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June 5, 2012 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Soo Bin Park in Nature has reported that South Korean highschool textbook publishers will be removing examples of evolution due to demands of creationist groups

The main examples being removed are the avian ancestor Archaeopteryx as well as the evolution of the horse. According to Nature, The Society for Textbook Revise (STR) led the campaign to remove the "error" and "correct" students' world view. Biologists and other scientists claim that they weren't informed beforehand and some believe that these creationist movements are exploiting these examples to further their own agendas against evolution.

KoreaBANG mentions that while some publishers have simply removed the examples, others have instead replaced the current examples with those of whale evolution. One of the biggest criticisms is that textbook writers have neglected adding research for decades.

The Center for Science Education writes that the Korean scientific community is now organising a campaign to counter the creationist movement.

Both the Center for Science Education and Nature suggest that support for creationism is quite high in South Korea and the evolutionary theory faces strong antipathy.
posted by Knigel (59 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, there are SO many Christians in Korea, and coupled with a deep-seated social conservatism, that spells... well, what we're seeing here, for one thing. I'm glad that Japan was historically so hostile to Christian missionary work, so that the religion could never gain any kind of strong foothold here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 PM on June 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, dinosaurs went extinct because they left their giant prehistoric electric fans on overnight. Science!
posted by milquetoast at 5:06 PM on June 5, 2012 [56 favorites]


It was as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced as they realized it wasn't them for once.
posted by Seiten Taisei at 5:08 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Milqutoast, I would really like it if every time U.S. creationism movements were mentioned that someone would post one of the common misconceptions U.S. Americans tend to have.

"Creationism in the U.S.? Well of course! They only use 10% of their brains ㅋㅋㅋ~"
posted by Knigel at 5:10 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is the "people only use 10% of the brain" belief very U.S specific? I'd be curious to know if MeFites from other countries have heard it.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, a survey of trainee teachers in the country concluded that religious belief was not a strong determinant of their acceptance of evolution. It also found that 40% of biology teachers agreed with the statement that “much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs”; and half disagreed that “modern humans are the product of evolutionary processes”.
I find this most interesting. It seems there is a deeper reason for rejecting evolution. I wonder if there is something cultural about it? It's also odd that so many people have gotten hold of the thought that evolution is somehow scientifically controversial or contentious. I'm under the impression that among scientists the overall truth of evolution is pretty much a settled thing
posted by Jehan at 5:15 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that Japan was historically so hostile to Christian missionary work, so that the religion could never gain any kind of strong foothold here.

Eh, murder and genocide don't really get me excited. The Koreans never had a Musashi, but other than that they were similarly hostile. There would be many more Christians in Japan today if Musashi had not been so deadly.
posted by michaelh at 5:16 PM on June 5, 2012


benito.strauss, I was just short-cutting. The point is that *every* country has it's misconceptions, but every time South Korea is mentioned, someone brings up fan death right away. It's a tired and old stereotype. There's a lot of truth to it, but it is over used and not representative (even though it *is* quite common).
posted by Knigel at 5:19 PM on June 5, 2012


[If you have, possibly, missed the long ass MetaTalk thread talking about religion and how we talk about it here on MetaFilter, I invite you to please saunter over and talk with us there. It's almost 600 comments long. That is where you go talk about policy, not here. Also, maybe try to not make racist sounding remarks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:34 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I apologize for my culturally insensitive remark, Knigel. Please put it down to yet another dimwitted American's crude and facile understanding of the world around him. Feel free to make jokes about hamburgers or interstate highways or Kennedys at my expense.
posted by milquetoast at 5:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the downsides of being a long-term expat is that you not only have the pleasure of being embarrassed for your own country (fuck you Stephen Harper), but also for your adopted country.

There's a presidential election this fall here in Korea. Only one 5-year term is permitted, so Lee Myung Bak will be out on his ass, and with any luck, the next scoundrel won't be another Christian. In which case, the Stupidity Pendulum may well swing back.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:59 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm with flapjax on this one. One thing that Japan doesn't have to work through is the religious belief of any one group, no matter how large, needing to impact the country as a whole. There is plenty that needs to be addressed here, for rampant discrimination (sex, age, race, you name it), and clearly textbooks here are altered (for political reasons), but at least we don't have to deal with anti-science, anti-reason nonsense. I'm sorry to see that this mania has infected another, presumably rational country.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:00 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm glad that Japan was historically so hostile to Christian missionary work, so that the religion could never gain any kind of strong foothold here.

