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What’s wrong in minister’s argument on Darwin theory: Students quizzed in exam

PTI | Pune |

The IISER, in an examination, asked what was wrong with Union minister Satyapal Singh’s argument criticising Charles Darwin’s theory, with the dean of the institute saying that the question was “aimed at testing logical thinking of the students”.

Sanjeev Galande, Dean of Research and Development at the IISER said the question was why the quoted argument cannot be correct and it was about the logic and not about the statement.

“We at IISER, emphasis on the pedagogical way of teaching and question papers are not summary-based. The students are supposed to think and provide logical reasoning and the question, which was posed during the exam was quite straightforward and was aimed at testing logical thinking of the students,” he said.

“This is not that we are opening a debate (over the statement made by the minister) but it is theoretical exercise and to make the students do logical arguments and how they can answer in a different way,” Galande said.

Singh, the Minister of State for the Human Resource Development, had last month claimed that the Darwin’s theory of evolution of man was “scientifically wrong” and said it should not be part of school and college curriculum.

The IPS officer-turned politician had drawn flak for his comments from the scientific community but he stuck to his stand.

“Darwin’s theory (of evolution of humans) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in school and college curriculum. Since man is seen on Earth he has always been man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man,” he had said.

The Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) on February 22 posed a question to undergraduate students, pursuing a course in ‘evolution’ during their mid-semester examination, asking what was wrong in his arguments.

“The minister of state for Human Resource Development [MHRD] in India recently claimed that the Darwinian theory of evolution is wrong because ‘Nobody, including our ancestors, in writing or orally, has said they saw an ape turning into a man’. What is wrong with this argument?,” read the question.

The question had a note attached to it, which read: “This question is NOT asking why biologists believe evolution to be correct. It is asking why the quoted argument cannot be correct in terms of disproving the Darwinian theory of evolution.”

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution that states that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.

It was developed by Charles Darwin, a 19th century English naturalist, and others.