Canadian human biology textbook flirts with creationism

October 10, 2015 • 10:00 am

A reader reported to me that this book, which came out in Canada on February 6, contains at least a bit of dicey material about evolution. The material comes uncomfortably close to certain tropes of creationism.

The book’s Amazon description is below the cover picture:


“The only title written for Canadian pre-health courses, Human Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology for the Health Sciences focuses on human-related biology topics such as cells, metabolism, evolution, and inheritance as well as the physiological systems. Class-tested, this text has been praised by students as clear, concise, and easy to understand. Author Wendi Roscoe has taken care to write a book that is truly engaging and relevant for students, using examples of diseases or conditions that help students understand how normal physiology can go wrong, while not compromising the depth and breadth of content required for an introductory course.”

What a shame, then, that in the overview that begins Chapter 7, a chapter on “Evolution,” some old creationist/ID canards are perpetuated. Here’s a screenshot sent by the reader:

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 8.08.48 PM

Now I haven’t seen the rest of the chapter, but there are at least five mistakes in this brief excerpt. Many of you will spot them, but I thought I’d review them briefly since we all should be able to rebut this kind of stuff.

The first is the claim that “microevolution” is confirmed but “macroevolution remains a ‘theory'” (note the scare quotes around “theory”). Actually both micro- and macroevolution are confirmed part of the neo-Darwinian THEORY of evolution: a system of propositions meant to explain the change in both the genetic nature and diversity of species over time. This book uses “theory” in its vernacular sense: as a “guess or speculation”:—what scientists would call an “unsubstantiated hypothesis.” One would hope that a biology textbook intended for wide use in Canada wouldn’t buy into the old creationist trope that evolution—macroevolution in this case—is “only a theory”.

Second, the passage gives big precedence to observable evolution in real time (that confirmed “with many different experiments”) over the kind of evolution seen either in the fossil record or inferred from existing patterns. We should all know (see Why Evolution is True for the data) about the “non-real-time” evidence for evolution: much of it showing “macroevolution”. These data include not only the fossil record, but also biogeographic and embryonic patterns, as well as the existence in living species of vestigial traits and “dead genes” that make no sense under any theory other than evolution. What else than”macroevolution” can explain the fact that the human genome (note that the book above is a human biology book) contains three genes for making egg yolk—genes that have been rendered inactive by mutation? Those genes are remnants of our amphibian and reptilian ancestors, which did have functional egg-yolk genes. They testify to common ancestry and macroevolution. And the evolution of mammals from those earlier groups certainly IS “macroevolution.”

Third, the fossil record amply documents the transition between very different “kinds” of organisms: not just species, but disparate new taxa. We now have transitional forms between fish and amphibians (viz., Tiktaalik), between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and birds, between reptiles and mammals (I use the example of “mammal-like reptiles” when teaching), between terrestrial artiodactyls and whales, and, of course, between early ape-ish hominins and later modern ones. The fossil record by itself soundly refutes the “no macroevolution” hypothesis. We also have many cases of lineage splitting, including in our own group, hominins, as in the evolution of the “robust australopithecines” that went extinct without issue.

Finally, those who object to a transition between micro- and macroevolution are obliged to tell us why, under their own hypothesis (if they have one), there is some barrier beyond which small, incremental changes cannot add up to big ones. We know of no such barrier, and of course have seen the barrier breached many times (see fossil record stuff above). And we see, in real time, species in all stages of lineage splitting—”speciation”. If we see all stages of that process in present-day organisms, why can we not accept that the process can occur as a continuum over time? That is, in fact, the way we learned about the different stages of “evolution” that stars go through.

Finally, it’s simply wrong to suggest that there’s any real scientific “debate” about macroevolution. What debate exists is only the denial of macroevolution by creationists.

As I said, I don’t know how much of this kind of misinformation about evolution occurs in Roscoe’s book. I hope that the brief excerpt above is not indicative of chapter’s contents. But even if it isn’t, it’s still misleading, and I hope that this post tells you why.

You can find a valuable summary of the copious evidence for macroevolution on the TalkOrigins site at the page called “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution.The section on morphological intermediates is very good.

149 thoughts on “Canadian human biology textbook flirts with creationism

  1. How sneaky of those creationists! Do we know if this book is used at any specific Canadian universities? If so, we should contact those universities and alert them to this text.

    1. Maybe someone should alert the author too. Use PCC’s paragraphs here and/or tell her to read WEIT.

      I cant find much about her by a search other than she is at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

          1. Are you just trolling people here, “Gemini”? What the hell are you talking about “big accusation” (?) “scientific evidence regarding that claim” (?)

            The claim that London Ontario is in SW Ontario’s Bible belt? Do you have specific reasons to doubt that it is not? Perhaps you live there? Or perhaps you are referring to something else? Or perhaps you are merely being a drive-by pest? (like you were with your comment directed at me below?)

