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Darwin Too Controversial for Hollywood?

This report is surprising and, if true, quite depressing.

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

What good is Hollywood's liberal bias if film distributors won't carry a film about Charles Darwin? Personally, I think a film starring Jennifer Connelly is a great way to improve scientific literacy.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Creationist Belief in Europe:
  2. Darwin Too Controversial for Hollywood?
martinned (mail) (www):

What good is Hollywood's liberal bias if film distributors won't carry a film about Charles Darwin?

What's so liberal about Darwin? Or about science in general?
9.13.2009 10:08pm
Anderson (mail):
Our stupidity is going to catch up with us in the long run.

I was disappointed tonight, in my perusal of the Religion shelves of my local book megastore, at how thoroughly the equation of "Christian" and "stupid" has permeated this country; for every halfway intelligent book, there had to be 20 or 30 written for the barely literate.
9.13.2009 10:08pm
matthew (mail):
<i>I think a film starring Jennifer Connelly is a great way to improve scientific literacy.</i>

Hey, it worked with "A Beautiful Mind." Well except that I really don't recall any actual science being used in that film...
9.13.2009 10:14pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

What's so liberal about Darwin? Or about science in general?


Without the ideas of liberalism, there would be no science.
9.13.2009 10:29pm
Guesto12:
We can all thank social conservatives for the fact that most of America is scientifically illiterate.
9.13.2009 10:36pm
DiversityHire (mail):
I don't know the country Jeremy Thomas is describing. It sounds to me like he's negotiating in the press, trying to squeeze additional up-front money for a film that's never going to do big box office in the US for reasons other than the alleged religious biases of the US audience.
9.13.2009 10:36pm
PB:

Hey, it worked with "A Beautiful Mind." Well except that I really don't recall any actual science being used in that film...

Didn't the Nash-character apply some game theory in the early scene at the bar, discussing optimal strategies for picking up women?
9.13.2009 10:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I was disappointed tonight, in my perusal of the Religion shelves of my local book megastore, at how thoroughly the equation of "Christian" and "stupid" has permeated this country; for every halfway intelligent book, there had to be 20 or 30 written for the barely literate.
Come on, Anderson; that's just Sturgeon's Law.
9.13.2009 10:38pm
DiversityHire (mail):
Takes all comers to make science unappealing, Guesto12: for every young-earth creationist, there's an astral-plane herbalist healer.
9.13.2009 10:40pm
Daniel San:
I dunno. Even without Darwin, evolution, or natural selection, 'man loses his faith after the death of his 10-year old daughter' doesn't sound like much of a blockbuster. Maybe it would work as an arthouse film between showings of Bergman, but it really doesn't sound like the Hollywood sort of movie.

Now I would love to see The Voyage of the HMS Beagle as a Hollywood movie. It would be necessary to slip some pirates and explosions into the plot, but maybe you could sneak some science in there somewhere.
9.13.2009 10:41pm
Arturito:
@Tim Nuccio:

Without the ideas of liberalism, there would be no science.

True if you are talking about 19th Century liberalism, but 19th Century liberalism has precious little in common with the 21st Century statist brand of American liberalism.
9.13.2009 10:43pm
JK:

Takes all comers to make science unappealing, Guesto12: for every young-earth creationist, there's an astral-plane herbalist healer.

Can you provide a cite for the assertion that the number of new-age anti-science types rivals the number of Christian fundamentalists (at least in the US)?
9.13.2009 10:47pm
LN (mail):
Hollywood generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. Imagine what they would make if there was a "market" in "movies" that encouraged movie producers to cater to customer tastes. Instead we're stuck with the liberal bias that created Transformers, Harry Potter, Up, The Hangover, Star Trek, Monsters vs Aliens, Ice Age, and Wolverine.
9.13.2009 10:50pm
Cris:
JK,

Could you define "Christian fundamentalist" to provide a starting place?
9.13.2009 10:50pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Actually, although the poll showed that only 39% of Americans say they "believe in the theory of evolution," that poll result most emphatically does not mean that 61% think the theory is wrong. Only 25% do not believe in the theory, while a whopping 36% don't have an opinion either way.

In other words, 36% reserve judgment, and remain neutral. Personally, I would emphatically answer that I do believe the theory of evolution, but the position of the 36% who reserve judgment is really not worthy of contempt or sorrow, IMO. There are valid reasons for reserving judgment. For example, how exactly does one define the "theory of evolution"? If one defines it as the theory that species descend from other species in a way that better adapts animals to the environment, then that's very obviously correct.

But if one defines the theory of evolution as a system of "survival of the fittest" in which human beings are destined to battle and kill each other in order to determine who passes along the best genes, then there is some reason for skepticism. If one defines the "theory of evolution" as precluding the existence of God, or as endorsing self-interest to the exclusion of morality, then there is reason to withhold judgment. If one defines the "theory of evolution" as requiring violence between members of a species, and not just other forms of natural selection, then there is reason to withhold judgment.
9.13.2009 10:54pm
LN (mail):
If we want to keep the conversation from going off on too much of a tangent, we can use "young-earth creationist" as a starting place, Cris.

