Scientific Integrity and the Rise and Fall of Intelligent Design Creationism
The ID movement never recovered from its loss in Dover and many of its core leaders have moved on to other pursuits. But more significant than their defeat has been the unappreciated positive effect of the case in helping to stimulate STEM education reform. The Dover trial was a wake-up call to scientists that they needed to do a better job explicitly covering aspects of science that they take for granted. Among many initiatives, new national standards emphasize the centrality of evolution and also the nature of science and there has been a surge in efforts to figure out how to teach these better. In the trial I also testified about some of my scientific research with evolving digital organisms that allow one to experimentally observe evolution in action. One can see not only that evolution can produce so-called “irreducibly complex” traits, but also engineering designs that are better than those of human engineers. We have also developed Avida-ED <http://avida-ed.msu.edu>, an education version of one of our research platforms, which allows students to do evolutionary experiments themselves. It is now used in undergraduate and high school biology classes all around the country. Evidence from classroom assessment studies we have conducted show that such hands-on experience improves student’s understanding and acceptance of evolution. Finally, we are now also working on how to better teach values of integrity that are essential to the exemplary practice of science.