Friday, March 24, 2006

On the Go ID

I just listened to the Discovery Institute’s “Intelligent Design Update” podcasts (I’m in love with the theme music, BTW). Here is the most striking and disturbing thing about these Intelligent Design (ID) propaganda-casts: they have a message that is sophisticatedly aimed at the American public’s ignorance (note: not the same thing as stupidity) about evolution, and short attention span. These podcasts average under 1 minute, for example.

They say “Teach the controversy and let the student decide”, in reference to their claim that mainstream scientists don’t think evolution is sound science. (I don’t remember being allowed to choose which facts to believe when I was in school.) They don’t mention that, by and large, these scientists are NOT BIOLOGISTS - the people who have actually extensively studied evolution. (Despite my feeling that, in general, when someone brings Nazis or the Holocaust into an argument it pretty much means they don’t have anything substantive to say anymore, I think a comparison here is apt.) There are many people who don’t believe that the Holocaust happened (frighteningly, probably more than believe in ID). Does this then mean that we should teach this ‘controversy’ in history classes? I don’t think so.

I guess my main point is that, despite the fact that ID has almost 0% chance of being broadly taught in public schools, they are getting their message out to the public. If a kid comes home after learning about evolution and his parents tell him that it’s not true, it undermines that kid’s education and that hurts both the kid’s future education and future job prospects. And that hurts the country as a whole. At a time when we need to have the next generation prepared for jobs that will require more education than any previous generation needed, we need to teach them with a unified voice.

As such, science needs to fight back with its own slick message. Obviously, our task is more difficult because explaining evolution is more difficult than saying, “God did it”. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do it.

[PS: God may have, in fact, done it. However, that hypothesis is not testable and, as such, has no place in a Science classroom.]

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