Eh, murder and genocide don't really get me excited. The Koreans never had a Musashi, but other than that they were similarly hostile. There would be many more Christians in Japan today if Musashi had not been so deadly.


Because Christians have always acted so nicely over the years. Murder & Genocide never, oh unless you count the crusades, but that was a long time ago so who's counting.

Why do they think it's acceptable to goto a different country and preach their rubbish, would a dominant christian country be overly happy if Shinto monks came from Japan and said sorry your relgion is rubbish follow mine.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 6:03 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stavros, I'm another Canadian living in South Korea, and you are absolutely correct. No matter what, I'm always embarrassed. People always say "if you don't like it, leave", but now where am I supposed to go?

After the MBC racist news, I wanted to leave, but going back to Canada? I'll at least wait for an election.
posted by Knigel at 6:08 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm glad that Japan was historically so hostile to Christian missionary work, so that the religion could never gain any kind of strong foothold here.
I thought that Japan's hostility to Christian missionary work was precisely because the religion was gaining a strong foothold there in the sixteenth century. According to Wikipedia, Christianity is "the fastest growing religion among Japanese youth." And while that may not mean much (if religion in general is unpopular among the Japanese youth) "While Christians account only for 1% of the population, there have been seven Christian Prime Ministers in Japan."
posted by b1tr0t at 6:15 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have thought that Koreans would be quite accepting of evolution, given their familiarity with how the Zerg evolve...
posted by xdvesper at 6:21 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


From the NCSE link:
Ronald L. Numbers described the country as "the creationist powerhouse" in Asia. And acceptance of evolution is comparatively low: 64% of South Koreans agreed with "human beings are developed from earlier species of animals" in 2002, as compared to 44% of respondents in the United States in 2004, 70% of respondents in China in 2001, and 78% of respondents in Japan in 2001.
A powerhouse in Asia, perhaps, but I'm glad to see the good ole USA still on top (bottom?).

On a non-sarcastic note, this is disappointing news, but perhaps science education defenders may have a more tractable position in South Korea than in the US if attitudes are different and there's a chance for political changes as stavros says?
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:26 PM on June 5, 2012


Without getting into the controversial part of the discussion, whale evolution is incredibly interesting, and one of the best/easiest ways to present evolution to doubters and/or students. Look, this Right whale has a TIBIA!
posted by Huck500 at 6:28 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, let's just get them out of the way:

Fan death, Starcraft, kimchee, Soju, Taekwondo...

Any more? Or can we move beyond the superficial aspects of a diverse culture?
posted by Knigel at 6:28 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


b1tr0t, you are correct. My (western) understanding is that Christianity threatened to interfere with the shogunate's power structure. Confucianism was a better fit since it could be used to enforce the class barriers that helped maintain the dictatorship.
posted by Vysharra at 6:33 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm not wholly surprised by this. The most popular brands of Christianity in Korea are incredibly strong, and seem not overly concerned with evolution. I've got a Korean friend - here! In Australia! 30 years old! - who told me she didn't believe in evolution.

After some more conversation it was clearly more the result of ignorance than a deep-seated position, but the exposure to these ideas she got through her church were deliberately misleading and wrong, and she had never really thought to question them because she just didn't care that much. Don't get me started on the cognitive dissonance she has going on with our gay friends...
posted by smoke at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2012


Well, in 10 years, South Korea will suffer the consequences. Their students will lag in science education and some of their science industries will find themselves operating from misconceptions, which will directly impact their economy. The country, which has until this point placed a very high value on education, and has a very strong competitive streak when it comes to education, will find themselves economically falling behind countries who embrace scientific principles.

What a neat example of evolution and survival of the fittest in action.
posted by zarq at 6:48 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any more? Or can we move beyond the superficial aspects of a diverse culture?

