Study Finds Glaring Bloopers in Proposed Texas Science Curricula

Austin, TX—According to a study released today by the non-profit Discovery Institute, bogus embryo drawings, long-debunked claims about tonsils, and outdated information from a 1950s lab experiment highlight the glaring bloopers found in proposed science curricula currently being considered by the Texas State Board of Education.

“Retro-science must be in, because the proposed curricula are filled with outdated scientific claims,” said Casey Luskin, a policy and education analyst with Discovery Institute. “It’s truly amazing how much discredited information keeps getting recycled year after year.”

In order to satisfy state educational standards set in 2009 (TEKS), the Board of Education asked publishers to submit supplementary curricula that would enable students to “analyze and evaluate” core aspects of evolutionary theory, and to “examin[e] all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking.” But according to Discovery Institute‘s 70-page study, only one curriculum out of the 10 evaluated managed to comply with the TEKS as well as avoid glaring scientific errors.

Top science bloopers in the proposed curricula include:

  • erroneous statements that the 1950s Miller-Urey origin of life experiment produced amino acids under conditions that accurately simulated the early earth;
  • long-discredited claims that the appendix, tonsils, and other organs are non-functional “vestigial” organs left over from a blind evolutionary process. In fact, these organs are now recognized by scientists to serve important biological functions;
  • fraudulent embryo drawings originating with nineteenth-century German racist Ernst Haeckel that are used to claim that vertebrate embryos are the same at the earliest stages of development (not true).

“They’re back!! Haeckel’s bogus drawings were previously removed by the Texas State Board of Education during the 2003 biology textbook adoption process,” said Dr. John West, a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute. “But like creatures in a zombie film, they keep returning.”

“In addition to promoting outdated science, most of the proposed curricula completely fail to meet the TEKS critical thinking requirements,” said Luskin. “The TEKS require curricula that will help students examine ‘all sides of scientific evidence,’ ‘encourage critical thinking,’ and ‘analyze and evaluate’ key claims of modern evolutionary theory. But out of the ten curricula we reviewed, only one made a serious effort to meet these requirements,” said Luskin.

For more information and to download a copy of the study go to Evolution News and Views.

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.