Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teaching evolutionary biology in med school

I just saw this on Uncommon Descent.

1. I agree with O'Leary that there's little point teaching evolutionary biology in med school. It's not directly relevant to clinical medicine. At best, it might be relevant to research.

In fact, it'd be more relevant for future docs to learn, say, plant biology and physiology than to learn evolutionary biology. Like maybe there are pharmacological applications med students might gain from understanding plant physiology. So, unless evolutionary biologists are going to start recommending med schools add plant biology (and/or other equally or more relevant subjects) before or alongside evolutionary biology in the med school curriculum, then I don't see why teaching med students evolutionary biology should be a serious consideration.

Of course, this assumes evolutionary biology is even true in the first place - which is highly contestable. But that's another debate.

2. Re: the quote: "Most medical schools do not have a single evolutionary biologist on the faculty." I don't know whether that's statistically true or not. But there are plenty of med school profs (scientists and clinicians) who may not have doctorates in evolutionary biology but who nevertheless strongly understand and espouse it. So it's still possible for evolutionary biology to come through in lectures and labs and so forth without having a single evolutionary biologist on the faculty.

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