Honestly, I think everyone pretty much viewed the comment as a toss-away joke, and did not think that fan-death was the single defining aspect of Korean culture. You're kinda the one drawing attention to it. But you're in a great position to help us understand what the story is in Korea. I'd love to hear, based on your experiences interacting with Koreans, why you think this is happening.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:55 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Their students will lag in science education and some of their science industries will find themselves operating from misconceptions, which will directly impact their economy

Completely mistaken here zarq. Not because of the evolution stuff I mean, but rather because SK sends all of its students here for education. Seriously. The SK government will pay all the bills for any south korean grad student or post doc that an american prof will take. There's this rather famous prof I knew that had 50+ people in his group, but was only paying for 10 or so himself.

And where exactly do you think they take the knowledge when they leave?
posted by Chekhovian at 7:09 PM on June 5, 2012


I find some amusement in milquetoast's apology basically saying, "I'm sorry for my crude national stereotype. Please accept this crude national stereotype instead."
posted by Winnemac at 7:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


benito.strauss, yeah, it's a toss away joke. It's also annoying because it's tired and old. Every single one has already been made over on Reddit. I'm drawing attention to it here because I have higher standards on Metafilter and I think criticism is warranted. I suspect that by indicating my displeasure, some people might have second thoughts before posting similar comments in the future. It can be taken as a toss-away joke, but jokes are often used either intentionally or unintentionally to "other" people and cultures. For one thing, it undermines the Korean scientific communities or other rational thinkers fighting against these situations.

Again, it's like people saying "lol hamburgers" in *every* single post about the U.S. To Koreans, or people more involved in Korean culture, these comments get abrasive.

As for my insights about what's happening in Korea:

I have daily conversations with many people of many ages here. Many of my Korean friends are advocates of intelligent design and creationism. I speak to many Buddhists, Christians, and even Jehovah Witnesses. My conversations tend to go deeper than simple causal or superficial discourse. I try to dig deep while also being as polite as possible. One difficulty is the language barrier, but it usually doesn't get in the way. It's difficult to sum up this situation, but to keep it simple, I'd say that Christianity in South Korea is unique because it is a mix of Western influences, but at the same time most Christian Koreans also practice many Confucian philosophies in their daily lives. Christian in the Church, Confucian at home.

Most importantly, I find, is that with Korean conformity, many Christians are Christian because it is a large trend instead of actually believing much of what the Bible says. Through most of my discussions, most Christians haven't actually read much of the bible and instead tend to go on what they learn in Church. There is also a strong tendency of the Korean "hivemind" that leads to Koreans becoming outraged by what their church tells them, yet this is often based on a misunderstanding. For example, many of my friends were really upset because "Stephen Hawking said God didn't exist". No one went to read the actual article. These same things could be said of many Christians in other countries, but it leans towards the more extreme here. Generally people are not supposed to make others lose face and criticism is usually frowned upon.

With that said, most of the people I talk to are really open-minded and intelligent. The most admirable aspect I have found is that many of the Christians will listen to what I have to say and consider it well. They will listen to the criticisms that I have, or listen to the information that I provide that counter their views. They will admit their weaknesses and will seek to know more even thought they do not agree outright.

I think that many religious movements here are successful because they are able to bring people together. The collective is incredibly important here. People meet others within a group more than they can meet people as individuals. In Canada, I can go to a party alone and introduce myself; however, the social introductions here in Korea are much more strict. We usually need to be introduced by someone. Moreover, Koreans tend to try very hard not to stand out or alienate the group with whom they associate. I can speak out against my friends, or in a meeting in Canada, but few ever do that here.

If I were going to start my own religion, I think South Korea would be one of the best breeding grounds simply because of how the networks work. People will join, not because they believe me, but because they value a social relationship.

Beyond that, religion and politics are not so separate here. Religious agendas influence many policies. Moreover, Western religions do well because of Korean's tendency of trying to imitate the West (yet usually interpreted in their own way).

To be honest, I don't think that I'm doing this topic justice. This has been my unedited and hasty account. I'm better with specific questions, so if anyone has something they want to know, feel free to shoot me a question and I'll see what I can do.
posted by Knigel at 7:30 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


P.S. I've been here nearly 4 years now.
posted by Knigel at 7:31 PM on June 5, 2012


Is this a Christian creationism? The original Korean creation story is interesting and similar to some of the American Indians stories:

A bear and a tiger, both desiring to become human beings, petition Hwangun ( the son of God). Set the task of shunning sunlight and eating only the food given to them by Hwangun (some mugwort and twenty cloves of garlic), the bear succeeds in earning Hwangun’s approval while the tiger fails to fast, fleeing into the forest. The bear becomes a beautiful woman, Ungyo (bear woman) and becomes the wife of Hwangun. Their son is Tangun, the King of Sandalwood. Tangun becomes the first king of Korea, calling his country choson and ruling for 1500 years. After this time he retreats to Taebak-san to become a mountain god.

