A.C. Grayling: “Teach the Controversy”

Philosopher A.C. Grayling explains why “Teaching the Controversy” isn’t a good approach to science education, whether it’s regarding Evolution, Astronomy or Medicine.

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Comment (617)

  1. @coolazice I would have to disagree with the assertion that we must test every single fact in existence on our own. This is the goal of science: to make it so that others may do the work of testing, and that the knowledge they take away from those tests can be passed on without others having to do all the work.

    Understand that I am NOT saying I simply trust them at their word. I trust the scientific method, which includes massive peer reviews bombarding the idea. If it holds, it is good.

  2. @hdregmore

    Is asking for evidence from religion rubbish? And which religion is to be believed? I guess you don't see the problem.

  3. @gerontodon So far Neo-Darwinian evolution seems to be going from strength to strength, possibly because all the alternative theories are silly.

  4. I love how people state that there is a controversy between evolution and creation. No, no there's not. There's just ignorant people sticking their fingers in their ears and covering their eyes whenever presented with evidence.

    One has piles and piles and piles of evidence, the other has a book that contradicts itself repeatedly and has absolutely 0 contemporary sources to back it up as well as flies in the face of all evidence we have found.

  5. @ricePilaf1984, I am NEVER tired of "atheist tactics". you know like pretending truths are lies and lies are truths. I really enjoy that "tactic" the most. LOL

  6. @pacohshit1969, you sound like a "typical" atheist douchebag, which means you evolved from scumbag, so yeah there's something to darwinian imbecility. LOL

  7. @dogmcloud555, LOL do you have a hatchet sticking out of your head? Go look in the mirror quick, I'll wait………. Is there? Cause if there is, that would explain a LOT! LOL

  8. @pacohshit1969, your comments are douchey, delete them. HURRY! The American education system is controlled by marxists, that's why it's seems it's "turned on it's head". you're not very bright are you? Geez, I'm asking you……. LOL

  9. @pacohlies1969, Why do atheists pretend so much? The "scumbag" and "douchebag" in this particular post I authored are a play on words. you started out as a "scumbag" and you are now a "douchebag" suggesting that this is a form of "evolution". LOL douche

  10. Based on the theistic definition of "teaching the controversy", would that mean that churches would have to give equal time to evolution as well?

  11. It really pisses me off that he says "In the United States of America, and some other places in the world, too…" Excuse me? WE get named explicitly, but every other country with a significant percentage of evolution deniers get lumped into a fast footnote? There are MANY countries with large numbers of Creationists, so don't just bash the U.S. Typical Brit. Would call us self-important if we put ourselves first, but has no problem doing that for us when it's negative.

  12. @Sheldonwh That's because the U.S is the largest and most prominent of nations in the 'western civilised world' to still hold quite strong suspicions and negative views at a governmental level of teaching evolution as fact in schools, being an American yourself, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it's a fiercely debated topic in your country at the moment. He's giving an example, you can't expect him to list every country, why get so worked up over it? P.S 'Typical Brit' sounds ignorant…

  13. @HarrisJamesBen Oh, so the fact that we're "the largest" makes us more important? Does that only apply when it's a negative comment, or are we allowed to carry that over into other areas? The next time someone complains that we get too much attention on the world stage, be sure and remind them that we're "the largest and most porminent of nations in the 'western civilized world." And by the way, saying "civilized world" sounds ignorant.

  14. @Sheldonwh Haha, yes of course the fact that you're the largest is important! You're a huge country with a huge population of people, many of whom are still sceptical about theories such as evolution that are now considered fact amongst most people, don't get me wrong there are people with that belief in every country but it is still unusually high in the U.S,of course the fact you're the biggest is important?! Also, the term civilised world is not ignorant, it's a commonly used and fair term.

  15. @Sheldonwh I'm sure the naming of the US had nothing to do with the failed attempt to get ID taught as an equally valid biological grounding for school children as evolutionary theory in a certain school in a certain state in a certain country… 😉

  16. @lorditsnimr0d, what's "totally obvious" dude, is that, like, dude…… ok, dude like what's obvious, no wait, "totally obvious", what's like "totally obvious" is that you "kids" don't seem to know the difference between "NOT teaching the Controversy" and censorship. sigh

  17. @me, I should rephrase that to say, you "kids" don't seem to notice the SIMILARITY between "NOT teaching the Controversy" and censorship. sigh

  18. Basically speaking, this graylin fella is dishonest.

    he's doing a simple bureaucratic maneuver and "classifying" something as something else, therefore omitting it from discussion. Dishonest and cowardly, Oh Wait! I always say that "atheism was created to encourage stupidity, DISHONESTY, COWARDICE and sexual deviancy." OMG was I right or what?! LOL

  19. @malithe00 "I always say that "atheism was created to encourage stupidity, DISHONESTY, COWARDICE and sexual deviancy."

