Discovery Institute Press Release

Attn. Editors & Reporters: Important back to school issue

Scientist’s study exposes inadequate coverage of evolution by most leading biology textbooks

Seattle, WA — In a critique on biological pseudo science, a Discovery Institute scientist issued failing grades to popular biology textbooks after he found that they inadequately cover the evidence for Darwinian evolution.

The report, "An Evaluation of Ten Recent Biology Textbooks," which will be published in September by Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, examines ten of the most popular high school and college level textbooks and issues grades based on their presentations of the theory of evolution.

For example, textbooks present students with drawings of similarities between fish and human embryos, and claim that these similarities are evidence that fish and humans share a common ancestor. And, photographs of light and dark colored moths on tree trunks are used to teach students how natural selection altered the proportions of the two forms when trees were darkened by pollution during the industrial revolution.

"But scientists have known for over a century that the embryo drawings were faked," said biologist Dr. Jonathan Wells, author of the report and a senior fellow of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. "The embryos actually look very different. And all of the peppered-moth pictures were staged .Scientists have known since the 1980s that the moths do not normally rest on tree trunks. And yet textbooks have failed to change with the times."

"Science is the search for truth," explained Wells. "Most biology textbooks are simply lying to students about the evidence for evolution."

Wells also analyzed five other misleading icons of evolution used in biology textbooks.

"We're not trying to ban the teaching of evolution, we’re trying to improve it," explained Wells. "We want students to learn more about evolution than promoters of Darwin's theory want them to know. And we want to give them the resources to think critically about what they learn."

Darwin's theory of evolution is the officially approved scientific account of the origin and history of life and is presented to millions of people every year in biology classes, magazine articles and television nature documentaries. Such presentations typically rely on vivid images that embody key elements of the story. Yet many of the images, which Wells has dubbed "icons of evolution," misrepresent the truth and amount to nothing more than junk science.

"The pattern of misrepresentation in biology textbooks betrays a dogmatic approach to teaching evolution that ignores or distorts the evidence, to the detriment of both students and teachers," noted Wells.

"What Wells might have added," points out Jon Buell, President of Foundation for Thought and Ethics in Dallas, Texas, "is that teachers don’t know the mythological dimension of these icons. I had Dr. Wells address an audience of high school biology teachers, and it was obvious his information, though well documented, was new to them."

"Dogmatic Darwinists claim that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, and textbooks misrepresent the evidence to promote that view," said Wells. "The truth is, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evidence, and our children deserve to know what the evidence really is."

The complete report of Dr. Wells' textbook study is available online at Discovery Institute's website at For more information, to schedule interviews, or to receive a copy by fax or mail, call (206) 292-0401 ext. 107.

Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture and has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Charles Hodge's Critique of Darwinism (Edwin Mellen Press, 1988), and the forthcoming book Icons of Evolution (Regnery Publishing, October 2000).


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