"Astral-plane herbalist healers" don't seem to have too much political influence and don't seem to generate too much political controversy. I'm not aware of many politicians who have had to cater to that particular demographic.
9.13.2009 10:57pm
traveler496:
It's hard to tell what our own era will look like from the perspective of the distant future. But one thing is clear: Creationism, and the kind of thinking necessary to support it, won't be among the plusses.
9.13.2009 10:57pm
Guesto12:
Jonathan Adler notes the fact that a thoughtful movie about Darwin is unable to be distributed in the U.S. because only 39% of Americans believe in the theory of evolution, but fails to ascribe any blame to this statistic or criticize the nut jobs who comprise most of the social conservatives in this country because he's on the payroll of National Review and is a certified conservative political hack (much like David Bernstein and Jim Lindgren). Great work, Professor Adler.
9.13.2009 10:58pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
It is less evidence of public ignorance or religious beliefs than the sometimes bizarre ideas of movie distributors about what is or is not controversial in a way that might adversely affect paid attendance, and the ways film producers can game them to get better deals. The last controversial religious-theme movies that provoked much opposition were Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ and Mel Gibson's The Passion, and in both cases the controversy brought increased publicity and attendance. One suspects it will be distributed and that attendance will be greater for the controversy. If not, expect it on cable.
9.13.2009 10:58pm
PhanThom:
My wife teaches at a small, conservative, Christian liberal arts school.

In one professor's incoming biology class, 15 of 16 freshmen were young earth creationists.

--PtM
9.13.2009 11:07pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Andrew Hyman seems to be arguing that 36% of Americans don't know what evolution is.

I have somewhat more respect (although very little) for religious nutjobs who won't believe it because it interferes with their theology than for Americans in the 21st c. who don't know what evolution is.

Hyman's offers don't suggest he knows very much about it, either.

Anyhow, considering how much excellent public education has been promoted by Hollywood in, eg, Oliver Stone movies, I think I am content that Hollywood (or Torontowood or wherever this film came from) is choosing not to enlighten the citizenry about Darwinism.

Sheesh. Maybe somebody should read a book.
9.13.2009 11:11pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I guess I would ask how Kinsey did at the box office? If Kinsey flopped despite all the advertising for it, I could see the folks just going "This won't sell'. Controversy by itself, as has been noted, isn't enough to keep a film from being shown. Being dull is a sure killer though.
9.13.2009 11:12pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):



Without the ideas of liberalism, there would be no science.




True if you are talking about 19th Century liberalism, but 19th Century liberalism has precious little in common with the 21st Century statist brand of American liberalism.


The definition of liberalism has not changed. American progressives might have hijacked the term to try to increase their political clout, but the word "liberalism" still means "freedom" in most of the world, and in every language to which you choose to translate the word.

Considering that Darwin was a scientist that has had profound effect on modern biology, I'd say it's safe to say that without liberalism, there would be no science, and without it, no Theory of Evolution, and thus no modern biology.
9.13.2009 11:15pm
ArthurKirkland:

In one professor's incoming biology class, 15 of 16 freshmen were young earth creationists.


As father of three students who will be competing with the contents of that biology class for decades, I am heartened.

As an American who cares about the future of this country, I am saddened.
9.13.2009 11:17pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
One difficulty in the evolution vs. creationism debate is that generally neither side gets it right on what evolution is or how it is a "theory". Strictly speaking, it is an analytic approach to the development of theories, or models, of the form "A is descended from something like B" or "A and B have a common ancestor that hasn't been found yet". In other words, the theories are pairwise placements of specimens on a descent tree. One can speak of a doctrine that there is only one tree, but all one can say scientifically is that no specimens have been found yet that require more than one descent tree. This is discussed in a paper here.
9.13.2009 11:17pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Another curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it. I mean philosophers, social scientists, and so on. While in fact very few people understand it, actually, as it stands, even as it stood when Darwin expressed it, and even less as we now may be able to understand it in biology.

---Jacques Monod (1910-1979) On the Molecular Theory of Evolution (1974) (French Biochemist, Nobel Prize Medicine 1965)
9.13.2009 11:23pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
As long as the subject has come up of what kinds of movies we would like to see made, one I would like to see would be about the political life of "Freeborn John" Lilburne. Indeed, to do justice to the man would take a multi-part TV series.
9.13.2009 11:30pm
DiversityHire (mail):
@JK
No, I can't, it's just the sense I have. There's scientific illiteracy all along the political spectrum, most of it not correlated with political or moral positions.

"Astral-plane herbalist healers" don't seem to have too much political influence and don't seem to generate too much political controversy.
I agree with the second part, but not the first. For example, thanks to folks like John Burton California licenses "naturopathic doctors" and pays for chiropractors to pop and twist their victims. These guys are as anti-scientific as young-earth creationists.
9.13.2009 11:33pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Part of the cause of scientific illiteracy is that even in science courses there is neglect of the theory of science and epistemology. Even professional scientists are often unclear on what is scientific method beyond their own fields. I have long recommended that science degrees should have a requirement for at least one course on the philosophy of science.
9.13.2009 11:43pm
DiversityHire (mail):
Probably the only thing that John Burton and Dan Burton ever agreed on is the need to blow taxpayer dollars on "Complementary and Alternative Medicine". That scientifically illiterate nonsense is funded by the NIH. The astral-plane herbalist healers must be pretty politically influential and savvy to get something like the "National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine" founded @ taxpayer expense.
9.13.2009 11:45pm
Ricardo (mail):
Andrew Hyman, it is true that there are different levels of understanding which I think is what your quote is aiming at. At a broad level of basic scientific literacy, though, the theory of evolution is simply that the offspring of an organism inherits the traits of its parents with some changes. When these traits confer some advantage in reproduction and when they manifest themselves in future generations, these are the traits that we see persisting over time. Changes can be so dramatic that over time they can create entirely new species.

Evolutionary biologists can and do quibble over the details. That doesn't affect the broad theory, though. The definitions of the theory of evolution you presented above, other than the first one, are simply false and would not be defended by any evolutionary biologist.
9.13.2009 11:47pm
Mac (mail):
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

What's so liberal about Darwin? Or about science in general?


