On the origin of ignorance

| 86 Comments

From the Sunday Herald via the estimable John Pieret, about creationists:

According to a survey conducted recently, 75% of British people don’t get Charles Darwin. Astounding. That’s three from four. That’s most of the two-legged beings you are liable to meet. That’s almost everyone at the check-out. That’s most of your blood relatives.

It should come as no surprise, however. Reportedly, these folk harbour “doubts” as to natural selection. They incline instead towards myths with a comforting whiff of refutation and brimstone. They are otherwise persuaded, despite a ton of evidence. People, as ever, believe what they want to believe.

Perhaps, though, they also demonstrate, at a monkey-never-typing-Hamlet stroke, that there might be less to this evolution business than the brochures claimed. Chimps will be chimps.

Speaking as a monkey’s uncle’s less popular nephew, I don’t mind. If I have read Darwin half-way right, employing both opposable thumbs to prop up the book, natural selection depends on a majority always missing the point. Then we kill and eat them.

But they tell me, while approving miracles, canonising the extra-holy, opposing stem cell research, and abortion, and birth control, and gay people, and bad words, and the simple ability to think independently, that natural selection is only a theory. Only.

As the man said, natural selection in action.

(If I seem to quote Pieret a lot, it’s because he finds this stuff faster than my Google News traps.)

86 Comments

(If I seem to quote Pieret a lot, it’s because he finds this stuff faster than my Google News traps.)

Well, that … or I simply have no life.

Unfortunately, you’re both wrong. People who are religious and/or stupid tend to breed at much higher rates than those who are neither. When is the last time you heard of a scientist with 8+ children?

Since western societies have more-or-less stopped natural selection in it’s tracks, the only criteria for genetic propagation is how many children you’re able/willing to pump out.

As I said here just recently, we *are* losing the “Cultural Wars”. If you hold your nose just right, you can almost smell it in the air. And while killing and eating them might be the “natural selection” correct thing to do, I suspect they have a very flat, musty taste and no nutritional value…

Alex wrote:

When is the last time you heard of a scientist with 8+ children?

Doesn’t Behe have 9?

Oh wait, you said a scientist. Carry on.

Gloves have to be removed..all this nonsense about respecting religious sensitivities has got to be deep sixed.

This starts in school…that is where the separation of reality and myth must be enforced with a crow bar of rationality.

Because it is getting ridiculous this pandering to this delusion or that…is it not time this liberalness doctrine was ditched…in 100years it will be a mute point that we were religiously diverse enough to indulge fantasies as facts in this age…when science will be the only front line bulwark against global warming or pollution or disease or any challenge that occurs in the 21st century let alone the 22nd!

We are slowly allowing society to be strangled and the victim to be buried will eventually be science…that has always been the anti-christ in some quarters!

As the man said, natural selection in action.

What is your definition of fitness? Who is going to leave more reproducing descendants? Human culture is a much greater selective agent than genetics at this time in human history. Ignorance is passed on along with the genes.

Last night I caught a glimpse of some movie about morons taking over the world and some slacker from the present is awakened in that era and becomes president. They seemed to be on the verge of extinction through their own idiocy. Natural selection doesn’t mean progress in anyone direction. We just had Bush as president if you want to claim that it could never happen.

Call me an optimist for sure…but I see a glimmer of hope in the Information Age.

Surely there must be a natural selection process for thought and ideas. Rational thought has floated to the top over the past five or six centuries…slower than we may have wished…but still, the direction is correct and inevitable, yes?

Well, obviously having 8+ children kicks your publication record in the hole, but I personally know quite notable scientist with 5 kids (alas, I don’t know anyone with 8 kids, religiously inspired or otherwise), Anyway, this whole ‘stupid people are breeding’ elitist please can’t we bring eugenics back nonsense is being espoused far to readily by otherwise well meaning people and it needs to be stopped now.

Seriously, I thought fears of the impending apocalypse were the exclusive purview of the boozed up street preachers. Since when did rational people start worrying that the hoi polloi were going to storm the castle and smear shit on ethereally beautiful scientific do-dads?

I know that it is hard to remember with the intelligent design movement constantly spewing anti-scientific garbage into the media, but honestly, people are remarkably intelligent, and predisposed to compassion, empathy and curiosity. I think that the scientific world view is compelling enough to win the world over through the slow accumulation of converts, and does not need to resort to compulsory re-education of the opposition.

