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Don't Know Much Biology - Comments

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 1 by Alovrin

Jerry Coyne is really beginning to hit his stride as a writer and advocate of science. This is the second article/talk I have seen by him it is clear and well argued. I look forward to hearing more.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 22:01:00 UTC | #45257

krogercomplete's Avatar Comment 2 by krogercomplete

It just makes so much damned sense.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 22:23:00 UTC | #45261

Logicel's Avatar Comment 3 by Logicel

I love this guy.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 23:28:00 UTC | #45266

greg_m's Avatar Comment 4 by greg_m

"The religious conviction that "man" is unique in ways that really matter is compelling in many ways—surely our language, art, music, and science itself are unique products of life on this planet—but holding our uniqueness to be a dogma immune to scientific analysis is an arrogant, and ultimately foolhardy, declaration of authority".

I think this is a really important aspect of the debate. Fundies often say "human life is not special if evolution is true", and I think there are many atheistic people who actually encourage this view. A good example was a dreadful video posted on this website a few weeks ago about humans being 'Just Another Monkey', which tried to dismiss any special value to humans. This is a hideous mindset, deserved of scorn.

To defeat religious waffle we need to celebrate the genuinely unique and valuable traits and achievements of human beings, as well as demand evidence for our beliefs.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 23:43:00 UTC | #45267

Logicel's Avatar Comment 5 by Logicel

greg_m, That 'monkey' video also leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It undermines the value of monkeys also. The makers of the video, unfortunately, in their earnestness to show how divisive and silly humans can be, left out any allusion to the wonderful achievements done by humanity and its staggering potential to continue to do so.

There are other videos which emphasize how connected humanity is, rather than focusing its sundering into divisive elements. I prefer them.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 23:51:00 UTC | #45270

Logicel's Avatar Comment 6 by Logicel

Sam Cooke song Wonderful World is where Coyne took his wonderful title from, here are the lyrics:

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don't know much about geography
Don't know much trigonomitry
Don't know much about algebra
Don't know what a slide rule is for

But I do know one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Now I don't claim, to be an A-student
But I'm trying to be
For maybe by being an A-student, baby
I could win your love for me

{repeat first two blocks)

Now in America, if a guy wants to win a gal, he needs to show off his ignorance of science.

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 23:58:00 UTC | #45272

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 7 by pewkatchoo

Devastating! Clear, incisive rebuttal of everything that the creationist lobby stands for. Jerry Coyne is right, we should be very worried if our elected representatives have these viewpoints.

If they win, we should weep for the probable passing of mankind.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 02:44:00 UTC | #45301

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 8 by Oromasdes1978

Think about what horrors my fellow country folk and I will have to face when the next election happens in England. The party I want to vote for has recently been toying with the creationism in schools stuff and the other party's are either a bunch of bLiars or simply awful. I want to get this guy over to explain a few things, Americans get to see him first, there need is slightly more pressing at the moment!!

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 03:01:00 UTC | #45307

Misha Vargas's Avatar Comment 9 by Misha Vargas

I don't think the term "atheistic theology" is such an oxymoron.

Atheist is a word that does refer directly to "god".

A lot of "atheists" don't even like to use the word, because it's so specific and doesn't mention all of the silly things they don't believe in.

Still, "atheistic theology" seems a little misleading.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 03:45:00 UTC | #45314

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 10 by pewkatchoo

I am a Brit too, Scots to be precise. I have sent emails to my MP about his parties plan, I live in a Tory area, to introduce creationist science in schools and have asked for a full explanation of their position. I have also told him that I am against the establishment of any further faith schools and want to know what his parties stance is on this too.

I agree with you about the other lot, but don't shout about it to loud as we have quite a few people in here who think they are wonderful. Even atheists can be delusional (^8.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 05:03:00 UTC | #45322

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 11 by Oromasdes1978

pewkatchoo, sorry, I don't like to guess countries, I cant hear your accent when you type hehehehe!

I don't want to shout about politics too much, I know what I am up against here and I don't mean to offend in anyway...except of course if its religion, then you lot are all fair game hehehe!!

