allowed for mutation and natural selection and they can get “information” originating in the form of novel functions and activities … does this count for you?


  6. I don’t know what’s worse, a government official so willing to disregard the separation of church and state in order to teach evangelical christian theology as science, or the fact that she is so willing to dump her beliefs when there is public outcry about them.Or that she seemingly rechanges her mind during phase II of her answer.


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