Horizontal cultural transition is an extraordinary powerful thing, and from my personal knowledge I can tell you that a very large percentage of those kids growing up in the 7+ children families will grow up to be good agnostic intellectuals with strong liberal western values. Remember, the abhorrent actions of deranged religious parents tends to sour the message of Christian love and tolerance that they wish to propagate.

Poets, writers and musicians will continue to secularize culture to the detriment of irrational and damaging cults.

Take it for what it is worth.

With these various surveys about people “believing” evolution and such I do wonder how the results would come out if the possible replies were more nuanced to allow a broader span of belief (regardless of the illogic of the potential responese.)

For example, if an included potential response was along the lines of “Evolution exists, but only applies to everything but mankind, which was a special creation” would that produce a noticable split in the 3/4 “no natural selection” reported above.

The simplistic black/white options are one reason I think most surveys are relatively useless for really learning opinions. Complicated by many of them being poorly worded and often therefore carrying considerable bias into the question.

With these various surveys about people “believing” evolution and such I do wonder how the results would come out if the possible replies were more nuanced to allow a broader span of belief (regardless of the illogic of the potential responses.)

I suspect the honest response would be “This evolution stuff seems to have a lot of scientific support, but it’s complicated and I don’t understand it, and I’m not comfortable giving up the simple explanation I was taught”.

According to a survey conducted recently, 75% of British people don’t get Charles Darwin.

Not quite sure what this means.

What percentage would get quantum mechanics, general relativity, or string theory? How many would have even heard of all three?

It’s not just evolution either. People are ignorant about lots of things. And scam artists take advantage of that to trick people, even while posing as people doing science!

Look at this blog entry I made:

http://circleh.wordpress.com/2009/0[…]ate-experts/

http://www.icecap.us/

This is a group of global warming denialists who happen to be meteorologists, but are obviously clueless when it comes to chemistry. First, please review my earlier blog entry:

http://circleh.wordpress.com/2009/0[…]co2-and-h2o/

Now, what do these “experts” say about the matter? They list this on bold as a “myth”, not a fact, and attempt to refute it:

http://icecap.us/index.php/go/faqs-and-myths#5

CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas.

Not even close. Most of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor, which is about 100 times as abundant in the atmosphere as CO2 and thus has a much larger effect.

Oh, really?

Suppose you have a planet with an atmosphere composed exactly like Earth’s, with water oceans and a yellow dwarf sun as well. Thus, its atmosphere would indeed have both CO2 and H2O, complete with clouds and typical weather patterns.

Suddenly, all the CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. Without the greenhouse effect it provides, the temperature drops quickly. The relative humidity skyrockets. In some areas, it exceeds 100%, and when that happens, clouds form, increasing the planet’s cloud cover. The clouds block and reflect the sunlight, further cooling the air below them as well as the surface. Precipitation results and the atmosphere loses most of its H2O as well. So the atmosphere becomes colder and drier, until finally the planet is locked in an ice age, which it can never recover from unless CO2 is added. Even the oceans will be frozen up.

Now, we add the CO2 back. With CO2 trapping heat once more, ice begins to melt. Then water begins to evaporate. As water evaporates, the H2O kicks in with its own greenhouse effect, resulting in more ice melting. Eventually, the oceans are restored, and the atmosphere returns to what it was.

H2O alone on Earth cannot keep the planet warm enough to sustain life, because at certain temperatures and concentrations in the atmosphere it forms clouds which act as cooling agents, and on land below a certain temperature it forms ice, which also reflects light. CO2 must be the trigger for the greenhouse effect of both substances to operate properly on Earth. Quite simply, those ICECAP “experts” are either lying or just idiots!

I submit this now for peer review! Please critique it and make comments there!

stevaroni said: I suspect the honest response would be “This evolution stuff seems to have a lot of scientific support, but it’s complicated and I don’t understand it, and I’m not comfortable giving up the simple explanation I was taught”.

Or perhaps, “This evolution stuff seems to have a lot of scientific support, but it’s complicated and I don’t understand it, so I’m going to pick one of the middle ‘maybe’ answers on this poll.”

raven said:

Not quite sure what this means.

What percentage would get quantum mechanics, general relativity, or string theory? How many would have even heard of all three?