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 05:33:00 UTC | #45324

Hip_Priest's Avatar Comment 12 by Hip_Priest

Over half of all Americans don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun once a year

I don't believe that for one second.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 05:42:00 UTC | #45329

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 13 by pewkatchoo

If you visit my website, you could pretty much work out where I come from. I thought that 'pewkatchoo' was a bit of a giveaway too.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:22:00 UTC | #45335

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 14 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

12. Comment #48235 by Hip_Priest on June 7, 2007 at 6:42 am

Over half of all Americans don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun once a year

I don't believe that for one second.

Well I wouldn't go that far, but I do find it fairly astounding. Anyone know where this info comes from, and if it's right?

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:25:00 UTC | #45336

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 15 by Oromasdes1978

pewkatchoo I am a simple English lad, you can tell by the vacant look in my picture, some things simply fly past and I don't see them!
Am having trouble accessing your site too, firefox is misbehaving today!

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:32:00 UTC | #45339

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 16 by pewkatchoo

Brian try looking here:

Apathy about science and technology seems especially rampant among my fellow Americans, among whom indifference toward scientific understanding is almost considered a badge of honor. A recent National Science Foundation survey showed that less than half of American adults understand that the Earth orbits the sun yearly, only 21 percent can define DNA, and just 9 percent know what a molecule is. Another poll showed that one in seven American adults--roughly 25 million people--could not even locate the United States on an unlabeled world map. NASA administrator Dan Goldin cites a question he received while defending funding for the space agency: "Why are we building meteorological satellites when we have the Weather Channel?"

I cannot vouch for the validity of the statement though.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:38:00 UTC | #45343

konquererz's Avatar Comment 17 by konquererz

Over half of all Americans don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun once a year

I don't believe that for one second.

Christians believe in the ten commandments, yet over 75% of them don't know them. Most Americans can't even say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing America the Beautiful, yet they are very patriotic.

I have met, personally, people who know that we orbit the sun, but don't know that is the reason for our year. I also know people who don't believe the universe is as big as science says it is and believe just like Brownback and Huckabee. Please, don't fool yourself, there is a supreme amount of supreme ignorance floating around in American minds!

But secondly, this article is hard, straight, and dead on accurate. Fabulously put and spoken like a true scholar. Once again I am forced to mourn for our future generations. To bad I can only effect my own three kids education. They really eat science stuff up.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:43:00 UTC | #45347

Murray Keedis's Avatar Comment 18 by Murray Keedis

A puny, runt of a museum recently opened in Canada's red-neck province, Alberta. Founded and funded by a chap who toils in oil, this 900 square foot building celebrates the "science" of creationism. It's nowhere near as grand and wearying as the Kentucky Museum of Egregious Lies (or whatever the Hades that edifice to fundamentalist creationist-mongering is called) but it's still bizarre to see a monument of monumental error erected by a man who makes a living off remains of ancient life.

In an article in Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, a tea-shoppe owner was quoted, offering profound scientific wisdom and analysis, saying that the Earth couldn't be over 4 billion years old – it just couldn't be. No word, other than her absolute and blind abidance in the Word, why she thinks this is so.

This is a wonderful article by Prof. Coyne and I hope to see more scientists coming forward with this brilliant and thoughtful line of reasoning.

I just started reading "The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science" by Natalie Angier. Horrified by rampant illiteracy in science, Angier wrote this book with the hopes of getting people to become acquainted with science and shelf superstitions and unenlightened "opinion". As one scientist said: "Unfortunately, people often regard science…as a matter of opinion. I do or don't like George Bush, I do or don't believe in evolution. It doesn't matter why I don't believe in evolution, it doesn't matter what the evidence is, I just don't believe in it."

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 06:49:00 UTC | #45350

Hip_Priest's Avatar Comment 19 by Hip_Priest

An earlier post of mine:

Over half of all Americans don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun once a year

I don't believe that for one second.

If this is accurate, then the truth might not be much better.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 07:07:00 UTC | #45357

Jeffersonian-Marxist's Avatar Comment 20 by Jeffersonian-Marxist

14. Comment #48242 by briancoughlanworldcitizen on June 7, 2007 at 7:25 am

Well I wouldn't go that far, but I do find it fairly astounding. Anyone know where this info comes from, and if it's right?

