IEE: To the Zoo

We present a new edition of Ideological Education Essentials! (Otherwise known as 'Science' Education Essentials)Beginning this weeks Ideological Education Essentials series is What’s So Unique About Humans? As you can guess, this week will be based around the That’s a Fact video I analysed in You’re Special. You remember – it was the one where the writers forgot that beavers also make dams. That one.

The main image of this post is of a bunch of yellow jelly beans, with a red one on top. To digress a moment, I personally would eat the yellow ones – according to Wikipedia’s colour/flavour table there isn’t a common spice-variant for yellow beans. What? It’s not nice when you get something unexpected…

As a school teacher or administrator, I had numerous opportunities to take my students each year to the local zoo. It never ceased to amaze me how mesmerized the students were over and over again by the uniqueness of each animal, from the stripes on the zebras to the massive paws on the Bengal tigers. The zoo field trip was always talked about for days after arriving back home.

The uniqueness of each animal was what the kids were all talking about? I’m not so sure about that…

Each zoo was filled with various primates. And although I worked in public schools, I often asked the students which primate they believed we as humans came from. Believe it or not, most students would say “None!” or “That’s silly!” I would continue to pump the students with questions such as “Haven’t you ever heard we came from apes long ago?” or “Don’t you think our hands look like theirs?” or the final question of “Well, they are as smart as us, aren’t they?” Each year, over and over, the students would laugh at me and my “preposterous” questions.

There’s an obvious dig I could make viz. the intelligence question, but that would be mean.

As a side note, I don’t think human evolution is particularly well explained to the public, at least partially because that’s where most people get all hot under the collar. That could be the cause of the above results, assuming that they are genuine and not biased by, say, the school in question being filled with fundamentalists’ children.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a HUGE proponent of teaching critical thinking skills to our students.

That’s nice. She isn’t showing it, though.

But in doing so, we shouldn’t have to force our students to think absurdly.

No idea what she means here. Is she saying that we shouldn’t force people to accept absurd things? If so, that wouldn’t be critical thinking…

After watching this month’s episode of ICR’s show That’s a Fact, ask your students the following questions:

1)      Explain where you think human beings came from.

2)      How are humans similar to animals?

3)      What are the unique qualities of humans compared to other living things?

You may find your students questioning the absurdity of your logic. But I believe you will instead find your students understand more the absurdities encompassing the evolutionary theory of the origin of life.

What is missing from all this ‘humans are unique’ stuff is a discussion, again, of how much more ‘unique’ we are from every other animal.

How did your students answer when you asked them to list the unique qualities of humans compared to other living things? How do you teach critical thinking skills around the origin of life?

Is it just me, or is creationist ‘critical thinking’ always based around attacking evolution?

If you’re desperate to see the video, go to You’re Special. There are 5 comments on this post, as of writing:

  1. The first is from a Kim Jones, who here (as is usual) is complementing Forlow on the post, or on this particular occasion, the video. They write: “I really like the “That’s a Fact” videos! Very cool! Keep up the great work and posts! Happy Sunday!”
  2. Number two is arguably semi-spam. It’s from a small-time creationist blogger called Jan Bragdon, who writes that “One of the most telling unique things about humans is their language.” They continue for a full paragraph in this vein.
  3. The third is Dr Forlow thanking Kim.
  4. Number four is Christian Shorey asking “why was my comment taken down?” This was the first comment screenshotted in Spam and Censorship.
  5. And the fifth is Lawrence Ford, the editor of Acts & Facts, instructing Dr Shorey to read the “commenting policy of this blog,” which he then quotes. Some excerpts:
    “Those who are not Christian teachers are welcome to join in the conversation, understanding that the Science Essentials blog is not a place for debate. (Comments intended to harass and disrupt the conversation will be deleted so that the rest of us can focus on constructive conversation that encourages the teaching of creation-based science.)…Your sincere feedback and conversation is always welcome.”
    He sounded pretty sincere and non-disruptive to me.

Next, as always, are the K-5 Activities.

1. Humans are different from the rest of the world. Have students complete a KWL chart on how they are different.

A KWL chart – which I have never heard of before, at least by this name – is apparently some kind of “What I Know” “What I Want to Know” and “What I Learned” thing. Implicitly, this task is supposed to be done along side the rest. I’ve never seen the point of those kind of things, certainly not for five-year-olds.