Without the ideas of liberalism, there would be no science.

And religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I suggest you look up the University of Vespers in Italy and see what role it and the Catholic Church played in modern anatomy. Genetics? Mendel was a Monk. Astronomy? It took a Jesuit priest in the 17th Century to work out the mathematics and the corrections needed to prove Galileo correct and also wrong in some of his calculations. Newton was certainly religious, as I recall.

I could go on and on.

Given Obama's group of so-called scientists, I wouldn't go around calling Liberals, per se, great thinkers. They actually seem to be more wedded to false theories than any religious zealot. You have only to look at the Environmental movement to see the disconcerting parallels.



Andrew Hymen
While in fact very few people understand it, actually, as it stands, even as it stood when Darwin expressed it, and even less as we now may be able to understand it in biology.


You are quite right. And, it has been used for great evil as surely as religion has, more so I think.
9.13.2009 11:48pm
Guesto12:
It's not for nothing that only 6% of scientists identify themselves as Republicans
9.13.2009 11:54pm
Mac (mail):
I think, another problem with general acceptance of the theory of evolution, is that we have never seen a new species born. Or any recently new species born, say in the last 2000 years or so that I know of. I am more than happy to stand corrected on this. Therefore, many people must accept evolution on faith as it does not seem to be occurring now. Yet, it should be an ongoing process and we should be seeing something.
9.13.2009 11:55pm
JK:

JK,

Could you define "Christian fundamentalist" to provide a starting place?

Belief in the literal truth of the bible. Is that a controversial definition? I thought it was standard issue.


No, I can't, it's just the sense I have. There's scientific illiteracy all along the political spectrum, most of it not correlated with political or moral positions.

True, and it's individually bad in every case, but in political mater numbers do matter. Besides numbers the level of political activity on the religious right over new-agers also increases my concern, the new-agers seem much more content to spew their nonsense in relative private.
9.13.2009 11:58pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Mac:

I think, another problem with general acceptance of the theory of evolution, is that we have never seen a new species born.

New species have been observed and discussed here.
9.14.2009 12:00am
Leo Marvin (mail):

What good is Hollywood's liberal bias if film distributors won't carry a film about Charles Darwin?

What good is a film about Darwin if it doesn't prove Hollywood's liberal bias?
9.14.2009 12:09am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

In one professor's incoming biology class, 15 of 16 freshmen were young earth creationists ignorant bozos.

Couldn't resist.
9.14.2009 12:11am
Calderon:
I'm with DiversityHire. This sounds a lot like someone trying to create some controversy and thus publicity for a movie that simply would not do well with US audiences, regardless of any issue with Darwin or a deity.
9.14.2009 12:14am
John Moore (www):
Ah, nothing like the mention of evolution to bring out the anti-religious zealotry.

I put the problem of scientific understanding squarely at the feet of a state run educational establishment, mostly ruled by progressives, who have focused on most everything other than getting qualified teachers to impart real knowledge to students. Add to that the constant anti-religious haranguing that goes on in the popular media and the attacks on religious expression in the courts, and its not surprising that many of the more extreme Christians have retreated into their own world, making them more, not less likely to believe young earth creationism.

It is a boring trope that "only X% of Americans believe in the theory of evolution." More interesting is the likelihood that a very high percentage of those who do "believe" in the theory of evolution have no clue about either evolution or the scientific method.

The learning of "hard subjects" - science and math - has been attacked in the popular culture, and discouraged by modern educational theories (e.g. can anyone say "outcome based education"?).
9.14.2009 12:19am
PrincessNyman:
I think Scalzi has a good take on this.
9.14.2009 12:21am
Ricardo (mail):
Or any recently new species born, say in the last 2000 years or so that I know of. I am more than happy to stand corrected on this.

Horses and donkeys both descend from a common ancestral species and have come into their current form via "artificial selection": selective breeding by humans over thousands of years, the very process that served as inspiration for Darwin.

You can mate a horse and a donkey but you will get a mule as a result which is sterile. This means that even under the loosest definition of species, horses and donkeys belong to separate species since they cannot produce non-sterile offspring.

Now as I granted, horses and donkeys are the products of artificial selection, not natural selection. All this means is that natural selection occurs at a much slower pace.
9.14.2009 12:27am
LN (mail):
Why does John Moore hate the idea of personal responsibility? "State run educational establishment," "progressives," "popular media," "the courts," "the popular culture," "modern educational theories." Oh gee I guess it's all society's fault huh?
9.14.2009 12:30am
Soronel Haetir (mail):

I think, another problem with general acceptance of the theory of evolution, is that we have never seen a new species born.


I would say that it does not help the way classification criteria have changed under DNA testing. Organisms that once would have been considered the same species, indeed that can and do interbreed, are now split into different species based on DNA.

Of course, the more we examine life the stranger it turns out to be. Look at the various sex selector systems for an example of that.
9.14.2009 12:33am
Justin Levine:
DiversityHire hit the nail on the head. This story is completely bogus.

Just a PR flak's attempt to get a better distribution deal by trying to position what is probably a mediocre film as somehow 'controversial'.
9.14.2009 12:34am
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
I wonder how many Americans know the difference between the facts of evolution, versus the theory of evolution? Here's a 1981 quote from Stepen Jay Gould:

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered....Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.


I suspect that if the poll question mentioned in Jonathan's blog post had referred to "fact" instead of to "theory", then the poll results might have been a bit different.

