Saturday, August 09, 2014

Do you believe in evolution?

Keith Blanchard makes an excellent point. Writing in The Week under the title "Why you should stop believing in evolution”, he says:
So if someone asks, "Do you believe in evolution," they are framing it wrong. That's like asking, "Do you believe in blue?"
Evolution is nothing more than a fairly simple way of understanding what is unquestionably happening. You don't believe in it — you either understand it or you don't. But pretending evolution is a matter of faith can be a clever way to hijack the conversation, and pit it in a false duality against religion.
 I have found that most non-science majors I know — even those who are otherwise well-educated — can’t describe evolution in a concise enough way to convince me that they really understand it. When pressed, it becomes clear that what they really believe in is “science”, or “what my teachers taught me” or “what other college-educated people believe”.

The same is true of many other topics where it’s tempting to ridicule those who don’t believe like you do:
  • Do you believe in the danger of GMO (or nuclear energy or the Keystone Pipeline)?
  • Do you believe in global warming?
  • Do you believe vaccines cause autism?
  • Do you believe in God?
When you don’t understand something, you can be easily fooled by somebody who does, which is why it’s dangerous to dismiss unbelievers as ignorant—often you’ll find they are more informed than you are, precisely because they’ve had to dig deeper into the issue in order to withstand criticism of an unpopular position.

To me that explains facts like why those who identify with the Tea Party are more likely to visit science museums, or why climate science literacy has no correlation with political identity.

What about you? Do you understand climate change?
Camping with Martha