Alert reader Andrew sent me a scan of a book used by “year 10” students (14-and 15-year-olds) who study for the academic GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams in England. These exams, I believe, used to be called O-levels.
Unlike the older GCSE exam I mentioned in a previous post, this book is being used now. Have a look at this part (click to enlarge):
Oh, dear Lord:
“Not everyone has the same view of the fossil record.
It is often used to show how animals and plants evolved. However, other scientists have used the gaps in the fossil record to argue against the theory of evolution.
Many complex organisms in the fossil record appear and then disappear. Unlike the horse. they show no gradual change.
Creationists interpret this to mean that organisms were created and did not evolve.”
Granted, question 7, right below this, says that fossil horses are an argument against the “creationist theory” (note how creationism is promoted to “theory” status), but the whole tenor of this section is to put creationism on an equal footing with evolution.
Yep, that’s right: it directs the kids to a creationist website! There is no box listing evolution websites for students who want to learn more about real science.
Here’s the “revision” guide, also used by students, which explains what the students have to know to get a passing grade in the GCSE exam. Note that it’s written by “GCSE examiners”:
And the relevant page on evolution:
The FAIL is obvious again: check out the second box, “Interpretation of the fossil record”, which says, and I quote:
- Some scientists use the fossil record to show how animals and plants have evolved. Other scientists have used the gaps in the fossil record to argue against evolution.
- Many complex organisms in the fossil record appear and disappear which Creationists interpret to mean that organisms were created and did not evolve.
Exactly which “scientists” use the gaps to argue against evolution? It can’t be those who espouse punctuated equilibrium, for while those folks argue against smooth and imperceptible gradualism in evolution, they fully accept evolution itself. No, both of these points simply present creationism as an viable alternative to evolution, without any mention that creationism is not science but disguised religion.
The failure to criticize the creationist interpretation of the fossil record is even more curious in view of the criticism of Lamarckism that appears in the fourth box (“[Lamarck’s] theory was discredited because acquired characteristics cannot be passed on by genes”).
Note as well that the second question at the bottom asks students to explain how creationists interpret gaps in the fossil record. In the British system, I am told, you must get a “B-A*” grade to pass the exam, so the students have to answer the creationism question.
Now here’s my question: why is this stuff being taught in British schools?