Updated again: Ask A Korean has looked into the changes and feels, as Gord Sellar does (below), that the changes are more cosmetic or for purposes of updating the texts.
The group that represents these creationists, called Society for Textbook Revise (STR), has attempted to attack the references to evolution in Korean science textbooks in any manner possible.
What STR did manage to pull off with three textbook publishers was this: STR convinced those publishers that two diagrams in their books — one about the evolution of horses, and the other about archeopteryx — and the text accompanying them were scientifically incorrect. Notice the claim here: the claim was not that the diagrams were against creationism. The claim was that the diagrams were scientifically incorrect.
Conflict between pro- and anti-evolutionists has escalated half a year since several major publishers were approached by a local organization to delete or revise examples explaining the process of evolution from science textbooks for high school students.
In turn, the dormant evolutionists and biologists here have mobilized. On Wednesday, academics and researchers from the Paleontological Society of Korea and five other scientific associations gathered for the first meeting of the Committee to Promote Evolution to debate the issue in question, which is whether or not the archaeopteryx, a prehistoric bird from the Jurassic Period, was a transitional species between reptiles and birds.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about changes to Biology Textbooks in Korea. At the time, I was of the opinion that the changes were merely updates: one example of evolutionary change being replaced by another.
Gord Sellar recently wrote about the changes and earlier errors – were at least partially the result of conservatism among the publishers. The industry receives five-year contracts and if a publisher has won such a contract, it won’t want to make any changes beyond what is required.
The problem, as a friend explained Miss Jiwaku, is that a lot of Korean biology textbooks have outdated material when it comes to evolutionary theory; the explanation of horse evolution was so old that it had actually been badly needing updating. This, of course, is a deadly situation when you have religious nuts around fighting a holy war against science.
So they struck. Sometimes it’s embarrassing how ignorantists can be so coordinated, so organized, so clever about this stuff.
…[big ellipsis here]…
textbook companies normally do not take risks when it comes to content and their potential inclusion on the Ministry of Education’s textbook lists for public schools. They are, indeed, so risk-averse that they will publish outdated material just to avoid being left off the list. This is because exclusion from the list means a loss of billions of won (ie. millions of dollars) of revenue
Well, this morning, my Google Newsreader was full of international attention to the subject.
The Friendly Atheist:
The National Center for Science Education isn’t surprised by the move — acceptance of evolution in the country is relatively low compared to other countries… (excluding the U.S., because we’re full of science denialists)
The Sensuous Curmudgeon (quoting from Nature) (SC added the bolding):
The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.
The relationship between Korea and the journal Nature is an interesting one. I wonder which report is more embarrassing for Korea: This or the Hwang Woo-seok cloning scandal?