No. 207 - A FAILED ATTEMPT AT STUDENT BRAINWASHING
by Richard Bliss, Ed.D.*
In recent years our youth have been overwhelmed with a sea of
evolutionary propaganda. Sadly, the objective seems to be to
program their young minds toward evolution only, so that they will
believe, without questioning, that all kinds of organisms have
evolved by natural processes and were not created by God.
Recent studies, however, are showing that these efforts, even
with all the media and money behind them, are failing. In spite
of all the force feeding of evolution, the theory of evolution
seems to be failing to survive among those who are free to think
Consider the results of a study published in the very
prestigious Journal of Research in Science Teaching, a journal
long noted for its accuracy in reporting research in science
education. This recent (1990) research paper, by Beth A. Bishop
and Charles W. Anderson, entitled "Student Conceptions of Natural
Selection and its Role in Evolution" indicated that, in spite of
intensive programing in a college "non-majors' biology" course, it
is extremely difficult to get students to understand how
evolution works. "Although the students in this case had taken an
average of 1.9 years of previous biology courses, performance on
the pretest was uniformly low."
After taking the course, the students were tested again, but
they showed no significant improvement in understanding evolution.
As one can imagine, this experience would be particularly
frustrating to evolutionists. Perhaps the most startling factor
is that the focus of the study was on "natural selection as a
mechanism for evolution." Now this does not seem like a terribly
difficult concept to understand on its face, but it appears that
the college students studied could not comprehend these long-held
and extensively taught concepts. Evolutionists have apparently
made the concept of evolution so confusing that a thinking student
isn't sure exactly what he is supposed to be learning.
In this study, the experimenters started out with the
postulate that evolution is the unifying framework for modern
biology. Without a complete understanding of evolution, they say
a student cannot comprehend biology. With this idea as a
foundation, the researchers set out to find reasons why the
intelligent non-biology major in college cannot understand
scientific evolutionary mechanisms. The three main purposes of
their study were as follows:
1. "To describe, as completely as possible, the conceptions held
by college non science majors concerning the mechanism of
natural selection and the factors responsible for
At the very outset, any knowledgeable person who has studied
origins knows that there is much argument about the notion
that natural selection has any effect at all on
macro-evolution (Lewin, 1980, 1982; Agaia, 1975-, L.H. Mat-
thews, 1971; Smith, 1982; Rifkin, 1983; Martin, 1953-,
Salisbury, 1969). An objective look at this purpose for the
study immediately suggests a possible reason for an
intelligent student rejecting, or not understanding, the
rationale behind natural selection as a suggested mechanism
for evolution. The experimenters should not have been
surprised that programing a rational mind in this direction
could be very troublesome.
2. "To assess the effects of instruction (including both
previous high school and college biology instruction and our
college non-majors' biology course) on the conceptions held
by students. "
This interesting purpose for the study indicates the intense
concern of the evolutionist. Here they are, identifying
those who do not comprehend evolutionism, so they can set
them up for more intense programing procedures. This is
exactly what a psychologist would do if he wanted to
brainwash a mind away from undesirable ideas. This type of
objective could well become the tool for future brainwashing
3. "To determine whether student conceptions of natural
selection were associated with student belief in the theory
of evolution as historical fact."
This objective clearly places the student on the line. Are
they believers in evolution or are they not? If they are
believers, do they know what they must believe about natural
selection and its implications as a mechanism for evolution?
If they are not believers, then what education practices and
programing will make them believers? In other words, those
who teach evolution are faced with the task of making
instructional adjustments. Consequently, adjustments were
made in this study that were designed to ensure that the
student would come to believe that natural selection leads to
the fact of evolution.
The study began by extracting what the researchers believed
to be the essential content of evolution and natural selection
from the lecture material and the required text (not named) of
After a series of pilot testing, the final criterion referenced
test was selected for the study and reported on in the Journal of
Research in Science Teaching. A sample of part of the diagnostic
test is given as follows:
1. Cheetahs (large African cats) are able to run faster than 60
miles per hour, when chasing prey. How would a biologist
explain how the ability to run fast evolved in cheetahs,
assuming their ancestors could run only 20 miles per hour?
2. Cave salamanders are blind (they have eyes which are
non-functional). How would a biologist explain how blind
cave salamanders evolved from sighted ancestors?
