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'Why Evolution Is True' - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

Excellent lecture, based on excellent book. Well worth listening to, even if you think you know it. Try to get this lecture widely disseminated, especially among young people and people likely to be influenced by creationist wingnuts. If you are a school teacher, or know a school teacher, try to get the lecture shown in school. Jerry is superb.

Richard

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 09:35:00 UTC | #411080

TheBlindWatcher's Avatar Comment 2 by TheBlindWatcher

I would also like to recommend Jerry Coyne's book - "Why Evolution is True" - it is superbly written. It is shorter than TGOE by Dawkins but is so beautifully written: logical, thorough & interesting. For my situation, a preferred book to have a "creationist" read.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 09:59:00 UTC | #411081

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 3 by Friend Giskard

I fear that, in the eyes of some, this lecture will be tainted by the AAI association, and that will have consequences for its chances of being used as an educational tool in schools. Jerry needs to deliver it again, and Josh record it again in a different setting. (If that's not too much trouble!)

OK. Now to watch it.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 10:03:00 UTC | #411082

Tyler Worthwell's Avatar Comment 4 by Tyler Worthwell

or try to get the god delusion played in school, now that would be something.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 10:14:00 UTC | #411083

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 5 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #429387 by Mark Lowley

How do you "play" a book? The documentary "The Root of All Evil?" I could understand, or perhaps "The Enemies of Reason"; but playing a book?

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 11:28:00 UTC | #411089

Tyler Worthwell's Avatar Comment 6 by Tyler Worthwell

Ever heard of audiobooks?

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 12:31:00 UTC | #411094

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 7 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #429398 by Mark Lowley

Fair enough (abridged or otherwise). I can't help thinking a video-less playback in a school would fail to capture children's attention, but you never know.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 13:08:00 UTC | #411099

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 8 by Dr Benway

Oh hell. MacBook mousepad did something weird and flagged someone's post for something. I'm very sorry.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 13:42:00 UTC | #411102

General_Intangibles's Avatar Comment 9 by General_Intangibles

Well, don't show this lecture in Hawaiian classrooms without expecting the children to be a little confused. At about 32 minutes into the lecture, Coyne mentions that there are no endemic mammals on oceanic islands - including the Hawaiian islands. This statement is not accurate. There are at least two mammals endemic to the islands - Hawaiian hoary bats and Hawaiian monk seals (children in Hawaiian schools are taught this bit of trivia in their science classes). The general observation about animals on oceanic islands is still correct - these particular mammals are the only kinds of mammals (swimmers, flyers) that could have made it to the Hawaiian islands on their own. Perhaps Coyne meant to say that you won't find endemic four-legged mammals like the mongoose on oceanic islands.

You can easily imagine though that a creationist might take Coyne's statement and say something like: "Eeevilutionists say that you can disprove Darwin’s theory if you find endemic mammals on oceanic islands - well here they are!" (Banana Man and his sidekick produce a picture of the Hawaiian hoary bat and the monk seal). "See, God did it!"

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 15:34:00 UTC | #411120

SRWB's Avatar Comment 10 by SRWB

Jerry's book was excellent - I recommend it to others all the time. I am about to start Richard's book.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 15:37:00 UTC | #411122

Son of Rea's Avatar Comment 11 by Son of Rea

Great information. I understand he was playing to an atheistic audience, but I wish he had not been so condescending toward the religious.

One of the chief complaints among my friends when we debate such matters from time to time, is the disrespectful, arrogant attitude of atheists towards believers.

I would share this video with one such friend, but he would be angered by the japes, and his mind would become closed to the information.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 16:03:00 UTC | #411123

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 12 by Sally Luxmoore

Comment #429427 by Son of Rea

"Condescending"?? Your religious friends need to toughen up and face facts.

The graphs that he was referring to were not made-up inventions. Where it is clearly shown that there is a negative correlation between religious societies and acceptance of evolution (and also between those societies and general equality and well-being)- it is the religious that are the ones who need to accept criticism.

Trouble is, it seems that the kind of people we are talking about are those least able to understand information presented in graph form. There is after all, another negative correlation - the one between the general level of education (and by implication, intelligence) and religiosity...

Maybe we can't win...
The Dunning Kruger effect: (unskilled and unaware of it)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyOHJa5Vj5Y&feature=PlayList&p=011160D4E6021B56&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 16:27:00 UTC | #411126

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 13 by Mark Jones

Comment #429427 by Son of Rea

Your comment reflects a debate that has been raging online for some time about the appropriate strategy to adopt. Have any of your theist friends been persuaded that they're wrong by respectful, humble atheists?


I would share this video with one such friend, but he would be angered by the japes, and his mind would become closed to the information.

