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Thread: How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution?

  1. #1 How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution? 
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    As the title says...

    How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution?

    Ideas?


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    as the jesuits used to say : start them off young, before other indoctrination prevents them from hearing the real message about evolution


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    First educate them about science and the scientific method.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    as the jesuits used to say : start them off young, before other indoctrination prevents them from hearing the real message about evolution
    Unlikely (depending of course on who you're trying to teach), sunday school comes before school, and it's alot easier for someone to understand 'evolution is evil' than to actually understand evolution.
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    I like Dewey's philosophy on education. That the child's focus should not be on learning and remembering, but on doing, and the learning comes naturally by doing.

    How do get kids to DO something that will make them learn evolution is the hard part.

    I guess some sort of game could be designed.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    First educate them about science and the scientific method.
    Unfortunately, that does not work in families where children are brought up having to accept myth and superstition as fact. This cycle is the first problem to be solved.

    We've already observed theists who dismiss or ignore the scientific method, for reasons even they themselves fail to recognize.
    Religious Fundamentalist Club - Member #1.
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  8. #7 Re: How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    As the title says...

    How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution?

    Ideas?
    The same way you'd educate them about Shakespeare. Or the string theory.

    I have several friends e.g. artists or economists and who will probably go through life never needing much of any of the information gleaned from any of the above.
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    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    I'll high-five Samcdkey on this.

    I am perplexed by people who deny Evolution, I am ashamed to see that many of them are my fellow Christians, but there are more burning issues in the education system of any country.

    How do we teach people not to be stupid, dishonest, bigotted, selfish, aggressive, criminal, neurotic, abusive of their families?

    Give me a friendly flat-earther and seven-day Creationist over a sociopathic rocket scientist any day.
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    trouble it, certain traits seem to go together : religious fundamentalism, denial of evolution, conspiracy theorists, global warming deniers, anti-abortion, anti-sex outside marriage, pro capital punishment

    the relatively minor issue of denying evolution more often than not goes together a whole suite of far nastier traits, which in general express a mind that is intolerant of dissenting opinions
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    trouble it, certain traits seem to go together : religious fundamentalism, denial of evolution, conspiracy theorists, global warming deniers, anti-abortion, anti-sex outside marriage, pro capital punishment

    the relatively minor issue of denying evolution more often than not goes together a whole suite of far nastier traits, which in general express a mind that is intolerant of dissenting opinions
    Ever been to China? Russia?
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  12. #11  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    no, so i can't pronounce myself on whether they lump the same qualities under one ideology - all i know is that US and assorted islamic fundamentalists do
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    trouble it, certain traits seem to go together : (...) anti-abortion, (...) pro capital punishment
    That's one reason why I'll never migrate to America: under your two-party system, I'd have the choice of voting for one form of brutal killing or another. One in the name of... human rights? The other in the name of... God?
    No thanks. Not in my book on either.
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
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  14. #13  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    ... I'll never migrate to America: under your two-party system, ...
    ahem - slight correction : i'm not a US citizen and i don't live in the USA
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  15. #14  
    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    Under their two-party system then.
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
    History teaches us that we don't learn from history.
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    The most effective way would be to get it into people's heads in schools, and teach theories like creationism as a belief in RE. I think time as well will be a factor, at school, almost all of my class are evolutionists, and the vast majority are atheists (which isn't necessary to be an evolutionist, but it helps). Admittedly I am in a British school, and not somewhere like America, so I don't know how things are there, but as time goes by, I think anti-evolutionism might be reduced to the point where it's no longer relevant. Of course, it's presumably going to be considerably harder to get it accepted in deeply religious countries, but if you can get it into the curriculum, then you're most of the way there.
    The wise man believes half of what he reads. If he knew which half to believe, he'd be a much wiser man.
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    I was taught evolution from very early on with an excellent children's book on animals of the past. So long as proof is given to kids, it is all they will need, based on my experience. When religion came in at a later age, I was able to see it for the malarkey it was right from the off.....it just took awhile to know specifically why it was malarkey, and that some of my family members weren't always correct.


