A short letter in this week’s Science echoes a point I made in my last article: lying to students will not win them over to your cause. It’s what will eventually lead to the defeat of creationism, which prompts them to lie ever more in order to drown out that damning evidence.
I was always a mediocre student, especially in high school. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and nothing seemed to excite me. This changed in my senior year, when a creationist visited my biology class.
On that fateful day, all the science students were herded into the school auditorium, where we listened to a long and richly illustrated lecture describing literal creationism. We were informed that in an effort to “balance” our education, we would soon hear an equally long lecture on evolution. This, like many things I heard that day, turned out to be false. The evolution lecture never materialized. Remarkably, I graduated from senior biology having learned only about creationism.
School had finally gotten my full attention. I wanted to know what we were missing, and why. For the first time in my life, I willingly (eagerly even) picked up my textbook and studiously read it. With growing interest, I realized that evolution made an awful lot of sense, and that I was being hoodwinked by my biology class.
It’s hard to overestimate the appeal of rebelling against the system to a teenaged boy, and that day marked the beginning of my path to a career in evolutionary biology. We learned other things in science class that year, too–for example, that all actions have an opposite reaction. For at least one sulky teenager in the small town of Owen Sound, Ontario, it took a creationist to make him into an evolutionary biologist.
Keeling P (2009) Creationists Made Me Do It. Science 325(5943):945.