One is tempted to suggest an anger management course for your friend, but would he get the joke :-)? The serious point is that he needs to grow up and take on board these issues that are presented by atheists (some of which have been for hundreds of years) and not just dismiss them because he's being teased. Non-theists have been at the receiving end of much harsher treatments over the centuries.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 16:37:00 UTC | #411131

Son of Rea's Avatar Comment 14 by Son of Rea

Sally, my point had nothing to do with the facts that were presented. They were excellent.

But the in-between comments are not necessary. Like flipping the bird, and other condescending comments.

Here is the bottom line: if you treat another human respectfully, you will indeed get farther with your arguments than if you put them on the defensive.

When you say something insulting, the listener's mind focuses on that, and mulls it over, and all that is said afterward is missed.

A person whom I believe to be a good spokesman, is Sam Harris. He presents his arguments calmly, and respectfully.

And yes, I know for a fact, a non-atheist is more willing to listen to such a person. Would you rather discuss a point with someone who is insulting and condescending, or with someone who calmly and respectfully makes their points?

I would have thought this obvious to intelligent and reasonable people.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 19:48:00 UTC | #411203

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 15 by Mitch Kahle

Friend Giskard on November 4, 2009
I fear that, in the eyes of some, this lecture will be tainted by the AAI association, and that will have consequences for its chances of being used as an educational tool in schools. Jerry needs to deliver it again, and Josh record it again in a different setting.


No! We do not apologize. Atheists are the friends of science. Theists can "suck it!"

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 20:12:00 UTC | #411207

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 17 by SaintStephen

15. Comment #429509 by Son of Rea on November 4, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Would you rather discuss a point with someone who is insulting and condescending, or with someone who calmly and respectfully makes their points?
Please. Two simpleminded posts and all of a sudden you've found the missing link in the war between science and religion?

No, Ma'am, I don't give a rat's ass if someone is screaming at me at the top of their lungs -- as a scientist I'll listen anyway and separate the wheat from the chaff. If the information is there, I'll get it.

And then I'll reply in kind. Emotions don't invalidate solid arguments.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 20:41:00 UTC | #411214

root2squared's Avatar Comment 16 by root2squared

One of the chief complaints among my friends when we debate such matters from time to time, is the disrespectful, arrogant attitude of atheists towards believers.


So the people who make fantastic claims in the face of massive contradictions, and with zero evidence claim we are arrogant. No wonder I don't have any respect for them.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 20:41:00 UTC | #411213

andersemil's Avatar Comment 18 by andersemil

Well proud of Denmark being at no 2 most accepting of the theory of evolution-- now if only people here would stop believing in angels and alternative medicine!

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 21:04:00 UTC | #411226

Sciros's Avatar Comment 19 by Sciros

Mark Jones

Your comment reflects a debate that has been raging online for some time about the appropriate strategy to adopt.
I'm of the impression that the conclusion is always that there is room for more than one strategy.

Some people really do stop paying attention when put on the defensive, and some people are easier to put on the defensive than others.

Richard doesn't sugar-coat what he has to say, and that means he may have more trouble getting his points across to some people than would someone who does sugar-coat things. (I think the opposite is true as well.)

I'm glad we have the whole spectrum of approaches "in play."

EDIT: and it is not so much that Richard doesn't sugar-coat things, I suppose, but more that Richard doesn't even bother addressing religion in his writing on science except in cases where it "stands in his way," so to speak.

And the irony there is, I think, that the religious people who will continue reading through his books despite that are either people who are indeed not stubborn and very willing to give Richard a fair chance, and people who are like "I don't care, I'm right and he's wrong anyway!" The in-between people, who aren't quite so strong in their religious convictions, but don't quite have it in them to push past what they see as "stabs" at their world view, may be disinclined to actually read through a whole book.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 21:18:00 UTC | #411230

genetheory's Avatar Comment 20 by genetheory

Excellent video - would be wonderful if creationists WOULD take the time to watch it. Unfortunately, in my experience they are simply not interested in other explanations... They already have 'the truth' and are clearly frightened of fact based reality getting in the way of their world view.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 21:56:00 UTC | #411238

andersemil's Avatar Comment 21 by andersemil

Unfortunately, in my experience they are simply not interested in other explanations... They already have 'the truth' and are clearly frightened of fact based reality getting in the way of their world view.


