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Darwin Awards and scientific literacy

Editor, Index-Tribune:

As much as I enjoy the “Can you believe that?” nature and humor of the Darwin Awards, I was more than a little dismayed by the description of evolution in the article titled, “Sonoma Valley Darwin Awards 2013” published in the Jan. 3 edition of the Index-Tribune.

Yes, Charles Darwin is associated with the theory of evolution, as stated, but the following two paragraphs managed to reinforce numerous misconceptions that make science educators cringe.

“All life evolves from simpler and more primitive life forms to more complex and sophisticated life forms.” FALSE. For starters, bacteria are still around and doing just fine.

“At one point on the evolutionary scale, the fittest were almost always those with the greatest physical strength or the best physical defenses.” FALSE. Though “survival of the fittest” is often associated with natural selection, “survival of the fit enough” is much more accurate. Fitness is all about passing on genes to the next generation and sometimes being small or nondescript may have its advantages.


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