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A well informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will

Both Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum are wrong, but I think Drum is infuriatingly wrong.

They’re arguing over a statistic, the observation that about 46% of Americans believe the earth is 6000 years old and that a god created human beings complete and perfect as they are ex nihilo. Andrew Sullivan sees this as a consequence of the divisiveness of American politics, that they’re using it as a signifier for red vs. blue.

I’m not sure how many of the 46 percent actually believe the story of 10,000 years ago. Surely some of them know it’s less empirically supported than Bigfoot. My fear is that some of that 46 percent are giving that answer not as an empirical response, but as a cultural signifier. That means that some are more prepared to cling to untruth than concede a thing to libruls or atheists or blue America, or whatever the “other” is at any given point in time. I simply do not know how you construct a civil discourse indispensable to a functioning democracy with this vast a gulf between citizens in their basic understanding of the world.

Drum is quite right to point out that this is a bogus correlation: the US has been about evenly split on the issue for as long as we’ve been polling our citizens on it. There’s been a gradual drift to sharpen the distinction along political lines — a hundred years ago, the most likely proponents of creationism would have been liberal Democrats — but it’s largely because the Republican party has stepped in to embrace the demographic of ignorance and anti-intellectualism, becoming a kind of general know-nothing party. These differences have been here all along and are not a product of partisan politics; it’s just that one party had the brilliant idea of enthusiastically waving the flag of stupidity.

But Kevin Drum goes too far. He claims the fight over evolution isn’t actually all that important, and that the science doesn’t really matter.

The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. Sure, it’s a handy way of saying that they’re God-fearing Christians — a “cultural signifier,” as Andrew puts it — but our lives are jam-packed with cultural signifiers. This is just one of thousands, one whose importance probably barely cracks America’s top 100 list.

And the reason it doesn’t is that even creationists don’t take their own views seriously. How do I know this? Well, creationists like to fight over whether we should teach evolution in high school, but they never go much beyond that. Nobody wants to remove it from university biology departments. Nobody wants to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution. In short, almost nobody wants to fight evolution except at the purely symbolic level of high school curricula, the one place where it barely matters in the first place. The dirty truth is that a 10th grade knowledge of evolution adds only slightly to a 10th grade understanding of biology.

Oh, great. That’s all we need — for both parties in our polarized political system to abandon science.

Drum is making a very stupid argument. Most Americans have trouble balancing a checkbook — ever witnessed a confused high school student try to make change at a fast-food restaurant — so what the heck do they need algebra for? Why even bother with basic arithmetic? Teach them how to use a calculator in first grade, bam-pow, math education is done.

How many Americans read a novel as adults? How many bother with magazines, even, short of looking at the pictures? You don’t even need to read to be able to navigate our highways — knowing symbols and names are enough. Teach kids the alphabet, show ‘em how to write their name and roughly recognize place names, and wham-bam-zowie, reading is done by second grade. Ship ‘em out into the workforce by third grade.

We’ll just let the eggheads take the advanced courses, like geometry and creative writing and literature.

Drum isn’t arguing anything that extreme, of course, but it’s a logical consequence of his reasoning: he doesn’t use biology, and he doesn’t think most Americans use much biology, therefore it’s a frippery that can be set aside.

Now, I think evolution should remain in high school texts anyway. Why? Because it’s true. Biology is a science, and evolution is one of the pillars of modern science. For me, that’s a cultural signifier every bit as much as a literal reading of the Bible is for 46% of the country. But you know what? I could spend an entire day arguing politics and economics and culture with a conservative and never so much as mention evolution. It’s just not that important, and it doesn’t tell us much of anything about our widening political polarization. We should keep up the fight, but at the same time we shouldn’t pretend it has an epic significance that it doesn’t. I’m not optimistic about anyone or anything “bringing the country together,” but not because lots of people choose to deny evolution. Frankly, that’s one of the least of our problems.

You know what? I could spend all day arguing science with a conservative (and I have!) and never once mention politics or economics or culture. Therefore, politics and economics and culture are unimportant.

Funny how that works.

The evolution statistic does have epic significance. If kids were graduating from high school unable to read or do basic arithmetic, we’d see that as a serious indictment of our educational system…and we’d be right to worry about our future as a technological society. That 46% of our citizens graduate with a complete denial of a most basic, fundamental fact about our world — that all of the sciences, not just biology, but physics, geology, chemistry, and astronomy concur that the planet is billions of years old — represents a massive failure of our educational system. In itself, it’s a small problem — it’s knowledge of one small detail. But as a symptom, it indicates a nation-wide problem.

I don’t just blame the schools, though: it’s not that they can’t teach a simple, fundamental fact. It’s that there is immense cultural push-back that opposes a scientific truth. If it were just an omission in the school curricula, it would be trivial to fix — but no, it’s a symptom of systemic rot in the whole body politic and a reflection of a crippling anti-intellectualism in this country. That’s what has epic significance.

It directly affects us in two ways.

One is that it’s nice to be able to American biology departments and medical research and say they’re doing fine, and it’s true that we have excellent opportunities for advanced research, but it’s our public schools that fill the pipeline leading to those places. Look in our research labs, and what will you see? Swarms of Chinese students. I have no objection to that, but think long term: most of those students will go home to build careers there, not here. Students who do not get the basics of science are handicapped when it comes to progressing up the academic ladder, so sure, let’s knee-cap our student base by telling them all that the most minimal, trivial understanding of an entire large discipline isn’t actually all that important. Where are our future American biologists going to come from, then?

Second, this is going to be the century of dependence on the sciences. Climate change is going to hit us all; environmental crises are going to rise up all over the place; we’re going to face shortages of energy and fresh water; emerging diseases will be a major concern; new biomedical technologies will cause cultural shocks; the whole world is going to change. Most people, I agree, will not be doing the research that leads to changes, and most of those problems will require political and social changes to correct, but how are you going to convince people to, for instance, change their fuel consumption habits when they’re in complete denial of the basic facts? How can you expect people to appreciate the importance of ecology and global interactions when you tell them that evolution doesn’t matter? How will you get them to make rational decisions to control pandemics when they can’t comprehend probability, epidemiology, and viral/bacterial evolution on even the most basic level?

Most importantly, though, this utilitarian attitude that all that matters is what people can directly use in their day-to-day life is a denial of the Enlightenment and principles on which our country was founded. It’s a rejection of the liberal ideal that human beings should be well-rounded and informed individuals — the informed citizenry that should be the foundation of a democracy. We can’t expect everyone to be biologists or poets or political scientists, but we should expect that one outcome of a public education is an appreciation of the breadth of human endeavor, and at least a smattering of the fundamentals of a wide range of subjects, sufficient that, to make it practical again, students can make informed career decisions and understand a basic argument from evidence from an expert. We lack that now. And to wave away a simple but essential starting fact about our existence as unimportant is deeply offensive.

I’ll leave you with the words of Thomas Jefferson, who understood deep down how important the principle is, even if he never heard a word about evolution.

I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.

Shorter Thomas Jefferson:

If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.

Comments

  1. says

    Drum is probably wrong. There probably are people out there who want evolution removed from universities. And geology that teaches the Earth is several billion years old. And physics that teaches the Universe began 15 billion years ago with the Big Bang. And a bunch of other elements of science because they contradict the Bible, and hence “prevent people from coming to the Lord.”

  2. Amphiox says

    Drum has got the horse/cart misconception going here.

    The reason many people do not apply knowledge of the theory of evolution in their daily lives and political discourse is because they are ignorant of the theory, because they have not been properly taught it. Being ignorant of it, they do not recognize where in their daily lives they could apply such knowledge for their material benefit and intellectual fulfillment (in areas as wide ranging as healthcare policy to the development of their own children, for example). Thus, when encountering such situations, they resort to some other intellectual tool and muddle through. Sometimes they end up applying evolutionary reasoning without recognizing that it even is evolutionary reasoning, due to their ignorance of the theory and what it says.

  3. raven says

    Look in our research labs, and what will you see? Swarms of Chinese students.

    QFT.

    More than 10 years ago, I stopped off to see a friend working in a prominent biology department in the interior USA.

    We walked around and the first thing I noticed were that the vast majority of the grad students were mainland Chinese.

    “Hey, what is up with this. Where are the Americans?” Reply: “That is mostly who we can get.”

    Ironically, after their first year, many of the Chinese switched to business departments for some reason.

  4. hillaryrettig says

    Basically we’ll wind up a nation of serfs, which is what our corporate overlords want. However, I’m optimistic about the power of the Internets and related technologies to counteract.

  5. thisisaturingtest says

    Well, creationists like to fight over whether we should teach evolution in high school, but they never go much beyond that.

    I think Drum is missing something here- the creationists don’t need to go much beyond that, and they know that. They take it very seriously indeed, but they are not looking beyond the context of their own immediate agenda- to get their religion into children’s minds as soon as possible, to the “greater glory” of their mythology. The important point is that, if creationists get their agenda accepted, the effect will be to “remove it from university biology departments…[and] to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution.” It doesn’t matter if that’s not their intent- their intent is too shortsighted to care about it- it only matters that that will be the result.

  6. says

    Good point. The creationists understand better than Drum that if you control the source, you don’t need to worry about controlling everything downstream.

  7. says

    The Wedge is all about getting evolution out of the universities–and virtually everywhere in our culture. Ham is quite explicit about how evolution in colleges leads the young “astray.”