And what if there was a poll today about how many people believe Newton's theory of gravitation? If 39% said "yes" then that might mean that the rest are cretins, or it might mean that the rest believe Einstein's theory instead, or it might mean that the rest believe that another theory will eventually replace Einstein's theory. Just sayin'.
9.14.2009 12:37am
11-B/2O.B4:
I wonder if the film will include Darwin's later reconversion to Christianity and renunciation of his previous theories.

I'm not knocking evolution, its the best scientific theory we have going, but the founder did call bullshit on it, and I'm wondering if the wonderfully tolerant people fighting for this film's release (and it should be released) will be as happy with Darwin's aged repentance.
9.14.2009 12:45am
LN (mail):
Wow. Looks like 11-B/20.B4 is another victim of the liberal educational establishment!
9.14.2009 12:46am
Ricardo (mail):
Indeed, 11-B/20.B4, the story of Darwin supposed recantation is probably a myth.
9.14.2009 12:51am
Jestak (mail):
Didn't the Nash-character apply some game theory in the early scene at the bar, discussing optimal strategies for picking up women?

Yes he does; I use that very scene when I teach an introduction to game theory in microeconomics courses.
9.14.2009 12:54am
Henry679 (mail):
And religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I suggest you look up the University of Vespers in Italy and see what role it and the Catholic Church played in modern anatomy. Genetics? Mendel was a Monk. Astronomy? It took a Jesuit priest in the 17th Century to work out the mathematics and the corrections needed to prove Galileo correct and also wrong in some of his calculations. Newton was certainly religious, as I recall.



The more we learn, the less easy it is to be dogmatically religious, and it is the dogmatically religious, mostly Christians, that are the stumbling block in this country.

All the examples you cite are, tellingly, pre-Darwin. Darwin is indeed the one who truly did in the comic book deity of yore, and serious Christians were/are right to fear and loath him. The motion of the planets is one thing, but the origin of the species, when the species is mankind, is for all the marbles, baby.

A Rodney King plea for religion and science to co-exist pretty much requires either debased science or some tepid deism. There is nothing wrong with tepid deism to my mind, but try selling it to the truly religiously needy.

The most stark religion/science disjuncture I saw recently was completely unintentional. I was watching a documentary on the Lake Nyos disaster of 1986 . The show went through the steps that allowed scientists to finally figure what had caused this tragedy (it took many years). By contrast, the villagers who survived a near suffocation in their beds, and who lost family, friends and livestock in the disaster didn't need years to figure it out--it was a result of action in the spirit world, plainly. I am not mocking these people--at least they have an excuse for their ignorance and ready resort to superstition, unlike, say, 21st century Americans.

The truth is we are something like 300 generations from the Stone Age and, in many places, far, far fewer. There just has not been enough time for us to absorb it all.
9.14.2009 12:56am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
One suspects that this is likely to be one of those beautiful historical movies that I love but that don't do well at the box office, such as:

The New World (2005)
Amazing Grace (2006)

Note that these and others have tended to be made by the same group of writers, producers, and directors. Generally called "art films", they deserve better box office than they often get.
9.14.2009 12:56am
Mac (mail):
LN,
Why does John Moore hate the idea of personal responsibility? "State run educational establishment," "progressives," "popular media," "the courts," "the popular culture," "modern educational theories." Oh gee I guess it's all society's fault huh?

Have you talked to any recent high school or college grads? Seen any of the surveys? Have you noticed the multi- billion dollar herb and vitamin industry most of it based on no science or science that says it doesn't work or is unproven? The environmental zealots?
9.14.2009 1:02am
Ricardo (mail):
I put the problem of scientific understanding squarely at the feet of a state run educational establishment, mostly ruled by progressives, who have focused on most everything other than getting qualified teachers to impart real knowledge to students... The learning of "hard subjects" - science and math - has been attacked in the popular culture, and discouraged by modern educational theories (e.g. can anyone say "outcome based education"?).

Um, no. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) compares 8th grade scientific knowledge across countries. The U.S. scored 11th in 2007, on par with Hong Kong and Australia and above Norway, Sweden and Italy. It is, however, below both the U.K. and developed East Asia. The U.S. does even better in its relative placement on math scores. Unfortunately, there is no 12th grade comparison but that's because school is not compulsory in most countries up to the 12th grade level.
9.14.2009 1:03am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Andrew Hyman:

I wonder how many Americans know the difference between the facts of evolution, versus the theory of evolution? Here's a 1981 quote from Stepen Jay Gould:

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact.

In writing that Gould demonstrated that he did not understand the theory of science. Observations of a particular specimen are facts, like readings on instruments. "Evolution" is a model, that is, a mental abstraction, or "theory", not an empirical result or data point, any more than an atom or an electron is. Read the paper on this.
9.14.2009 1:09am
LN (mail):
Mac, I don't understand your response. I was wondering why John Moore seems to have dismissed the idea of personal responsibility. You talk about a billion-dollar herb industry and environmentalist zeaolots. I don't see the relevance: are you saying that you don't believe in personal responsibility either? Do you know what personal responsibility means?
9.14.2009 1:25am
RPT (mail):
Justin Levine:

"Just a PR flak's attempt to get a better distribution deal by trying to position what is probably a mediocre film as somehow 'controversial'."

Reminds of a meeting I had with the producers and distributors of "Expelled".
9.14.2009 1:39am
Donna B. (mail) (www):
I'm getting old and as a result, I'm getting less and less patient with patently stupid arguments and the people who use them.

I'd bet that at least 3/4 of the people who say Darwin's theories are not supported by evidence are people who have never read Darwin's works.

And... I'd bet that of the 1/4 of the people who say Darwin's theories are not supported by evidence are people who have seriously misinterpreted his theories... and worse, have misinterpreted his evidence.

