Turkey evolving

It is fashionable in some circles to ridicule Turkey owing to the vocal minority of that country’s citizens who proclaim their support for creationism, and attack “Darwinists” at every opportunity. There is a problem with attitudes among some Turks to modernism and scientific reason, and, as far as politics is concerned, no-one in their right mind should accept Turkey becoming a member of the EU until the country becomes a full democracy.

That said, much of the criticism of Turkey is unfair, and in some cases it sniffs of racism.

Good, then, to see the reaction from Turkey’s scientists, students and wider intelligentsia to their knuckle dragging creationist compatriots. As Debora McKenzie reported last month in New Scientist, Turkey aims by 2013 to match its science spending to the European average, and there is a healthy market in the country for popular science publications, which include Bilim ve Teknik. When this monthly magazine dropped a piece marking the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, scientists demonstrated in Ankara, and readers cancelled their subscriptions in disgust.

Reinforcing this more positive view of Turkey and scientific modernism we now have the “Darwin Now” conference organised by the British Council. This will take place in November 2009 in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the successor to the Great Library of Alexandria.