    Mostly they fight to get it out of elementary and high schools because they control school boards–and have little or no power over all but religious colleges–and because they wish to poison the well of science. Obviously, they do the latter quite well.

    Drum knows nothing about our culture. Sounds as dumb as a creationist.

    Glen Davidson

  8. Matt Penfold says

    Drum is right that the dumbing down of biology education because of the efforts of creationists in the US is a minor problem when you look at the problems religion creates around the world. But that is no reason not to fight the creationists. We can fight more than one battle against religious dogma.

  9. d cwilson says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything.

    Drum better hope he never gets a MRSA infection.

  10. says

    Another angle on the “they’re not going to use it when they grow up” argument: It fallaciously assumes we know what the kid can and will be when he grows up.

    A big part in exposing kids to science and advanced classes is to find out what they like and how talented they are in learning and thinking about those topics. A kid can’t know if he’ll find a subject engaging if he’s not exposed to it. A topic that appears boring could have some ‘hidden’ feature that appeals to some kids.

    If I was less squeamish about dissecting that frog (or in general), I could have ended up studying biology. My 7th grade biology teacher got evolution to ‘click’ with her lessons on how mutations and heredity work. All the shows about evolution on Discovery started making much more sense. I was lucky to have a teacher like her in Texas. I shudder to think what would have happened to my status as an informed citizen if the course was taught by the football coach.

  11. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Many of the creationists (especially the leaders) are also Dominionist. They want an ignorant electorate. This is not a side effect to them.

    They want a society where women are barely literate, men have 8th-grade educations, and only the elite men know more than that.

  12. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything.

    To the average person on that very specific subject, maybe. But more importantly it signifies that these people are willing to eschew what people far more educated and knowledgeable are saying is correct for the more ignorant and emotionally appealing message given to them by their pastors.

  13. says

    Mostly they fight to get it out of elementary and high schools because they control school boards–and have little or no power over all but religious colleges–and because they wish to poison the well of science.

    Just to emphasize the point, where they do have control of colleges they definitely fight to prevent real science from being taught, as at La Sierra University, and regarding Dembski’s “Galileo moment” when he was forced to agree with YECism.

    They do lose many at the college level, after all.

    Glen Davidson

  14. says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it:

    Global warming, too.

    Oh, maybe not. But if you can convince a bunch of yahoos that science is just another interest group, really pressing problems can easily be ignored.

    And yes, in the larger sphere evolution matters a good deal as well.

    Glen Davidson

  15. generallerong says

    Apropos of nothing, where can I get a poster of that pic of Christ and the apostles playing poker?

  16. raven says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything.

    This is an ignorant statement and factually completely wrong.

    1. Evolution is critical in medicine. Anti-pathogen drug resistance is common, predictable, and sometimes treatment limiting. We just spent billions fighting a newly evolved disease, swine flu and tens of billions fighting another one, HIV/AIDS.

    The current model for cancer is somatic cell evolution which leads to cancer and also is often treatment limiting. This fact will kill 100 million of the 300 US citizens alive today.

    2. Evolution is also the basis of our modern agricultural systems. It feeds 7 billion people, a number thought impossible only a few decades ago.

    Evolution only matters if you eat and want to live a long, healthy life.

  17. raven says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything.

    Drum is an idiot.

    You can live your entire life without knowing how an internal combustion engine works or a computer.

    After all, a car runs just fine if you know enough to put the key in and get gasoline when the needle heads towards “E”. All you have to know about a computer is how to turn it on and use a mouse.

    But that just means someone else has done the thinking and creating for you. And if they hadn’t, no car and no computer. While not everyone has to know everything, someone has to do the thinking or we would still be living in caves.

  18. Matt Penfold says

    But that just means someone else has done the thinking and creating for you. And if they hadn’t, no car and no computer. While not everyone has to know everything, someone has to do the thinking or we would still be living in caves.

    And the people who are clueless about how cars or computers work are the people who will take advantage of by unscrupulous sales and repair people.

  19. ladude says

    I work within the American public school system. It is my experience that most teachers are pretty good at their jobs. It seems that many parents don’t appreciate that they are their child’s first teachers. Now days if you don’t send your child to their first day of kindergarten reading and doing basic math, etc., they are already going to be behind and find it hard to catch up. Many of these parents seem far too happy to feed their children full of religious myth, creating a religious bias in the child, and making it difficult for the child to be motivated to learn anything different from the myth.These parents don’t realize the damage they are doing.

  20. Jerry says

    I am a basic research scientist in a national lab. My boss has introduced me as the “token American”. Yes, he has an odd sense of humor, but my point is that even in American government labs, American scientists are in short supply. If this goes on much longer, we won’t _have_ basic science much longer. Applied science will suffer soon afterwards, and we will no longer be a leading developed nation. Countries with real science programs will pass us by. I think Christian Dominionists also tend to be America-first nationalists (at least their bumper stickers say so), but they are turning the U.S. into a third world country.

    Drum is not only affected by the anti-evolution attack on science, he is also a part of the problem. He has become a passive enabler of the creationists, possibly simply because he does not know any better. In other words, he is an example of how they have started to win.

    George Bush the lesser already gave us “War is Peace” against the Axis of Evil, a war in Iraq based upon lies and a belief in might makes right. Republicans, in passing the so-called Patriot Act (and PA2), gave us “Freedom is Slavery”, because we didn’t need those civil rights anyway, just security theater at airports. Creationists are leading us to “Ignorance is Strength”, at least strength for them. I can see where my country is going, and I am both sad and afraid.

  21. says

    Well, creationists like to fight over whether we should teach evolution in high school, but they never go much beyond that. Nobody wants to remove it from university biology departments.

    And I bet that bio profs are simply thrilled to teach basic, elementary science to 18 year olds. Almost every college that I know of requires at least one science course for graduation, so we’re going to handicap pretty much every student by denying them a basic education?

    It’s fitting, seeing as though Republicans would love to create a permanent economic underclass.

  22. Brownian says

    There’s a bit of a canard with the whole “people get by without it, therefore it’s not needed”.

    First, it can be said about every cultural and technological development since Olduwan hand axes.

    Secondly, just because someone can function without it doesn’t mean that they’re excelling, thriving, or even keeping up.

    I know a woman who was too frightened of driving in a big city that she couldn’t visit her children who lived there. They had to drive out to see her, which meant that visits only happened when they could afford the travel plus visit time. So, she could ‘get by’, but her limited skills and knowledge put constraints on her quality of life. (She’s since learned to drive in the city. She doesn’t like it, but she manages just fine.)

    It’s a trite example, but it demonstrates how much even a subtle deficiency can have real effects.

    People can scape by with very limited knowledge and skill sets. It’s hardly a reason to endorse shutting down the schools.

  23. Brain Hertz says

    I could spend an entire day arguing politics and economics and culture with a conservative and never so much as mention evolution. It’s just not that important, and it doesn’t tell us much of anything about our widening political polarization. We should keep up the fight, but at the same time we shouldn’t pretend it has an epic significance that it doesn’t.

    Things not important to Kevin Drum are not important.

  24. Amphiox says

    Many, many generals in the history of warfare have lost campaigns because they held their reserves in check for the anticipated big battles, ceding the little battles as unimportant, until they died the death of a thousand nibbles, with every little battle not contested costing just a fraction of ground, position, and/or strategic resource, until at last when the time came to fight the big battle, they found themselves starved of the capability to fight it, and the enemy by dint of that series of small victories, manifoldly stronger than they were at the start, and the war already lost.

  25. wbenson says

    “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” George Orwell, 1984 (the book, not the date.)
    If Jebus says you’re righteous and moral and is going to save you no matter how badly you screw up, you have a license to do ANYTHING.

  26. thisisaturingtest says

    @#21, ladude:

    It seems that many parents don’t appreciate that they are their child’s first teachers.

    QFFT. They “don’t appreciate” it to the extent that the first thing many children learn is “goddidit.” That’s a start to be overcome, not built on.

  27. laurentweppe says

    No Sullivan is right: a lot of creationists know that creationism is bullshit is just lie about it: like they lie about the “sacro-sanct institution of marriage endangered by pederastic hordes” or how they still pretend that immigrants are lazy parasites living the great life by sucking the life-blood of “job-creators” through taxes, or about how Global Warming is communist agit-prop, etc…
    *
    I mean, we see it all the time: 20% of liberal voters claiming that 9/11 was an inside job; 40% of Republicans who claim that Obama is a mandchurian candidate: that’s not stupidity: that’s expressions of political tribalism.
    *
    Now you’re going to tell me that nearly half of US citizens with a college degree are dumb enough to believe in young earth creationism?
    Sure: a fraction of young earth creationist are what they are through ignorance: but I’m not going to apply Hanlon’s razor to educated people telling a lie used to promote their own class interest.

  28. abb3w says

    The failure to accept evolution is not itself a particularly big problem, intrinsically. It is, however, a symptom for a much more fundamental problem: a basic refusal to accept facts about how the universe works.

    This is not necessarily a completely crippling disadvantage. Squid and beetles do just fine in the world without the ability to understand evolution, or many other basic facts. Contrariwise, they’re not trying to occupy the “technological ape” niche, which is in part based on understanding the world, and using that understanding to manipulate the environment and enlarge the effective niche space thereby.

    Even imperfect understanding isn’t necessarily instantly lethal. One can play poker reasonably well even while being unable to distinguish the Jack of Clubs and the Jack of Spades. You may even get lucky on occasion, and win a hand or two as a result of decisions made based on that confusion. However, it does tend to leave such players at a long-term disadvantage to saner players, with the same overall skill but a better acceptance of facts.