This story is far cuter than the "5000 years old Earth" story.
posted by francesca too at 7:57 PM on June 5, 2012


Wow, I'm genuinely shocked that Korea is falling for this religious claptrap. They are leading the world in several life science fields, particularly cloning and stem cell research. Do they really want to be the next United States, actively using the government to turn their kids into ignorant dunces? I hope their scientists prevail, but the way the world is devolving into a fundamentalist cesspool of one flavor or another, I don't envy the struggle in front of them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:58 PM on June 5, 2012


The original Korean creation story is interesting

Psshhaw....

The Hawaiian creation myth is even cooler. Apparently the prior universe blew up or something, then this one formed, which happens periodically. But the slinkly clever octopus snuck over from the old universe into this one, because they're really tricky like that.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:01 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Expat of 10 years in Korea, here:

There's really no long-term concern. Korea may be on a pretty zesty evangelical Christian trip, but the country is also deeply invested (in all senses of the word) in both science and it's own international reputation. This will not last and the next batch of science textbooks will have beefed-up evolution content.

Book it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:02 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chekhovian: "Completely mistaken here zarq"

Shhhhh... you're spoiling my crappy attempt at a witty metaphor. ;)

Good points, all. :)
posted by zarq at 8:02 PM on June 5, 2012


Thanks for your analysis, Knigel. Very interesting.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:19 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to the "gifted" high school in an "inner city" area. My science teachers were fantastic - really amazing people who had a huge impact on my life. They were exceptionally well trained, with grad degrees in their subjects. And this was a very liberal place, so I doubt many in each class were ultra-Christian.

And you know what? In four years of high school (two years of bio classes), they didn't mention evolution once. Because when you have 200 students, no lab equipment, constant behavior problems, vandalism and graffiti all over the classroom, and a significant risk of getting mugged on your way out the door in the evening, you just don't need another problem to deal with. We missed a week here because of a bomb threat, two weeks there because someone actually lit the classroom on fire. One teacher got funding to buy fetal pigs for dissection as our one lab of the semester, but someone broke in and spread the contents of the buckets everywhere, so the classroom smelled of formaldehyde and rot and we couldn't actually do the lesson.

The teachers were struggling just to teach us something in the time we had with them. They couldn't be too picky about what.

I imagine Korean teachers have safe and orderly classrooms so they can, you know, teach. Even if they leave major gaps in the lessons, they're miles ahead of US schools.
posted by miyabo at 8:30 PM on June 5, 2012


Merlin The Happy Pig
The crusades didn't quite work that way. Shinto really doesn't work that way. Indescriminate slaughter of religious minorities is wrong. I have spoken.

The history of Christianity in Korea is quite interesting and distinct from most other places. Missionaries played their part, but it is special in that much of the early following came from locally grown groups that often had an interest in retaining confusion principles in their application of the new religion. As a result you can often find people, even today, talking about the similarities between the teaching of the bible and Wang Yangming or other such confucian scholars. For instance Christ & the Tao.
posted by Winnemac at 8:30 PM on June 5, 2012


Yeah, Joseph Gurl has got it. These things, as with all things educational here in Korea, swing back and forth in the winds of public opinion, while the real systemic problems remain unaddressed. Pretty much the same as anywhere else.

Christians (mostly Protestant of various flavours, a growing number of Catholics (because of the Catholic Church's acceptance of chaesa ancestor-respect ceremonies) comprise about half of the Koreans who admit to religious beliefs. Buddhists are roughly the other half, and there's only a few percentage points total of 'other', although no matter what, there's an underlay of traditional animist thinking and (though I don't consider it a religion, some do) neo-Confucian understandings of the world.

But, and this is a pretty big but, and what makes this news story both surprising and hard to put much credence in, the number of Koreans who profess to having no religion at all is around 50%.

So the number of Christians here, especially the number of vocal, evangelical, pain-in-the-ass types, is really relatively small. They are emboldened, as I suggested earlier, by the outgoing President being a fellow-traveller in godly matters, and probably stirring up shit now because the chances are that the next one might not be, and they'll lose their windbreak.

