Why You Only Hear One Side Of The Debate Over Life’s Origin

Why You Only Hear One Side Of The Debate Over Life’s Origin

When academia, public schools, and Big Tech suppress scientific information challenging evolution, it's no wonder public support for evolution is growing.
Casey Luskin
By

If you thought the misinformation, indoctrination, and viewpoint suppression perpetrated by Big Tech, schools, and the corporate media were limited to politics, think again. One of the many fronts of the war for the right to dictate what you believe is the scientific, religious, and metaphysical debate over where you came from.

A recent University of Michigan survey claims “Evolution now accepted by majority of Americans,” or 54 percent. Salon declared the debate over, posting the headline “Science quietly wins one of the right’s longstanding culture wars,” calling it a “setback for purveyors of pseudoscience.” What role does information suppression play in this trend?

In 2006, an article in the journal Nature reported “70 years of enforced atheism and official support for darwinism in the Soviet Union” were causing a public backlash against evolution in post-Soviet Russia. During the Soviet era, virtually everyone accepted Darwinism, largely due to government indoctrination and a lack of intellectual freedom. Could a similar intolerance be responsible, at least in part, for increased public acceptance of evolution in the United States?

More than 1,100 scientists have signed a list agreeing they are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.” As a scientist, I’ve signed that list. But as an attorney, I can attest that many of these scientists — and others who are afraid to sign the list — face discrimination because they won’t toe the Darwinian line.

Earlier this year physicist Eric Hedin published a book titled “Canceled Science,” telling how Ball State University investigated him after he briefly covered intelligent design in an interdisciplinary elective seminar. When science faculty are prohibited from merely mentioning minority scientific viewpoints, it’s no wonder that many students gravitate towards Darwinism. They’ve heard nothing else.

Big Tech also makes it hard to find scientific information that challenges Darwin. In 2020, the journal BioEssays published an editorial calling for “mandatory” disclaimers and “color coded banners” on search engines to warn people about “factual errors” on websites supporting intelligent design. Yet while these websites are being targeted, Wikipedia is perpetuating biased and inaccurate information about the Darwinism/intelligent design debate.

Wikipedia’s “intelligent design” entry editorializes within the first five words that such a belief is “pseudoscientific,” and editors notoriously resist changes that add balance or accuracy. This led Wikipedia’s co-founder Larry Sanger, a self-described “agnostic who believes intelligent design to be completely wrong,” to slam the entry as “appallingly biased. It simply cannot be defended as neutral.” Yet Wikipedia is undoubtedly where countless people become informed — and misinformed — about evolution and intelligent design.

Wikipedians justify censorship of pro-intelligent design views by citing a “consensus” that’s enforced by the scientific community and education system. In the United States, public schools almost universally teach evolution in a pro-Darwin-only fashion that censors any science that challenges the status quo.

Consider the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which take what The New York Times called “a firm stand that children must learn about evolution.” Out of 50 states, 44 have adopted these standards or something like them. They call for students to learn that “common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence,” with no mention of counterevidence. Does this require simply knowing about evolution and understanding the arguments, or does it force students to affirm “support” for evolution?

The NGSS inform students that similarities among vertebrate embryos indicate common ancestry, parroting many biology textbooks which overstate the degree of similarity between fish, bird, and mammal embryos. But neither the NGSS nor many textbooks mention peer-reviewed studies showing that vertebrate embryos start development differently. As a 2010 paper in Nature explained, “Counter to the expectations of early embryonic [similarities], many studies have shown that there is often remarkable divergence between related species both early and late in development.”

In high school, the NGSS teaches that “similarities in DNA sequences” across different species also support common ancestry. But the NGSS ignores that the scientific literature is replete with conflicts between DNA-based evolutionary trees.

An article in New Scientist, titled “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life,” observed “[m]any biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded.” It quoted scientists saying things like “We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality” or “We’ve just annihilated the tree of life.”

Likewise, a 2012 paper in Annual Review of Genetics could not reconcile universal common ancestry with the genetic data, and concluded “life might indeed have multiple origins.” The NGSS ignores such studies, presenting dumbed-down science in support of neo-Darwinian theory.

When the public lacks access to scientific information that challenges evolution — because Darwin-doubting scientists are hounded out of academia, schools refuse to acknowledge peer-reviewed science that contradicts the standard evolutionary paradigm, and Big Tech obscures accurate information about intelligent design — we don’t have to wonder why public support for evolution is increasing. Under such a dogmatic system, what outcome would be expected other than increased support for evolution?

To be clear, I’m not proposing some conspiracy theory. No conspiracy is needed to understand that power structures often systematically marginalize people and viewpoints that are in the minority, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. What’s concerning is that this is happening within the scientific community, where freedom of inquiry is supposed to thrive, and it’s happening on one of the most important topics for all humanity: our origins.

The Darwinism debate is a bellwether for larger issues of intellectual freedom in America. Support for evolution may be increasing, but if this is being driven by trends resembling Soviet-style information suppression, this isn’t a road we want to traverse.

Casey Luskin holds a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, a law degree from the University of San Diego, and is a California-licensed attorney. He works as Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, in Seattle.

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