Well... in the Q&A section Jerry quotes PZ Myers: "You don't teach them evolution, you teach them rational and critical thinking". I guess he means that you don't want to shovel facts down their throats, you want them to choose the facts which are already there based on their own reasoning. Incidentally, this is why I think science and philosophy in its basics should be taught even from early school years.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 22:22:00 UTC | #411243

Grace Margaret's Avatar Comment 22 by Grace Margaret

Jerry Coyne is definitely superb. Would love to see more presentations from Coyne, very informative and enjoyable.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 23:53:00 UTC | #411265

yyy's Avatar Comment 23 by yyy

'science and philosophy in its basics should be taught even from early school years'

The dominant reading material I remember from my early forced schooling is a lot of pointless fiction. IMO, dictionaries and encyclopedias make most sense as general starting material, and autodidacticism makes more sense than school since brains are isolated and 'evolve' their own unique neuron paths. School just adds some idiotic unfitting social paradigm on top of that, and is more tied to future employment and historical legacy of schools having existed in the past than actually learning.

The nonfiction taught was usually just a string of facts to temporarily memorize with mnemonics to pass some pointless test. The function of tests still perplexes me; I guess that helps authorities place people in their respective 'gold group' or 'brown group' as joked about in matt groening's 'life is hell' books (feynman: 'i don't like honors'). 'Proving' to authorities that you learned something is an annoyance that gets in the way of learning itself. And peer pressure makes it desirable for males to be in the brown group actually since that group is 'cool'. Seriously, in one class we watched movies.. retarded movies like 'home alone' if I remember, then had a 'test' on it.. and that was the class. I learned the same amount in that class as any of the others though.

In my crappy college, I always tried to learn on my own by simply going to the library to read books I chose; too bad there was so much busywork and such from the retarded forced subjects constantly getting in the way of my own learning.

A basic problem is.. one should choose their own teachers. I certainly wouldn't choose any of the public school or college teachers I had. I would choose pleny of book writers as teachers (indirectly, through reading their books.. on my own without annoying tests..) to stand on the shoulders of giants. Public school teachers is generally standing on the shoulders of idiots.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 00:15:00 UTC | #411275

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 24 by Mark Jones

Comment #429537 by Sciros


I'm of the impression that the conclusion is always that there is room for more than one strategy.

From what I've seen this is probably true, and seems sensible. The accommodationists have to show that the approach should be restricted to a 'respectful' one, by *all*. AFAICS, there is no evidence that this is the only approach that *should* be taken. But I'm open to it, if they can present some evidence. So far, they haven't. They just say they don't like the abrasive approach; and that's not good enough, IMO.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 01:38:00 UTC | #411294

William Carlton's Avatar Comment 25 by William Carlton

I've enjoyed every one of these talks immensely. I don't consider myself an accomodationist by any means. I find, however, that many of those opposed to "accomodationism" in this context use the epithet as reflexively---and often inaccurately---as their foes use phrases like "militant atheist".

Sam Harris caused a stir when he appeared before an AAI conference and suggested that the word "atheism" itself has outlived its usefulness. He was virtually run out on a rail. This, of course, because he violated one of the more odious conventions of public speaking: pandering to your audience.

Which is the only principle I can see being defended here. If we mean for these talks to travel well outside of the conference's extended audience, then I'm on board with letting the content---devastating as it already is toward magical thinking---speak for itself.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 13:52:00 UTC | #411358

magnumdb's Avatar Comment 26 by magnumdb

Coyne's book is what I was reading when I saw Dawkins' during his Greatest Show On Earth book tour. I felt like I was the owner of two of the best books on evolution at that moment.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 14:25:00 UTC | #411361

David Blackwell's Avatar Comment 27 by David Blackwell

What intriguing stuff: Religion very much undergirds non-acceptance of the fact of evolution. The more a society is non-functional, the more religion is occasioned. Igitur, we should be doing all we can to (for example) help bring about serious health care reform in the U.S. Does anyone know how to easily access the text of G. Paul's article on the research on this--the article in Evolutionary Psychology that Jerry Coyne refers to?

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 19:41:00 UTC | #411448

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 28 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Interesting lecture!

Funny, incidentally, how Coyne and Dawkins seem to be very fond of flipping the bird to demonstrate how a horse's hoof evolved from five digits to one. ;)

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 20:18:00 UTC | #411468

forestsoul's Avatar Comment 29 by forestsoul

I noticed that Canada was not included in the list of countries.

I'm curious as to where Canada would place in the graph, being so closely tied to the U.S. in many ways, yet so different in many other ways (legal gay marriage country-wide, health care, much lower murder rate, etc).

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 20:43:00 UTC | #411487

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 30 by InYourFaceNewYorker

I've heard that Canada doesn't have a lot of the same bullshit that we do. There's a Bible belt but apparently it doesn't wield the same power that it does here. Also, the "Harry Potter Controversy" apparently isn't there either.

My dad was on business in Canada (while Bush was in office) and was discussing politics with a Canadian. The Canadian said "I don't know if the PM is married, and I don't give a shit!" :)

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 20:52:00 UTC | #411489