            1. Yes I’m trolling you…like I have nothing better to do with my life.

              Obviously individuals will get defensive if random people on the internet call them creationists or religious based on where they live or a single sentence in a textbook.

              1. Umm. . .I made it manifestly clear that I criticized that introductory paragraph and hadn’t read the rest of the chapter. But that paragraph alone is both creationist in tone and misleading. If she’s such a good author, she should make sure that paragraph gets expunged and rewritten with something accurate. I didn’t say she was a creationist, either; I said the message given in that paragraph was creationist.

    2. I agree about contacting schools. My first thought on reading the article was to warn several friends who work in health professions about the inaccuracies in the book. This book might also be used in community colleges and in high schools — health professionals is a very broad category that includes many support technicians. I think this later group might be the primary audience, given the emphasis on readability.

      I agree that we should also contact the author.

  2. Any would-be science text book that puts scare quotes around the word “theory” is unfit for any real class.

    1. Second that!

      Now for the stealth writing in of Creationist thinking. And that of the poorly informed layman or woman.

      It will poison more minds. Bad enough everyone doesn’t use the one true meaning of “theory” that adds to the confusion. We should speak on languange on that. Idea-hypothesis-theory. There can be no other.

  3. That isn’t flirting. It’s not even heavy petting….

    One would assume that a book on anatomy would include the recurrent pharyngeal nerve, the appendix, and similar evolutionary detritus? I’d seriously question the author’s ability to correctly explain such physiology without putting it in its proper evolutionary context.


          1. Sorry you think I’m being rude, but you sure are coming off as a troll. What, with your half-capped sentence screaming that the author has a degree in genetics. You’re merely shouting empty appeals to authority (as you were with a previous comment to me).

            In any event, it is *excellent* that you have the book handy. I do not, and I sure as hell do not plan on getting it. Would you mind either snapping a pic of the copyright page, so we can all see who makes up the Editorial Board responsible for this thing? Perhaps a snippet or two of the passages you are fond of that demonstrates the author herself isn’t either waffling or flirting with creationist dogma?

            Y’know… THAT would actually be a substantive contribution to the discussion here, don’t you think?

            1. Send me your email, I would GLADLY prove you wrong and send you a picture of every single page of that book.
              Oh ya, but I would never do that because that’s just a waste of my time.

              Unfortunately for you, I’ve already thought of that and there is no option of posting pics on this discussion.

              By the way she has a PdD too 😉 and a couple other degrees in science, no big deal.

              1. This is the first time I’ve seen sock puppeting on WEIT and I seemed to have missed all the action. Damn work!

              2. epilogue: when I went back to Amazon, the listing for this book (which consisted of three copies) was gone, along with the bogus 5-star review and the two sane 1-star reviews.

                Given that the errata were being accumulated since February, and this first ed. had been getting tried out in class (a glowing student review of Wendi’s mentioned that “she wrote the book, that’s how good she is!”), and given it’s mid-October now… I think it’s a safe bet the views are her own, as Larry Moran said.

                Perhaps she’ll stick to human physiology in her 2nd Edition.

              3. On the Canadian Amazon site, I still see the five stare rating and I suspect it was from the sock puppets.

          2. and… no, I won’t “read the rest of the chapter”. My question to you is: doesn’t the paragraph we are all talking about read like shit? It is a yes or no question. If not, why not? If so, why would such a piece of shit find its way through a group of editors? I’m asking for your opinion, not a goosechase.

      1. No really… Don’t be intimidated by anybody, merely because they are professors or editors. People make mistakes and/or are incompetent – all the time. What is YOUR best opinion?

  4. This book once again reveals why those who support science must be eternally vigilant against those who deny science, whether they be creationists or climate change deniers. Although I don’t know the politics or religious convictions of the author, this book represents on the face of it more ammunition for the alliance of right-wing politics and religion to deny reality through the voice of a supposed authority attempting to convince students of nonsense. Apparently, the danger exists in Canada as well as the United States. Religion in general is irrational, but right-wing religion has real world repercussions. It must be resisted on all fronts. In the case of this book, Professor Coyne’s post is a start.

        1. You must realize that those few sentences really call into question the quality of the entire book.

          Please reconsider that paragraph as it does no good to deceive people even if it is for a noble end, for it will only lead to a proliferation of the lie that evolution is a “theory” and not fact because, after all, a prominent teacher of evolution says so.

  5. It is possible, hypothetically, that the chapter overview was not written by the author but by another individual. I know that other parts of a text book that are outside of the main chapter content are prepared that way.

    1. Aren’t all chapters proofread to make sure they follow the main thesis and thrust of the text book? If not they should.

      1. Sure. And my hypothesis could be wrong for the introductory blurb. But other sections of a text are written by other people, including other educators and staff from the publishers. The run-up to publishing by a certain date can mean that not everything is checked by the main author(s).
        It is also possible (& I suspect more likely) that this blurb is the work of the author.

