Kitsu’s Afternoon “News” – Award winning children’s book on Evolution shunned by US Publishing

Originally reported by Discovery News in their blog on 16 September 2011. That’s right, this one is actually current. But I saw this and felt that it deserved to be covered quickly and not wait around while I worked through a backlog of less pressing issues.

Evolution: How we and all living things came to be (Book by Brian Loxton)

If ever you wonder why US children score so much lower on science related tests, you just have to look at the situation surrounding Mr. Loxton’s book. Normally books about evolution can find publishers pretty easily. A good example is Biologist Richard Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” which was published by Free Press of New York, NY. But American publishers, the same publishers who also published Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” decided that a book on evolution targeted at ages 8-13 was “too hot a topic”. It wasn’t until Canada’s Kids Can Press stepped up and hit the go button on the publication that the book received a Lane Anderson Award nomination and was a finalist for the Silver Birch Award.

How could American publishers decline to publish such a well received work? Since when are book publishers¬†supposed to decide what is and isn’t a controversy? Arn’t they supposed to be selecting books worthy of publication rather than books worthy of publication without causing the lunatic religious left to make a big stink?

Heaven forbid science and pre-teens go together and we start teaching your children to think and examine what they read. Heaven forbid we start to teach them to examine theories and controversies for themselves and expand their brains instead of only teaching them what’s “safe” and “not too hot”.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News” – Was Darwin Wrong?

The original story was found at Discovery News and was dated 25 August 2010. So this is another older bit of news.

It was BBC that originally posited the idea that competition might not be the driving force in evolution. It’s suggested instead that spaces, and exploiting those spaces better is the source of evolutionary change. Which makes sense, when you start to consider the major evolutionary changes that created the various shifts in evolutionary direction.

For example, the lines of smaller dinosaur species developed into birds. This shifted their environment from being land bound to being dominantly airborne, and while changes in the available food were killing the larger dinosaurs, these smaller and more inventive species continued to evolve and exploit new environmental niches. The same thing (and nearly the same bit of geologic time) caused the rise of mammals. Large dinosaurs couldn’t be supported anymore, giving small animals in smaller ecosystems a chance to thrive. and then eventually evolve larger to exploit the recovering and now abandoned former environments of the dinosaurs.

Darwin was being called “wrong” at the time the article was put out by many, many sources. Including sources not prone to freaking out and overstating things. But I personally don’t think that Darwin was wrong. I think that he was the first step in an evolving part of science. And if there’s one thing I understand well about science it’s the fact that one idea leads to another. and that newest idea might show that the previous idea was not as true as we once thought it to be. But, this change in point of view, this change in available facts, does not change the contribution to science of the original idea. However right or wrong it might have been.