  29. AlanMac says

    And the reason it doesn’t is that even creationists don’t take their own views seriously.

    *headdesk**headdesk**headdesk**headdesk**headdesk**headdesk*

    ow!

  30. says

    A big part in exposing kids to science and advanced classes is to find out what they like and how talented they are in learning and thinking about those topics. A kid can’t know if he’ll find a subject engaging if he’s not exposed to it.

    This.
    The main reason I’m into biology now is that I had a great biology teacher in 10th grade. If we let it slip in the lower grades, the students won’t care in the higher grades.
    The creotards won’t need to get evolution out of the universities, because there won’t be anyone singing up for it anyway.

  31. Matt Penfold says

    Now you’re going to tell me that nearly half of US citizens with a college degree are dumb enough to believe in young earth creationism?

    Who do think is saying that ? Not PZ.

    The data shows nearly half of all Americans are young earth creationists, not half of all Americans with a first degree. In fact the data suggests that belief in young earth creationism is inversely correlated with educational achievement.

    Why make stuff up ?

  32. quatguy says

    Very well said PZ, I totally agree with you. Education is one of the keys to a working democracy (along with a functioning media, but that is another story). The general ignorance of the population is a very scary thing. As you stated, an ignorant population is more likely to be lead down the garden path by charlatans and evil-doers and will be much less resilient when it comes to making informed decisions in the face of impending crisis. Democracy truly fails when the average John Q Public can’t tell their ass from a tea kettle. I fear that the US, and a number of other western democracies are already a long way down the path and it is not clear how they will find their way back. The american cry of “Freedom” is more hollow now than it has been at any point in the last 200 years.

  33. nooneinparticular says

    Drum’s argument is not “stupid”. I think he is wrong about the importance of understanding evolution, for many of the same reasons you do, PZ, but he is essentially correct; understanding how evolution works is simply not relevant to most people’s lives. You bring up the canard of using algebra to make change. That shows that algebra IS relevant to most and it is in many more ways than making change. THAT is an argument for teaching algebra to high schoolers. There is no equivalent situation you can come up with for evolution except, perhaps, for those students who wish to pursue a biology degree in university.

    I think Sullivan is more right than Drum about cultural signifiers, at least in so far as the people who claim they believe in creationist idiocy have dug their heels in. It is true that the percentage of people who say they are creationists has not changed much in recent decades, but the extreme polarization of American politics makes some who, in the face of almost daily media reports on the evidence for evolution, just as for climate change, can make people refuse to budge on their answers to pollsters. Some wear their ignorance as a badge.

  34. hexidecima says

    “Nobody wants to remove it from university biology departments. Nobody wants to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution.”

    first, there are people who do want to remove and shut down such things. Pity that such lies are being told to evidently relinquish responsibility. If they don’t, the only reasons are: 1. too stupid to know that evolutionary theory is being taught in college and being used in medical research and/or 2. that they are utter hypocrites and will accept anything that makes them comfy no matter if they revile the science behind it.

  35. says

    Evolution has consequences. That we are primates rather than gods and that we are connected to this planet, not just waiting around for the magic hand to come and take us away. It also fills in the background of our own history and this planet. What a bizarre thing not to care about.

    Frankly i’ve used evolutionary theory in my programming work… but I have never needed to “know” that the earth is round. Strange but true.

    I also don’t need to know what my goverment is doing and what laws they are passing most of the time. I don’t need a lot of things…until suddenly I do and i’m left floating in an unconnected mess of facts and lies and expected to make a decision.

    Knowledge is power. Once you have that connected understanding about the world it makes it much harder to challenge it with silly facts that don’t fit. That’s why the christians want that knowledge denied. Saying it doesn’t matter to them is blithering naivity.

  36. Alverant says

    I do agree with one point Drum is making. There are people who won’t believe in evolution, climate change, etc because the people who are promoting education of those things are Democrats. I know several people who dismiss the evidence of climage change because they think it’s liberal propaganda so Al Gore can get rich.

    And there is evidence of this. Look at all the conservatives who complain about college “brainwashing” people and how it’s bad for their religion. These are the people who in Virginia and North Carolina are trying to legislate scientific evidence and language to avoid “liberal code phrases”.

  37. sc_5c500909e37377bdf71c78ae04e70391 says

    I’m torn between being violently angry and violently ill.

    Does this guy think that informed consent is unimportant? Because if you don’t accept evolution and grasp the basic concept, you can’t have informed consent for antibiotic therapy. You can’t have informed consent for modern chemotherapy regimens. You can’t have informed consent for AIDS treatments. And there are probably others I can’t think of right now.

    Just because you don’t think you use evolution doesn’t mean you don’t

  38. Amphiox says

    Knowing about evolution enriches one’s intellectual experience of the natural world. The ability to apply evolutionary thinking helps improve one’s decision making capacity in a variety of small ways, which, over a lifetime of decisions, can add up.

    It is true that knowledge of evolution is not essential to a person’s daily functional capacity the way math is (and I would say that only addition and subtraction are ESSENTIAL to handling money. Everything else, like algebra just enhances the capability).

    However, the reason this is true for the average citizen is only because, in those critical areas of modern life where understanding of evolution is essential to proper decision making, other people, who do understand evolution, are making these decisions for everyone else’s benefit.

    Cooperative human society outsources intellectual capacity, such that not every individual must expend the time and effort needed to obtain all the essential expertises. However, this social contract is predicated in everyone agreeing to recognize that these areas of expertise are valuable, even if not everyone has it, and that those who do have the expertise are valued for having the expertise. The easiest way to ensure this is to teach everyone enough of the rudiments of those expertises so that they can recognize its value.

    If you allow the situation to arise where the knowledge is no longer valued and no longer taught, your pool of specialist experts will gradually run dry. And when that happens, every individual WILL have to obtain the expertise themselves, or suffer the existential consequences of ignorance, because society will no longer be providing the “outsourcing” service. Of course, by then, individuals WON’T have the expertise they need (unless they rediscover it for themselves from scratch), and will have no choice but to suffer the ill consequences of not having the expertise to draw on when they need it.

  39. laurentweppe says

    The data shows nearly half of all Americans are young earth creationists, not half of all Americans with a first degree

    The data shows exactly that nearly half of Americans with a first degree (and 25% of postgraduates) are young earth creationists.
    Do your fucking homework before accusing people of making stuff up.

  40. Pierce R. Butler says

    The general problem of staggering scientific illiteracy among journalists is not limited to talk-show bobbleheads, alas.

  41. thomaspage says

    FYI, Robert Wright at the Atlantic has weighed in to say that the division is not new, but their is a greater level of acrimony associated with it which he blames on Dawkins and PZ. He’s getting pretty thoroughly reamed in the comments.

  42. Brownian says

    You bring up the canard of using algebra to make change. That shows that algebra IS relevant to most and it is in many more ways than making change. THAT is an argument for teaching algebra to high schoolers.

    Wait, what? Making change shows that algebra is important for more than making change?

    First of all, who uses algebra to make change, other than a mathy nerd? Most people do so using simple arithmetic and brute force trial-and-error. Watch a cashier make change: they grab the biggest bills first, then the biggest coins, etc., and they don’t do so flawlessly. If your change is 37¢, they’ll grab two quarters, realise that’s too much, put one back, grab a dime, etc.

    If you really want to assess the utility of algebra, ask someone who’s headed back to finish high school or begin a university degree after being out in the ‘real world’ for five or more years. If they’ve been using algebra all that time, it’d be relatively fresh in their memory. If not, well, the refresher algebra courses they offer along with first-year calculus courses aren’t empty.

    The fact that it might be useful notwithstanding, most people don’t use much math beyond basic arithmetic in their daily lives. Hell, if you can calculate compound interest you’re far mathier than most.

  43. Matt Penfold says

    The data shows exactly that nearly half of Americans with a first degree (and 25% of postgraduates) are young earth creationists.
    Do your fucking homework before accusing people of making stuff up.

    You are correct, and I apologise. Note how that is done, since you cannot apologise I have noticed.

    So whilst I apologise to you for accusing of making that data up, I will not apologise when I call a fucking hypocrite. Did you forget your idiotic claim that during WW2 the UK did not have a policy of bombing German civilians. I and others pointed out you were wrong, but you lacked the integrity to admit as much.

    So please do go fuck yourself.

  44. Gregory Greenwood says

    And the reason it doesn’t is that even creationists don’t take their own views seriously. How do I know this? Well, creationists like to fight over whether we should teach evolution in high school, but they never go much beyond that. Nobody wants to remove it from university biology departments. Nobody wants to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution.

    As pointed out by other commenters upthread, Drum is dead wrong about this. There are hordes of creationist ideologues who would dearly love to gut scientific education and research at all levels simply to remove an inconvenient set of fact based disciplines that have this tendency to blow huge, gaping holes in their favoured delusions, and plenty more Right wing politicians who would be quite prepared to court the money and influence that such people can offer, whatever the cost to intellectual pursuits or the future viability of society.

    The creationist true believers think that little things like evolutionary theory, AGW, and the entirety of science at large don’t matter because apparently god won’t allow anything bad to happen to his “chosen people”*, and most of the Republican politicians who court creationist stupidity are aware that they are driving the US of a cliff, and simply don’t care so long as they get rich and powerful first.