Ditto. I am not saying ignorance is a good thing, but it’s sort of a fact of life. Consider a successful farmer: he’s definitely going to be wired into the latest agricultural science / tech and any politics that impact farming, but he’s not going to have the time to be any more than casually interested in much outside of that. If he’s got hobbies like playing the guitar or woodworking or something else that’s demanding, the amount of time he’ll have left to think about much else will be negligible.

I do not find these polls very interesting. In my personal experience, few people care about the sciences. I wish they did but they don’t. To be sure there’s a real battle for science and evo science in particular, but the indifference of most of the populace is just a simple fact. The most one can do is to compete for their attention with a good sales pitch and hope that a few of them get interested.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Well lets see, the origin of ignorance ??????

The origins of the current YEC movement in the UK (even here in Norn Iron) is the US. The current upsurge in YEC activity in the UK is largely due to Ham’s AiG (and it’s various offshoots i.e. CMI, Biblical foundations etc.) Certainly when I was young in the 70’/80’s I don’t ever remember an anti-evolution sentiment in Christian circles. Neither do I remember flood geology or nonsensical ideas such as dinosaurs living alongside humans in the Garden of Eden being preached from the pulpit.

There’s an old saying in this country. “Only in America” i.e. you can be sure anything wacky has it’s origins in the US. Pet rocks are a typical example (apparently they’re making a comeback as well). YECism is just another crazy idea coming from the US. I suppose you could argue that Ham is Australian, but then there where the Morris’ before him.

Still, wasn’t there a survey carried out in the US a few years ago in which around 30% of the respondents believed the Sun went around the Earth ?

I submit that it is harder to determine the origin of ingnorance than it is to determine the speed of dark. If light is the fastest thing there is, then how come dark always gets there first? Of course creationists want to keep everyone ignorant by keeping them in the dark. Coincidence?

Peter Henderson said:

… Certainly when I was young in the 70’/80’s I don’t ever remember an anti-evolution sentiment in Christian circles. Neither do I remember flood geology or nonsensical ideas such as dinosaurs living alongside humans in the Garden of Eden being preached from the pulpit…

My first encounter with a creationist (who literally caused my jaw to drop) was in ‘79; a medical student at Edinburgh, of all things, same as Charles Darwin. But not so much an evolution denier/ saddle-up-the-Triceratops!-type, she was a full-on Omphalos/ whoyagonnabelieve-God-or-the-evidence-of-your-own-eyes?-type.

Larry_boy said:

Well, obviously having 8+ children kicks your publication record in the hole, but I personally know quite notable scientist with 5 kids (alas, I don’t know anyone with 8 kids, religiously inspired or otherwise), Anyway, this whole ‘stupid people are breeding’ elitist please can’t we bring eugenics back nonsense is being espoused far to readily by otherwise well meaning people and it needs to be stopped now.

X…snip…X

Horizontal cultural transition is an extraordinary powerful thing, and from my personal knowledge I can tell you that a very large percentage of those kids growing up in the 7+ children families will grow up to be good agnostic intellectuals with strong liberal western values. Remember, the abhorrent actions of deranged religious parents tends to sour the message of Christian love and tolerance that they wish to propagate.

Poets, writers and musicians will continue to secularize culture to the detriment of irrational and damaging cults.

Take it for what it is worth.

I have to agree with this, especially the quoted points. Ignorance, superstition, and religiosity is not inherited genetically, and what’s more, children are socialized far more by their peer groups than by their parents.

It’s the peer group power we need to work on when it comes to instilling knowledge and a desire to acquire it, and that is where the school should be at its most effective. I don’t think schools use that potential influence as well as they might.

YECism is just another crazy idea coming from the US. I suppose you could argue that Ham is Australian, but then there where the Morris’ before him.

Still, wasn’t there a survey carried out in the US a few years ago in which around 30% of the respondents believed the Sun went around the Earth ?

YECism is regional in the USA. Not too common on the West Coast even though the DI is in Seattle of all places. I never ran into True Believer YECs until the 21st century on the internet.

It seems to be on the defensive these days. The tide is going out on them. The Bush regime were powerful allies of theirs and left the country in a perilous state. YECism isn’t a big deal when you lose your job, the banks fail and get bailed out with improbable amounts of money we don’t have, and your 401K and IRA (retirement) plans get cut in half. It will go the way of geocentrism for the same reason although who knows when.

The geocentrism poll is the Gallup Social Survey poll, mid 2000’s. Wikipedia has the data and links under their geocentrism article. Twenty percent of the US population and 26% of the fundies believe the sun orbits the earth. It is lower in Europe but it isn’t that much lower.

