Monday, October 18, 2010

Intelligent Voice of Reason #1

Well, I haven't written anything for a while. I could make numerous excuses, but it won't change the fact that I haven't written anything for a while.

I've been watching a lot of television, politics, and education (Education Nation on the channels of NBC). I've been looking for some intelligent voices of reason. There are a few.

One of them is Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. Earlier this month, he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and was asked why it is so important to teach evolution. Here is his intelligent response:
"There are some practical reasons. Some of the greatest technological advances of the next few decades are going to be in the biological sciences. And you can't do biology unless you understand evolution. There's going to be a race between us and the superbugs, the viruses that are going to attack us. Their big weapon is that they can evolve fast. If we don't have a generation of science students and scientists who understand evolution, we're not going to be able to understand our worst enemies. Also, great advances in diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are often going to come from research on other animals because you obviously can't give cancer or give Parkinson's disease to a human. You can to a mouse. We have to understand what the relationship is between a mouse and a human in order to interpret that science.

But also, what could be more fundamental than knowing where we came from? The theory of evolution is one of the most magnificent intellectual accomplishments of our civilization. It's a tragedy to deny children of the evidence, the line of argumentation, that led to this magnificent achievement in this essential bit of knowledge to understanding who we are and where we came from."

When American children are scoring in the bottom third in science when compared to other nations, we know there is a great need for good science education. Of course, this is made more difficult by number of adults who deny accepted scientific theories including, but not limited to, evolution, climate change, and the age of the earth. It appears scientific knowledge is also lacking in the adult population.

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