    Imagine that, using sexuality to demonize your opponent. That's so unlike your kind! Dishonesty? A stretch to say the least. Cowardice? He's part of the minority. But I think we should teach the controversy, then small brains will be marginalized. And for the record censorship when it comes to evidence could hardly be adjudicated by one that doesn't understand it.

  20. @lorditsnimr0dagain, what pure stupidity. remember douchey it was the academics who said the earth was flat, that leaches can cure sickness, that mercury is beneficial to health. LOL

  21. I think we absolutely should teach the creationism vs evolution controversy. However since the controversy is political – there is no controversy among scientists except a lunatic fringe – it should be taught In social studies or maybe political science. There might be a place for it in psychology class. Anyplace but biology.

  22. @1EpicLulz Even from the stand point of evolution the world would have been populated my a single male and a single female, being that they were the first of their kind.

  23. @1EpicLulz oh and on the subject of "mother fuckers" Cain's wife was not his mother. If you read further you would know where Cain's wife came from.

  24. @1EpicLulz the book doesn't go into detail on excatly who Cain's wife is but it also doesn't take much to figure out that if you read a little more, more is revealed.

    the idea is only absurd now, the bible tells us the world started perfect, meaning marring your sister was safe. then over the generations the corruption of the world caused anomalous in the human body, God in which forbade the marring of relations, (it was not long after the flood thing)

  25. Darwin's 'On the Origin of species' etc can be read free at Project Gutenberg org. For more on science & nature try books by top scientists Richard Dawkins, ' Unweaving the rainbow ' & ' The greatest show on earth ' & PZ Meyers , Victor Stenger, website Talkorigins, Try John C. Lennox V Peter Atikins debate on youtube. Also on Youtube BonoboBill, evidence of common ancestry: human chromosome 2. Also Ken Miller on Pariskillton. Also try reading about endogenous retrovirus & provirus.

  26. It's funny, but the first proponent to my knowledge of "teach the controversy" was Bertrand Russell: he propunded in one of his essays (I think it was in the "Why I am not a Christian" collection) that academic freedom was very important, beliefs or disbeliefs should be no impediment to capacity to teach and judges should not determine constitutes an appropriate academic subject (relevant to Scopes, no?). I don't remember the topic, but he said given the evidence, students decide.

  27. …………but what about storks bringing babies? Surely we should teach that the storks bring babies !!!! OK well at least teach the controversy that storks bring babies !!!

  28. @pacoh1969 I find it quite disgusting that you liken anti-intellectualism with "gun-carrying". Respecting the constitution, excercising your rights, and carrying guns has nothing whatsoever to do with the fraud that is intelligent design or any of its appologetic theories. If we're to win this debate we're going to have to win it on the merits. Whatever prejudice or feeling you have on guns is irrelevant, and if you incorporate it with your position, you'll have lost my support.

  29. The atheist argument about teaching kids about church is so stupid. Parents teach kids about personal hygiene too! Do you want people to find out for themselves about washing and brushing as well as where and where-not to defecate? you think food-fights are bad???

  30. You must be very young and very immature considering how you use retarded as a derogative, and obviously unable to read because you obviously haven't seen the hundreds of child molestation cases by priests.

  31. This makes sense to anyone who has been "educated" already and that applies to me. I didn't realize there was a problem in education until recently – there certainly is no such problem in Britain as far as I know. My RE teacher didn't preach at us, just told us stuff like in a history lesson. However, I understand some countries have yet to grow up, like the USA.

  32. Get a good copy Origin Of Species from the creationists–just ignore the 20 or so pages of creationist guff in the new intro. 🙂 Nice copy apart from that.

  33. Many are terrified to even question the belief that has been drilled into their heads by their parents. Religion is a form of mental enslavement, which is one reason why I think our society may value the parents' influence on child way to much. These kids are not given the chance to be able to choose the logical path.

  34. before you go so far as to compare this to other subjects it is already hypocritical because there is a demand to teach the christian opinion.

    what about other views?

    shouldnt the hindu version of our universe being on the back of a giant space turtle also be represented?

  35. "for when you look in the mirror." ???

    How oft I've been neglectful of such. For it is without purpose that I continue so. Whence this comment, it's origins not known by me, further displays such intrigue or character. Ponder not further, for I shall neither continue.

    PS about "mirrors" go look in yours and see if you got a hatchet stickin' out of your head, cause it would 'splain much Lucy! LOL douche

  36. Are you suggesting that the opinions of religious groups other than your own are merely ignorance and lies?
    Because that is likely what they think of your religious world views.

    Want to teach the controversy (even though there isn't any and what you want to teach isn't science)
    How about we teach the history controversy and give the holocaust deniers as much time and representation as real history?

  37. So you have no legitimate evidence or reason to back up your point or to prove what I'm saying wrong then.

    Thank you for admitting that in the only way that you know how, through childish name calling and admitting your racist beliefs.

