Larry Moran criticizes a dramatic Youtube video that purports to show how evolution works. He asks if we think this helps or hurts the cause of evolution education. Speaking as an evo-devo guy (forgive me, Larry), I’d also say it hurts. Without understanding the mechanisms of morphological change underlying the simulation, it’s useless. It doesn’t explain anything about the roots of the variation it’s demonstrating or the principles of the propagation of genetic change through a population — funny faces shift generation after generation, with no explanation given. It asserts change without showing how. That is not science.
This is also where I have problems with the Nisbet/Mooney thesis. I presume this kind of simplified, cartoony presentation is what they think we need more of, and that scientists ought to just swallow their
pride arrogance and go along with the “framing”…but there’s a point where simplification and flash become the antithesis of good science. I don’t want people to believe in evolution, I want them to understand it.
Would the cartoon help them believe? Maybe.
Does it help them understand? No.
If you want to grasp the goals of scientists (and, tellingly, the goals of atheists), you have to understand that distinction between believing and understanding.