    The rot of arrogant anti-intellectualism runs very deep in modern day America (and further afield, for that matter), and it is dangerous indeed to underestimate just how toxic and pervasive it is.

    —————————————————————-

    * And he has such a fantastic record of looking after his “chosen people”, afterall. Just look at the Jews – no problems in their history, no siree…

  45. says

    Nobody wants to shut down actual medical research that depends on the workings of evolution.

    His mind must have wandered a bit here and detoured around Sarah Palin, who four years ago criticized scientists for wasting all that time and money studying fruit flies when they should be doing “real” research, heck, maybe trying to cure diseases or something.
    She wasn’t too far from becoming vice-president.

  46. nooneinparticular says

    Brownian – I didn’t make the argument about algebra being needed to make change. PZ did. Obliviously, when using his argument, I was making a different point.

  47. jayarrrr says

    “They want a society where women are barely literate, men have 8th-grade educations, and only the elite men know more than that.”

    Which brings us back to “Electrolytes! It’s what plants crave!”

    A nation of dumb Authoritarian Followers in mud huts with life expectancies of less than 50 years and an Elite and Clergy class living the sweet life.

  48. laurentweppe says

    Did you forget your idiotic claim that during WW2 the UK did not have a policy of bombing German civilians

    [citation needed]
    But you won’t provide the citation, because I never made such a claim, and you know it.
    What I said was that one of the untold reasons behind this policy was to make sure that nostalgics of the nazi regime would not be able to re-use the stab-in-the-back myth after the end of the war.
    I stand by it and while I’m at it, I will use this opportunity to remind you that it worked: Have you ever seen a neo-nazi saying “We would totally have been able to win if this traitor Dönitz had not capitulated“? No, you’ve never seen a neo-nazi saying such a lie because anyone can point toward the Gedächtniskirche and say “How could you have won the war when this was happening, dipshit?”

  49. nooneinparticular says

    thomaspage

    Thanks for tip to Wright’s piece at the Atlantic ( here’s the link). A good discussion. Wright is notorious for not letting facts get in the way of his opinion.

  50. Matt Penfold says

    But you won’t provide the citation, because I never made such a claim, and you know it.

    Yeah you did.Here is what you said:

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict: it was to make sure that after the war no one would believe the stab-in-the-back myth: since during the interbellum, the nazis had taken advantage of this myth, the idea was that by doing enormous damage to urban centers, should surviving nazis and/or japanese nationamists try after WWII to peddle the same lies, the surviving civilians would answer “Well, if you were doing so well, why the fuck were you unable to defend us against air raids?“. It was certainly a cynical, cold blooded and ruthless calculus, but it did in fact work: neo-nazis and über nationalists in Germany and Japan have tried for decades to convince people that the axis defeat was a close call with no success whatsoever.

    The problem with that is it is untrue. UK policy was to attack the German civilian population, de-house them and bring about a collapse in moral. As I pointed out to at the time, Harris, Portal and Churchill were quite explicit about that, although the latter two tried to distance themselves from the policy near the end of the war.

    So you made a mistake (I am willing to accept it was a mistake) but you do not see a need to be honest and admit as much. To make things worse you lie about what you said.

    So I think you should take your lies and fuck off, don’t you ?

  51. interrobang says

    To my mind, the most important reason people should understand at least something about evolution is so that people will actually finish their antibiotic courses rather than quitting partway through when they start to feel better. It’s a huge issue and it shouldn’t be; you can explain it cogently to a four-year-old (and maybe we should, because it’s no use waiting until they’re older, apparently), albeit without a lot of detail.

    Creationism — now with added XDR TB!

    (Yes, that was a low blow, but fuck it, we’re not the ones trying to turn the clock back to the Dark Ages.)

  52. laurentweppe says

    I commented about the intent behind the bombing policy.
    You pretended that I claimed that their was no such policy
    So far, you are the liar.
    *
    When after your particularly haughty not-pology I called you out on this, you decided to quote me, copy-pasting a text where I am clearly talking about intent, not the reality of the bombing: which shows that your conceitedness is so bloated that you did not even make the most basic effort of reading again what I wrote in case you had a false recollection, thus putting under everybody’s eyes the very evidence that your claim that I denied the existence of deliberate targeting of civilians by the UK during WWII is utterly face.
    *
    In three posts you managed to:
    1. Ignore the data from which the very blog post you’re commenting arised
    2. Deliver a not-pology so haughty that even a family value politician would have trouble delivering it with a straight face
    3. Lied about the written record of another commenter
    4. Managed to put the evidence of your lie on your own front porch.

    I’ll admit that I stand in awe: do you behave like that in meatspace as well? Because if you do, your survival to this day is nothing short of miraculous.

  53. nooneinparticular says

    interrobang. Really? That’s the most important reason? I understand that it IS important, if not for the person dealing with their infection, then at least for the general population. But THE most important reason for learning something about evolution? I dunno. To me the most important reason for the non-biologist to understand something about evolution would be something akin to the old saw; “a rising tide floats all ships”. Education, for its own sake, is important. The more educated people are the better decisions, collectively and personally, they will make. Understanding something about biology is important for educated people and the ToE is critical to understanding biology.

    YMMV, of course.

  54. unclefrogy says

    the quotes from Jefferson are all the reason needed for education. We here concentrate on the sciences for obvious reasons but the same stupid arguments can be made for any other area of the world you can think of.
    Does anyone really think that the same people who are trying to dumb down science are not interested in controlling the study of history. That they would not prefer to teach that the United States was founded and settled by noble christians who were only bringing salvation and founding a new holy land on earth. That they do not want to also control and define what is literature or art?

    The slave can function in ignorance but to be truly free he must have knowledge of the world as it really is. The American revolution grew out of the Enlightenment
    which in large part was influenced by the invention of the printing press.
    The democratization of knowledge is and has always been antagonistic to authority. It is not some small unimportant detail the we can get along without! It is what freedom grows out of!

    uncle frogy

  55. says

    PZ:

    Both Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum are wrong, but I think Drum is infuriatingly wrong.

    That’s how it usually goes. I expect Sully to be a disingenuous shitbag. Drum is just oblivious. He’s the same derpmeister who repeatedly asked, “So where are all the women political bloggers?” because he was seeing few of them in the rather narrow policy-wonk blog circles he traveled in. It didn’t occur to him to look into the feminist blogosphere because, oh, women’s right are “just social issues.”

    Hillary:

    However, I’m optimistic about the power of the Internets and related technologies to counteract.

    So long as we can keep governments and corporations from censoring political material, and an ignorant population will fall for scare tactics that enable such censorship.

    Laurent: The propagandists among the creationists may know they’re lying. The rank-and-file? No.

  56. Matt Penfold says

    I commented about the intent behind the bombing policy. You pretended that I claimed that their was no such policy
    So far, you are the liar.

    Well it is clear that you do not believe in reciprocity. I made a mistake and I apologised for it. You made a mistake, and you lied about making it.

    Honesty clearly does not matter to you, so I have nothing further to say. I do not engage with liars.

  57. nooneinparticular says

    We are ing wrote; “I get very suspicious when academics start deciding what is “useful” or “necessary” for the peasants to know”

    That is a heavily loaded statement. “Peasants”? Really?

    Anyway, as their job is to teach what, exactly, ought academics do if not to teach what is “useful” or “necessary” to know?

  58. Matt Penfold says

    I will add one thing. You said this:

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict:…

    So you did deny that there was a policy to target German civilians in order to bring about a collapse in moral.

    You said it, I proved it, and you still lie. Fucking incredible.

  59. frankensteinmonster says

    The mistake Drum is making is, that he sees behaviors that are inconsistent with what someone who really believes that evolution does not exist would do, and interprets it as a sign that they don’t really believe in what they say.
    .
    But this is completely wrong. That are not symptoms of knowing that their doctrines aren’t true, that are symptoms of doublethink.
    .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink
    .
    “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
    .
    “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”

  60. truthspeaker says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives.

    …other than hold back their children from possible study of science.

  61. says

    That is a heavily loaded statement. “Peasants”? Really?

    Yes it is. As is deciding that you are the arbiter of what people “need to know”. Poor people don’t NEED art, they don’t NEED food above Spam; don’t bother teaching them about it, it’s not useful to them.

    That’s the attitude. Deciding that the less educated or less technical fields are on a need to know basis.

    Tiering education is establishing a peasantry.

    Anyway, as their job is to teach what, exactly, ought academics do if not to teach what is “useful” or “necessary” to know?

    Yes because there’s a difference between doing your job and teaching a field and withholding information because “they’re not worth it”

    Because there can only be humanitarian reasons for not teaching your slave to read. You’re just doing it so not as to burden their stupid little mind.

    The two-faced idea of some academics that knowledge is valuable for its own sake for THEM and their class and that knowledge that isn’t “useful” shouldn’t be bothered with everyone else is bullshit and classist clap trap.

  62. truthspeaker says

    Also, there are more important things in life than “our widening political polarization”. Drum writes with an inside the beltway attitude that sees politics as the most important thing in our country.

  63. Matt Penfold says

    …other than hold back their children from possible study of science.

    Indeed, and that would preclude them entering a good number of professions, at least not without a good deal of study simply to be able to go to university to study science.

  64. says

    @Truthspeaker

    And deny funding to that field of science. Much of funding comes from public grants which is at the whim of the politicians elected by exactly those people for who facts “aren’t useful”

    Imagine giving control of spending for military to the hands of someone who has never been taught even the basics of military history of theory?