        1. I have seen books where the jacket blurb was manifestly written by someone who had never read the book and just made up a paragraph based on chapter headings and guesswork.


  6. Poorly written paragraph to say the least. The word proof never appear in science for we rely on evidence. The evidence for evolution just keeps piling up!! Therefore evolution is a fact!!

    1. Yes indeed. I’m sick and tired of the way that the word ‘proof’ is so often used when referring to evidence.

    2. I accept the way that S.J. Gould had put it: Evolution is both a fact and a theory (in the scientific sense of theory, of course). It is a fact that populations evolve (we see it), and it is a fact that macroevolution has happened by some means. The fossil record records a succession of taxons from fish –> amphibian –> reptiles, complete with timely transitional forms and so macroevolution is a fact in that it has happened.
      The theory part of evolution are the mechanisms. It is a theory that evolution (fact) has proceeded by natural selection + speciation + other mechanisms like genetic drift.

  7. I see the publisher is “Nelson”; on the Amazon web site this is detailed as “Nelson College Indigenous”. I wasn’t able to find out if this might be part of Thomas Nelson, a well-known fundamentalist christian publishing house. There is nothing on Nelson’s web site that would indicate they are, or that they have a doctrinal statement, so maybe it’s just a coincidence of names. Which makes the wobbly statements about evolution a bit harder to explain.

    I didn’t find anything about the author except that she has excellent reviews on, and none mentioned anything about her pushing religion in the classroom.

    1. You bring up a wonderful point. She is an amazing professor/scientist and from my experience is not religious AT ALL so for people to be saying she is a creationist is just a crazy opinion.

      1. You’re not doing your amazing author any favor by using four different names to defend her. You are sockpuppeting, and you’re banned. Really, how duplicitous can you get, using four different pseudonyms. Are you not smart enough to at least use one name?

  8. I’m sick of the use of the terms “macroevolution” and “microevolution.” Imo, even using those terms is buying into the Creationist/ID rubbish. There’s no micro and macro, there’s just evolution.

    Micro and macro are terms invented by Creationists when they were forced to admit there was some evolution. It’s a canard that we shouldn’t buy into imo.

    In NZ, ID means intellectually disabled. With apologies to those people, I think that’s appropriate.

    1. Me too. I was never taught those specifics (macro and micro) when I learned about evolution and I’ve only heard them in the context of creationist malarkey.

      1. Micro and macro Evolution is used by Creationists. Others should not pick up on using it. Just adds to the confusion.

      1. Why though? It seems redundant to me. I think that their use has crept in because of the religious incursion into the field.

        (Obviously if there’s a valid reason, I’m ready to be corrected.)

        1. They’re standard biology terms, mostly in older works (40s-60s?) and the distinction is between population level changes (gene frequencies within a species)and cladogenesis/speciation. See for example Dobzhansky, Genetics and the Origin of Species (3rd ed., 1951, pg. 16-17). These days, micro is what population geneticists study while macro is more the realm of phylogenetic work, paleontology, etc.

        2. According to Douglas Futuyma, author of the widely used textbook “Evolutionary Biology”, the term “macroevolution” was coined by Dobzhansky to describe the major, long-term features of evolution.

          Futuyma later defines macroevolution this way:

          To a great extent, the subject of these chapters is the history of macroevolution: the origin of higher taxa, and of their characteristics and distribution, throughout the long history of life.

          In the glossary, he defines the terms this way:

          macroevolution: A vague term for the evolution of great phenotypic changes, usually great enough to allocate the changed lineage and its descendants to a distinct genus or higher taxon.

          microevolution: A vague term for slight, short-term evolutionary changes within species

          1. FWIW, the textbook only uses the word “macroevolution” 5 times outside the glossary, and microevolution just once, at least according to the index.

            1. It doesn’t matter. Yes, one can make a subjective distinction between micro- and macroevolution, but to say that one is a “theory” and the other proven is just bogus and, more important, DEAD WRONG. The terms have their use, but not in drawing a bogus distinction like the author does.

              If the company doesn’t want to embarrass itself, it better go through that chapter, or have a real evolutionary biologist do so.

        3. I am not aware that micro- and macro- were creationist terms. I do not know where those terms have come from, though. In any case, they are widely used in the field.
          In addition to that possible problem, my problem with the terms is that they do invite misunderstanding not just from evolution deniers, but from the general public for the reasons that you state. Macroevolution is, mechanistically, just extended microevolution with wedges of speciation thrown in. When I teach this stuff, I make it a point to make that point.

      2. I (an admitted non-biologist) might suggest that those terms are simply handy quantitative indicators, and that one can legitimately say there isn’t necessarily a qualitative difference.

        A marathon covers a lot more ground than a single stride, but that doesn’t mean a marathon can’t be described as thousands of single strides.

    2. I fully agree with this. Micro and macro evolution is just creationist garbage. There is no such thing as micro and macro evolution, so let’s not make these words acceptable scientific language.

