A group of 30 South Korean evolutionary scientists and palaeontologists has released a statement condemning a successful campaign by the creationist group Society for Textbook Reform (STR) to remove some examples of evolution from high-school biology textbooks
According to the scientists, the STR petition contained so much unverified data, intentional distortion and biased quotes that it would not normally be worth their time to engage with, but because it had been successful, they felt they had no choice but to make an official response.
Updated: Gord Sellar expands on the subject and offers an explanation.
Someone on Facebook linked to this article about the teaching of evolution in Korea. Apparently, two icons of evolution will be removed from the updated textbooks: Archaeopteryx (spelled it right on my first try!) and the series of horse transitional fossils.
The article claims that the move is due to pressure from a Christian organization and the article tries to show how the education of evolution is being diminished, but also explains that the series of whale transitional fossils will be added so I am not sure how much of a difference there is.
It seems that Haeckel’s phylogeny recapitulation theory is included in current textbooks (and has long been known to be false) and will be removed in the new books. I wonder about this claim: Haeckel used diagrams of featae ( what is the plural of ‘fetus’) and deliberately drew them looking more similar than they actually were. On the other hand, modern texts -for reasons other than the recapitulation theory- often use photos so the the similarities shown are actual and relevant to the discussion on their own merits.
A day after reading about evolution education, I noted a Nature article about a research institute being considered in Korea. An excerpt:
The government last year enacted a law to develop a project called the International Science and Business Belt (ISBB), of which the IBS is one of the main initiatives. The ISBB project will have 5.17 trillion won (US$4.4 billion) until 2017 to run the IBS and build the nation’s first rare-isotope accelerator, among other projects.
The IBS plans to attract 3,000 researchers and staff members to 50 research centres in Daejeon and around the country. Each centre will have an average annual budget of 10 billion won, and will be directed by a world-class scientist, employed on a 10-year contract. The directors will be given a great deal of autonomy to decide on a research focus, recruit staff and run their centres.