Christianity here is mostly a social club. There is a hardcore of those godbothered evangelical shouters, certainly, and those are the ones that people in other countries tend to run into, sadly. But the vast majority of Christians here go to church less as an expression of their Vital Faith than they do to hang out with the right people, be seen, make connections. It's a microcosm of the way society works here at large, and, when it comes down to it, it's not all that different than the way churchgoing worked in Canada when I was growing up, and I suspect did in America, too, until things started to go a bit weird and fundamentalist in recent decades, apparently.

So we have at most 20-25% of the country who admit to being Christian, and only a small minority of those are the sorts to push this sort of thing.

So: quite a surprise that something like this might have happened, and, again, it's not going to last. Non-zealot Christian parents, Buddhist parents, and non-religious parents, who altogether comprise probably 85-90% of the parents -- I'm pretty sure they'll make sure science is taught over superstition and fantasy.

I imagine Korean teachers have safe and orderly classrooms so they can, you know, teach. Even if they leave major gaps in the lessons, they're miles ahead of US schools.

That is often so -- although class sizes are rarely less than 60, and rote memorization is the way of it. As I mentioned recently, it is dangerous to place to much weight on semi-informed comments like Obama's recent ones, that paint the Korean primary and secondary education system as something to emulate. In some ways, it may be, but perhaps only if your objective is to build a dystopian world with factories staffed by legions of hard-working, orderly drones.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


the number of Koreans who profess to having no religion at all is around 50%

!!!

So the number of Christians here, especially the number of vocal, evangelical, pain-in-the-ass types, is really relatively small

So why are there like 5 Korean churches in my little American town? And lots of seemingly seriously believing attendees, from the limited sampling I've accidently taken? The serious ones come here maybe?
posted by Chekhovian at 9:43 PM on June 5, 2012


Yeah, as I alluded to, that is the great misconception that people in America or wherever get, because they run into so many of these rabid ultra-Christian Korean types outside of Korea. They aren't really representative of anything but Koreans' tendency to take collective behaviour to extremes, no matter the behaviour in question. There are some like that here, certainly, but it tends to be a very much lower-key affair here -- the whole social club thing I mentioned before.

Also, in terms of the multitude of churches, that's one of those hilarious little things that I love about Korea. They take the Protestant every-believer-a-priest thing very seriously indeed and congregations split into ever smaller and smaller factions through internecine disagreements, which stands in direct opposition to the whole group-focussed mentality that is so often cited as a core mode of Korean life. The profusion of neon crosses on the nightime skyline of any Korean city isn't so much a testament to the penetration of Christian beliefs as it is evidence of how hard they can sometimes find it to get along with each other.

It is the contradictions that keep things interesting, if sometimes bewildering.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: "The profusion of neon crosses on the nightime skyline of any Korean city"

That, and the immense number of wedding dress shops, is one of the first things I notice whenever I go to Korea.
posted by Bugbread at 10:35 PM on June 5, 2012


So after having a chat with some clergy in visits in the UK have more or less convinced me that this sort of a thing is less about religion and more about finding religion, about buying into extreme right-wing propaganda, basically.

This example here is one reason why I keep telling people that the Rise of the Extreme Right (and let's not pretend that having fact-agnostic beliefs in biology, metereology or economics is being 'moderate' about anything) in the US should be cause for concern for everyone elsewhere as well. The dramatic drop in appreciating the anthropogenic nature of climatic change among Anglophone populations has been discussed here before; then there's also the rise of the anti-abortion extremists in the UK.

I'll even say this: It is my considered opinion that the number 1 business model that has been successfully exported from the US to, say, India, is the Fox News model; you now have a situation where every political party in the south (in India, that is) has its own TV news channel, with their own brand of propaganda, bullshit, reactionary wall-to-wall coverage and shouting heads.
posted by the cydonian at 10:42 PM on June 5, 2012


