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Yes, even in a 4th year class on developmental biology.

I decided to take a seminar class on dev-bio for the following reasons: the topic is pretty damn interesting, I really liked my dev-bio and evo-devo classes last year, and the profs teaching the course are the most engaging instructors I have had at university. What I had failed to take into account was that class content would be highly determined by the students enrolled and that some student would have managed to get through three years of a biology degree believing in Intelligent Design. Apparently, this was a huge oversight.

It didn’t help that the person presenting decided to spring this on us as a wild change of topic. He started off doing a pretty good overview of some aspects of sex determination in mammals and how one model of this was creating. After about an hour of this he finished and put up a slide about how the stuff we learn in class and in the labs should effect the way we view the world. My immediate thought was: “Awesome, we’re going to talk about sex/gender/intersex people/etc!” Oh, how wrong I was. The segue wasn’t for that; it was for a slide with the words intelligent design plastered all over.

*Sigh* What followed that was an entirely uncomfortable 45 minutes.

He started off with an exercise involving us pretending we knew nothing about several objects and trying to intuitively place them in either designed, natural, probably designed. I, of course, decided to object because if I don’t know anything about these object I can make no judgement about their origins. It’s also pretty damn hard to pretend you know nothing about a lion or a pyramid. As you can guess, this was all about making us go “complexity = design” because obviously our “cognitive biases = reality”.

This was all to prime us for the magic that is — wait for it — Kirk fucking Durston. Was it rude to giggle at that point?

My problem right now is that I need to give this guy a mark (wee! for peer marking), but I have nod idea how to go about that. Do I give him a good mark because he did a good job presenting the science-y bits? Do I give him a terrible mark because he used the science-y bits to legitimize wasting my time on inane, drivel? Is it right to give him a zero because, while he can parrot biology he seems to have not learned the core of the subject?

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