      1. “Micro and macro evolution is just creationist garbage.”

        This is wrong. See the comments under Heather’s post above.

    3. There are two separate issues in this thread. First, the idea that macroevolution is only used by creationists is dead wrong. Second, the debate about whether microevolution is sufficient to explain macroevolution is much more complicated than most people realize. I don’t think it’s correct to say that macroevolutionary events can be fully explained by the principles of population genetics.

      See …

      1. Well, your notion that the two phenomena differ is explained by “species sorting” (species “selection”, a discredited idea that Gould himself even said had no examples in his big book. So are you saying that the transition between, say, reptiles and mammal cannot be explained by population genetics? Seriously? And already we’ve explained some processes of speciation–a form of macroevolution–by population genetics. Absent the idea of group selection on species that drives evolutionary changes, something for which we have no evidence, at least for the evolution of adaptations, you’re grasping at straws.

    1. The problem is that the terms are not spelled out. The way Creationists use is micro, for minor changes in DNA aka mutations. And macro as true speciation. And since they are better at advertising the lay person can absorb it over their real meaning in biology.

  9. Very embarrassing. This was no mistake or oversight. This was classic Canadian PCism trying hard not to offend the religious. Who cares about offending scientists and atheists? It’s the religious who’s feeling must be protected.

    I’m Canadian, and this was no mistake. It was an intentional caveat put in there for the purpose of not offending the religious. I’m disgusted and embarrassed. Thank you for calling it out.

    1. “PC” I have found is over used and under defined to the point to where any beef someone has they lay it at the foot of the horrible obtuse, fill all spaces “PC” even if politics has nothing to do with it.

      1. “PC” has become a modern idiom for ‘mealy-mouthed eupemisms’ and is not necessarily limited to political matters any more. In the same way that, for example, ‘evolution’ has been idiomatically applied to such things as lineages of cars or styles of music.


        1. Right. I’ve always understood the P in PC as meaning “political” in the broadest sense of the word–that is, as applying to any situation where there are power dynamics involved and thus incentives to suppress or soften one’s opinions for the sake of maintaining a good reputation within a group. That group can be elected government–“politics” in the narrow sense–but it can also be one’s family, friends, peers, co-workers, and any kind of organization one belongs to, however formal or informal. It applies to any social context where saying the wrong thing can get you in trouble–even if that “wrong” thing happens to be true.

      2. I think it applies well here. Political correctness has been defined over the years as a phenomenon where by people try overly hard to do the socially acceptable thing i.e. “respect the religion of others” and are blinded by their dedication to a specific mantra to the point of missing the larger reality.

  10. Not biology but “Human biology”. Could this be part of a trend? Evolution is hardly mentioned in the Scottish Highers “Human biology” course, and for that reason is preferred to “Biology” by our unregenerate Calvinist sects.

    BTW, the history is wrong too; we had Lamarck, and Erasmus Darwin, early in the 1800s, and by the end of the 1800s common descent was broadly accepted, at least in the UK, even by clergymen, and by progressive believers (I know many here will regard that as an oxymoron) like Asa Gray in the US.

  11. When I hear creationist canards about micro- and macroevolution and evolution in real time I wonder how they explain the evolution of cancers or – faster – the evolution of multicellularity in labs? They are not examples of biological species, but they need explanation such as how some cancers are now independent diseases.

    But I would also have them explain endemic species that are found exclusively in modern cityscapes. A premier example is the London Underground mosquito C. p. f. molestus:

    “Evidence for this mosquito being a different species from C. pipiens comes from research by Kate Byrne and Richard Nichols. The species have very different behaviours,[1] are extremely difficult to mate,[2] and with different allele frequencies consistent with genetic drift during a founder event.[4] More specifically, this mosquito, C. p. f. molestus, breeds all-year round, is cold intolerant, and bites rats, mice, and humans, in contrast to the above-ground species, which is cold tolerant, hibernates in the winter, and bites only birds. When the two varieties were cross-bred, the eggs were infertile, suggesting reproductive isolation.[1][2]”

    “… genetic evidence suggests a single C. p. molestus form has spread throughout Europe and beyond, since populations over a large area share a common genetic heritage. These widely separated populations are distinguished by very minor genetic differences, which suggest the underground form developed recently; a single mtDNA difference is shared among the underground populations of ten Russian cities,[5] and a single fixed microsatellite difference occurs in populations spanning Europe, Japan, Australia, the Middle East, and Atlantic islands.[3] This worldwide spread might have occurred after the last glaciations or be even more recent, due to the insects hitchhiking on world trade routes; one possibility is the international second-hand tire trade. The tires retain water in which the larvae can survive, and completely removing water from an old tire can be difficult.” [ ]

    Are creationists suggesting subways and subway tunnels were ‘created’ only to be found later, with their endemic species and lines between exactly the stations cities had planned to connect at the time? Or do they propose continued ‘creation’? Or do they propose their own types of species,- ‘creationist species’ – that are cherry picked to fit new evidence each time, but have no objective, scientific status?

