Monday, February 04, 2008

Students Standing up for Science

Its a sentiment youre going to be hearing more from me in the future (including during my interview with Infidel Guy!): I love it when students stand up to pseudo-scientists. I hate it when kids think "I really liked Immunology 101, and I think I see spots where Behe messed up, but Im just a student. Ill let Dawkins deal with it." or equally terrible "Im just an art history/Chinese literature/psychology major. Id like to stand up for science, but I cant."

Everyone can use their individual talents to support science education! Here is a recent, great example from a sophomore English major, Aaron Elias:

Every so often, a group will try to promote its cause and give itself the proverbial rake in the face. The pointy end of the rake came up when the makers of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” started bribing fundamentalist schools to organize mandatory field trips forcing students to watch the film. Bribery? Great publicity move! That garners about as much credibility as a Republican politician in a bathroom stall.

Not only are the filmmakers throwing money at Christian schools to wash out the insides of students’ heads, but they have also been “misleading their interviewees”—in other words, flat-out lying. Biologist P.Z. Myers, National Center for Science Education head Eugenie Scott and Richard-freaking-Dawkins said that they were misled into participating in “Expelled” by being interviewed for a film called “Crossroads,” which explored the interaction between science and religion. Dawkins stated that “at no time was [he] given the slightest clue that these people were a Creationist front.”

My favorite line:
Maybe I’m only bashing the movie because I’m a left-wing, liberal hippie who drives the Mystery Machine with my stoned talking dog.

Okay, so its not something Dawkins would write. Its not an editorial for the New York Times. But its a student making observations, putting a pen to paper, and bringing his observations to people who might not know whats going on with the ID/DI/EXPELLED story in a cute, funny way.

Aaron will no doubt be rewarded for his efforts with a PR-sniper-shot from Casey or Anakin, but I hope readers of this blog will realize that the DI is shooting with rubber bands. An attack from a DI 'Fellow' is meaningless.

Students, dont be afraid of their crap. Dont doubt your abilities. Stand up for science any way you can!


Aquaria said...

I don't know much about science myself (liberal arts type here), but my standard answer to people who ask why I can have "faith" in science is this:

"I humbly admit that I don't understand science the way scientists do. What I do know is that other scientists can duplicate their experiments. If they get the same results, then that confirms the theory. If they don't, then the theory is dirt. Heck, I know that if I had access to the same processes, I could verify their experiments for myself. In other words, if the evidence isn't there, if the process can't be duplicated, then the assertion is crap. Period."

alloy said...

It's not just students who can question, anybody with a passing interest should feel free to challenge something that just doesn't make sense.

Students and non-experts have the leasure of being able to ask "Uninformed questions".

Anonymous said...

I definitely can't wait to hear your interview with the Infidel Guy. I've been wanting to look for ways to talk about these people, but have always felt a bit intimidated about some of the things they throw at you. For example, the whole irreducibly complex stuff was something that I couldn't properly debunk some years ago until I had a good biologist buddy of mine explain it to me, and how Behe was wrong, wrong, wrong. Anyway, I hope you have a good show!

HalfMooner said...

Against the Creationists, nearly any layman is fairly qualified. But those most likely to take a leading position in the defense of science are student scientists.

Established scientists are often unwilling because they are not accustomed to exposing outright liars, and because they feel that lending their names to a debate gives the opposition credibility. But some scientists, such as PZ Myers and others, have learned how to take these pious frauds on and win.

Even an old, retired, blue-collar worker like myself can contribute in some small fashion. I fiddled with a WWII Rosie the Riveter poster to come of with the following:

Anonymous said...

Another interesting take on the Aaron Elias article is at Coincidence Theories

You want fries with that? said...

Its because Dawkins is such a high level AD&D character:

That 25 Charisma and infinite spell resistance comes in handy.