  65. michaelpowers says

    An uninformed, uneducated citizenry will never truly be free. Business interests, and the religious began chipping away at this nation’s constitution before the ink was even dry. They’ve made entirely too much progress. What will result is a society that considers traits like empathy and compassion to be character flaws. Equability and fairness will be only for those who can afford them. In this twisted corporate theocracy, our only worth as human beings will be judged by what we produce for those at the top, and what we consume from them. And, as always, religion will be used to justify whatever horrors are done to those who struggle for freedom.

    These are the dangers of not having a working knowledge of science and history.

  66. says

    Or to use a better example: for how long was Europe ruled under the idea that it wasn’t important for the peasants to be able to READ the bible…there were Priests who could tell them what the useful parts were and what they needed to know.

    Deciding that wide swaths of an economic class aren’t worth educating is to basically promote the idea of exploiting them as a second class at best and slave class at worst.

  67. nooneinparticular says

    I see what you’re saying We are Ing, but I think you are making sweeping claims about academics and their roles that don’t scan, as they say. In the sciences, for example, who but people trained in the science can teach what is necessary to understand the principles therein? Some christian schools employ as teachers people who know little or nothing about the science they teach. Is this a good premise for the “education” those students get?

    In the humanities your claim gets much better traction. History, as has been said, is defined by the victors. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to correct my children when they say, off-handedly something about how America (where we live) was like “before anyone was here” as if there weren’t already great civilizations here. Art, too. Economics. Many academic disciplines can suffer from what I believe you are objecting too.

    But mathematics, much of the sciences, engineering, even medicine are academic fields where it I think your complaint is not valid.

    I also think that your claim here;

    “The two-faced idea of some academics that knowledge is valuable for its own sake for THEM and their class and that knowledge that isn’t “useful” shouldn’t be bothered with everyone else is bullshit and classist clap trap”

    is both a non-sequitur AND “classist clap trap”. It’s a non-sequitur because the second clause (about “useful” knowledge) does NOT follow from the first. It is “classist clap trap” precisely because YOU think that the belief that knowledge is valuable for its own sake is invalid because “academics” believe it is.

  68. Owlmirror says

    I am reminded of a situation where a presumably otherwise well-educated surgeon chose to perform a particular operation at least partly because of his denial of evolution.

    Leonard L Bailey, who performed the Baby Fae baboon heart transplant

    Bailey’s use of baboons was somewhat surprising, given their relatively distant evolutionary relationship to humans compared to other primates. The reason came to light when the Times of London published an interview between Bailey and an Australian radio crew. The reporters had been forbidden to ask direct questions about the operation, so they queried Bailey on the issue of why he had chosen a baboon in view of the baboon’s evolutionary distance from humans. Bailey replied, “Er, I find that difficult to answer. You see, I don’t believe in evolution.”6 It is shocking that Bailey ignored basic biological concepts in formulating a life-threatening human experiment.

    (emphasis mine)

  69. says

    Oh good I’m in a bad mood so I clearly need a flamming idiot like No One to shit himself misreading what I say.

    Noone your name is very apt.

    Because NOT teaching science because it’s “not useful” to people is cutting off possibilities for them. It’s saying “Oh sure people who can do private school, you can be a biologist if you want, public school kids need not bother.”

    is both a non-sequitur AND “classist clap trap”. It’s a non-sequitur because the second clause (about “useful” knowledge) does NOT follow from the first. It is “classist clap trap” precisely because YOU think that the belief that knowledge is valuable for its own sake is invalid because “academics” believe it is.

    That is moronically stupid. You’re a fucking idiot. I never said it’s invalid. I fucking am arguing that. Why don’t you go learn some “not useful” skills like reading comprehension before you pollute any more threads with your profound idiocy.

  70. abb3w says

    laurentweppe:

    Now you’re going to tell me that nearly half of US citizens with a college degree are dumb enough to believe in young earth creationism?

    First: college but NOT postgraduate degree, from Gallup’s data. The US ratio is about 3:2 undegrad:grad in degree holders these days; if you include the post-grads, that would bring the number down to about 38%. But that point seems to have been kind of run into the ground, already.

    Second, the Gallup question distinguishes poorly between young-versus-old earth creationism (and theistic evolution versus intelligent design). The Cleveland Plain Dealer did poll back around 2002 in Ohio, which is relatively median politically, economically, and religiously to plausibly serve as a proxy for the US entire. The CPD used a question with more specific breakdown, having five options rather than three. The YEC and OEC results combined to pretty well match the Gallup “last 10000 years” response. (Plausibly, this is because OECs may accept humans as recent arrivals, even if they think the earth itself is old.) As such, likely only about two-thirds of that group are YEC, with the other third OEC; so, about 25% college-and-post grads.

    Third — if you check the dates, the Gallup poll in question was taken in the four days right after President Obama’s announcement on his shift in stance on Gay Marriage. This provides some environmental priming, habituating people to religious thought modes prior to the question — not the same thing as a willful lie. (Compare the recent study indicating that priming to rational reflection reduces religiosity.) I’d strongly suspect this provides most of the 12%-net shift from the ID/TE Gallup response to the YEC/OEC response, probably translating to about a 2% shift of the YEC-college-and-grad level above.

    Now, how much of this is what people actually believe, versus merely espouse when prompted? Well, that can of worms potentially leads to “no true Scotsman” territory on atheists too. (“Oh, they just don’t want to admit they believe in God.”) Contrariwise, given that such a position on evolution also tends to be associated with an Inerrant characterization of the Bible (rather than Inspired or Fable), and with regular church attendence, it seems likely to be an internally consistent belief accurately reflecting their actual cultural views.

  71. nooneinparticular says

    We are ing. I apologize for misreading you. I assumed you were making a claim that I’ve actually heard before. Things like “Western medicine” is bad and Eastern woo should be given equal time because evil Europeans and their racist science something something, or that “experts” should not be listened to on things within their areas of expertise (as I am sure you know was actually proposed by a Texan dentist in a somewhat influential education position). Something like that.

    I see now that you were taking a completely different tack on the subject. Mea culpa.

  72. says

    @noone

    I’m sorry for flying off at you.

    No I agree that experts are experts in their field. But declaring a field as ‘unimportant’ to a social class is fundamentally pissheaded. To Godwin it, it’s a minor and probably unintended parallel to Brave New World where they train the slave classes away from aesthetics. We do often see this come up in regards to the humanities (which is why their funding it cut first, because they’re luxuries and no one “needs” them) but we see it with science to. We see it politically too with parties or people writing off states or areas as lost or unimportant for activism or campaigning.

    This is even ignoring the problems of funding and legislation, done by (either personally or by proxy) those people for whom the topic “isn’t useful”. This of course means that they’re ill equipped to fund or make decisions for the specialists…and thus they’re going to risk losing the benefits of actually having that science. Sure I may not see a personal importance of meteorology, but if I take that pig headed stance and decide to cut meteorology funding I’m still going to get fucked over if our hurricane warning systems are nerfed. It IS useful to know the basics of science for everyone, just so they can be informed enough not to vote with some semblance of intelligence and, on a more selfish level, so I can actually talk to them without their mouths hanging agape like a stunned yak.

  73. Amphiox says

    And he has such a fantastic record of looking after his “chosen people”, afterall. Just look at the Jews – no problems in their history, no siree…

    He’s pretty tsundere with his treatment over the years.

    One day he’s moving sea and sky to get the out of bondage in Egypt. The next, they look askance just a couple times at some other gods, and he throws a tantrum and sics the Assyrians on them.

  74. ramblindude says

    The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives.

    I didn’t read the Drum article, but this is an appallingly clueless statement. Half the population may think that “their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives,” but in reality it’s had significant real-world effects on the direction the country has taken.

    Creationists have for decades now embarked on a program of convincing millions–including even non-Christians–that scientists are dishonest about evolution and that there’s a real controversy that’s being hidden from the public. They have successfully popularized the idea that scientists are clueless and only think in circles about evolution, and that there really is lots of evidence for Noah’s flood and a young earth that those clueless, dishonest, greedy, godless scientists don’t want you to know about.

    Creationists have been so successful in persuading the populace that scientists are stupid and dishonest that these religious/political demagogues can now channel that well-organized contempt toward whatever area of science, or politics, or“elitism,” they want– –global warming, stem-cell research, environmental sciences, economic theories, etc…

    This is exactly what we’re seeing today, and this polarizing anti-intellectualism, this erosion of people’s confidence in science and expertise has roots that can be can be traced back to the relentless attack on the science of biology.

  75. says

    That said evolution should have a HUGE effect on agriculture…which we all sort of need to you know, eat. But hey it’s not like entire industries were lost in America because of a lack of understanding of pest resurgence or response! It’s not as if we came up with Integrated Pest Management to use evolutionary principles to try to keep pests from beating us to death with our own bug spray cans.

  76. alwayscurious says

    Drum is clearly spewing mindpuke. If he actually believes that “evolution only adds slightly to a 10th grade understanding of biology” then it should NOT be taught so as to make room for the REAL substantive biology topics (perhaps a section on reproduction & contraception?).

    As it turns out, he’s wrong: evolution IS an important part of understanding biology. At least half a year of my 9th grade biology class was built around the theory of evolution. And while I agree that most efforts to remove evolution are focused on high school level material, I think PZ’s blog has mentioned several states in the past year that have contemplated regulating university level material.