Peter Henderson said:

There’s an old saying in this country. “Only in America” i.e. you can be sure anything wacky has it’s origins in the US.

I used to kind of think that myself, but the Princess Di murder conspiracy theories proved me wrong. All societies have their wacks. I will admit that Darwin-bashing does seem to have strong American roots.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

llanitedave said:

I have to agree with this, especially the quoted points. Ignorance, superstition, and religiosity is not inherited genetically, and what’s more, children are socialized far more by their peer groups than by their parents.

I have to at least add that some of the most bitter religion-bashers I have met came from fundamentalist families.

On the other side of the coin was the older “far-left-outfield / New Age” woman I knew when I was living in Corvallis, Oregon. I overheard her talking about how her two daughters had become evangelical Christians and were driving her crazy. Oh, I bit my tongue SO hard! Gee, I wonder if listening to their mom’s loopy BS all the time … might have led to a reaction?

“Ya think?”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

The bell curve is alive and well, perhaps skewed towards the lower end? People prefer comfort food fed to them rather than have to work to understand it.

…or maybe 75% of the Brits are right. Maybe the Darwinists are being “naturally unselected”. Isnt that how eveolution works ;)

Dolly Sheriff said:

…or maybe 75% of the Brits are right. Maybe the Darwinists are being “naturally unselected”. Isnt that how eveolution works ;)

But we know evolution takes a long time. No one believed in Natural Selection 200 years ago. Now we’re up to 25%. So in that case maybe its the creationists that are being “unselected.”

Dolly Sheriff said:

…or maybe 75% of the Brits are right. Maybe the Darwinists are being “naturally unselected”. Isnt that how eveolution works ;)

Dolly could be right. Enough people could stop understanding, and be antagonistic enough to science, due to the efforts of the anti-science (for that is really what they are), for it to stop being used and taught. It’s already happened in Turkey.

And so we would enter a new Dark Ages. Medical understanding would decrease. Our understanding of our environment would drop. Our understanding of the world around us would drop. Our ability to create new technologies as our scientific understanding decreases, would also drop. Lifespans would drop as death rates rose and foodstuffs declined. Eventually our population would drop. This really would eventually lead to a slow decline, first of our nation, possibly of our species.

Congratulations Dolly. You could have what you want.

Unfortunately, you’re both wrong. People who are religious and/or stupid tend to breed at much higher rates than those who are neither. When is the last time you heard of a scientist with 8+ children?

For those that haven’t seen it, I recommend Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy

as to the origins of anti-science behavior… Didn’t we actually discuss this paper on this very site when it was originally published?

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conte[…]316/5827/996

Here is something else being selected against. Polls have shown for years that the US public is sick and tired of the fundies trying to force their wingnut beliefs on us.

It is likely that making creationism a litmus test for their cults is working the other way. I’ve heard it said that the fundie churches are losing their younger generation en masse. Haven’t seen any actual data so will leave that as hearsay of unknown accuracy.

Teaching creationism in public schools has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with tribal politics.

50% - More Conservatives Now Say Churches Should Stay Out of Politics Wed Sep 24, 12:00 AM ET Half of self-described conservatives now express the view that churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics; four years ago, only 30% of conservatives expressed this view. Overall, a new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds a narrow majority of the public (52%) now says that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues. The survey also finds that most of the reconsideration of the desirability of religious involvement in politics has occurred among conservatives. As a result, conservatives’ views on this issue are much more in line with the views of moderates and liberals than was previously the case. Similarly, the sharp divisions between Republicans and Democrats that previously existed on this issue have disappeared. There are other signs in the new poll about a potential change in the climate of opinion about mixing religion and politics. First, the survey finds a small but significant increase since 2004 in the percentage of respondents saying that they are uncomfortable when they hear politicians talk about how religious they are – from 40% to 46%. Again, the increase in negative sentiment about religion and politics is much more apparent among Republicans than among Democrats.

And so we would enter a new Dark Ages.

Things are as bleak as I’ve ever seen them.

Two of my friends were killed in Iraq for no obvious good purpose.

Of people known personally, the number that are unemployed, laid off, foreclosed on and otherwise struggling for economic security is high. The local animal shelter was inundated with pets people could no longer keep by mid 2008. It has gotten worse.

Those Dark Ages could be here faster than anyone thought. Societies do sometimes go backwards and collapse, the British Empire is gone as is the Soviet Union.

