Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478363 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Why Understanding Evolution is Important
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (9)

Recently, liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias said this about the fight between evolutionary theory and the intelligent design crowd:

Last but not least, nothing whatsoever of practical importance hinges on whether or not life on earth originated as a result of intelligent design. The theory is exceedingly silly pseudo-science, but it doesn't actually threaten anything. There is, moreoever, no reason to think it's especially crucial for the average citizen to have an accurate grasp of state-of-the-art biological theory. Most people don't understand quantum mechanics, general relativity, or any number of other scientific and technical topics and life goes on just fine.

(EDIT: Updated with working link)

Anyway, this is such a staggeringly stupid statement, it compels a response.

Look, I don't expect your average Joe to have "an accurate grasp of state-of-the-art biological theory". But by the 21st century, living in a wealthy, industrialized democracy, I think most of the public should have a basic level of scientific literacy.

Theodosius Dobzhansky once said "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," and he was right. It's the underlying, unifying theory of life. How things are doesn't make much sense without knowing how they got to be that way.

Why we eat what we eat, look the way we look, have two sexes, have long childhoods, fear what we fear, learn the kinds of things we short, everything that has to do with being human makes sense in the context of how we got here, how we evolved.

In my own field of interest, the brain only makes sense as a structure that has accumulated layers over time, growing an ever-larger neocortex over subcortical structures shared with the common lineage of reptiles.

I've met a lot of people who are fascinated with genealogy. Why? Most people want to know the stuff they're made of. They want to understand their lineage. Well, understanding human origins is widening the scope. It's the genealogy of the human species. Don't tell me people don't have the time or curiosity. I know of many people who spend many, many hours researching birth certificates and scrutinizing personal records to try to understand their family tree.

So I'd make the argument that quantum mechanics and general relativity are far less relevant to a basic understanding of a person's own body and mind than even a simple grasp of evolutionary theory.

Read/Post Comments (9)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.