Stranger Fruit

Designs on Darwin


I spent this afternoon giving a public talk to the Greater Phoenix Mensa Regional Gathering. The topic was the history of anti-evolutionism (largely Intelligent Design) in this country over the past twenty years. Slides (without my soft Irish accent) are available here for those that care.

The slide player is a little funky and seems to skip certain parts of the slideshow, but it’s probably enough to give you the gist of what I said. Props go to Nick Matzke at NCSE for providing some of the material.


  1. #1 Duygu
    April 1, 2007

    Thank you for the slides. Good information.

  2. #2 Abel Pharmboy
    April 1, 2007

    John, this is an exceedingly well-crafted and well-documented presentation. It is essential that talks like these not only be presented to Mensa chapters, etc., but also adapted to the general public.

    With US acceptance of evolution at the bottom (slide 7, I think), sandwiched between Cyprus and Turkey, our only hope for reason is to educate the next generation about the facts of evolution.

    I kind of view the challenge to us in the sense of that old Max Planck quote, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” In this case, evolution is an old scientific truth that many of us think is so obvious that it does not require defence. However, the scientific ignorance of the US populace provides a vacuum for ID to take hold and must be countered by effective presentations of scientific fact on evolution tailored to general audiences. Maybe we can’t win over folks in their 40s, but developing critical thinking skills in schoolkids and college students is essential to combatting this intellectual decline in the US.

    And, yes, I would’ve loved to hear the talk delivered in your Irish accent – preferably over one or more Irish ales.

  3. #3 Nan
    April 1, 2007

    I’m sorry to interrupt with what may be a ridiculous question to you, but I’m genuinely asking out of search for an answer:
    Does ID have to preclude evolution? There’s absolutely no reason for evolution to preclude ID, but do you see a reason why it must be either/or?


  4. #4 mark
    April 1, 2007

    Some ID proponents, notably Michael Behe, have conceded that certain elements of evolution must certainly have been occurring. Some may concede common descent and some limited amount of evolution (commonly saying microevolution occurs, but not macroevolution–a usage not consistent with that of evolution scientists). But when pressed about what Intelligent Design really explains, and its scientific usefulness, they are at a loss to provide a coherent theory useful for generating new knowledge. While the science of evolution does not preclude “magic man done it” (but that phrase is not scientifically useful), the argument cannot be simply reversed because the basis of Intelligent Design is very different. Those who support ID have a religious basis, and find the methodical naturalism of the scientific method antithetical to their religious beliefs.

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