I’ve always been optimistic about the USA but it is getting harder. We’ve seen hard times before with the last Great Depression, WWII, cold war, etc.. We have the resources and brainpower to keep going. What has been lacking is will and leadership. The choice is ours and who knows how it will turn out.

Again with the false dichotomy. Either or, fundamentalism or biology with nothing in between. And you have to ask why so many people then choose to reject science.

How can you say that people reject evolution because it’s difficult to understand? Evolution is supposed to be so obvious that you must immediately accept it. All you have to do is look at a drawing of monkeys slowly turning into men (a drawing is just an opinion) and a water-colour painting of primitive people sitting around looking miserable. (Again, just an opinion, just like a painting of Adam & Eve doesn’t prove they existed).

harold Wrote:

In public school, accurate science must and can be taught. There is no role for specifically targeting one or more religions and teaching that they are “wrong”.

To advance reason and science, live in a way that exemplifies the adjoining of true rationality with respect for the rights of others.

Creationists often accuse teachers of doing this even though the teacher is simply going through the material in the best way he or she can. It is extremely rare that a teacher taunts or mocks religion in their class. It is simply unprofessional, and most teachers know this.

I know personally the kinds of situations in which creationists attempt to provoke a war over the teaching of evolution. I have watched the process as it unfolds. It usually starts with a complaint from a parent. Most often the complaint will go to the principal or program director before it goes to the teacher. If the principal refers the parent to the teacher, the complaint will be something like, “this teacher doesn’t listen, and is mocking my child’s beliefs.”

Then there comes a conference in the principal’s office with the “offending” teacher, the parents, and often the kid. In this conference the principal attempts to work out a compromise in which the teacher is told to go more easy on the students (this despite the fact that the teacher never did anything wrong to begin with; and note the plural of student).

If the teacher goes on teaching more of the evolution material, more complaints come in from the parents who then go to the school board and complain. Then the principal is on the carpet. This harassment drags on for months. In the mean time, the teacher begins to constantly start second-guessing everything he or she does. Unless there is extremely strong support among colleagues and other professional educators in the community, the teacher begins to come to the conclusion that teaching evolution isn’t worth the hassle.

I have seen even very strong teachers forced to back down because they didn’t get support from their administrators. I agree with Eric; teachers should not back down. Untenured teachers are under the most pressure even though they may be excellent and well-educated in their subject matter. If a teacher does not back down, but is willing to see this all the way to a court case if necessary, maybe we will finally start getting better science courses in the public schools.

As long as anti-evolutionists are allowed to take gratuitous offense at everything teachers do, if we continually defer to their distorted “sensibilities”, the majority of students fail to get the best education they can get from a teacher.

It’s not the teachers who are stoking this war; it’s the anti-evolutionist sectarians who are also politically active.

Eric and Mike Elzinga -

I agree with both of you; I will specifically reply to some of Eric’s comments (no offense, Mike, I just think that there is a lot of overlap in what you guys are saying, so I’m replying to one of you for the sake of brevity).

I don’t think you’re going to assuage fundamentalist fears and concerns by simply not targeting their beliefs, because you are teaching their kids a way of knowing that disagrees with the way of knowing their parents want them to have.

This is clearly true, and is exactly why creationists are always trying to mess with public schools, and by no means whatsoever do I advocate assuaging this type of fear or concern.

I’ll also quibble with you and say that while targeting a specific religion is wrong, its also wrong to not teach science out of fear it might impact someone’s religion.

There’s no quibble, as I also vehemently oppose the idea of distortions of or omissions from science curricula for the sake of pandering to a sectarian group. In fact, in the US, this would represent a clear violation of the constitutional rights of all other students (and indeed, even of the students who weren’t being “offended”).

Science and science teachers should not back down from teaching the germ theory of disease, heliocentrism, that the earth is billions of years old, that life evolves, or any of the other myriad conclusions of modern science simply because some student may hold a religious belief that disputes one of them.

I could not possibly AGREE more strongly.

Let me fully clarify my position -

1) I vehemently oppose the illegal teaching of any sort of religious dogma in science class or in any other way the suggests official favoritism for one or more religions.

2) I vehemently oppose teaching science incorrectly for any other reason, too, and that’s also illegal in most jurisdictions, as there is usually a legally binding requirement that curricula reflect current expert consensus in some way.