    Each alternative seems less palatable than the last. But inquiring minds want to know.

  12. There is a large market for texts for home-schoolers, which is a market saturated with religion; and for religious communities with colleges. This could be a text marketed to them.

    1. There was also the recent episode of a history textbook that referred to the African slaves as ‘workers’. I think that one is being walked back. But I am not sure if this one will produce as much outrage.

    2. Based on one misleading sentence that someone decided to write an article about? The textbook is amazing and people should begin to look at the bigger picture (by actually reading the rest of the textbook).

      1. There are five sentence, four of which are dead wrong. (Evolution itself was accepted within a decade of The Origin’s publication; natural selection took a while longer). So no, the book is not amazing so long as it contains that misleading and creationist-idea-promoting paragraph. It’s like reading a book on the solar system whose initial paragraph begins by saying that the idea that the earth is spherical is “only a theory.” As long as that is the summary of evolution at the beginning, the book is not only not amazing, but it’s dire.

  13. In fact there is evidence of new species (macroevolution) evolving rapidly. A mouse species introduced to the island of Madeira 600 years ago separated into 5 genetically distinct species, and the London underground mosquito separated from its above ground ancestors in a manner of decades.

    1. The mouse case is interesting — and I’d not heard of it so I went searching. First source I found indicates 6 species from one in under 500 years!

      The original paper seems to be: Britton-Davidian, J. et al. Rapid chromosomal evolution in island mice. Nature 403, 158 (January 13, 2000).

      Thanks very much for pointing this out. Don’t know why this has not gotten more attention, or why I never noticed. Well, obliviousness could explain the latter.

  14. That an A&P textbook–essentially a textbook for a biology course–is using the vernacular meaning of theory instead of the scientific one, is pretty stupid. That it’s misrepresenting evolution in the process is even worse.

  15. Reblogged this on Nina's Soap Bubble Box and commented:
    I am embarrassed this is from Canada. We usually know better. it used to be that pushing religion, expressed through anti-abortion and anti-biology was the best way to be ignored in the public square, but the last decade has seen a weird backlash since the 2004 marriage equality ruling of the Supreme Court.

    when sincerely held stupidity is being held up as a desirable quality – it starts to be more governed by the mob

    biology doesn’t disprove religion, anthropology does.

  16. This is aimed at mainstream schools.

    The creationist home school market is much worse,including the highly lucrative products of Bob Jones Pseudoversity (I quote from their own literature: ” The text ‘Biology’ shows your student God’s power and glory in creation as he learns about cellular biology, genetics, taxonomy, microbiology, botany, zoology, and human anatomy. When studying topics such as creation and evolution, human cloning, abortion, and stem cell research, students are pointed to Scripture as the ultimate authority and are encouraged to develop a biblical perspective about these topics.”

    Which means just what you fear it means.

    1. We had a student transfer from there, and to see which classes we would accept for credit we examined the syllabi of courses that the student had taken. It was pretty strange. The content of the classes were actually pretty solid, going by the syllabi and texts used, but the syllabi also included some blurbs like that which just seemed out of place.

      1. This from BJU school textbooks on my shelf: Satan wants people to believe in evolution. This is probably the main reason that evolution is so popular. Evolution relies on processes that cannot be observed, therefore it isn’t a scientific theory but depends on faith. The theory of biological evolution is not true because it contradicts the Bible. Many people believe in the evolutionary theory because they feel it eliminates God and lets them do what they want. Evolutionists are constantly finding evidence that runs counter to their claims, but discard it because of bias. The Flood is a better explanation of the fossil record than evolution. Missing links and common ancestors are absent from the fossil record because these organisms never existed. Sedimentary rock strata are the result of the Flood. Carbon-14 is formed in the upper atmosphere, but settles in the lower due to its increased density. Most dating techniques indicate that the earth is young, not millions of years old. Radiometric dating involves so much guesswork that it is unreliable. Earth Day is the Festival of a false god; but a Christian must be confident that the God who made the world is able to maintain it. And much more in the same vein.

        Satan … popular; Life Science for Christian Schools, 2nd ed., 1999 (LSCS) 161. Evolution … faith; LSCS 22. The … Bible; LSCS 146. Many people … want; LSCS 133. Evolutionists … bias; The Physical World etc. for Christian Schools, 2000 (PWCS) 12. The Flood … existed; LSCS 150. Sedimentary … old; Earth Science for Christian Schools, 2nd ed., 1999 (ESCS) 261, 265-6. Radiometric dating … unreliable; LSCS 159, PWCS 125, ESCS 269. Earth Day … maintain it. Science 6 for Christian Schools 236.

