- Communication: Randy Olson brought up the point that scientists/academics do not communicate well to the public. The poker game in his documentary backed up his idea; though, as a nerd, I secretly wished I could be part of that game Unfortunately, I don't think that this issue is really as simple as it was presented to be. The question is, how much responsibility does the scientific community have in ensuring public understanding of evolution? We could argue that the responsibility lies solely within the scientific community. Or, we could argue that the public should take a more active role in understanding. Of course, depending on the public to do so would be dangerous; we live in a fairly lazy society that likes easy answers. It takes work to understand evolution and most people just aren't up to the task. Part of the problem is that evolution has remained largely marginalized in textbooks and classrooms. I cannot remember studying evolution in any detail in high school or middle school. Even my biology course for my bachelor's degree didn't include anything. Can we expect the public to know anything in light of the absence of evolution from education? Unfortunately, no. Should scientists then pick up the slack and work extra hard to promote understanding? We need better education when it comes to evolution and science...and unfortunately, that's the debated issue.
- Anger: There's a lot of anger on the evolution side of the debate. Is this anger detracting from the argument? I've been wondering how this anger comes across to someone neutral on the debate. Is it seen as condescending? Is it justifiable? There's a great post on it at Greta Christina's blog. She gives a ton of reasons to be angry and explains why the anger is not a negative thing and I agree with her that anger is often the single instigator of action and that it is necessary and not unhealthy. I also believe that it can be misdirected, especially when using it to argue a point in a debate. It seems that the anger evident in the Creationism/ID/Evolution debate is also the reason that the argument goes from one of "this doesn't belong in science education" to "you're wrong, I'm right." What we're debating is the teaching of it in public schools, in science classrooms. Our emotions, namely our anger, lead us to engage in debate that borders on the real issue and therefore weakens our argument.
- Philosophy: J brought up an interesting question about philosophy. His question was, "why do we place more value on science than on philosophy?" I'm not entirely sure what he meant by this, but I think it's something like, "why do we think evolution is correct because it's science and think ID is wrong because it's based in philosophy?" Or, furthermore, "don't humans assign value to science and philosophy?...and if so, how can we say one is more valuable than another?" Perhaps we do value science more (though evidence in this country shows that science isn't necessarily valued by most). If so, I'm inclined to say it's because of the tangible evidence. Where philosophy is pure thought, science is based on the natural world. Regardless, I think his point was that the value we assign is based entirely on our beliefs. This is a slippery-slope. If we can't support one over the other because we can't trust our value-assignments, then what else can we marginalize? In the context of philosophy, we can completely deny our own existence. So what, then, does anything matter? J did bring up the point that philosophy and science are partners more than separate entities, that is has been the precursor for many scientific ideas. So, I do not mean to discount the importance of philosophy.
In all, I thought the movie was pretty fair. It gave a lot of camera time to both sides. It was definitely skewed toward the evolution side, but hell, that's the side that's right. If anything, it made me feel responsibility for eradicating the immense amount of ignorance surrounding the debate. Unfortunately, I've just recently learned enough myself, and I don't feel qualified quite yet to do so.