And... of that quarter that have misinterpreted Darwin's work, there are a small, but loud, percentage who deliberately take Darwin's work to mean something that it does not mean. These few... and they are few... deliberately take evidence out of context and mold it to their own "dis"ideal. Their "creation" consists of ideas and ideals that do not exist outside their own disinformation.
9.14.2009 2:13am
john dickinson (mail):

Didn't the Nash-character apply some game theory in the early scene at the bar, discussing optimal strategies for picking up women?

Yes he does; I use that very scene when I teach an introduction to game theory in microeconomics courses.


If I recall, isn't the game theory in the movie kind of off? There are a number of brunettes and a blond. Everyone wants the blond, but she'll bolt if more than one guy goes after her. The brunettes will bolt if they're anyone's second choice. The Nash character suggests that they should all go after the brunettes -- but that's not actually a Nash equilibrium (the actual NE for that game would be a mixed strategy). It's not even the best cooperative strategy, which would be to draw straws for the hottie.

Regardless, even after winning Best Picture, I don't think ABM significantly advanced the public's understanding of game theory. Generally, I think movies can be pretty good at connecting on an emotional level, but suck at connecting on an intellectual one.
9.14.2009 2:19am
zywotkowitz (mail):
We can all thank social conservatives for the fact that most of America is scientifically illiterate.

Really?

Well then I guess we can thank brain-dead PC academics for the fact that many Americans are socially conservative.
9.14.2009 2:31am
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

Part of the cause of scientific illiteracy is that even in science courses there is neglect of the theory of science and epistemology. Even professional scientists are often unclear on what is scientific method beyond their own fields. I have long recommended that science degrees should have a requirement for at least one course on the philosophy of science.


I agree totally. That's why I'm taking such a course right now.



And religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I suggest you look up the University of Vespers in Italy and see what role it and the Catholic Church played in modern anatomy. Genetics? Mendel was a Monk. Astronomy? It took a Jesuit priest in the 17th Century to work out the mathematics and the corrections needed to prove Galileo correct and also wrong in some of his calculations. Newton was certainly religious, as I recall.



The church also played a pretty serious role in the way courts made rulings and, at least in part, the legitimizing of monarchies. Don't bother to go on and on. We've moved beyond such ideas for good reason. They were considered by the world and rejected, because they reek of fundamentalism, and the free exchange of ideas ended all of that (save some tyrannical states that still exist).


Given Obama's group of so-called scientists, I wouldn't go around calling Liberals, per se, great thinkers. They actually seem to be more wedded to false theories than any religious zealot. You have only to look at the Environmental movement to see the disconcerting parallels.


It seems that your problem is identifying who is a liberal. Liberal thought involves certain rules, that facts must be checked, based on observations, repeatable, etc. This "philosophy of science," while much of it is older than liberalism, is the product of liberal thought.

Holding onto false theories is an illiberal idea. In fact, I have blogged about Obama's Rampant Illiberalism before.

Liberalism is a philosophy that favors individual autonomy and freedom above all other values. Obama is not a liberal, nor are most of the people serving under him. Obama is a progressive--one who seeks to use institutions like government for the advancement of society, even if it is at the expense of individual liberty, property rights, and autonomy.

If you voted for Obama thinking you were going to get a liberal, I'm sorry to inform you that you screwed up. And calling progressives "liberal" does not make it so, nor does it justify their collectivist ideas that are the antithesis of liberty (another word that comes from the same latin roots as the word "liberal").

When it requires one to define "liberal" as "illiberal" to get the outcome one wants, it's time to take a serious look at the conclusions that stem from it. Red is not blue, or is it? Or who's missing the facts this time? Liberal, however you want to define it, cannot be illiberal. Either the two are opposites or they're not.

Even ancient philosophers of science (Thales, Plato, Aristotle) felt it necessary to define terms. I highly doubt they chose to define a triangle as a circle to make their point.
9.14.2009 2:45am
q:
To channel my inner-Hanson, belief in the theory of evolution is more about signalling than actual scientific literacy. Same with the lack of belief. I am not worried one iota that many Americans do not believe in evolution, because for the most part, such a belief is inconsequential to that person's ability to contribute to society. I personally know many creationists who hold high academic credentials, are quite capable within their profession, and are generally intelligent.

In fact, it's ridiculous to blame America's failing education system on the belief of creationism. One's belief in creationism is not an outright rejection of the scientific method; creationists are surely capable of doing the average High School physics or chemistry experiment. One's belief in creationism does not inevitably lead to mathematical or literary incompetence. America's lackluster scores in international rankings cannot be explained by, at worst, biological incompetence (though to be sure, high school level biology is more than just evolution and not believing in evolution certainly doesn't mean one cannot succeed in that level of biology).

Frankly, the fact that Americans don't think about education policy as much as health and environmental policy is far more worrying.
9.14.2009 2:57am
Mike McDougal:

I think, another problem with general acceptance of the theory of evolution, is that we have never seen a new species born.

http://www.google.com/search?&q=observed+speciation
9.14.2009 2:58am
Mike McDougal:
That should have been a link to a search for "observed speciation."
9.14.2009 3:07am
David Schwartz (mail):
Mac: There is no rational reason for speciation to be contentious. All you have to do is imagine a species of, say squirrels that is divided in two by some natural event, say an earthquake. All you need is microevolution to know that over time those two groups will increasingly differ.

Technically, as soon as interbreeding is very unlikely or impossible, they are distinct species. This could even be accomplished simply by one group becoming larger than the other. (Does anyone think that toy poodles and Irish wolf hounds routinely interbreed?)