    Finally, as with any topic, not everyone who is taught about evolution will use it; remember it; or even think it’s correct. But the point is that we (should) want the best possible education for everyone. And science education is particularly weak in this country relative to the amount of technology we rely on.

  77. Sastra says

    Behind the denial of evolution is a conspiracy mindset — and that mindset comes right out of religion. The world we see is not the world that counts; the supernatural guides everything; we’re all characters in a plot which divides Good from Evil. The vast majority of scientific experts are all either lying, or stupid — and only the few know this! Right.

    Conspiracy mindsets with their run-amok ability to see connections between unrelated events, divisions of black and white, and Evil in ordinary people is not good for democracies. You can’t stand on common ground and debate with someone who thinks the experts have all banded together in a Big Lie and you’re in on it.

  78. geocatherder says

    What we choose to teach in K-12 really makes or breaks us as a democratic nation; the choice to not teach science respectably, to not teach art/music/theater, to not teach real literature (all of which are choices some — maybe most? school districts have been forced to make to some extent) hobbles us as a citizenry.

    I never took a high school biology class. State college requirements were for two high school science courses, so I took chemistry and physics. I was going to be an engineer, and this was back in the ’70s. What purpose would biology serve, other than to make me throw up when the time came to dissect that frog? I never took a college biology course, either. I was that scientifically ignorant for two decades while I pursued my engineering career.

    Now, a geologist, I really wish I’d had that biology! But I had an understanding, patient, instructor for invertebrate paleontology, and I didn’t do badly in it. Still… I firmly believe that a basic understanding of evolution (which I’ve acquired from my own reading), a basic understanding of general biology, and a basic understanding of earth science would be extraordinarily helpful in creating an informed citizenry (along with some arts and a bit of literature). Chemistry and Physics are nice, but they don’t usually translate into intelligent voting choices.

    rant
    why are we paying for unnecessary wars when we can’t afford good education????
    /rant

  79. storms says

    I was a fundie convert in highschool..it took me 10 years to deprogram. Knowledge of Evolution was essential to my freedom.

    Knowledge of evolution is not just important for an understanding of scientific and medical issues. It also informs social issues. Because I am evolved, and share genetic heritige with my fellow humans and animals, I see myself (and my ‘race’) not as the center of the universe as so dubbed by the magic sky fairy; but as an animal with reason. My mind as evolved to cope with a hostile world and tribal affiliations. These in turn make me aware that HOW I think is mostly pre-programmed, often in error. That cognative heuristics predispose me to see faces and percieve threat, to make ingroup/outgroup distinctions, etc. That I have to be mindful not to take things at face value, to be skeptical, to question my ‘gut’ reactions.

    Knowing the evolutionary and comparative biology of race and sex means things like:
    Masterbation isn’t a sin but rather fun and not just for humans.
    Dogs and cats have their own morals and that’s ok
    Sexual predilection is geneticly based and that in the animal world some homosexuality, bisexuality, etc are norms
    That ‘race’ is just skin melanin genes, discomfort with race is more about cultural out-group threat stereotyping.

    Knowledge of evolution (and science, and scientific thinking) gives us tools to remain free. It is essential.

  80. truthspeaker says

    rant
    why are we paying for unnecessary wars when we can’t afford good education????
    /rant

    War offers more opportunities for short-term profit.

  81. antigodless says

    I am ashamed that 54% of the American population have abandoned their good sense to believe in the lie of the evolution myth. We can see how brainwashed Dr Myers is. But, when you abandon a belief in a Creator, we start to see the results in schools. Prayer is taken away, basic morality taught in the ten commandments over sixty years ago are abandoned. Crime increases. Suicide increases. Family breakdown increases. Exploitation of the minorities increase. Persecution of theists increase. Intolerance increases. Pride increases.
    Dr Myers is advocating what is already happening now. Thomas Jefferson saw ignorance as the inability to receive a basic ability to read and write. What Dr Myers is suggesting is even more sinister – replace the real deity with a fake deity – the deity of self.
    Science does not need evolution to bring innovation. A belief in the importance of humans, a belief that every human is special and deserves compassion, a belief that every human is endowed with gifts and talents that can be used for the benefit of all. A belief that moral decisions influence which innovation is developed. A belief that we are not alone in the universe and that God cares about every decision we make in our lives.
    Can evolution teach high morals, selflessness, charity, compassion and endow every human being with an appreciation of how special each person is? I doubt it. Because it points to competition, reduces humans to mere animal status, and eliminates the hope in a future that only the Christian God can offer.
    Stay in your ignorance, Dr Myers. You are seeing the fruits even now of a world who refuses to acknowledge a Creator, and sees evolution as a truth rather than a crutch. Theists have a far better crutch than atheists. I feel sorry for the ignorant 54% of America and pray that ignorance will be abated.

  82. SteveV says

    Quite apart from any other reason, evolution should be taught because it is one of the truimphs of human thought and culture. To dismiss it because it has “no real-life impact on anything” is to hit the corner flag rather than the goal. Would Drum be equally dissmisive of Shakespeare or Bach?

  83. Cal says

    I think comment # 89 is one of the best examples of why we need to be teaching evolution and sciences in schools today. Without a basic understanding of how the world works, many people fall more easily into the mental trap that is religion. I believe the period where the church was in charge of human advancement was known as the Dark Ages for a reason. With religion a guiding principle rather than science, I am sure that is where we would still be.

  84. anotheratheist says

    It is kind of funny that an utilitarian criticizes utilitarian philosophy. But I would say and to a greater or lesser extent agree with you that from a non-utilitarian perspective the only two things we necessarily need to teach people in science are the theory of evolution and about human sexuality with cross-references to sex in other parts of the animal kingdom and maybe a bit of cosmology. Because these are the things that have a significant impact on the philosophy that people subscribe to.

  85. Brownian says

    an appreciation of how special each person is?

    If you really thought every person was special, you’d fucking listen to them instead of seeing every interaction as an opportunity for a speech.

  86. laurentweppe says

    But that point seems to have been kind of run into the ground, already.

    Actually no: the point was not really run into the ground: a douche who did not read the data tried to bluff that he did, then threw a temper tantrum when I called him out about this, which pretty much derailed the whole conversation.

    Anyway, if you decide to take the postgraduates into account, well you still have the problem that one out of four postgraduates being young earth creationists: that’s waaaaay to many highly educated people to make the assumption that no one outside of the few thousands of professional propagandists is lying.

    As such, likely only about two-thirds of that group are YEC, with the other third OEC

    Oh yes, because the “I’m knowledgeable enough to accept geological evidence, but I refuse to accept the fossil record” is a so much a better attitude than pure “untainted” creationism.

    given that such a position on evolution also tends to be associated with [...] regular church attendence

    The thing is, people lie about how regularly they attend church as well, which leads to a gross overestimation of church attendance in the US. So if the argument in favor of the sincerity of a creationist’s claim is that said creationist also claim to be a regular church attendee while said claim n°2 is quite likely to be a lie as well… Well, your logic starts to become somewhat circular here, isn’t it?

    ***

    antigodless

    Wait: he’s still here?

  87. Marc Abian says

    I could spend all day arguing science with a conservative (and I have!) and never once mention politics or economics or culture. Therefore, politics and economics and culture are unimportant.

    I think that’s missing his point. Drum is arguing that belief in evolution doesn’t “tell us much of anything about our widening political polarization,” not that it’s not important at all.

    #3

    Being ignorant of it, they do not recognize where in their daily lives they could apply such knowledge for their material benefit and intellectual fulfilment (in areas as wide ranging as healthcare policy to the development of their own children, for example)

    Can I have some actual examples?

    #41

    Does this guy think that informed consent is unimportant? Because if you don’t accept evolution and grasp the basic concept, you can’t have informed consent for antibiotic therapy.

    That’s a real stretch. You may as well say that you can’t have informed consent for cancer treatments without understanding statistical meta-analysis.

    #90

    Quite apart from any other reason, evolution should be taught because it is one of the truimphs of human thought and culture.

    I think Drum agrees with you.
    “Now, I think evolution should remain in high school texts anyway. Why? Because it’s true. Biology is a science, and evolution is one of the pillars of modern science.”

  88. Azuma Hazuki says

    Antigodless, you aren’t even making me angry. You’re “not even wrong.” It’s clear you have so little grounding in not only biology but also philosophy, ethology, logic, comparative religion, and physics (among others) that you’ve come to the battle of wits unarmed.

    Because I believe nearly everyone can be rehabilitated from states like yours, I will mention a few things that may fill the voids in your heart you’re currently stuffing with shredded Yahweh:

    Can evolution teach high morals, selflessness, charity, compassion and endow every human being with an appreciation of how special each person is? I doubt it.

    Yes, it can. You’re making the same mistake you accuse so-called hardline materialists of. Read below.

    Because it points to competition, reduces humans to mere animal status, and eliminates the hope in a future that only the Christian God can offer.

    This is where you go off the rails and completely crash and burn. It’s clear you don’t understand the tenth part of what evolution really is and means if you think this is it. You’re committing an essentialist fallacy here: you believe that because there is no “moral particle,” that because you will not find a “free will boson” if you grind the universe down to basic principles, these things cannot exist under the modern synthesis.

    The key here is that you don’t understand emergent behaviors, and especially that you don’t understand anything about neuroscience. Look up “mirror neurons,” read about primate experiments (particularly those of de Waal and Fouts) specifically designed to test for self-awareness and moral behavior. We are genetically, but more importantly behaviorally, apes. Apes are social, cooperative creatures with the physical machinery to hardwire us for what we call basic morals. Morality is older than humanity. That is where it comes from, not from the petty, vengeful, tyrannical, scatological Canaanite holdover you dare to call God.