Not sure where the info comes from, but as a product of American public education, and seeing the idiocy first hand I wouldn't doubt it. I remember a teacher I had a year ago was telling our class how only some 47% of US students couldn't locate their own country on a map, it was only around 12% who could locate Iraq. One only needs two years of science education to graduate in my state (Colorado) and only three years of mathematics, which helps defog American ignorance of scientific fact. I went through the International Baccalaureate program, so I have a better grasp of reality than most of my peers, but the benightedness doesn't astound me in any way

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 07:53:00 UTC | #45363

graham513's Avatar Comment 21 by graham513

Really well put. Growing Up In The Universe should be required in every teaching institution including the faith based ones. If people can watch that and still think evolution isn't likely, theres no hope for them.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 09:33:00 UTC | #45381

jackdavis's Avatar Comment 22 by jackdavis

Excellent article by Dr.Coyne. A few posters didn't believe him when he said half of all Americans don't know the Earth orbits the sun in a year. It's true, however. Lawrence Krauss in the great atheistic magazine Free Inquiry (April/may 2006)says "in a 2001 National Science Foundation survey of scientific literacy, just 50% of American adults knew that the Earth orbits the sun and takes a year to do it."

Fortunately, Brownback has no chance of becoming President.

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 21:53:00 UTC | #45515

neddludd's Avatar Comment 23 by neddludd

For more details on the candidates' faith, the Belief Net is running a series of interviews with them. First, John Edwards.

He comes off like a real wanker.

Then, Dennis Kucinich.

He comes across relatively well by not getting into any pandering.

Subsequent interviews should also be informative.

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 02:40:00 UTC | #45555

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 24 by phasmagigas

Of the americans(for eg) who reject evolution you can bet that the majority of them would also fail at describing what it even is (something simple like mutation, selection, accumulating changes). A very small minority would understand the process and still reject it (im not sure which is worse). Of course there are those who accept it and who also cant describe it but as they also accept the use of asprin and (relatively)efficient engines without knowing how they work they are at least being consistent. the average person might not need to know evo theory but part of me thinks that as it explains our origins (and just what is a more fundamental enquiry)so well it is perhaps the most obvious thing we should learn and understand. I dont even remember being taught anything about evolution before being 18 but i do remember singing 'who put the colours in the rainbow?' at school and still know all the words!!!

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 04:12:00 UTC | #45886

baal's Avatar Comment 25 by baal

Dear Misha

I have to disagree with you about your comment that "atheistic theology" is not an oxymoron!

Maybe the best way to explain the contradiction is to use other, equivalent terms.

If "atheism" is equivalent to either "belief that there is no god" or "knowledge that there is no god," then it is the same as "godlessness." And surely "godless theology" is oxymoronic because "theology" is the study of "god" and his/her/its/their relationship(s) to the world (you can look "theology" up in the dictionary if you like). So "atheistic theology" is oxymoronic, too.

Sorry for my rather tortuous explanation - I might as well have been brought up by Jesuits... :)

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 06:23:00 UTC | #45927

Misha Vargas's Avatar Comment 26 by Misha Vargas

To baal (I prefer ba'al)

You may have a very good case about this (quite unimportant) issue.

Most definitions of theology do seem to assume a god's existence. I was surprised at that. It seem'd to me that atheism was a very simple form of theology. I feel the term is a bit nonintuitive.

Also the word godless. (Defined in my dictionary as worshiping or recognizing no god) It's almost as if the users of the word are admitting that god is only in your head, and if you don't believe in it, it doesn't exist (for you). Weird word.

Hey, that reminds me of the paradoxasaur!

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 08:08:00 UTC | #45947

flyingscot's Avatar Comment 27 by flyingscot

Well, that was a treat! Turning on my PC today and reading Prof. Jerry Coyne's excellent article.
I have spent the last half-hour checking out the links on the thread concerning what Americans believe about the earth's orbit around the sun as I too found that difficult to believe.
After reading the data about these polls I am truly at a loss for words.
Education is the key and young people are being denied access.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 08:53:00 UTC | #45953

lt_zippy2's Avatar Comment 28 by lt_zippy2

With regards to "atheistic theology" just type the word "atheology" into any good search engine and you'll find the subject does indeed exist, as a branch of philosophy.

Wouldn't mind doing a course in that.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 11:09:00 UTC | #45978

AburKadabur's Avatar Comment 29 by AburKadabur

America is a failed experiment.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 13:55:00 UTC | #45996

krogercomplete's Avatar Comment 30 by krogercomplete

America is a failed experiment.

Single tear.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 14:48:00 UTC | #46004