Teach the Evolution of Our Immune System
New topic to teach as an excellent example of evolution. With recent attention brought by the exposure of its misrepresentation by the ID movement, and Michael Behe's dismissive testimony in the Dover trial, students should know about the mountain of research that has clarified over the past decade how our immune system probably evolved. It would be helpful to show the essence of the prevailing transposon hypothesis for its origin when you teach the immune system, explaining why our system is so similar to that in other animals. Remember, knowledge of its origins can open doors to its control in life-threatening situations. Read the references suggested, and develop lessons to show the power of this science in helping us to understand the evolution of this system that's so important to our survival. When you do, please share with your colleagues via ENSIweb.
The Evolution of Immunology:
This was a major target of Intelligent Design supporter Michael Behe in his Darwin's Black Box. He claimed there (and when he was cross-examined in the Dover ID trial) that the scientific literature has "no answers" as to how the adaptive immune system may have originated. He did this even when confronted with a pile of some "58 peer reviewed publications, 9 books and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not 'good enough.'" (Judge Jones, 2005). Behe admitted that he had not read many of the publications presented (a small fraction of all the literature on evolutionary immunology of the past 35 years), but summarily rejected them as unsatisfactory and dismissed the idea of doing research on the topic as "unfruitful."
Fortunately, Judge Jones could see the irony here, praised
the many hard-working scientists who have made so much progress
on this important subject, and chided Behe and the clearly unscientific
ID movement for discouraging such efforts and attempting to seriously
weaken science education.
versus BEHE'S INTELLIGENT DESIGN CLAIMS IN DOVER
1. Andrea Bottaro, Matt A Inlay & Nicholas J Matzke (2006). Immunology
in the spotlight at the Dover 'Intelligent Design' trial.
Nature Immunology 7, 433 - 435 doi:10.1038/ni0506-433
2. Capsulized explanation of the transposon hypothesis
for the evolution of our immune system, plus an Annotated Bibliography
on the Evolutionary Origin of the Vertebrate Immune System.
3. Evolving Immunity: A More detailed explanation, fully
illustrated by Matt Inlay:
4. Supplementary Material for: Bottaro, Andrea, Inlay,
Matt A., and Matzke, Nicholas J. (2006). "Immunology in
the spotlight at the Dover 'Intelligent Design' trial."
Nature Immunology. 7(5), 433-435. May 2005. (Subscription
no longer required: DOI | Journal | Google Scholar | PubMed | Supplementary Material).
5. Follow-up comments on Panda's Thumb site (PT Pandas
Thumb - posters in Nature Immunology