3. a) The trait of webbed feet in ducks:
(1 = only left statement correct; 5 = only right statement
correct; 3 = both statements equally correct) Appeared in
ancestral ducks 1 2 3 4 5 Appeared in ducks because of
because they lived in water and a chance mutation.
needed webbed feet to swim.
b. While ducks were evolving webbed feet:
With each generation, most 1 2 3 4 5 ducks had about the same
amount of webbing on their feet as their parents.
c) If a population of ducks was forced to live in an
environment where water for swimming was not available:
Many ducks would die because 1 2 3 4 5 The ducks would gradually
With each generation, most ducks had a tiny bit more webbing on
their feet than their parents.
their feet were poorly adapted to this environment.
develop non-webbed feet.
d) The populations of ducks evolved webbed feet because:
The more successful ducks 1 2 3 4 5 The less successful ducks died
adapted to their aquatic without offspring. environment.
The researchers were diligent in pursuing their objective to
determine how to convince these college students that evolution by
natural selection was a fact, but the conclusion was
understandably disappointing to both Bishop and Anderson. After
all this effort, the researchers found that most students still
had ideas about how and why evolution occurred that were much
different from those accepted by standard biologists. These were
called naive conceptions by the researchers. A comparison of
students holding the "scientific" and "naive" understanding of the
mechanism of evolution is given in the reproduced chart below.
It appears from this study that, no matter how intensive the
instructional force toward correcting the naive view, these
college students showed unsatisfactory gains in the understanding
of evolution. In fact, non-believers appeared to understand
evolution much better than did those students who believe in
evolution! It was found, however, that intensified instruction can
cause some change in students' "naive" conceptions. The study
goes on to report. however, that "even the intensive revised
teaching methods and materials were not sufficient to help a
significant number of students."
From a creationist point of view, the most distressing part
of this research lies in the development of a diagnostic test that
focuses on a student's understanding of evolution. This kind of
testing, relating to a concept that can never stand the test of
scientific rigor, could become very dangerous to intellectual
freedom. We could easily be on the threshold of developing
brainwashed intellectual robots.
Relation between Belief in Evolution and Student Conceptions:
Scientific Students Understanding
Issue Conception Scientific Conception
Believers Believers Unsure
(28 Students) (15 Students) (14
1. Origin and Random processes response- 50 73 64
survival of sible for appearance of traits;
new traits natural selection accounts for
survival or disappearance
2. Role of Variable population essen- 57 73 36
variation tial for evolution
3. Evolutionary Involves changing propor- 57 80 50
change tions of individuals with
Inquiry is the heart of science and, from this study, it
would be easy to predict that if this freedom were given to the
college students in the study, the results would have been even
more disastrous for evolution. Studies have shown that when
students are given freedom to inquire and freedom of choice
between the evolution and creation model, they tend to choose the
What is it, then, that drives the anti-creationist to want to
brainwash our children in the public schools? The scientific
enterprise has much to be concerned about in this blind thrust to
promote a dead theory.
1. Ayala, Francisco J., "Scientific Hypotheses, Natural
Selection and the Neutrality Theory of Protein Evolution in
the Role of Natural Selection in Human Evolution," F.M.
Salzano Ed., North Holland Publishing Company, 1975. pp.
19-end of chapter.
2. Bliss, Richard B-, A Comparison of Two Approaches to the
Teaching of Origins of Lining Things to Hi_qh School Biology
Students in Racine, Wisconsin, ERIC File no. Ed. 152-568.
3. Lewin, Roger: "Evolutionary Theory Under Fire," Science, 21
November 1980, pp. 883-887.
4. Martin, C.P.: "A Non Geneticist Looks at Evolution," American
Scientist, Vol. 41,
5. Matthews, L. Harrison, D.Sc., FRS. Introduction to the
Ori_qin of Species, J.M. Dent and Sc)tis, Loiidoii, 1971.
6. Hifkin, Jeremy, Al_qeny (New York: Viking Press, 1983), p.
7. Salisbury, Frank B., "Natural Selection and the Complexity of
the Gene," Nature (Vol. 224, October 24, 1969).
8. Smith, Huston, "Evolutionary Mechanisms," Christian Century
(July 7-14, 1982), p. 756.
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231