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Climate affects the way that we live in a host of ways, and now our changing climate presents a significant challenge to our society.
Climate has changed in the past — sometimes slowly, sometimes abruptly — but now it is changing because humans have
Although scientists are in broad agreement about the occurrence, causes, and consequences of climate change, the topic is socially controversial.
There is virtually unanimous scientific agreement about climate change. Yet due to both the inherent complexity of the topic and the social controversies surrounding it, confusion and doubt often persist.
In recent years, most state-level legislative attacks on evolution have taken the form of "academic freedom" bills, which permit — but do not require — teachers and students to introduce creationist material into science classes. Because these bills are permissive rather than prescriptive, they may have a better chance of surviving judicial scrutiny than has past antievolution legislation.
The word "evolution" can evoke a variety of meanings, especially for students and members of the general public. For some, evolution is equated with natural selection. Others think that evolution addresses the origin of life. Still others impose a distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Part of the issue stems from an unclear understanding of what evolution is in a scientific sense.
One source of confusion about the status of the science or theory of evolution stems from the difference between the "everyday" meaning of the word "theory" and the scientific meaning the word.
Below we list some common misconceptions about the term "theory" and describe a classroom activity that can help students rethink their understanding of this term.
Misconception 1 "Evolution is 'just a theory'".
Misconception 2 "Theories become facts when they are well supported and/or proven."
In 1983, The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) was founded to promote excellence in science education, improve public understanding of evolution, and defend evolution education from sectarian attacks. In 1987, when the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana anti-evolution law, many observers thought the "creation science" controversy had been put to an end. Instead, it returned to the local level, where new strategies appeared in countless communities and at the state level, as well.
Teachers who teach evolution whether at the K-12 or college level face a number of challenges. One set of challenges comes from misunderstandings about evolution or the nature of science. For example, students may have difficulty in understanding basic concepts such as speciation or in grasping the immense scale of geological time. Another set of challenges comes from "outside" of science, that is, from creationist efforts to weaken (or even block) the teaching of evolution.