  17. Nothing to add to all the above; but thanks to PCC for taking the trouble to point out (for the gazillionth time) the defects of this sort of stuff. It seems that no matter how many times he and others do this, it becomes necessary to keep on doing it. Maybe one day…

  18. Does it never occur to creationists to wonder why they need to mislead people about science? If they genuinely believed science was wrong, they would tell the truth about it wouldn’t they?

    This is wilful dishonesty that betrays a hidden agenda in which truth doesn’t feature.

    1. Antievolutionists (I use that term to cover both doctrinal creationists and their squishier Intelligent Design cousins) do not think they are misleading people. They firmly believe they are defending sound science and evidence. How they manage that stems from their exceedingly narrow data set. As I’ve been documenting at my #TIP project (at 95% of the 1900 odd active antievolutionist writers catalogued so far don’t cite technical literature at all, and of those 5% who do, they rely on a selectively trimmed set (roughly 10% of the 16,000 science works I’ve assessed so far) fielded by a much smaller group of roughly 30 core authors.

      That methodological reliance on apologetic parasitism is one of the main drivers of antievolutionist notions about such topics as macroevolution, speciation, fossil preservation, etc.

      1. I’m vastly amused; people like Torley, instead of adducing evidence for their creationism, simply distort and attack the views about evolution. Of course there was a debate about whether macroevolution required “species selection” (Larry Moran’s explanation), but that was the process adumbrated by Gould and Eldredge: it was the mechanism of punctuated equilibrium (either nonselective species “sorting”, which couldn’t produce adaptations, or species selection, which is a form of group selection). That controversy is pretty much over: in his last big book, Gould admitted, as I recall, that he had no evidence supporting the idea of species sorting or selection. There is in fact virtually no evidence for this process as a contributor to trends in the fossil record, and especially none for its contribution to adaptations. But that’s all besides the point: my claim above is that there is as much evidence for macroevolution as for microevolution. There is NO DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER MACROEVOLUTION OCCURRED. The former is not “just a theory” and the latter is not only as factual as macroevolution, but in cases like major transitions between groups is surely the explanation. Are we really going to explain the invasion of the land by animals like Tiktaalik by invoking group selection, or ANY process different from natural selection? Nobody talks much about Gould and Eldredge’s mechanism for macroevolutionary change any more, for there is no evidence for it.

  19. And the author, Wendi Roscoe, HBSc, MSc, BEd, PhD.,
    Coordinator – Massage Therapy at Fanshawe College, is an antivaxer:

    “Concluding thoughts (my personal opinion based several years of research in autoimmunity). Yearly vaccinations could lead to more frequent serious reactions over time – especially in children that are already receiving so many childhood illness vaccinations and very young children are still developing their immune cell repertoire. Continual exposure to vaccines may have a long-term cumulative effect that we are not aware of yet. There are no long term studies yet that determine the safety or possible long-term ramifications of vaccination.”

    She tries to be subtle about it but it’s pretty clear she’s blowing the anti-vaccination dog whistle.

    1. Continual exposure to vaccines may have a long-term cumulative effect that we are not aware of yet.

      Yet continual NON-exposure to vaccines has a long-term cumulative effect that we are WELL aware of.

    2. Ah, here’s our trusty Dr. Roscoe asking Joeseph Mercola for research assistance on Facebook:

      ” Wendi Roscoe –> ‎Dr. Joseph Mercola
      2013 at 3:02pm · London, Canada ·
      Can you please give me a scientific reference that says why cooking olive oil bad? I have been searching pubmed for hours and can’t find a single paper. Thanks!!”

      I can’t tell if he got back to her.

      (Science Based Medicine has this to say about Mercola:

      “ is a horrible chimera of tabloid journalism, late-night infomercials, and amateur pre-scientific medicine, and is the primary web presence of Joseph Mercola. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more popular alternative medicine sites on the web and as such is uncommonly efficient at spreading misinformation. I am not a fan, and have addressed his dross in the past.” )

      1. I should add, it is possible that Roscoe was making a rhetorical point to Dr. Mercola rather than asking for help with a genuine question. Hard to know without specific context. However, given her apparent anti vax leanings, that she was genuinely asking for help is plausible.

        1. Mercola never responded to me, I wanted to know what evidence he had about cooking with Olive oil, either he had none or he just didn’t reply. I have since found some evidence that suggests that the flash point of Olive oil is not as high as other fats and can be damaged during cooking at high temperatures. Wendi PS, I am not an antivaxxer or a creationist, or a massage therapist. Not that being a massage therapist is bad, ha, I am just the coordinator of the program at the college.

  20. I wonder how “the religious” can deliberately mislead and lie when also claiming the Ethical And Moral high ground for their faith(s) Also, note how they expect educational institutes to pay for the propagation of their nonsense.
    The evidence that modern research into evolution can easily show is huge but none of it seems to get passed the filter some “religious” have evolved during their short lives.
    Obviously the mere mention of Darwin is enough to make them disconnect from reality, and it is a fact that when he was alive he gave them more respect than they (holy people that they are) have ever given him.