2. Humans and animals have different teeth to use for eating. Display the pictures of a sheep, a lion, a penguin, a shark, a cow, and a human. Display pictures of the foods these animals (grasslarge animals, krillsea lionssilage) and humans (food pyramid) eat and ask students to link the animals to their diet. Once completed, show pictures of the teeth of each animal (sheeplionpenguin, sharkcow) and of a human. Ask the students to match the animal or human with the correct set of teeth. Discuss why the teeth in each animal or human are different from the others. Check back on Friday’s Discussion Starters for a question regarding the supposed evolution of teeth.

Once again, we get back to the idea that, while humans are indeed different, they are no more so than anything else. One problem here is that all animals that have multiple food sources have some kind of food pyramid – if she had them show a banana tree as the human food she would at least have them all on an equal playing field. None of the animals she lists aside from humans are into an omnivorous diet in a big way, which biases things a lot too. We’ll get to the “supposed evolution of teeth” in good time, don’t worry…

3. Look up Genesis 1:26–27 with your students. Depending upon the grade level, have the students write a short story or paragraph, draw a picture, or write a poem depicting the truth found in these two verses.

Those are the “in His image” verses. I worry about the world if those verses contain any “truth” at all. I guess it explains a lot. Personally I prefer the “man made God in his image” way of looking at it.

4. What are the qualities that evolutionary scientists claim indicate that humans evolved from apes? Using a Venn diagram, compare and contrast the differences in humans and apes. Use this information to complete a Shoebox Diorama. Present your findings to the class.

I had to click that link to work out what a “Shoebox Diorama” is – all these culture differences are confusing. I still don’t know how you’d turn the contents of a Venn diagram into one. All I can say about the diagram is that if you don’t have a dozen things in the middle for each one on the side if you swap out the ape for a fish, you’re doing it wrong.

There are “no comments yet.”

Next comes the 6-12 age range:

1. One unique ability of humans is the ability to walk and run. No other living creature walks or runs quite like humans. This is made possible by foot, leg, hip, and spine anatomy that is all uniquely human. Read the article “Humans Were Made for Walking,” then complete the following in order to answer the question “At what speed do people switch from walking to running?”

I wont reproduce the (rather pointless) activity given, but I will say that it is (ever so slightly) better than the last time she tried to write an experiment. Humans Were Made for Walking is a DpSU I covered back in June. In it, Mr Thomas basically uses fine tuning (“aren’t we so perfect”) and irreducible complexity (“the intermediate stages couldn’t have worked”) to try to show that bipedalism couldn’t have evolved. As I said at the time:

Thomas fails to provide any reference for the claim that intermediary forms “could not work because they would require long time spans of creatures with not-yet-formed leg structures that would render any such animal immobile”. Is he really saying that all other similar ways that you could have a human leg and foot could not work? My feet naturally fall at ninety degrees to each other, but I can walk perfectly well…

It’s nonsense, in short.

2. Looks can be deceiving. Take animal teeth, for example. Evolutionary theories say animal teeth have evolved over time to allow for the evolving dietary habits of animals, and thus scientists are able to determine what the diet of an extinct animal was simply based on its tooth structure. Let’s see if that theory is true based upon the tooth structure of the flying fox (or fruit bat), camels, and the T. rex.Follow the steps below:

a)      Show a picture of a flying fox and its tooth structure. Have students guess what the flying fox eats BASED on its dentation.

b)      Show a picture of a camel and its tooth structure. Have students guess what the camel eats BASED on its dentation.

c)      Show a picture of a T. rex and its tooth structure. Have students guess what the T. rex ate BASED on its dentation.

d)     Have students divide into 3 groups and choose one of the animals listed. Students will research what evolutionists say helped them determine the diet of these animals. Include what we know about the current diet of the animal.

e)      Once finished, have students read the following articles: “If All Animals Were Created As Plant Eaters, Why Do Some Have Sharp Teeth?,” “Is Lack of Room for Wisdom Teeth Proof of Evolution?,” and “The Whole Tooth about Wisdom Teeth.”

f)       In a class discussion, have students compare the findings from their completed research to what they read in the articles. Make the point that it is hard to make a definitive statement on the actual diet of extinct animals, such as the T. rex, based solely on their teeth structure.

g)      Check back on Friday’s Discussion Starters for a question regarding the supposed evolution of teeth.

I think you’ll find that we can find out quite a lot from teeth alone – the first fossil dinosaur find consisted of a single tooth, that of the famous Iguanodon which has somehow found itself in the attic of the Te Papa museum, of all places. But that probably takes a bit of training, in the circumstances.

The If All Animals Were Created As Plant Eaters article is basically John Morris saying that there are three possible reasons – either God was aware that the Fall was going to happen; effectively, they evolved it themselves; or it’s all Lucifer’s fault (and/or the Fall’s). The other articles are irrelevant to the task given.