    So teach evolution to first grade kids right from the off, and restrict any religious brainwashing as best you can. Our own secular countries need to start addressing the fact that children raised under the harmful influence of religion are being mistreated and don't have the freedom of choice our first world countries purport to offer.
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    The best way to teach anyone anything is to give them tools for thinking and let them learn how to use them. Brainwashing in one or another way of thinking is pointless, since it does not teach them how to think, only what to think
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    The best way to teach anyone anything is to give them tools for thinking and let them learn how to use them. Brainwashing in one or another way of thinking is pointless, since it does not teach them how to think, only what to think
    I agree. Instead of teaching them evolution directly, we should teach them the tools that would enable them to understand it, such as the principles of statistics and probability, as well as biology of basic disease mutation, and perhaps some semi-chaotic occurrences in nature, like crystal formation, or weather patterns, so they can see how complex systems organize themselves. We should teach all of this first... before we even utter the word "Evolution".


    If you start off telling them "evolution happened", before you've given them any of the tools that would enable them to understand why that is a likely scenario, they're going to reject it a absurd. They're going to be thinking "Dude, none of my ancestors were fish!!" .... and then they'll stop trusting other things you say.
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  20. #19  
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    ...And the 99% of kids that don't want to learn, can use the tools to make something useful!
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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  21. #20  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    I'll high-five Samcdkey on this.

    I am perplexed by people who deny Evolution, I am ashamed to see that many of them are my fellow Christians, but there are more burning issues in the education system of any country.

    How do we teach people not to be stupid, dishonest, bigotted, selfish, aggressive, criminal, neurotic, abusive of their families?

    Give me a friendly flat-earther and seven-day Creationist over a sociopathic rocket scientist any day.
    Sure there are more important issues and I think MarnixR might be making a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. But I don't think it's unimportant. For example I might be ignorant of history, and have my own little theories, but I'm not going to get riled up because history teachers are teaching my kids something different. I think that's why creationism can be more annoying than mere ignorance.
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  22. #21 Re: How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    As the title says...

    How Best to Educate the General Public About Evolution?

    Ideas?
    Different people learn differently. One would need to determine who their target audience is and then tailor their explanation for that group of people.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    The best way to teach anyone anything is to give them tools for thinking and let them learn how to use them.
    You are right! This is the solution. I believe that knowledge of a man is the amount of knowledge of his predecessors. So if we are wrong how can we teach others?
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  24. #23  
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    I don't really care all that much if the guy next door accepts or rejects evolutionary theory. Acceptance or not in evolution has little impact on science or technology. Not any in my area of geology or more specifically in paleontology.

    A well-site technologist in the middle of the Bible belt doesn't drill for oil any differently because he rejects evolutionary theory...a Cardiologist in Utah might be a Mormon but his heart transplant procedure is probably the same as that of a cardiologist who is an atheist. The USA may have a strong anti-evolutionary lobby but this week US scientists continue to dominate the Nobel prizes in science

    Most of the research I follow is out of China, Russia, Europe, the USA and here in Canada. The larger issue of 'evolution' is just about never discussed...it's just a given. 'Evolution' is mostly a topic of discussion outside of the sciences...and mostly is irrelevent to science. There may e a few funding issues in selected niches but that is largely confined to the USA...and even there the creationists usually don't get their way.

    I dout if the formal education system has as much impact on beliefs as we give it credit. I come from a family of 5 kids and we all went to Catholic schools,etc. Today 4 of us are atheists and one batty sister is a crystal gazer....zero out of 5 still drinking the Jesus kool-aid
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    I don't really care all that much if the guy next door accepts or rejects evolutionary theory. Acceptance or not in evolution has little impact on science or technology. Not any in my area of geology or more specifically in paleontology.
    Am I misinterpreting you? Isn't evolution pretty important for paleontology? Evolution gives a pretty good guide as to where to look for fossils doesn't it (see Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish").

    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    The USA may have a strong anti-evolutionary lobby but this week US scientists continue to dominate the Nobel prizes in science
    Kenneth Miller thinks this might be do to the fact that both creationism and Nobel Prizes, though obviously very different, come from the same source: rebelliousness.

