Good science education is a critical need in today's world, and it is under threat by many narrow interest groups, targeting evolution and climate science among other things. I'm James Downard. I've been researching the creation/evolution side of things since the 1980s, and since the 1990s I've been applying my historian's skills (BA Eastern Washington University) in evaluating sources and evidence to assembling a comprehensive new assessment of the field to better help those defending public science education.
The first sections of my TIP Project ("Troubles in Paradise") are online for immediate use at the www.tortucan.wordpress.com website (www.tortucan.com/ mirror website now up too, with HTML versions of the new modules). Theese are the first steps in bringing on the playing field over 46,000 sources, including over 7500 antievolutionist works and a further 27,000 science resources needed to show why all antievolution claims are wrong.
I discuss the importance of the project in an interview by Nick Matzke at Pandas Thumb http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2015/03/troubles-in-par.html#comment-339088 along with discussion in the comments section there.
The TIP dataset is now sufficiently large for statistical analysis and meaningful comparison of the evolutionary and antievolutionary "communities". Some of my basic results are summarized below.
Unlike the broad scientific community (where over 51,000 scientists have authored the science work drawn on by TIP) the antievolutionist community represents only around 2000 primary enthusiasts, a topheavy arrangement relying in turn on an amazingly small core of ill-informed activists: half of all antievolution works are generated by only 80 people. It is important for science education defenders to know how small the antievolution activist core is, as well as how diverse and solid the regular scientific community is.
Although many antievolutionists have scientific training, the TIP Project reveals how little their areas of expertise intersect the factual data set. Under 100 antievolutionary scientists do work directly relating to relevant fields in biology and none have contributed notably to those disciplines (the most glaring example being the total absence of working paleontologists, a field critical to understanding evolution as it has played out in Deep Time).
An even worse tale is told when it comes to how little of the available science literature actually gets discussed by antievolutionists: 95% of antievolutionists don't cite technical literature at all, and the 5% who do miss roughly 90% of the relevant data.
These findings of the TIP Project should be cause for concern by all who want to ensure that only sound science and history are taught in public schools, especially when school boards or state legislatures become battlegrounds and education supporters need to know everything available to make their best case against antievolutionist critics.
Our future as a society depends on understanding and using the facts of nature we uncover through science to the best of our ability. That goal is threatened by the activities of modern Creationism and its Intelligent Design doppleganger, a narrow lobbying movement that does not limit itself to criticizing evolution but washes over into many issues, including climate science, dangerously mixing religion and politics to further a very narrow Kulturkampf (Culture War) agenda.
I have been exploring some of these concerns in my capacity as the atheist/secular commentator at the award winning Spokane Faith & Values website (www.spokanefavs.com), with further postings and comments on my Facebook page and on Twitter (@RJDownard), and all feedback, questions & comments are welcome in those venues.
There are many groups and individuals like me who are helping to defend sound science, from the National Center for Science Education to professional organizations representing the science and education community. But when it comes to finding just the right science fact to counter the claim of a specific antievolutionist, it is not always so easy for laypeople to do that. Even fine resources like the Talk Origins Archive are showing their age, not updated in a decade to reflect current players and topics.
The 21st century needs and deserves something better, much better. With your help here, the new TIP Project at www.tortucan.com/ & www.tortucan.wordpress.com will grow into something much needed for contemporary use: a unique open access clearing house for all the best available scientific evidence needed to confidently navigate the creation/evolution battleground.
Meanwhile, well-funded antievolutionist organizations, including Answers in Genesis (responsible for the Kentucky Creation Museum and planned Noah's Ark park seeking taxpayer subsidy) are not curtailing their activities, which science defenders must recognize and know how to deal with.
Stand up for sound science and history education, and make it possible for all to continue to use the open access TIP Project resources at www.tortucan.com/ & www.tortucan.wordpress.com.
- Elizabeth Rose
- Elizabeth Rose
- Storm Hofferbert
- John Roberts
- Philip Urbanski
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