3) However, I ALSO support the right of people to hold whatever legal religious beliefs they wish, and, as long as their actions are legal, observe whatever religious ceremonies they wish.

It would be the height of bigoted discrimination in any country, and a most egregious constitutional violation of the US constitution, for a teacher to say something like “thus, we know that the earth revolves around the sun, and therefore the religion that Billy’s family follows is nonsense”.

You teach that the ~ 4.6 billion year old earth revolves around the sun in an ~ 13 billion year old universe, that life on earth is ancient and evolves, that microbes can cause human disease, etc, and you test Billy on that knowledge, but you damn well let he and his family decide for themselves how to incorporate that knowledge into their personal lives.

Larry said:

Peter Henderson said: I suppose you could argue that Ham is Australian

NO! NO! He’s a Queenslander! It’s like the bible belt of Australia.

Also the origin of our moralising wowser Prime Minister.

Schools or universities can’t make people believe anything.

Nor should they, they are there to teach knowledge, not the thought police.

However, in a class in biology or other science, the students are expected to know the material. So they should know what scientists have discovered about the age of the universe, evolution, and geology. Whether they believe it or not is another matter all together and their problem.

I know personally the kinds of situations in which creationists attempt to provoke a war over the teaching of evolution.

I’ve heard of cases like this. The parent(s) from extremist cults come into the school screaming and yelling about how the teacher is too liberal, an atheist, and is persecuting their kid by teaching evolution.

Sometimes the teacher gets cowed into silence or even outright fired. Other times, the adminstration just tells them the state standards mandate teaching evolution and astronomy and they just have to live with it. In other words, “you don’t have a right to dictate the curriculum for 40 students because you are a religious kook.”

Seems to me, the science teachers and administration should have a plan ahead of time anticipating this common situation. Otherwise they are just making it up as they go along.

The real guiding principles in secondary schools is, “don’t make waves.”

One thing I’ve always wondered about. Why don’t the schools just give opt out waivers to the families who are afraid their kids might gasp, horrors, learn modern science?

Little suzy doesn’t have to learn evolution or astronomy and the rest of the class doesn’t have to miss the last 100 years of science.

When we had sex ed back in the Dark Ages (with a competent teacher no less), all the kids had to take a permission document home, get it signed, and bring it back. Everyone did, really, the parents were all ecstatic that they didn’t have to do it themselves.

raven said:

The real guiding principles in secondary schools is, “don’t make waves.”

I can certainly vouch for this. Administrators are some of the biggest cowards when it comes to dealing with “controversy” and are the least helpful in supporting teachers who attempt to hold to academic standards.

I think part of the reason is that school administrators, including principals, don’t go through the same curriculum as do the teachers. They don’t even necessarily have a specialty in an area of science, and most are not required to have any significant classroom teaching experience. In other words, they live in a different world.

There was once a time when “principal” actually meant the principal teacher; one who had mastery of the material and the pedagogy. This is no longer the case, and often what teachers get for administrators are simply politicians who suck up to the political forces in the community.

harold said: It would be the height of bigoted discrimination in any country, and a most egregious constitutional violation of the US constitution, for a teacher to say something like “thus, we know that the earth revolves around the sun, and therefore the religion that Billy’s family follows is nonsense”.

Well, I’ll agree with that. But here’s the problem: personal offense is in the eye of the beholder. If a kid holds X as a fundamental belief, and you teach Y, and Y implies not-X, they’re going to figure out that you just said X is wrong even if you didn’t say the words “x is wrong.” And some of them are going to be offended regardless of how you present Y, because they are emotionally invested in X. Add to that, their classmates will also figure out what Y implies, and so you have - unfortunately and without meaning to - embarrassed them in front of their peers.

So, bottom line, you can’t teach science without stepping on toes. You shouldn’t go out of your way to do it - that would be cruel and unethical. But if some fact in science implies that religious claim X is wrong, that’s just the way it is. There is no perfect way to prevent people from being offended. IMO the best strategy is to go with methodological naturalism: this class is only about science, and this is the way science is. Other subjects may operate differently, but if you start with the premises of science, here is where you end up.

That seems like a good way to proceed, but I’m not a teacher, however, so maybe teachers have better ways of dealing with the inevitability of hurt feelings.

All of which is a very long way of saying that merely imparting the information of science will occasionally result, like Mike said, in calls to the principals office saying Billy’s beliefs were personally attacked. It doesn’t mean the teacher did anything wrong. It means that in class, like in any situation, the offensiveness meant by the speaker and the offensiveness taken by the hearer are not always the same.

