Thursday, November 26, 2009

Conversation with Siderealette

In which my two year old daughter is proven to be more intelligent than every living Republican......

Siderealette: Daddy, big cars bad de Earf.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Someone Who Just Doesn't Get It

From an interview on, with a British political journalist named Dennis Sewell, who has written a book on the influence of Darwin's theory of evolution on politics:

All things considered, do you believe Darwin was a great luminary in the path of human progress?
What has the theory of evolution done for the practical benefit of humanity? It's helped our understanding of ourselves, yet compared to, say, the discovery of penicillin or the invention of the World Wide Web, I wonder why Darwin occupies this position at the pinnacle of esteem. I can only imagine he has been put there by a vast public relations exercise.
This is what happens when supposedly educated people don't receive enough education in science. While it is certainly one motivation of science to produce inventions (e.g. ones that allow uninformed journalists spout off on topics on which they don't know very much and can't be bothered to actually reseach), the first and foremost goal of science is to explain things. Darwin "occupies this position at the pinnacle of esteem" because he provided an explanation that, in turn, provides a framework for understanding how nearly every biological thing you see around you got the way it is. On top of being a very profound explanation of the nature living organisms, Darwin's theory helps us understand important, practical things like the emergence of strains of diseases that resist antibiotics, and drives our understanding of the applications of things like genetics in the natural world.

In my mind, what this guy is saying is the equivalent of saying: "What's the big deal with Newton, it's not like he invented the Ipod or anything."