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Evolution belongs in science class; faith-based ideas do not

To The Daily Sun,

Evolution is taught in schools as established truth for the same reason that schools teach that the earth revolves around the sun. The molecular evidence for evolution is overwhelming and there is no evidence that supports any other explanation for the diversity of life. As noted scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky entitled one of his more famous essays, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

A recent writer speculated, "that there are scientists, somewhere out there, who in the course of researching ring species have found that there is a boundary beyond which micro-evolutionary changes cease to happen" because "That's the way they do it." So far (I say "so far" because scientists are always questioning), there is no evidence of such a limitation and I'm not sure who he's referring to who would want to suppress it. In fact, I can't imagine how you'd hide a scientific discovery like that which could happen anywhere in the world at anytime. Nevertheless, ring species are an interesting way to learn about evolution.

One path that leads to new species is called Allopatric Speciation. This occurs when two parts of a population get physically separated. Imagine, half a population of monkeys are living in a tree that gets blown across a river by a storm. As random mutations and other causes lead to genetic modification within the two populations they become more and more distinct over long periods of time and ultimately become unable to interbreed, thus becoming two separate species. Now, if that second population also splits the same process will occur again and three species will have emerged. These are "ring" species. If population two were to become extinct, which happens all the time, it might be difficult to see the physical relationship between one and three, think birds and dinosaurs, but you'd see it clearly at the molecular level in their DNA.

The writer also asserted the inaccurate statement that "macro-evolution has absolutely no effect on scientific discoveries that benefit mankind." Macro-evolution refers to the genetic changes that occur over geologic time — millions and millions of years. Micro-evolution is still evolution but on a smaller scale. It refers to the changes that occur over shorter periods like human lifetimes where we see genetic changes expressed in diseases like cancer but also in the process of getting physically fit (why do your muscles get bigger when you work out?) and even in the process of learning (how do those neurons decide to interconnect?).

Genes aren't just a blueprint. They also control the physical changes in our bodies that happen in response to our experience and our environment. The study of evolution has lead us to new ideas about how to treat cancer and activate muscle cells and neurons and a host of other discoveries.

Studying evolution in science class also allows students to learn about the process of scientific inquiry. How we know what we know in science is based on testing and retesting the evidence that supports competing theories. The history of the study of evolution reveals how well suited it is for that purpose.

Evolution belongs in science class. Competing ideas that lack supporting evidence do not. That's not to say that we should not study those competing ideas, like faith based explanations for natural phenomena. We should — just not in science class for the same reason we don't study science in theology class. I want my children to have the best education in science so they can compete and succeed in the world.

Dave Pollak


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I didn't realize The Daily Sun allows publication of racist opinions

To The Daily Sun,

I love The Laconia Daily Sun and have been reading it since day one. I didn't realize that you print racist opinions in your paper.

The letter that was in Saturday's edition about heroin coming across the border is sickening. Does this ignorant woman think that Spanish people are totally responsible for the heroin problems in this state and the rest of the country. I'm shocked that you would print such a one-sided letter in your paper. I guess you'll be voting for Donald Trump in the next election. I always thought better of this paper. Please tell me that you don't endorse this kind of thinking. If you do, you should be ashamed of yourself.

There are many more people to blame for the heroin abuse in this country. You will never stop drugs from coming in nor will you ever stop the the want for it. Drug dealers have more money and resources at their disposal than this country is willing to spend on fighting them. How much money would it take to send recovering addicts to schools to teach the young kids of this country the dangers of drugs and the perils of addiction. I would do it for free. You can only educate people about the harms and help the people who are addicted.

As it gets harder to live in this country and the inequality continues to grow the drug abuse problems are sure to increase. One thing you can't do is blame one group of people for our drug and addiction problems. This country is just as responsible as anyone else. We can give NASA $18 billion to fly us to Mars but hardly any money to fight addiction. Maybe our plan is to send all the illegals to Mars. If we continue to this with such narrow minds we will never be able to see the whole picture.

Todd Welch

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