  38. In America, the democrats are the child molesters. The democrat party encourages child molestation as well as gay and lesbian sodomy. The democrats/liberals/leftists who are destroying family.
    They actually took a blood oath to destroy the family and marriage.

    THEN… only democrats working for the govt. will have wealth and intact families.

  39. ur comments are academically imbecilic. your idiocy is paramount to your base urges for other boys. Tell me about piltdown man again……. Oh erudite one LOL

  40. to a large extent this is true, but to teach science you must teach the history of science.  you must show how the scientific theories evolved.  of cause the most important lesson to teach is how to learn.

  41. I usually respond to that with two points, "Yes we can teach kids that noone has seen any evidence for any gods in the entire known universe apart from stories that people made up, but if you really want us to teach kids the controversy we could."
    and "You can't disprove something that has no proof, just as you can't kill something that's already dead. The god hypothesis is already dead, it's already disproven. Of course we can't disprove it."

  42. These people Richard Dawkins A.C Grayling and all these other self defining 'academics'  and atheists are just the most awful people. All they do is sit around congratulating themselves about how clever they think they are and endlessly attacking people's beliefs. 

  43. Malithe00 you are a typical example of why religion should 1) never be taught as truth, mainly to children 2) never be given to anyone as response to "how" questions. You are buried far too deep into your convictions, as a human you have been wasted by religion. 

  44. Perfect – thank you! In fact, there is no controversy. Unfounded superstition is not a valid competitor with intellectually honest scientific inquiry.

  45. There shouldn't be a controversy. Schools should stick to teaching facts. Since religion doesn't meet those standards then the notion of creationism shouldn't even be entertained, let alone seriously considered for school curriculum. 

  46. pacoh1969 is a douchebag who triumphantly shows his lack of intellect and logic and then proudly admits he has no logic because he can't figure out why I have a YT channel. I must've been right, way back when, I said it must be "cool" being a douchebag where you're from, must be… LOL

  47. I think more to the point is that what do you leave out if you allow 'alternative' explanations in.
    Much better to school people in currently proven methods and also teach those methods for determining the best outcomes(otherwise know as the scientific method). Then let children discover, for themselves, whether astrology or 'intelligent design' have any merit.

    As a final point also teach the arts – as a graduate with a science degree, and 'non-believer', I am looking forward with anticipation to attending a recital of the St Matthew Passion in Kings College next month – emotions and the imagination are vital with regards to being human. 

  48. At school we learn that 2+2=4.  We do not debate this fact no matter how skillfully someone tries to argue that it is only an opinion and that all opinions are equally valid; they are not. Some things are demonstrable and some things are not.  2=2=4 is demonstrable.  Evolution by Natural Selection is demonstrable, Invisible sky pixies poofing everything into existence by magic is not. 

  49. well I believe that all things should be presented…then let us come up with our own conclusions without too much authority swaying us on either side…perhaps upon all the piles of thoughts a new way of thinking will emerge that will raise the bar from where we are at even now!  I like your perspective a lot but it is just another perspective

  50. Grayling's advice fails in one critical area of scientific study: the controversy of possible genetic contributions to differences in intelligence and behavior between human races.

    It seems to be automatically assumed even amongst many scientists as well as the general public that any mean race differences in life outcomes e.g. blacks performing more poorly than whites academically must be due 100% to environmental causes.

    Any dissenting view that includes possible genetic causes is automatically shutdown, nearly always accompanied by ad hominem attacks. This is the very "institutionalization of views" Grayling describes.

    This is despite the fact that there is actually a rather large body of evidence (i.e. peer reviewed and published in decent quality journals) suggesting genes contribute to racial differences in intelligence.

    A good example is this review paper:
    (If anyone can find a better review paper, please link)

    There are also some decent books out the which, while not peer reviewed themselves, are excellent gateways to more literature e.g.:




    Anyone who thinks racial differences in intelligence and behavior is an open and shut case of environmental causes only has a lot of learning ahead of them.

    So this critical field of science requires the opposite of what Grayling suggests: this controversy does need to be taught – and resolved.

  51. I disagree. They should teach the controversy and why creationism is bunk. They should teach how science works and use creationism as an example of how not to do science. Failures are often educational. The video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is shown to engineers to point out how not to make a bridge.

  52. Or, as Professor Dawkins himself says, would creationists teach kids not only the sex theory of where babies come from, but the stork theory as well?

  53. You say that the theory of evolution is "science", but I have studied more than fifty books about the origin of life in the last twenty years and have not found a scientific demonstration of theories taught as dogmas of faith in school textbooks. Is the theory of evolution really scientific? The books I have studied were written by Lazcano-Araujo, Oparin, Haldane, Asimov, Richard E. Dickerson, and many other well known scientists.


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