Friday, May 17, 2013

A simple (?) question

I just gave the students in my summer Introduction to Anthropology class a "practice test" to make sure they are familiar with Blackboard, which I use for online testing, communicating, and discussing things with students between our class sessions.  One of the questions was:
Which is the most valid statement regarding human evolution?
  1. Humans evolved from chimpanzees.
  2.  Humans evolved from theropod dinosaurs.
  3. Humans evolved from lobe-finned fishes.
  4. Humans evolved from bats.
Interestingly, 100% of the students answered (1), chimpanzees.  The correct answer is (3), lobe-finned fishes.  Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees, humans and chimpanzees both evolved from a common ancestor that was neither a human nor a chimpanzee.  And this common ancestor, like all tetrapods, evolved from lobe-finned fishes.

Students didn't lose any points over this, but it is instructive. This is a sort of snapshot of the level of general awareness and understanding of evolution that people have, if they are forced to think about it.  I wonder what would have been the result if I had included a choice like "Humans evolved from Adam and Eve, who were created in the Garden of Eden some 6,000 years ago."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and feedback are welcome, as long as they conform to normal standards of civility and decency. I will delete comments that do not meet these standards.