Huh. I guess I was kind of aware of the fact there were a lot of Christians in SK. I mean, there are the moonies. But I never had any idea they had a strong creationist bent. That's just crazy. Isn't S.K. one of the few other non-Muslim countries where circumcision is common, along with the US?
I'm with flapjax on this one. One thing that Japan doesn't have to work through is the religious belief of any one group, no matter how large, needing to impact the country as a whole.
Is that true, or do you just not notice it? I've heard that the Japanese were really opposed to organ transplants due to Shinto beliefs, it's likely that if there are Shinto effects on society, you might not notice them because they wouldn't have the same effects as the ones caused by Christianity. It's likely that thousands of lives could have been saved during the 20th century if heart transplants hadn't been banned after 1968.
A powerhouse in Asia, perhaps, but I'm glad to see the good ole USA still on top (bottom?).
How do you think we compare to Saudi Arabia?
Well, in 10 years, South Korea will suffer the consequences. Their students will lag in science education and some of their science industries will find themselves operating from misconceptions
That seems really unlikely. Why would a high school student's views on evolution effect their ability to do electrical engineering? I mean, I didn't learn anything at all about zoology or botany or nuclear chemistry or paleontology in high school. People who are going to go into biology are going to get proper educations in college. Might make for a less enjoyable society, but I doubt it would effect economic achievement.

Plus, realistically you only need a small percentage of the population to actually know this stuff (not saying it's good but it's doubt it will have dire economic consequences. The US has been dealing with this for decades and we still have lots of "innovation" going on)
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on June 5, 2012


delmoi: " I've heard that the Japanese were really opposed to organ transplants due to Shinto beliefs, it's likely that if there are Shinto effects on society, you might not notice them because they wouldn't have the same effects as the ones caused by Christianity."

I suppose it tracks back to Shinto, but it's not a direct link, and if you try to sway people's minds on the subject, they're not going to counter you with "well, God himself has said otherwise", which is the tough part of religion. The effects of Shinto and Buddhism are only really felt in cultural values (life, death, morality, ethics), not actual beliefs (evolution, heliocentrism, the Big Bang). I cannot even conceive of a scientific discovery which would be opposed due to religious belief.
posted by Bugbread at 12:19 AM on June 6, 2012


Every fucking place on this planet is turning to shit.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:25 AM on June 6, 2012


This... is perfectly reasonable.

::twitch::
posted by LordSludge at 1:07 AM on June 6, 2012


class sizes are rarely less than 60

Um, maybe down in South Jeolla? Classes are between 25 and 40 here in Seoul, even at the biggest, most downtrodden schools.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:27 AM on June 6, 2012


There is an interesting pair of article by AAAS entitled, Classroom Clashes : Teaching evolution (Pt. 1.) and Teaching climate change (Pt. 2).
posted by jeffburdges at 3:54 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must admit I pulled that factoid out of my ass. I haven't set foot inside a Korean high school in more than a decade, and even then it was for an interview for a job I didn't take. Can't remember where that number, which is stuck in my head for some reason, came from.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:55 AM on June 6, 2012


How do you think we compare to Saudi Arabia?

It was a small joke despairing at the state of science education in the US using the comparisons given in the linked webpage. If you'd like, I'll rephrase: Powerhouse in Asia, perhaps, but South Korea has nothing on the US.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:10 AM on June 6, 2012


There are serious problems with permitting religious crazies to alter the educational system, delmoi. First, it's creates an injustice by taking away kids' opportunities, an early interest in evolution could easily grow into an interest in genetic algorithm and machine learning. Second, it creates avenues for really dangerous abuses, such as climate change denial, rejecting medical care, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:57 AM on June 6, 2012


Plus, realistically you only need a small percentage of the population to actually know this stuff (not saying it's good but it's doubt it will have dire economic consequences. The US has been dealing with this for decades and we still have lots of "innovation" going on)

Yeah, knowing the details of evolution isn't particularly important, or even knowing that it exists, but the mindset that allows you to ignore it in the face of all the evidence is still dangerous. You need to have a whole host of wrongheaded ideas about how the world works to believe in creationism.
posted by empath at 10:19 AM on June 6, 2012


delmoi: " That seems really unlikely. Why would a high school student's views on evolution effect their ability to do electrical engineering? I mean, I didn't learn anything at all about zoology or botany or nuclear chemistry or paleontology in high school. People who are going to go into biology are going to get proper educations in college. Might make for a less enjoyable society, but I doubt it would effect economic achievement."

I was joking.