Eric -

You and I agree with each other.

I’m obviously in favor of teaching complete and accurate science, whatever the “implications”.

What I’m not in favor of is commanding everyone to proclaim belief in a uniform philosophical or ideological position - not even if it’s one I agree with.

Creationists obviously disagree with me there.

However, they aren’t the only ones.

@ the phantom & Stevaroni

I’ve asked a number of questions in the last few months which have been avoided by saying “everyone knows that” or (in Stanton’s case, among others) giving weblinks which are irrelevant.

The last : which came first, the sperm or the ovum? Stanton suggested reading Wikip’s “Evolution of Human Reproduction”, without even reading the 1st line of it!

novpari,

How appropriate that you should post this on a thread about the origin of ignorance. As you have been told repeatedly, your ignorance is not evidence of anything, let alone the incompleteness of the theory of evolution.

The “how could all of this have evolved simultaneously” argument is worthless. There are many paths to the current state that you have not considered. Have you managed to read “The Evolution of Sex” yet? What is your analysis of the argument put forth by Smith? Do you agree with the mathematics or not?

Of course all of your naysaying is pointless unless you provide an alternative explanation that is more predictive and explanatory that the theory of evolution. Since you have not even attempted to to do so, all of your protestations can be safely ingnored.

The “you don’t have all of the answers so I don’t have to believe anything your say” routine is not going to work either, so you might as well give it up.

Yours in Darwin

Actually, he doesn’t. Evolution will continue to happen, whether benighted souls like novparl accept it or not.

The last : which came first, the sperm or the ovum?

Differentiation of cells evolved over time from ancestral cells that weren’t so differentiated.

Neither came first; that question doesn’t even make sense.

Henry

Henry J - certainly does. There must’ve been a 1st sperm & a 1st ovum. Unless you’re arguing that sperms & ova don’t exist? So you believe in magic?

DS - I have already dealt with your claim that a dogma cannot be questioned until replaced by a complete system. You’ve obviously never heard of the Theory of Everything, as yet incomplete.

Also, my name is Novparl (newspeak), not Novpari, which wd be Newbet. Evidently ya have reading problems. See ya on another thread.

“Newspeak”. How a propos.

Novparl,

So your answer is no, you haven’t bothered to read even the oldest relevant literature yet. Until you become acquainted with the current theory you really don’t have any place to criticize it.

Also, I didn’t claim that you had to have a complete explanation in order to overthrow an existing theory, I simply pointed out that you had to have a better one. Well? Do you have any scientific alternative at all? Do you have any evidence at all?

Until you know what you are rejecting and until you have some viable alternative, any reasonable person would be justified in ignoring you. You can question dogma all you want, no one can stop you. But if you hope to convince anyone of anything you had better at least know what you are talking about.

DS said:

Novparl,

So your answer is no, you haven’t bothered to read even the oldest relevant literature yet. Until you become acquainted with the current theory you really don’t have any place to criticize it.

Also, I didn’t claim that you had to have a complete explanation in order to overthrow an existing theory, I simply pointed out that you had to have a better one. Well? Do you have any scientific alternative at all? Do you have any evidence at all?

Until you know what you are rejecting and until you have some viable alternative, any reasonable person would be justified in ignoring you. You can question dogma all you want, no one can stop you. But if you hope to convince anyone of anything you had better at least know what you are talking about.

Like I said earlier that the idea that educated people are obligated to discuss topics with willfully ignorant people who refuse to make even the most superficial attempt to learn about the aforementioned topics is anathema to any sane person.

@ Stanton

Did you even make the effort to read the 1st sentence of the article on Wikipedia you recommended? Yes or no. Please.

novparl said:

@ Stanton

Did you even make the effort to read the 1st sentence of the article on Wikipedia you recommended? Yes or no. Please.

Are you physically capable of reading anything at all? Or, like your fellow cultists, would you rather die than learn anything?

Do you have the slightest speck of evidence to support whatever IDiotic bullshit you’re pushing? No, you don’t, because if you did you would have posted it by now. You’re as credible as a street preacher.

But since you seem to be working from the IDiotic assumption that because not every imaginable question is answered to your satisfaction in ten seconds, all of science must be a vast conspiracy against yur imaginary friend, let’s see if you can survive your own bullshit standards. MAKE A LIVING HUMAN OUT OF DIRT AND MAGIC! YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS!