I think people only have trouble with speciation because they don't consider the separation mechanism of speciation. I agree that evidence could rationally be demanded for other mechanisms of speciation. But the separation mechanism is obvious. By what reasonable grounds could it be denied? (Assuming you accept microevolution.)
9.14.2009 3:15am
martinned (mail) (www):

If I recall, isn't the game theory in the movie kind of off? There are a number of brunettes and a blond. Everyone wants the blond, but she'll bolt if more than one guy goes after her. The brunettes will bolt if they're anyone's second choice. The Nash character suggests that they should all go after the brunettes -- but that's not actually a Nash equilibrium (the actual NE for that game would be a mixed strategy). It's not even the best cooperative strategy, which would be to draw straws for the hottie.

Indeed. They did a movie about Nash that doesn't explain (or explains incorrectly) what a Nash Equilibrium is. In that regard, Sylvia Nasar's original book is much better.
9.14.2009 3:20am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
john dickinson:

The Nash character suggests that they should all go after the brunettes -- but that's not actually a Nash equilibrium (the actual NE for that game would be a mixed strategy).

No, each going for the blonde is a NE, but not an optimal strategy for the noncooperative non-zero-sum game posited. See this article.
9.14.2009 3:37am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Jon Roland,

I would think part of why such films don't do well in theaters is that you don't need giant screens and extreme sound systems for them to work. The films that tend to do really well /need/ that environment for the full impact of the movie.

Kinda like the Mount Saint. Helens Omni-dome film. There is a helicopter shot taken flying over the crater and as it crosses the far rim the bottom just drops out from under the viewer. That shot wouldn't be at all the same on even a normal IMAX screen, let alone at home.
9.14.2009 3:52am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Soronel Haetir:

I would think part of why such films don't do well in theaters is that you don't need giant screens and extreme sound systems for them to work.

Some of them, like The New World, certainly benefited from high-end visuals and sound. I think they require higher production costs but don't offer the action or dramatic appeal of the more successful films with younger attendees. They tend to be about character, setting, and theme, but without much conflict or plot, at least not with violence or suspense. Modern youthful attendees also tend not to be interested in the past, at least not accurate depictions of it. The Gladiator worked because of the violence, enough to overcome the downer of it being set in ancient Rome.

Modern viewers are getting jaded with sex and violence, needing more and more of it to satisfy them.
9.14.2009 4:13am
john dickinson (mail):

No, each going for the blonde is a NE, but not an optimal strategy for the noncooperative non-zero-sum game posited. See this article.


Maybe I'm misremembering some aspect of the situation, but as I stated the game earlier, everyone going for the blond is definitely not a NE: if everyone else is playing the "go for the blond" strategy, clearly the best response is to deviate and go for one of the brunettes.
9.14.2009 6:02am
egd:
Donna B.:

I'm getting old and as a result, I'm getting less and less patient with patently stupid arguments and the people who use them.

I'd bet that at least 3/4 of the people who say Darwin's theories are not supported by evidence are people who have never read Darwin's works.

And... I'd bet that of the 1/4 of the people who say Darwin's theories are not supported by evidence are people who have seriously misinterpreted his theories... and worse, have misinterpreted his evidence.

And... of that quarter that have misinterpreted Darwin's work, there are a small, but loud, percentage who deliberately take Darwin's work to mean something that it does not mean. These few... and they are few... deliberately take evidence out of context and mold it to their own "dis"ideal. Their "creation" consists of ideas and ideals that do not exist outside their own disinformation.

While you're free to engage in wagers of your own design, wouldn't you apply the same logic to the 31% who believe in Darwin's theory of evolution?

Are people who don't understand the theory, but still support it, any better off than those who oppose the theory? We're still dealing with scientific ignorance, the fact that they happen to be on "our side" doesn't mean their scientific ignorance should be forgiven.

Only in a world where politics governs what is taught in school does the "scientifically ignorant but they believe what we want them to and they vote appropriately" crowd have any standing.

Yet another reason to depoliticize (and privatize) education in this country.
9.14.2009 9:10am
George Smith:
As a raving conservative Anglican who also believes in the apparent fact of evolution of species, I'd like to see Jennifer Connelly AS Charles Darwin.
9.14.2009 11:26am
No Brit (mail):
Everybody knows The Americans are another species the british HATE with an unbridled passion.

The british hate that The Americans are another species, so they're trying to make them look like... get this... religious people. HAHAHAHA The brits are such poor losers. They invented Afrocentrism to fool the Africans into building their Israel, but that didn't work. And they NEVER fooled The Americans from Day 0. Columbus couldn't even do that!!

The british are such dumb, poor and hateful religious liars, losers and cowards.
9.14.2009 11:50am
John M. Perkins (mail):
Controversey sells. One point for U.S. distribution.
Boring movies don't sell. Two points for straight to DVD.
The reviews are tepid. The one fresh tomato review on Rotten Tomatoes, (Dennis Harvey, Variety) reads as if it's a rotten review.

This is a non-story about no U.S. distributor for a boring UK ghost story.
9.14.2009 11:55am
CJColucci:
Are people who don't understand the theory, but still support it, any better off than those who oppose the theory? We're still dealing with scientific ignorance, the fact that they happen to be on "our side" doesn't mean their scientific ignorance should be forgiven.

