Transcript Document

Adult “belief” In
(Aug. 11, 2005 Science)
“Scientific principles, of course, are not reached
through opinion polls. But the climate of public
opinion about evolution strongly affects science
education at the secondary level and all political and
social discourse on evolution---a topic scientifically
well accepted but politically and socially still highly
---Kendrick Frazier, former editor of Science News and currently
editor of Skeptical Inquirer
“Belief” in Evolution by Partisanship
Gallup Poll
“Belief” in Evolution by Church Attendance
Gallup Poll
10 Myths About Evolution
Humans Evolved From Monkeys. Humans and great apes had a common ancestor
about 5-7 million years ago. Humans and monkeys had a common ancestor about 50
million years ago.
It’s Only A Theory. In the field of science, “theory” does not mean “hypothesis” or
“guess”. “Theory” means an organized set of related ideas supported by numerous
experiments over a long period of time. A theory that hasn’t been confirmed is a
If Nobody Saw It, We Can’t Be Sure It Happened. If your house is trashed and your
TV and stereo is missing, will you hesitate to call the police because nobody saw it
happen? Would you want the judge to dismiss the case just because you only had
forensic evidence, but no witnesses? The evidence for the process of evolution is
overwhelming. In nearly 150 years, not one scientific investigation has demonstrated
evidence that evolution has or does not occur.
Science Can’t Say Anything About Origins. Maybe not. But once the origin happens,
everything after that is history. And historical evidence is preserved in the physical
record. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New
Jersey won the Nobel Prize in 1978 for their discovery of Cosmic Microwave
Background (CMB) radiation, evidence of the Big Bang nearly 12.5 billion years ago.
Biologists “Believe” In Evolution. Science is not based on “belief”. Evolution provides
a model for scientists to understand the relationships between organisms on the planet.
99% of all scientists ascribe to it’s tenants. Science is not about belief-it is about making
inferences based on evidence.
10 Myths About Evolution
There Are No Intermediate Fossil Forms. Archaeopteryx, the earliest known fossil
bird (although more recent finds may be earlier) has a thoroughly reptilian skeleton with
a bony tail, teeth, and four paws with jointed fingers (not merely horns like today’s
birds). And it has feathers. If that’s not intermediate, what is? More recently, there is
accumulating evidence that some dinosaurs had hair and feathers.
Evolution is Not Testable. Evolution is observable and testable. The misconception
here is that science is limited to controlled experiments that are conducted in
laboratories by people in white lab coats. Actually, much of science is accomplished by
gathering evidence from the real world and inferring how things work. Astronomers
cannot hold stars in their hands and geologists cannot go back in time, but in both cases
scientists can learn a great deal by using multiple lines of evidence to make valid and
useful inferences about their objects of study. The same is true of the study of the
evolutionary history of life on Earth, and as a matter of fact, many mechanisms of
evolution are studied through direct experimentation as in more familiar sciences.
Evolution Means Humans Are Just Animals. Well, what are you then? Vegetable or
mineral? Humans have hair and nurse their young just like other mammals. Trails like
nurturing, cooperation and monogamy are often favored by evolution because they
enhance the survival of the species.
Evolution Is Just Random. Is the following number sequence random:
5626535897932384626433383279? It not only looks random: it is random. But is it
lacking in meaning? No. These are the digits of pi beginning with the fourth decimal
place. Random does not mean “meaningless”.
Complexity Cannot Arise Naturally. Since many complex traits seem to be adaptive,
they are likely to have evolved in small steps through natural selection. That is,
intermediate forms of the adaptation must have evolved before evolution arrived at a
fully-fledged wing, chemical pathway, or eye.