    1. Unfortunately the answer seems to be relatively simple: they are sufficiently out of touch that they often believe they are telling the truth. How they do that when confronted with the evidence, I don’t know, but compartmentalized, motivated reasoning is notorious in our species, alas.

  21. The author, Wendi Roscoe, is the Program Coordinator of Massage Therapy at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario (Canada). I strongly suspect she believes what she wrote. She probably has doubts about evolution.

    1. I have responded to this blog but not sure if my post was accepted yet. I do coordinate the massage therapy program at Fanshawe but I am not a massage therapist, my role is simply administrative. I teach the physiology course in the program as well as Biology in the pre-health science program. I am not an antivaxxer or a creationist. I have an undergraduate degree in genetics, I know the main points of evolution and have NO doubt about it. If anyone would just read my actual textbook chapter they would see that I am not a creationist.

  22. These people just NEVER give up, do they? It’s obvious that the author, Wendy “anti-vaxxer-massage-therapist”, is either of a creationist bent, or is afraid to not appeal to that, “fringe” for fear of hurting her book sales.

    The overview is stuffed with little, “stabs”:
    “The theory of Evolution was a revolutionary idea in the 1800s, and it was not accepted by many people”. Why did she feel the need to say this? Would a similar textbook on geology, in its overview, feel compelled to state, “The theory of plate tectonics was a revolutionary idea in the 1960s, and it was not accepted by many people”? I’m curious as to whether any chapter on diseases starts with, “The theory of germs as being the causative agents of disease was a revolutionary idea in the 1800s, and it was not accepted by many people”. I doubt it.

    Then there’s, “Macroevolution- the appearance of new species over thousands to millions of years- cannot be proven and therefore remains a theory.” The use of the word, “cannot”, instead of even, hasn’t been sufficiently”, or, “has not been completely” is extremely telling, here, clearly demonstrating a personal bias on the part of the writer (as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of the word, “theory”).

    “This portion of Darwin’s work remains highly debated today.” Once again, a, “personal” judgment on a scientific issue, not mentioning the fact that many of those who “highly debate” it also believe that the Earth is only 4,000 years old and that man coexisted with dinosaurs, and that this, “high debate” exists generally only in the Bible Belt of the U.S. and among Muslim fundamentalists.

    These are all, “Fox News” tactics: throw enough shit at a wall, often enough, and some of it is bound to stick- what the “wall” is, here, is the minds of students- FN knows two basic human thinking flaws well:

    (1) The mind has a tendency to accept as more, “true” the FIRST information it receives on a subject over subsequent information (it will cling to the claim, “evolution is just a theory”, while going on to ascribe less importance to the equally valid fact that ID and Creationism are, “just theories”, as well)

    (2) The mind has a tendency to accept information that is repeated continually as, “more true”- modern advertising depends on this.

    It is interesting to see how the “tack” of Creationism has changed over the past few years; having been “backed into a corner” with a belief system that has become more and more untenable in the light of modern scientific knowledge, they find themselves as a criminal in a court trial: the criminal knows he’s guilty and has been unable to put up an effective defense against the facts raised by the prosecution, but also knows that, if he manages to raise just enough, “reasonable doubt” in the jury, he might get off. “There’s no proof for macroevolution” and, “You can’t make life from a rock” are about all they have left.

  23. ” . . . has taken care to write a book that is truly engaging and relevant for students.”

    The word “relevant” gets thrown around all the time. Just what is “relevant” to what students? And of course middle and high schoolers are always the best judge of what is relevant.

    1. Haha. It’s relevant because it’s a textbook about the subject they are learning, which makes all textbooks relevant.

      1. Yeah, but that’s not to say that all the crap in it is relevant to what the students need to know.


        (if this appears twice, I’m using a different browser, so my first attempt will be Anon)

          1. Oh, I agree, ‘relevant’ is a much misused word. I think you were using it sarcastically – which I missed. (I was using it in its literal meaning).


  24. Hmm maybe you all should read the rest of the chapter. She gives TONS of evidence about evolution. Do you really think that this textbook would be published if it wasn’t scientifically accurate? To call the author a creationist is assuming something about someone based on one paragraph that can easily be misinterpreted. Look up the author, she has A DEGREE IN GENETICS !

    1. You really seem to have a lot of faith in “ascribed status” (vs. earned status), don’t you?

      Part of this conversation has to do with how such (very badly written, in this case) pieces of prose find their way into textbooks. It is quite possible that it was snuck in by some creationist editor. Or perhaps it is the author’s own view. There are creationists with degrees in genetics, you know.

      Why not contribute something more substantive to the conversation, rather than merely sniping with arguments of presumed authority (based on degrees, professorships, or presumed multiple editors).

      You’d also carry more weight in such a conversation if you happened to use your real name – since I’m having my doubts about your motives, as you keep interjecting non sequiturs. You’re behaving like a creationist yourself.

