Students at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune were asked to explain how Union minister Satyapal Singh was wrong when he denounced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, reported The Wire. The question, which carried two marks, was posed to students of the advanced evolution course.
On January 20, the minister of state for human resource development had argued that Darwin’s theory was scientifically wrong because “nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man”. Students at IISER were asked to point out the flaw in his argument. The question also had a note that read: “This question is not asking why biologists believe evolution to be correct. It is asking why the quoted argument cannot be correct in terms of disapproving the Darwinian theory of evolution.”
Associate Professor Sutirth Dey, who came up with the question, told Pune Mirror that he wanted to see if students could spot logical fallacies. “Since this topic was in news recently, it felt like a good statement to use for the purpose,” he said.
After denouncing Darwin’s theory, Singh also suggested that it should be changed in school and college curricula. Singh’s comments stirred a controversy with members of the scientific community drafting a letter asking him to retract his statement. Singh, instead, called for an international debate on the topic.