Post(s) tagged with "internet"
Worrying news from Turkey, where a government body has moved to block sites that mention evolution or Charles Darwin.
The Council of Information Technology and Communications (BTK) released the “Secure Internet” filtering system on 22 November. Sites that includes the words “evolution” or “Darwin” are filtered if parents select the child-friendly settings on the filter, as though it’s porn. Among the sites banned, according to Reporters Without Borders, is Richard Dawkins’ website richarddawkins.net. The homepage of Adnan Oktar, an Islamic creationist, is still accessible. The system has already attracted controversy: apparently it bans terms linked with the Kurdish separatist movement, and Reporters Without Borders has accused the Turkish government of “backdoor censorship”.
As New Scientist reported in 2009, Turkey is something of a centre for Islamic creationism. The editor of a popular science magazine, Bilim ve Teknik, was sacked that year after trying to run a front-page article celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday. The aforementioned Oktar, under his pen name of Harun Yahya, claims in large, lavishly illustrated books that evolution is a “disproved” theory (just for the record: it isn’t. It’s the absolute cornerstone of everything in biology, without which nothing makes sense) imposed by Western imperialists to keep Muslims in their place. A 2006 survey of 34 countries put Turkey 34th, just behind the US, in the rate of popular acceptance of evolution.
This is seriously concerning. Turkey is in many respects the most secular of Islamic countries, so it is sad and disturbing to see its government undermine science. It’s not alone, either: as our own Steve Jones reports, a growing number of Islamic medical and biology students in this country seem to be rejecting the theory which underpins their subjects, in favour of a borrowed version of Christian antiscientific creationism, or “Intelligent Design”, which is the same thing but wearing Clark Kent spectacles. (I’m sorry to sound like I’m blaming it on Christianity – I’m really not, it’s just an apparent historical fact that most of the ideas and propaganda have been lifted from their Christian counterparts.) Prof Jones sighs: “Why train to become a biologist, or a doctor, when you deny the very foundations of your subject? For a biology student to refuse to accept the fact of evolution is equivalent to choosing to do a degree in English without believing in grammar, or in physics with a rooted objection to gravity: it makes no sense at all.” The influence of the creationist movement in mainstream US politics, of course, is well documented already.
I’ve moaned about this before, but it is completely baffling to me why evolutionary biology, and not cosmology or plate tectonics or radio-carbon dating, has become the whipping boy for science-denying creationists. Those other three are just as solid in their refutation of a literal reading of religious works. Maybe it’s a visceral dislike of the idea of sharing a common ancestor with apes. But whatever it is, the education of millions of children, in Turkey, in Britain and around the world, is being harmed by people – parents, teachers, government officials – with a simple-minded interpretation of their religion. Evolution is a fact, like gravity (and a theory, like gravity). Some parts of some holy books might seem to disagree, but then a part of the Bible seems to imply that π=3. It’s a real shame to see the Turkish government, and British students, go down the route of believing a book of metaphors over the evidence of the world.
This is what happens in Theocracies. Evolution obviously disagrees with the Muslim faith. Therefore, they censor anything that has to do with Evolution. At least this can’t happen in the US.
Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for the Library:
1. Not Everything is on the Internet.
2. The Needle (Your Search) in the Haystack (the Web)
3. Quality Control Doesn’t Exist.
4. What You Don’t Know Really Does Hurt You.
5. States Can Now Buy One Book and Distribute to Every Library on the Web… Not.
6. Hey, Bud, What About E-Books?! (Reading on any e-reader is a chore.)
7. Aren’t There Library-less Universities Now? (No.)
8. But a Virtual State Library Would Work, Right? (Only if you like bankruptcy.)
9. The Internet: A Mile Wide, an Inch (or Less) Deep.
10. The Internet is Ubiquitous, but Books are Portable.
A virtual library is a fine supplement to a real library, but no replacement.