      1. As I mentioned before, people get very defensive when you accuse them of something they’re not. I can guarantee you that I’m not a creationist and I can certainly guarantee you that Dr.Roscoe isn’t either.

        By the way, how DO creationists behave…because I don’t think I once said that I don’t believe in evolution. I’m simply arguing that Dr.Rocoe’s text is full of factual information regarding evolution proving that she ISN’T a creationist.

        Wow…are you accusing me of not using a real name? Now that’s just insulting. Look me up.

        1. All I see is “Gemini”. For a moment, I saw “Ranjit” in the comment/reply quick window. It is now gone, and replaced with “Gemini”. It’s possible that it is my browser. Or perhaps WordPress is acting up.

          In any event, creationists have a weird habit of dodging questions, getting defensive, and throwing caps around for the hell of it. There. I directly answered one of your questions.

          I do see quite a few publications attributed to a Wendi A Roscoe out there. Is the information here accurate? (incl. the pic?)

          Really, I’m not trying to piss you off. From here, it just looks like you’re ranting. Are you taking the course? You live in London? Tell us about it. I can’t see a damned thing about you from your login.

          1. If you think that I’m going to share more information about myself on the internet especially to an old man from Colorado or wherever, then you’re insane.

            AnY ONe CaN TAlK LiKE tHis iT dOES NoT mEAn THey’RE CreAtIonISTS. Stop assuming things, you’re just make an “ASS” out of “U” and me 😉
            For the last time, I am not a creationist. You can’t say anything about me.

            fyi I don’t think ranting means telling people on the internet to stop being rude and accusing things.

            1. This is the third name you have used: Gemini, w.e.ThefflWantMyName, and Ranjit. You are banned for sockpuppeting, and I suspect you’re friends of the author. At any rate, you’ll never post here again.

              1. I took a little time out to investigate what was available online regarding this book. All I could find was a list of terminology (& flashcards) with nothing to raise an eyebrow, really. That, plus a blurb for the book extolling its $150 praises. Nothing out of the ordinary. oh… and an errata that is now running at a couple of pages some 15-20 entries) since last month. Of course, the errata does not address the egregious paragraph in question.

                Pretty funny that a 5-star Amazon review has popped up tonight, with the reviewer “Jim B.” (who has only previously reviewed a pocket knife a few weeks ago) saying simply: “As expected”. That’s some ringing endorsement for the best damned human health sciences textbook ever written. 😉

              2. “This is the third name you have used: ”

                The fourth, I rather suspect. Doesn’t ‘Gmoney’ _sound_ very much like
                ‘Gemini’ ? 😉


  25. I am Wendi Roscoe the author of Human Biology, Anatomy and Physiology for the Health Sciences. I’m writing in response to these posts.

    I very much struggled with the introductory paragraph in my textbook cited in your blog about how I positioned Evolution in my chapter 7. When I was writing this, it saddened me greatly to admit that there are still millions of people in the world who still refute the concept/theory of Evolution. I have had a number of International students in my class over the years that have had an issue with this topic and I merely wanted to decrease their resistance to the information I present in the rest of my chapter/course.

    Mr. Coyne I know you must also share my sentiment on this otherwise you wouldn’t have been motivated to write this; we both have the same view. I included all the major topics of micro and macroevolution in my chapter that you talked about. Perhaps it would be beneficial if you read my whole chapter before posting your blog.

    I am sure my publisher could send you a copy of my textbook so that you could see all of the content in chapter 7 about evolution that includes – microevolution, genetic variation, natural selection, Lamarck, antibiotic resistance, artificial selection, Darwin’s finches, rate of evolution, fossils, the anatomical record, with images of hominid skulls, the human timeline from Australopithecus 7 million years ago, homologous molecules, and population genetics, types of selection including DNA mutations, genetic drift, migration etc.

    I thank you and other academics and students for looking at my book and providing feedback. As an academic I believe very strongly in the value of peer review so I appreciate any and all feedback I receive.
    Dr. Wendi Roscoe HBSc, MSc, BEd, PHd

    1. I’d be glad to look at the book if you ask your publisher to send it to me. As I said, I didn’t have the whole chapter, just the intro. But, as you can see from my post, that introduction is deeply, deeply misleading, and if you have any desire to convey an accurate view of the field in that summary, it simply MUST be changed. I gather you did write it rather than somebody else, but it’s really quite erroneous and misleads students in a number of ways. Even if the rest of the content is fine, I would urge you to rewrite that summary so it doesn’t sound like a creationist wrote it.

      If you want feedback, you’ve gotten some good feedback; and my strong advice is to rewrite that introduction pronto! As it stands now, it’s just wrong.

      1. The sentence you are talking about is being removed from the ebook as we speak and will also be removed from the hard copy in the next printing (this winter). And yes, I see this as good information for me going forward. If you would like a copy of the whole book I will ask them to send you a copy, email me and let me know the address to send it to.

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