Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Attention Montrealers: Darwin Day at the Redpath Museum

I get a lot of visitors from Montreal, and I used to study there, so I should plug the Darwin Day event at my Alma Mater:

The Redpath Museum at McGill University is hosting a special Darwin Day event on February 12th and 13th (the website has an apparent typo - see the flyer).

Looks like it should be fun, it's a shame I'll miss it. On the bill is a lecture by Brian Alters, a McGill professor of education who testified at the Dover trial and made a critical breakdown of the "disclaimer" that was being read in the Dover public schools. He's a very dynamic speaker and gives very entertaining talks - I highly recommend it.

You should also check out Hans Larsson's talk on evolution and the fossil record -- a topic pretty near and dear to me. It's good to see that Hans has gotten aboard the public education thing. Two years ago, he might have dismissed the creationists with a wave of his hand. Now, I think it's becoming glaringly obvious that we've done this for far too long. We've thought that responding to them would simply lend them credibility. Well, it's too late. They've already got that credibility, unfortunately.

What scientists have to realize is that it's not the creationists' phony attempt at a scientific challenge that's a problem. We're not worried that they could actually upset the theory of evolution. Hell, they don't even understand it -- they wouldn't know what actual evidence against evolution would look like if it jumped up and bit 'em in the ass! Also, this is not like responding to that crank who thinks crop circles are flying saucer landing pads. This is much worse. Unlike the UFO cranks, we're talking about a very large, vocal, and politically mobilized segment of society. Many of them think that accepting evolution is the wellspring of moral decay, suicide, and even things like communism. Before you laugh and think I'm joking, think again. They truly believe this. Evolution stands for the root of all things they fear and fear is one of the most powerful agents of mobilization. This is a coordinated wholesale attack on the establishment of science with evolutionary theory as only its first in a long hit-list of targets. These are very large, very well-funded, and very vocal groups who have developed an extraordinarily effective campaign of obfuscation and deceit. State legislatures in the US have had bills before them that would limit the free expression of a scientific idea! Think about that before you just wave your hand and dismiss these people as just another sad bunch of cranks. Never underestimate a crank that votes.

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