    Stay in your ignorance, Dr Myers. You are seeing the fruits even now of a world who refuses to acknowledge a Creator, and sees evolution as a truth rather than a crutch. Theists have a far better crutch than atheists. I feel sorry for the ignorant 54% of America and pray that ignorance will be abated.

    There is knock-down, drag-out, one-hit-KO evidence for evolution, and it is found in the molecular record. Look up “human endogenous retrovirus record” and thoroughly read it until you understand what it implies.

    Reality does not care about your feelings. Reality does not care about whether the human race or any other species lives or dies. Evolution is not a crutch; indeed, it knocks away all such support from anyone who can understand it, and forces us to think on our own, because no one will help us but us.

    As an aside, there may well be a creator, but why for the love of all that is good do you think it’s Yahweh? You, like every other slimy little apologist i’ve ever had to deal with, are conflating the “Philosopher’s God” with Yahweh. If you want to be a Deist that’s fine, but the Abrahamic religions don’t wash any longer, not now that we know what we know.

  89. SteveV says

    I think Drum agrees with you.

    Not quite.
    I think that (among the many, many reasons)it should be taught is because it’s beautiful.

  90. Amphiox says

    Am I misremembering, or is antigoddist supposed to be confining their dumbfuckery to TZT?

    IIRC, antigutless wasn’t confied to TZT, he was warned about straight up banning.

    Take note, incidentally, of how antigutless spews its crap about the ten commandments being a “foundation” of morality, and then, in the very next paragraph, proceeds to bear false witness against PZ.

    Though we already knew that it was a hypocritical, immoral slimewad.

  91. michaelpowers says

    Comment #89 freaks me out. How does one simply decide to believe something? To decide that reality is something that some religious text says it is, in contradiction with the observable world? Certainly, I can suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy a good work of fiction, but to live a life like that? To make important decisions based on fairy tales?

    It’s not that I won’t believe, it’s that I can’t. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

  92. Azuma Hazuki says

    @100/michaelpowers

    It’s not as simple as choosing directly…I think it’s more along the lines of “what I know I can’t explain but it shore ain’t what those ay-theust lib’ral homerseckshals believe.”

    Basically, I think they take the so-called leap of faith based on emotional reasons, i.e., if gay marriage makes them feel icky and liberals support it, it follows that anything any liberal ever says is wrong, therefore they need to take the opposite position. Combine this with a bunch of thought-killing, self-congratulatory claptrap, and you have someone in a mental well with very slippery, steep sides.

  93. 'Tis Himself says

    antigodless #89

    Evolution is about reality. It’s been observed in the field and in the laboratory. It’s people like you who consciously reject reality who are the ones causing the moral breakdown of society. You folks look at genuine problems like global warming and try to fix them with “Jesus will make it okay.” In psychology that’s called magical thinking and is a form of delusion.

    Science does not need evolution to bring innovation.

    There’s a particularly virulent bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. It can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections, such as pimples, boils and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia, and sepsis. Antibiotic resistance in S. aureus was uncommon when penicillin was first introduced in 1943. Indeed, the original petri dish on which Alexander Fleming London observed the antibacterial activity of the Penicillium fungus was growing a culture of S. aureus. By 1950, 40% of hospital S. aureus isolates were penicillin-resistant; and, by 1960, this had risen to 80%.

    Today S. aureus has become resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. In the UK, only 2% of all S. aureus isolates are sensitive to penicillin, with a similar picture in the rest of the world. In 1959 methicillin was introduced as an S. aureus antibiotic but only two years later the first case of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was reported in England.

    Every few years a new S. aureus is introduced and within a few years the bacteria evolves resistance to that antibiotic. Despite your know-nothing beliefs, scientists do need to understand evolution to deal with a widespread, deadly bacteria. And don’t think for a second S. aureus is the only germ evolving resistance to commonly used antibiotics. So your life might depend on some microbiologist having a good understanding of evolution.

    The real world doesn’t care if you accept evolution or not.

  94. says

    Antigodless, you lie like a sack of shit. Your precious prayer taken away? Don’t think so, as evidenced by your closing line about praying for the “ignorance” to abate. Persecution of theists? Christians make up 76% of the US population. Nearly every holder of political office in this country is a Christian. There are tens of thousands of churches, all operating free of taxation. So what the fuck are you talking about?
    Check the FBI statistics on per capita crimes. They’ve been on the decline since the early 1990’s. The most religious states do not have less crime–nor do they have fewer teen pregnancies, fewer divorces, or fewer children living in poverty. Atheists and under-represented in our prisons.
    If you think Jeebus was all about the family, I suggest you read Luke, chapter 14.
    The Bible condones genocide, slavery, and deems the death penalty an appropriate punishment for disobedient children and those caught picking up sticks on the sabbath, while proclaiming that a rapist must (in some cases) marry his victim.
    And yet you keep coming in here with your assumption of moral superiority. Gah, you’re tiresome.
    And fucking loathsome. Get fucked.

  95. DLC says

    Yes, and I wasn’t taught spherical trigonometry because “kids will never use that in real life. Except it’s the fucking fundamentals of fucking navigation, you stupid fucking dumbfucks.
    Ahem.
    . . . strong reply to follow.

  96. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    There is knock-down, drag-out, one-hit-KO evidence for evolution, and it is found in the molecular record. Look up “human endogenous retrovirus record” and thoroughly read it until you understand what it implies.

    yeah, good luck with that.

  97. says

    Because it points to competition, reduces humans to mere animal status,

    As distinct from the Biblical view, in which we’re all sheep?

    and eliminates the hope in a future that only the Christian God can offer.

    Yes, Revelation is so hopeful and forward-looking.

  98. mikmik says

    Brownian
    12 June 2012 at 5:11 pm

    an appreciation of how special each person is?

    If you really thought every person was special, you’d fucking listen to them instead of seeing every interaction as an opportunity for a speech.

    +1

    Game, set, match:

    Stay in your ignorance, Dr Myers. You are seeing the fruits even now of a world who refuses to acknowledge a Creator, and sees evolution as a truth rather than a crutch. Theists have a far better crutch than atheists. I feel sorry for the ignorant 54% of America and pray that ignorance will be abated.

    S’far as I can tell, I can walk faster that almost anyone on crutches can sprint.
    Saying atheists haz crutch, which fallacy is that again? False analogy, false choice dilemma, possibly affirming the consequent or commutation of conditionals… I’m not sure.

    Atheism = object secularism. That which can be seen/felt/perceived.

    What the fuck is your problem, antigodless? Reality isn’t good enough for you?
    Your the one that admits he uses a crutch, you stupid fucking moron.

  99. mikmik says

    You’re, FFS. You’re the one that admits he uses a crutch, you stupid fucking moron.

  100. w00dview says

    @ Feralboy12 #104
    Persecuting theists = Pointing out the contradictions in their holy books, mentioning the harm their bigotry causes to women, LGBT folks and ethnic minorities and the worst one of all: hurting their fees fees.

  101. mikmik says

    Evolution is purely about co-operation. That which doesn’t co-operate with reality, dies.
    It is about competing to survive the best, and human society is co-operation at its highest level.
    Humans share ideas, and it is that ability to understand, communicate, and co-operate, that has led to power over all other life, but if we fuck up and don’t start fucking co-operating with each other, and reality, more, we are going to die, as a species.

    IT. IS. ABOUT. CO-OPERATION. Empathy leads to compassion leads to understanding leads to helping each other, and competition leads to eliminating individuals that don’t co-operate. We call them a-social, and socio-pathic, you stupid ass dripping, antigodless.

    Your fucking stupid crutch, an imagined savior, is also the cruel and ruthless fuck that will come back and fuck everything right up in the most viscous, cruel, and childishly manner: kill everything.

    Fuck you, you fucked up pustule of hypocrisy.

  102. A. R says

    basic morality taught in the ten commandments

    Besides prohibitions on theft, lying and or killing people, what “basic morality” is in the Ten Commandments? I note that rape, torture, discrimination etc are not included, and that that which is is simply stolen from previous moral codes. There is nothing morally innovative in the Ten Commandments, it’s that simple. Aside from that, how often do Christians/Jews follow their own commandments? All of the various genocides, holy wars, sackings, inquisitions and so on certainly indicate that the Ten Commandments are honored more in the breach than anything else. So antigodless, please tell me, what moral good comes from advancing a religion that has no moral center, no compunction to avoid human suffering?

  103. mikmik says

    I found a funny on theOnion:

    Man On Verge Of Self-Realization Instead Turns To God
    AUSTIN, TX—A major existential breakthrough was averted Friday when, moments before he had a realization of monumental personal significance, 29-year-old local resident Darrell Gatsas instead turned to God. “He was so, so close to discovering something truly fundamental about himself and his place in the universe, but nope—he went with God,” close friend Peter Rankin, 27, said. “For a second there it seemed like he was going to seriously consider the cause-and-effect relationship of his own actions and elevate himself to a new level of compassion and understanding, but then he suddenly changed course and asked God to swoop in and fix everything.” Reached for comment, God chuckled to reporters that Gatsas is, indeed, a real piece of work

  104. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am ashamed that 54% of the American population have abandoned their good sense to believe in the lie of the evolution myth

    Fine, show the scientific evidence from the peer reviewed scientific literature you are right. Until then, more lies and bullshit from a proven liar and bullshitter.