I'd have to answer the question with a tentative "yes." Many people on both "sides" don't understand the theory of evolution at all. Most who have some understanding understand only the basics. Very few non-professionals have the ability to evaluate the evidence independently. But at least those who "support" evolution without understanding it, or being able to evaluate its claims independently, understand that the relevant scientific community, which does understand it and can evaluate it, has come to a consensus that those who do not understand and cannot independently evaluate have no basis for contesting.
By way of analogy, I know very little about hockey, but I accept the consensus that, say, Steve Yzerman is a very good, Hall of Fame quality player and that Wayne Gretzky is nevertheless far superior. Having watched maybe 12 hours of hockey in my life, I couldn't independently evaluate the evidence for or against this consensus if my life depended on it, but I know enough to know that if the consensus is wrong, I have no worthwhile insight into the matter. Baeball, that's another issue....
9.14.2009 12:09pm
Losantiville:
100% of Young Earth Creationists hated Saws I - V too but those scientific studies of human anatomy manged to get distribution.
9.14.2009 12:27pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
john dickinson:

Maybe I'm misremembering some aspect of the situation, but as I stated the game earlier, everyone going for the blond is definitely not a NE: if everyone else is playing the "go for the blond" strategy, clearly the best response is to deviate and go for one of the brunettes.

It's a one simultaneous move game. A player doesn't get to wait until he sees how the other players have moved before making his own move. They all move at once. So the NE strategy is to all go for the blonde because each can't unilaterally improve the outcome by changing his strategy, but if they all play the same strategy, they all lose. The only way they can do better is to cooperate and choose their moves at random, such as by by a lottery: put one blonde jellybean in a hat with the rest brunette jellybeans and each draw from it blindly. But that makes it a cooperative game.
9.14.2009 12:31pm
Can't find a good name:
Jon Roland:

The last controversial religious-theme movies that provoked much opposition were Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ and Mel Gibson's The Passion, and in both cases the controversy brought increased publicity and attendance.


Well, yes, but different kinds of opposition and controversy. And the Scorsese film grossed $8 million domestically (ranking #97 for its year), compared to the Gibson film which grossed $370 million (ranking #3 for its year).
9.14.2009 1:15pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):


It's a one simultaneous move game. A player doesn't get to wait until he sees how the other players have moved before making his own move. They all move at once. So the NE strategy is to all go for the blonde because each can't unilaterally improve the outcome by changing his strategy, but if they all play the same strategy, they all lose. The only way they can do better is to cooperate and choose their moves at random, such as by by a lottery: put one blonde jellybean in a hat with the rest brunette jellybeans and each draw from it blindly. But that makes it a cooperative game.


I was going to point this out, but it appears it has been covered. Nash Equilibrium is for non-cooperative games. Of course you've incentive to change if you knew what the other guy was going to do!

Think of it more like rock, paper, scissors, except for if you tie, you lose as well.
9.14.2009 1:18pm
Real American (mail):
we can blame the liberals for the country, including most of its leaders, being economically illiterate.
9.14.2009 1:43pm
ArthurKirkland:

we can blame the liberals for the country, including most of its leaders, being economically illiterate.

Depending on the definition of 'we,' I suppose, liberals could be (and are) blamed for everything, period.
9.14.2009 3:08pm
Anatid:

Depending on the definition of 'we,' I suppose, liberals could be (and are) blamed for everything, period.


Welcome to the Volokh Conspiracy. I've been trying for weeks now to find a semiserious thread where some commenter doesn't take a random potshot at liberals, and it's ranged from hard to impossible.
9.14.2009 3:15pm
JPG:
I heard Hollywood may one day have to resume making good films, which it hasn't - but accidently, perhaps - for decades, without relying on controversy, witty one liners, sexy (un)talented young actresses and random spectacular explosions.

Horrific thought.

But maybe it's just a rumor.
9.14.2009 3:39pm
CJColucci:
I heard Hollywood may one day have to resume making good films

I used to think things like that, too. I even paid extra for a cable package that would get me American Movie Classics -- this was many years ago, when AMC was not basic cable. This was back before AMC started showing movies in color. I used to wonder why they didn't make Movies Like That any more.
Then they ran out of the good stuff. I remember it well. AMC was showing a dreadful movie starring Alan Ladd as an embittered postal inspector. The post-movie chat revealed that Ladd had made four movies that year. No wonder it seemed that the movies were better back then; when Hollywood was cranking out so much product, even allowing for Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap), you're bound to toss out a fair number of classics by accident. It's sort of like the Classic American Songbook. They don't write Songs Like That any more. Actually, outside of the same ten or twelve songwriters we all remember, they never did. All we remember is the Good Stuff. The rest sinks into obscurity, like Alan Ladd's embittered postal inspector.
9.14.2009 4:21pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):


Welcome to the Volokh Conspiracy. I've been trying for weeks now to find a semiserious thread where some commenter doesn't take a random potshot at liberals, and it's ranged from hard to impossible.


It's so bad that they can't even define liberalism today. Scary.
9.14.2009 4:33pm
Dudeman (mail):
THE DARWIN MOVIE'S NOT SELLING, but John Scalzi doubts those evil Creationmongers are the reason:

A producer of Creation, the film about Charles Darwin and his wife Emma, starring Paul Bettany and his real-life wife Jennifer Connelly, is griping that the film has no distributor in the US, apparently because so many Americans are evolution-hating mouth-breathers that no one wants the touch the thing; it's just too darn controversial.

