Salzberg on evolution and the flu



Steven Salzberg's op "Bird flu, Bush, evolution -- and us" appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (November 2, 2005). Alluding to President Bush's recent call for the nation to prepare for a possible influenza pandemic, Salzberg (who co-led the team that recently sequenced the genomes of over 200 strains of the influenza virus) noted, "To keep ahead of these diseases, we need to continue our scientific research, and we need to educate our citizens about what they can do both to protect themselves and to help control the spread of disease. The current assault on the teaching of evolution greatly undermines our efforts to do this, now and in the future. If we stop educating our children about science, our society runs the risk of losing many of the wonderful advances that make our lives better." He added, "Let's drop the artificial debate about evolution and intelligent design and teach our children what science really is. Let's teach them that science requires a skeptical mind and that scientific theories must be supported by objective facts. If we want to teach children about scientific debates, let's pick a real debate -- there are plenty of them -- rather than an artificial one. And let's equip the next generation of scientists to bring us new cures and new technology, rather than burying our heads in the sand." Salzberg is professor and director at the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland, and is Steve #24 of NCSE's Project Steve (now with 650 Steves).