    But, when you abandon a belief in a Creator,

    What creator? You haven’t proven it exists. More lie and bullshit.

    Prayer is taken away,

    More lies and bullshit. Anybody can pray even in school during school hours. But they must obey Matthew 6:6-6:8 and pray as jebus commands, from the closets of their soul, and not ostentatiously in public. Don’t you ever read your babble?

    Crime increases.

    Crime is decreasing loser. Pay attention to facts, not your fuckwitted loser presuppositions.

    Persecution of theists increase. Intolerance increases.

    The intolerance is by fuckwitted losers like you. You persecute us. You can’t leave us alone. You knock on my door to proselytize, like you are doing now. That is you being aggressive and persecuting those who don’t believe as you do. Still lying and bullshitting yourself, then lying and bullshitting us. But we know better. You should.

    What Dr Myers is suggesting is even more sinister – replace the real deity

    Since you haven’t proven your deity exists, merely presupposed that fuckwittery, you have no claim here. Your deity is imaginary until you provide conclusive physical evidence for it, not your testament, which is proven to be lies and bullshit. When will you stop lying to yourself???

    Science does not need evolution to bring innovation.

    Nope fuckwit, progess cannot be made in biology without considering the fact of evolution. And you haven’t shown one iota of scientific evidence that evolution has not occurred. YOUR MERE OPINION IS NOT EVIDENCE, NOR DOES IT NEGATE THE MILLION OR SO SCIENTIFIC PAPERS BACKING EVOLUTION. Your statement shows your ignorance to the world.

    A belief that we are not alone in the universe and that God

    What god? More claims, no evidence. LOSER.

    reduces humans to mere animal status,

    We are mere animals, and you haven’t proven otherwise. Your evidenceless claim we are special *POOF* dismissed as fuckwittery.

    You are seeing the fruits even now of a world who refuses to acknowledge a Creator, and sees evolution as a truth rather than a crutch. Theists have a far better crutch than atheists.

    Wrong fuckwit. All theists have is there unevidenced delusions that their creator/deity exists. And it doesn’t without evidence. Meanwhile science has the million or so papers as evidence. So at the end of the day, we have something, and you have delusions. What a loser….

  105. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Am I misremembering, or is antigoddist supposed to be confining their dumbfuckery to TZT?

    It was supposed to stop proselytizing or face the banhammer. It decided on suicide.

  106. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    You are seeing the fruits even now of a world who refuses to acknowledge a Creator, and sees evolution as a truth rather than a crutch. Theists have a far better crutch than atheists.

    Because life was so much better in the 11th century, when Xians believed and acted on those beliefs.

    Or the 17th century.

    Or in places today where people still believe in the Creator.

  107. Agent Silversmith, Feathered Patella Association says

    Antigodless, would you rather walk through the streets of Kingston or Tokyo at midnight?

    Here’s excerpts from each of the Wikitravel Stay Safe sections.

    Kingston

    It has been rated one of the most dangerous cities in the world in previous years when measured by the murder rate. It should be noted, also, that while the Trench Town section of Kingston does have an interesting history, nevertheless no visitor should dare go there unless they’re part of a goodwill tour or something similar with a high level of pre-arranged security. The average tourist going there would be signing his or her death warrant.

    Tokyo

    Tokyo is probably one of the safest big cities you will ever visit, and Japan in general is one of the safest places to visit in the world. Most people, including single female travellers, would not encounter any problems walking along the streets alone at night. Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night, and continues to decrease. However, “little crime” does not mean “no crime”, and common sense should still be applied as anywhere in the world.

    Keep in mind that Jamaica is a highly religious country (mostly Protestant Christianity), and Japan is the opposite.

  108. petejohn says

    Prayer is taken away,

    It isn’t. Students can still pray in schools, but public school employees can not force them to do so. But please don’t let facts stop your nice rant.

    basic morality taught in the ten commandments over sixty years ago are abandoned

    One of the ten commandments commands the followers of YHWH to NOT boil baby goats in the milk of their mothers. On the other hand, the ten commandments do not (none of the versions anyway) ban slavery. I think the ten commandments may not be the best guide of behavior.

    Persecution of theists increase.

    Name one example of actual persecution of theists in this country. Well there may be some done to Muslim theists by largely Christian theists, but I fail to see how that helps your position.

    A belief that we are not alone in the universe and that God cares about every decision we make in our lives.

    In other words an imaginary friend. The world is a better place when people believe in imaginary friends… that’s your contention. Ha. Ha. Ha.

    What Dr Myers is suggesting is even more sinister – replace the real deity with a fake deity – the deity of self.

    While on the other hand you think we human beings should prostrate ourselves at the feet of a murdering, petty, jealous, small little tyrant with the maturity of a baby. A tyrant who decided to send himself to Earth to get offed in the Middle East in a sacrifice to himself to erase a sin that he chose to lay on all humanity because a lady ate a piece of fruit. This is nonsense, a lousy story from antiquity that has been elevated to a position of importance for no good reason, no good reason at all.

  109. thisisaturingtest says

    antigodless:

    A belief that we are not alone in the universe and that God cares about every decision we make in our lives.

    We have a belief that we’re not alone in the universe either (only it’s actually more like a solid fact than a mere belief)- we have each other. So sad that that’s not enough for you, that you have to have an imaginary friend to hold your hand.

  110. Jerry says

    In comment 95, laurentweppe said:

    Anyway, if you decide to take the postgraduates into account, well you still have the problem that one out of four postgraduates being young earth creationists: that’s waaaaay to many highly educated people to make the assumption that no one outside of the few thousands of professional propagandists is lying.

    Don’t confuse postgraduate education with being educated in science. Someone studying business, or literature, or language, or any number of graduate topics might have had 1-2 high school science classes, and maybe 1-2 college science classes on the level of rote memorization style rocks-for-jocks, none of which classes may have covered any biology. That means a significant percentage of U.S. postgraduates stopped learning about biology in middle school. Counting devout Christians who don’t believe in anything outside of (some version of) ‘the’ Bible, I’m surprised the level of willful ignorance on evolution isn’t higher than 25%. All said, I think colleges are doing a decent job teaching biology when they get the chance, but it could be much better (i.e. requiring more people to take it).

  111. laurentweppe says

    a significant percentage of U.S. postgraduates stopped learning about biology in middle school

    So what? I was introduced to evolution in third grade and had no trouble understanding it. Evolution is not a matter so complex that it demands hundreds of hours of intense studying to reach a general understanding of what it is.
    Besides, the creationist argument demands that you believe that the consensus among scientists is an egghead conspiracy, and anyone qualifying for post-graduate education must have acquired enough general knowledge to be immune to the egghead conspiracy bullshit.
    So “I only had bio in Middle School” is no excuse.

  112. stephaniemanson says

    Reading through these posts makes me wonder whatever happened to polite discourse. Some of you get offended so easily then start throwing around the F word & calling people idiots with so little provocation!

  113. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reading through these posts makes me wonder whatever happened to polite discourse. Some of you get offended so easily then start throwing around the F word & calling people idiots with so little provocation!

    Your concern is noted and rejected. This is a rewd, crewd, and lewd blog. You either like it or go elsewhere. The one thing you don’t do is carp about our tone…

  114. Gnumann says

    Reading through these posts makes me wonder whatever happened to polite discourse. Some of you get offended so easily then start throwing around the F word & calling people idiots with so little provocation!

    “Polite discourse” is alive and well as a power-tool for the bourgeois to deny the masses access to political, financial and cultural discourse. Of course, it won’t fly around these parts.

    Why are you obsessed with “tone” and “decorum” instead of substance?

  115. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Reading through these posts makes me wonder whatever happened to polite discourse. Some of you get offended so easily then start throwing around the F word & calling people idiots with so little provocation

    People are talking in ways random troll doesn’t like?!?!?! How DARE they! *clutches pearls* Someone get the smelling salts and lead me to the fainting couch!

    I notice that all you care about is how people are reacting and NOT what they are reacting TO. Pro-tip: this makes it obvious you’re a troll. If you were actually concerned with “polite discourse” you would be attempting to shame those causing the problem, stuipidly trying to pretend there’s “little provocation”.

  116. says

    stephaniemanson,

    Though you’ve given me little provocation I think you’re an idiot. That offends me. Fuck off.

    Let me know if I missed any opportunity to trumpet my utter disregard for your specific concerns related to tone.

  117. Agent Silversmith, Feathered Patella Association says

    stephaniemanson

    I am offended, “easily” if you wish, by your insinuation that I ‘throw around the F word’. Instead, my uses of that particular epithet are always carefully chosen and placed where they will detonate for maximum damage.

    Also, you read all those posts and didn’t learn anything? These threads are a cornucopia of free information. But somehow you ignored that to carp about a few swear words and some instances of calling an idiot an idiot. Amazing.

  118. WhiteHatLurker says

    Now you’re going to tell me that nearly half of US citizens with a college degree are dumb

    As a Canuckistani, I can certainly see some validity in this argument. (How high above 50% is still considered “nearly half”?)

  119. Amphiox says

    Dear Stephaniemanson,

    Please be advised;

    Hypocritical, holier-than-thou, passive-aggressive, content-less comments such as yours are the most impolite type of comment of all.

    Far more impolite than the epithetical use of any monosyllabic references to wholly natural acts between consenting adults.

    Please do the polite thing and apologize for your boundless thoughtlessness to all those you have offended.

    Regards.