3. The human body is incredibly complex. One work of wonder is the human hand. For this brief demonstration, you will need a baseball, a large can of paint, a paintbrush, and a drinking glass. Have volunteers from the class pick up and throw the baseball, carry the can of pain and paintbrush together in the same hand, and pick up and drink out of the drinking glass. Once finished, ask the students to ponder the following questions:

a)      What elements of the human body have to work in order to be able to perform the above activities?

b)      What do you think is the most important element of hand movement? (The ability to squeeze, or “opposition”)

c)      The brain must control _____ acting forces for the object, _____ tendencies for the wrist to twist on an axis, and _____ mechanical variables for each finger. (3, 3, 6)

d)     What is the average human mental time needed to make a common choice? (About ½ second)

e)      Why is it that behaviorists have been unable to teach chimpanzees how to drive and stop a car? (They do not have the cognition to stop the car or avoid contrary traffic)

f)       Use the following article to facilitate more discussion on the uniqueness of the human hand: “Human Hand Capabilities Impossible to Duplicate.

We’re getting better and better at replicating the hand, and anyway our ability to do so has no bearing on whether or not it could have evolved. Yes, we are smarter than chimps. But so what?

4. Another great resource on the human body is Made in His Image: Examining the complexities of the human body by Dr. Randy Guliuzza.

I think she’s been told to always plug at least one of the ICR’s publications.

5.  Look up Genesis 1:26 – 27 with your students. Depending upon the grade level, have the students write a short story or a paragraph, draw a picture, or write a poem depicting the truth found in these two verses.

The bible verse is the same as before, but the link is broken and leads to her mail.icr.org email login, of all things. There are no commentors that have pointed this out, or any at all on this particular post. On balance, I have decided to leave the broken link in as harmless – I’ll remove it if asked.

And finally, the promised Discussion Starters:

Classroom Starters:   
Forensic dentists identify dead people by their teeth. If only the teeth are available, how can dentists tell that the teeth are human and not animal?

They can tell much more than that – they can also match them to dental records or, if it isn’t a human, work out which animal even the tooth marks come from – they don’t even need the physical teeth.

For the older student: A known evolutionist, Peter Ungar, recently said:  “The details of when, where, why, and how teeth first appeared still elude consensus.” (Ungar, P. 2010.Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 73.) What do you think this quote means when it comes to the origin of teeth? How do you think this quote would be confusing to someone who believes specialized teeth “evolved over time” in order to adapt to the diet of the animal?

I think it means that we have many hypotheses, but no clear consensus on precisely which is true. And I’m fine with that, I really am.

Also, that is about the origin of teeth, not their further evolution into specialised forms, which would not likely be a problem at all. And I find it funny when she calls the person a “known evolutionist” as it was some kind of sexual deviancy that some might find offensive and not wish to reveal to the children…

Dinner Table Starters:
Evolutionists believe that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. However, Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image.” Where do you believe humans came from and why?

From apes. I have a moral aversion to deciding that I was created by a genocidal maniac, at least without proper evidence.

For the older student: Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” What are some of the spiritual attributes God gave to people, but not animals?

I could go a long way about this, attacking the evidence that we even have “spiritual attributes” at all, but I’ll wait until dualism turns up in a DpSU and I have more time.

There are six comments on this post:

  1. “Mark Hollinsworth” writes in with the following: “We are each created in the image of His, Who knitted us together in our mother’s womb, counting every hair on our head. We have a mind to know God, a heart to love God and a Spirit to worship and praise God.”
  2. “moogie” says: “I was just looking for MORE info than you gave me in this article.” There may be a deleted comment that I missed, and which fell through my Reader feed. It’s a reasonable complaint, in the circumstances.
  3. Kim says: “Fascinating reading! I had not considered teeth before. Hmmm — LOL! It would present a problem in evolution! Especially if an animal needed to eat something that required teeth to survive. Great point! (:” Just to clarify – what ever ‘it’ is, I doubt it’s “a problem in evolution.”
  4. Forlow responds to Hollinsworth with “Excellent! All qualities given by God to humans, not animals.”
  5. She then says to moogie “Please check our home website, http://www.icr.org. There, you have access to over 12,000 articles full of information to help you research more information. The articles should provide what you are looking for.” Both sides should be providing specifics here – this isn’t the first time Forlow has told a commentor to look it up for themselves, and the first time they were far more specific.
  6. And finally, she says: “Thanks, Kim.”

So there’s your wrap up. In other news, the situation talked about in Spam and Censorship has moved on slightly, and Dr Robbins has put out his own post related to it, called Creation Research’s Education Person Shows Own Stupidity. I’ll be putting out a followup myself soon.

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