However, it is dishonest to teach people that the ultimate end of scientific inquiry is "G-d did it" and that's what creationism does. Worse, it stifles inquiry and curiosity by saying that if we can't find a replicable and provable hypothesis that fits a given situation, we can rely on "G-d did it" as an explanation.
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "G-d" tradition always amuses the heck out of me. Especially when used in a comment decrying the teaching of religious ideas. I've been trying to get people to go with "D-kins" as a spoof of it, but no luck so far.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2012


I'm glad that Japan was historically so hostile to Christian missionary work, so that the religion could never gain any kind of strong foothold here.

That's not correct.

Christianity gained a foothold in Korea, and spread widely only in the 20th century. Korea was a colony of Japan for the first 45 years of the twentieth century. Many Koreans in positions of power in subsequent decades had served in the colonial bureaucracy and Japanese Army.

Japanese elites welcomed Christian reformers, from the 1870s. The Japanese middle class and bureaucracy worked with Protestant missionaries well into the 1930s. It never caught on among the masses like it did in Korea though.
posted by vincele at 11:16 AM on June 6, 2012


Chekhovian: "The "G-d" tradition always amuses the heck out of me.

Okay.

Especially when used in a comment decrying the teaching of religious ideas.

It's not just that religious ideas are being taught in schools. It's that they're being taught to everyone, not just members of a the specific religious faith they apply to. Also, that they're being wrongfully presented as having the same credibility and rigorous analysis as science lessons. I think that's quite damaging.

Anyway, my use of an 'alternative spelling' of a word isn't teaching people anything. Nor is it imposing what I believe on others, especially people who don't believe in them, the way creationism and ID lessons do. At most, spelling "God" with a hyphen instead of an "o" is an idiosyncrasy to outsiders.

Also, in case you were unaware, theists can and do believe in science. Some of them are even *gasp* scientists. Lock up your bunsen burners.

I've been trying to get people to go with "D-kins" as a spoof of it, but no luck so far."

Ridiculing people seems a bit childish, don't you think?
posted by zarq at 11:34 AM on June 6, 2012


Anyway, my use of an 'alternative spelling' of a word isn't teaching people anything. Nor is it imposing what I believe on others, especially people who don't believe in them, the way creationism and ID lessons do

Oh sorry, not the intended implicatiitem. Poor phrasing on my part.

Ridiculing people seems a bit childish, don't you think?

Ridiculing silly traditions is not the same as ridiculing people, though retreading the 600 comment thread on this point is probably silly at this moment in space time.

Some of them are even *gasp* scientists


I've known plenty of heavily religonated scientists, I mean a small percentage of the total number I've known, but they're there.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:46 AM on June 6, 2012


So why are there like 5 Korean churches in my little American town? And lots of seemingly seriously believing attendees, from the limited sampling I've accidently taken? The serious ones come here maybe?

What is the indicator of serious believing?

The church (in my opinion: unfortunately) is where Korean immigrants in America go to talk to other Koreans. They're mostly social clubs for first-generation Koreans. They sit through a sermon, then go and have a tasty homemade lunch made by a collection of grandmas, and talk to each other about whatever.

It's the same for most of their children, but a higher percentage of that generation takes the church teachings to heart.
posted by ignignokt at 3:07 PM on June 6, 2012


That's not correct.

Christianity gained a foothold in Korea, and spread widely only in the 20th century. Korea was a colony of Japan for the first 45 years of the twentieth century. Many Koreans in positions of power in subsequent decades had served in the colonial bureaucracy and Japanese Army.


Well, that's not (entirely) correct, either. I mean the facts are (basically) true, but don't go towards explaining Christianity's rise in the ROK. Actually the inroads that Christianity made into the Korean mindset were in part thanks to the bravery of church-based resistance to Japanese occupation for 38 years. As always, though, it was more complicated than just that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:25 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is the indicator of serious believing?

In my highly unscientific method of talking to the Koreans I know, many of them tend to them out up front how important their faith is, how aghast they are liberal things in America. One of them used to put up these flyers all the time for this series of talks on "the rationality of belief" etc etc. So just the minor and faulty annecdata of my life.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:36 PM on June 6, 2012


Meanwhile, in Louisiana: Nessie a Plesiosaur? Louisiana To Fund Schools Using Odd, Bigoted Fundamentalist Textbooks
posted by homunculus at 7:29 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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