Put up or shut up, asshole. If your next post doesn’t link to a video of you magically animating the dust of the earth, then fuck off, you’ve obviously got nothing.

HA ha ha ha ha. This guy is demanding that other people read something because he is ignorant and refuses to do the research for himself. Amazing. First read the book that is in your own eye, isn’t that what the pretty good book says? Or didn’t you read that one either?

For anyone who is actually interested in the “evolution of anisogamy”, a quick google search on that phrase gives 11,600 hits. The first hit has a free link to the paper:

Evolutionary Ecology 1(2):95-105 (1987)

The fifth hit give another good reference:

Journal of Theoretical Biology 238(1):98-210 (2005)

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. I admit that getting hold of a thirty year old book can be difficult, but that certainly is no excuse for remaining ignorant of an entire field of science. Of course none of this will be sufficient to convince someone who refuses to be convinced, that is not the point. The point is that someone who refuses to be convinced will no doubt also refuse to examine that which he refuses to be convinced of. Fortunately, that isn’t going to fool anyone.

Raven,

I think this is probably a bad idea. If evolution really is a fundamental theory of biology, you shouldn’t be able take biology without it. That would be like teaching math without addition.

Most U.S. States I know of don’t require Biology. They require two from Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (some add Earth Science as a fourth choice). If a fundamentalist student is in the situation where they absolutely must attend public school, but they’re absolutely opposed to hearing about evolution, the simplest “opt out” solution is to opt for Physics and Chemistry.

raven said:

One thing I’ve always wondered about. Why don’t the schools just give opt out waivers to the families who are afraid their kids might gasp, horrors, learn modern science?

Little suzy doesn’t have to learn evolution or astronomy and the rest of the class doesn’t have to miss the last 100 years of science.

When we had sex ed back in the Dark Ages (with a competent teacher no less), all the kids had to take a permission document home, get it signed, and bring it back. Everyone did, really, the parents were all ecstatic that they didn’t have to do it themselves.

Let the record show that novparl has utterly failed to make a living human out of dirt and magic. By his own absurd standards, his failure to meet this ridiculous challenge automatically invalidates everything he has ever said, and everything he ever will say.

phantomreader42 said:

novparl said:

@ Stanton

Did you even make the effort to read the 1st sentence of the article on Wikipedia you recommended? Yes or no. Please.

Are you physically capable of reading anything at all? Or, like your fellow cultists, would you rather die than learn anything?

Do you have the slightest speck of evidence to support whatever IDiotic bullshit you’re pushing? No, you don’t, because if you did you would have posted it by now. You’re as credible as a street preacher.

But since you seem to be working from the IDiotic assumption that because not every imaginable question is answered to your satisfaction in ten seconds, all of science must be a vast conspiracy against yur imaginary friend, let’s see if you can survive your own bullshit standards. MAKE A LIVING HUMAN OUT OF DIRT AND MAGIC! YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS!

Put up or shut up, asshole. If your next post doesn’t link to a video of you magically animating the dust of the earth, then fuck off, you’ve obviously got nothing.

Why does it bother Richard Hoppe so much that we have Freedom of Speech, which implies Freedom of thought? As we do have these freedoms guaranteed, why do people like Richard Hoppe feel threatened by others who believe differently from him? I claim he feels threatened because he resorts to name calling people as ignorant, fundamentalists, and other names simply because they are not convinced by the incomplete evidence of macro-evolution. Thoughtful people debate. Hoppe is threatened, so he attacks. He is no conservative. All the conservatives I know love to debate and don’t stoop to name calling those who disagree with them. Micro-evolution has indeed been proven. But macro-evoution was doubted even by Darwin himself and has never been proven. We share 98% of genes with apes, but also share the same amount with many other species. So why didn’t that mean ape, Travis, evolve?

Margo in VIrginia said:

Why does it bother Richard Hoppe so much that we have Freedom of Speech, which implies Freedom of thought?

This doesn’t bother Richard at all.

Why does Margo in Virginia think that Richard Hoppe is bothered “so much” by freedom of speech?

While we’re at it, why is Margo in Virginia so erratic in capitalization?

Margo in VIrginia said: We share 98% of genes with apes, but also share the same amount with many other species.

I challenge you to give an example of a none-ape species that shares 98% of our genes.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 15, 2009 10:09 PM.

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