Is it political if I tell you that if we burn coal, you’re going to warm the atmosphere? Or is that a statement of fact that you’ve made political? It’s a scientific statement. The fact that there are elements of society that have made it political, that’s a whole other thing.
In this Special Pre-Issue Release, Bill Nye gives his own first-person view of this much-watched and much-discussed debate, the circumstances surrounding it, his preparations and strategy, and the reasons he decided to take part.
Top 5 misconceptions about evolution: A guide to demystify the foundation of modern biology.
Here is an infographic to help inform citizens. From my experience most people who misunderstand evolution are actually misinformed about what science is and how it operates. That said, here are five of the biggest barriers faced when one explains evolution - I have faced these and they are documented in the literature.
I hope you can build on my work and improve the communication between the scientists and the public.
Want to do more? If you want to donate to the cause of science education I suggest the National Center for Science Education http://ncse.com, your local university, or an equivalent organization. Volunteering at schools and inviting scientists into classrooms are two ways to encourage an informed society. Attend hearings if school boards start questioning evolution’s role in public curriculum. Raise a storm if anyone tries to ban science. Plus, it never hurts to reblog a well made evolution post.
Thank you followers for all your support!
On a new compilation, an all-star cast makes songs out of sounds recorded from space. Participants include Spiritualized, Youth Lagoon, Beach House, The Antlers and more.
It’s been almost a year and a half since I visited the Jenny McCarthy Body Count. In that time, it looks like over 250 unnecessary vaccine-preventable deaths and over 20,000 illnesses have occurred because of Jenny and her ilk spreading brain-meltingly frustrating misinformation about the safety of vaccines.
This from a woman whose website has the following headline up today: 21 Benefits of Enzymes and Why You Need Them … oh I dunno, maybe to complete basic biological functions and literally BE ALIVE?!?!
A society that cares about science more will be a society that cares less about Jenny McCarthy. Keep up the good fight, and keep sharing science with your friends. Someone’s life may depend on it.
An experimental gene therapy recently tested on mice at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre found that by modifying a non-replicating virus to trigger production of an enzyme that repairs chromosomes, scientists were able to slow down cellular aging in the mice by up to 24 percent.
As always I like to post the entire quote when I can find it. Getting the whole picture is always so much better. This is so much better when you read the whole thing. ~ Kim
“Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, I’m sure we’ll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and that it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn’t withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn’t seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That’s an idea we’re so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that it’s kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? — because you’re not!’ If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it, but on the other hand if somebody says ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday’, you say, ‘Fine, I respect that’.
The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking ‘Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?’ but I wouldn’t have thought ‘Maybe there’s somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics’ when I was making the other points. I just think ‘Fine, we have different opinions’. But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody’s (I’m going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say ‘No, we don’t attack that; that’s an irrational belief but no, we respect it’.
It’s rather like, if you think back in terms of animal evolution, an animal that’s grown an incredible carapace around it, such as a tortoise—that’s a great survival strategy because nothing can get through it; or maybe like a poisonous fish that nothing will come close to, which therefore thrives by keeping away any challenges to what it is it is. In the case of an idea, if we think ‘Here is an idea that is protected by holiness or sanctity’, what does it mean? Why should it be that it’s perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows, but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe, no, that’s holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we’ve just got used to doing so? There’s no other reason at all, it’s just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it’s very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it’s very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you’re not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”
In America today, anti-evolutionism matters because it has become the vanguard of a genuine anti-science movement. To be sure, opposition to evolution isn’t new. State laws against the teaching of evolution actually go back nearly a century, and the famous Scopes trial took place 87 years ago. However, if you thought such things were behind us, guess again. Laws designed to encourage the teaching of non-scientific “alternative” theories to evolution were introduced in 11 state legislatures last year. This year, Darwin’s 203rd birthday, on February 12th, saw an anti-evolution bill, already passed by the Indiana State House of Representatives, awaiting action in the State Senate. Its fate there is uncertain, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned.
Our Darwin problem is really a science problem. The easier it becomes to depict the scientific enterprise as a special interest immersed in the culture wars, the easier it becomes to reject scientific findings. We see this everywhere in American culture and politics today, from the anti-vaccine movement to the repeated assertion that global warming is a deliberate “hoax” rather than a straightforward conclusion driven by reams of scientific data. Sometimes this is done for deliberate political reasons, to secure advantage for a particular industry or financial group, but just as often it is motivated by fear of the implications of what science has discovered or might discover in the future.
Our Darwin problem matters for two reasons. First, it threatens the future of American scientific leadership in an increasingly competitive world. Convince enough young Americans that science is a close-minded system with a particular cultural and political agenda, and we will cede leadership to emerging countries that don’t share our Darwin hang-ups, and see science as the wave of the future. If you doubt this is happening today, look at the graduate programs of America’s research universities, still the greatest in the world. Increasingly, they are filled with bright, eager, creative students from around the world, taking places that American students just don’t seem interested in filling. Once trained, they will become the scientists of the future, while more and more of our own students have been persuaded that science has nothing to offer them. If this doesn’t change, scientific discovery will increasingly become something that happens elsewhere.
Second, and in my view just as important, our problem with science constrains and narrows our views and vision of the world. My personal concern for those who hold that view isn’t just that they are wrong on science, wrong about the nature of the evidence, and mistaken on a fundamental point of biology. It’s that they are missing something grand and beautiful and personally enriching.
Evolution isn’t just a story about where we came from. It’s an epic at the center of life itself. Far from robbing our lives of meaning, it instills an appreciation for the beautiful, enduring, and ultimately triumphant fabric of life that covers our planet. Understanding that doesn’t demean human life — it enhances it. We may be animals, but we are not just animals. We are the only ones who can truly appreciate, as Darwin put it, that there is “grandeur in this view of life,” and indeed there is. To accept evolution isn’t just to acknowledge the obvious — that the evidence behind it is overwhelming — it is to open one’s eyes to the endless beauty that life has generated and continues to produce. It is to become a knowing participant, in the truest sense, in the living world of which we are all a part.