Evolution Fight Roils Texas Textbook Debate

One of the difficulties of getting “good” textbooks or even “accurate” textbooks into schools is that someone has to decide what “good” or “accurate” means and apply that standard. Unfortunately, the people tasked with deciding often don’t use a functional standard or have the expertise to assess a textbook’s accuracy.

One solution might be to defer to relevant experts, but what do you do when there’s no group of biologists who spend many hours fact-checking textbooks because they have biology to do? And to what extent do we tolerate factual errors because we understand that the body of scientific knowledge is always changing and a static textbook is inevitably going to contain inaccurate information?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that we may want to stop using textbooks entirely outside of elementary schools. Given the research tools available today and the increasing need to use them in many facets of life, let’s increasingly get children in the habit of researching and learning rather than reading and regurgitating.


After a contentious late-night meeting, the Texas State Board of Education on Thursday declined to approve the use of a biology textbook due to concerns about what some say are 20 factual errors, many of which pertain to evolution.

The textbook will now be scrutinized by a panel of three outside experts, the Associated Press reports. Texas’ textbooks decisions often determine which textbooks are sold nationally because of its large population.

The textbook was reviewed by a committee of volunteers over the summer, some of  whom raised objections over entries about how long it took the Earth to cool from a molten state, and to lessons about natural selection, arguing that “selection operates as a selective but not a creative force.”

“To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago…

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