    I just to be clear, I think evolution is important because it unifies biology, and it helps to make sense of it. After all "biology without evolution is just stamp collecting". I don't think evolution is important because it might support atheism. When I talk about sunday school I'm not saying there shouldn't be any religious education, just that sometimes it makes science education more difficult.[/i]
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  26. #25  
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    I agree with the 'tools for learning' ideas, one tool would have to be open mindedness and another skepticism (like Carl Sagan's idea). Since I find the hardest thing to get a person to do is read an evolution book, second is to be skeptical of creationists (after all their religious, they're to moral to lie).
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    I don't really care all that much if the guy next door accepts or rejects evolutionary theory. Acceptance or not in evolution has little impact on science or technology. Not any in my area of geology or more specifically in paleontology.
    Am I misinterpreting you? Isn't evolution pretty important for paleontology? Evolution gives a pretty good guide as to where to look for fossils doesn't it (see Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish").

    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    The USA may have a strong anti-evolutionary lobby but this week US scientists continue to dominate the Nobel prizes in science
    Kenneth Miller thinks this might be do to the fact that both creationism and Nobel Prizes, though obviously very different, come from the same source: rebelliousness.

    I just to be clear, I think evolution is important because it unifies biology, and it helps to make sense of it. After all "biology without evolution is just stamp collecting". I don't think evolution is important because it might support atheism. When I talk about sunday school I'm not saying there shouldn't be any religious education, just that sometimes it makes science education more difficult.[/i]
    Folks in paleontology don't sit around discussing evolutionary theory....I doubt if folks in engineering sit around discussing Newtonian physics....it's a given and the issue at hand is dealt with and not a belief system. No geologist needs to clarify any position on evolution in published material.

    "After all "biology without evolution is just stamp collecting". ???? Biology has hundred of practical applications. I'm an atheist but there are probably lots of creationists who study biology and apply what they learn to health care, agriculture, etc.

    Perhaps the statement 'Taxonomy without evolution is just stamp collecting' is more valid.
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  28. #27  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    indeed... and biology without molecular chemistry is but quantum phisics... maybe?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    indeed... and biology without molecular chemistry is but quantum phisics... maybe?
    Your raise a good point.

    Most 'ologies' in science are a manifestation of matter and energy that we can perceive with our senses. The 'stuff' of the Universe is happening at a level that we attempt to describe with physics and chemistry but can't really relate to.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    I don't really care all that much if the guy next door accepts or rejects evolutionary theory. Acceptance or not in evolution has little impact on science or technology. Not any in my area of geology or more specifically in paleontology.
    Am I misinterpreting you? Isn't evolution pretty important for paleontology? Evolution gives a pretty good guide as to where to look for fossils doesn't it (see Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish").

    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    The USA may have a strong anti-evolutionary lobby but this week US scientists continue to dominate the Nobel prizes in science
    Kenneth Miller thinks this might be do to the fact that both creationism and Nobel Prizes, though obviously very different, come from the same source: rebelliousness.

    I just to be clear, I think evolution is important because it unifies biology, and it helps to make sense of it. After all "biology without evolution is just stamp collecting". I don't think evolution is important because it might support atheism. When I talk about sunday school I'm not saying there shouldn't be any religious education, just that sometimes it makes science education more difficult.[/i]
    Folks in paleontology don't sit around discussing evolutionary theory....I doubt if folks in engineering sit around discussing Newtonian physics....it's a given and the issue at hand is dealt with and not a belief system. No geologist needs to clarify any position on evolution in published material.
    OK, sorry, then I think I was misunderstanding your point.
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Instead of teaching them evolution directly, we should teach them the tools that would enable them to understand it, such as the principles of statistics and probability, as well as biology of basic disease mutation, and perhaps some semi-chaotic occurrences in nature...
    I think I disagree. Evolution is not limited to origins of species. It's a broadly useful way of understanding so much of life. Like why the classroom desks are arranged a certain way. You can say they once were like so, but then evolved for this and that reason to the current arrangement. And so forth.

    Anyway, children much more readily grasp underlying "systems" than do adults. Evolution itself is easy, if we don't bore them with disease mutation and yada yada.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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