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Brian Alters

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Brian J. Alters is an American teacher at McGill University in Montreal where he trains teachers. He is also an evolutionist and prominent anti-creationist, probably best known for testifying in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case that denied students even being formally told in science classes that evolution was not the only explanation of the origin of life.

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Career

Alters has had a number of different jobs and positions, including being president of a science video production company, the chairman of a high school science department in southern California, a police officer in California, and a biochemical research scientist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.[1]

Alters is the founder and director of the Evolution Education Research Center, a joint venture between McGill University and Harvard, where Alters also holds a position,[2][3] and where he received research training.[1]

Alters is the Tomlinson Chair in Science Education and Sir William Dawson Scholar at McGill University.[4] In 2009 Alters was awarded the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science from the Royal Society of Canada, in recognition of "his world-famous work on the promotion of education about evolution."[4]

Anticreationist and anti-ID activities

Alters, with his wife[2] Sandra M. Alters, also a PhD scientist, wrote Defending Evolution: A Guide To The Evolution/creation Controversy in 2001.[5]

Alters is the president of the board of the National Center for Science Education, an American anti-creationist (and anti-Intelligent Design) organisation.[6]

In 2005 Alters testified for the plaintiffs at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case which evolutionists brought against the Dover Area School District following their decision to formally point out to students that an alternative to evolution was Intelligent Design.

Alters dismisses creationism as pseudoscience.[7] Having once worked as a policeman, Alters has "seen life or death situations up close", so doesn't consider most problems to be serious by comparison. Nevertheless, he considers evolution to be "one of the most important topics there is", as "It's the ultimate 'where do I come from' question".[1]

Factual mistakes by Alters

Alters makes a number of false claims about creationism and Intelligent Design, including the following:

  • Alters is widely quoted as claiming that evolution is accepted by "about 99.9% of scientists"[1]. In fact, a 1997 Gallup Poll showed that only 95% of scientists accept evolution[8], and that figure would include many who don't fully accept it, such as Intelligent Design proponents.
  • Alters claims that Intelligent Design is a form of creationism, a claim that is specifically rejected by creationists, Intelligent Design proponents, and some critics of those ideas.[9]
  • Alters considers Intelligent Design to be religious, as it "attempts to introduce supernatural causation into science".[10] Here, Alters is presumably conflating what the science of Intelligent Design proposes with what many (not all) of its supporters personally believe.[11]
  • Alters said in a talk that "The Dover policy was essentially trying to teach— mandate teaching Intelligent Design in the school— the Dover area school district".[12] In fact the policy was simply to read a statement to students informing them that there were alternatives to evolution that they could look up themselves if they wished.[13]
  • Alters said in relation to the Scopes Trial in 1925 that "that's when teaching evolution was illegal".[12] In fact, the law in Tennesee merely prohibited teaching that man evolved from animals.[14]

References

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