Well, it may be that. Alternately, and leaving aside any discussion of the actual quality of the film, it may be that a quiet story about the difficult relationship between an increasingly agnostic 19th Century British scientist and his increasingly devout wife, thrown into sharp relief by the death of their beloved 10-year-old daughter, performed by mid-list stars, is not exactly the sort of film that's going to draw in a huge winter holiday crowd, regardless of whether that scientist happens to be Darwin or not, and that these facts are rather more pertinent, from a potential distributor's point of view. . . . Maybe if Charles Darwin were played by Will Smith, was a gun-toting robot sent back from the future to learn how to love, and to kill the crap out of the alien baby eaters cleverly disguised as Galapagos tortoises, and then some way were contrived for Jennifer Connelly to expose her breasts to RoboDarwin two-thirds of the way through the film, and there were explosions and lasers and stunt men flying 150 feet into the air, then we might be talking wide-release from a modern major studio. Otherwise, you know, not so much. The "oh, it's too controversial for Americans" comment is, I suspect, a bit of face-saving rationalization from a producer

Exploding robots and Jennifer Connelly's breasts? I'm in. So are a lot of Scalzi's readers. Scalzi's response: "Give me $150 million and we'll talk."
9.14.2009 4:46pm
john dickinson (mail):

It's a one simultaneous move game. A player doesn't get to wait until he sees how the other players have moved before making his own move. They all move at once. So the NE strategy is to all go for the blonde because each can't unilaterally improve the outcome by changing his strategy, but if they all play the same strategy, they all lose. The only way they can do better is to cooperate and choose their moves at random, such as by by a lottery: put one blonde jellybean in a hat with the rest brunette jellybeans and each draw from it blindly. But that makes it a cooperative game.

I was going to point this out, but it appears it has been covered. Nash Equilibrium is for non-cooperative games. Of course you've incentive to change if you knew what the other guy was going to do!

Think of it more like rock, paper, scissors, except for if you tie, you lose as well.



Actually, it IS like rock paper scissors, which is why the NE for the game is a mixed strategy. Using the strategy "always pick the blond" is as stupid as using the strategy "always pick rock" -- ESPECIALLY in a game where you lose on ties as well.

Anyway, I could go on and explain why "incentive to deviate" is a perfectly standard test in non-cooperative simultaneous choice games, but this is obv way off topic enough. My original point -- at least tangentially relevant to the OP -- was that movies (such as ABM) tend to be terrible at "educating" on an intellectual level. E.g., if this Darwin movie promotes the cause of public acceptance of evolution, it will likely be because the Darwin character is sympathetic and his trials and experiences connect with the audience emotionally -- not because of some scene where he explains the theory with particular eloquence.
9.14.2009 5:18pm
A.C.:
You don't have to be conservative to be a creationist. The focus is usually on white Christian conservative creationists, but I've found a fair number of black teens from inner city schools who were also staunch creationists. They weren't particularly conservative in any other sense.

Worse, they didn't even know there was an argument on the other side. Most white creationists are at least aware that there's an argument on the evolution side. The kids I'm talking about didn't even have that much. I don't know if their parents knew more, but if they did they haven't passed it along.

In short, there are several different demographics that get left behind by science education in this country. Not all are politically conservative in the usual sense.
9.14.2009 5:30pm
Brett A. (mail):
Part of it is ignorance, but much of it strikes me as originating from what this liberal evangelical comment says about them (the literal "Young Earth" creationist crowd):

You have to appreciate what such people think is at stake, namely, the Meaning of Life. More than that, actually, the very possibility that life has or can have meaning.

The real problem with Answers in Genesis can't be found in Genesis, or in their tortured reading of it. The real problem is that they've somehow become convinced that there exist two and only two possibilities. Either their particular, smallish reading of Genesis is "literally" true and the world was created in six, 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago by their particular, smallish notion of god, or else the universe and human existence within it are meaningless, a realm violence and death in which kindness, goodness, justice and beauty are nothing more than illusion. They believe that either the history of the universe is a brutally short 6,000 years, or else life in that universe is nasty, brutish and short and nothing but. They prefer the former, understandably. And any challenge to it -- by argument or by exposure to science or reality -- is thus interpreted as an affirmation of the latter view.

You'll never get anywhere talking to these folks unless you confront that fundamental error. Their hostility to science and their appalling theology are big problems -- unsustainably life-distorting problems -- but they both derive from this deeper mistake. If you can't get them to accept that their fundamental false dichotomy is, in fact, false -- that they are not forced to choose either impossible antiscience or cruel nihilism -- then they will never be able to consider any other possibilities.**
9.14.2009 5:39pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Brett A.:

You have to appreciate what such people think is at stake, namely, the Meaning of Life.

Perhaps more precisely, they demand a simple world-model that doesn't require difficult thought or subtle decisionmaking. Even some intellectuals in a specialized field, comfortable with complexity in that domain, will revert to mindlessness when they venture out of their fields, especially into public policy, where one confronts not merely complexity, but the inability to obtain complete or reliable information, yet are confronted with having to make decisions anyway. People dislike having to decide when they don't know what they are doing, especially when they can't avoid knowing they don't know what they are doing.
9.14.2009 6:59pm
Teller:
Is there any other place on earth with a creation museum? A "state of the art facility" devoted to the exciting "7 Centuries of History"?
9.14.2009 9:46pm
Teller:
Sorry, seven milleniums.
9.14.2009 9:49pm
Fub:
Teller wrote at 9.14.2009 9:46pm:
Is there any other place on earth with a creation museum? A "state of the art facility" devoted to the exciting "7 Centuries of History"?
There is the Museum of Earth History in Eureka Springs, AR. But I can think of lots better reasons to visit Eureka Springs.

Texas, not to be outdone, has the even bigger Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose. According to this article the museum plans to grow livng dinosaurs, and already exhibits "vegetarian pirhana fish". This latter has something to do with proving that humans and dinosaurs lived together. I can't think of any better reason to visit Texas.
9.15.2009 12:03am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Living dinosaurs? Are there just going to be a bunch of chickens running around loose?
9.15.2009 12:20am
Fub:
Soronel Haetir wrote at 9.15.2009 12:20am:

Living dinosaurs? Are there just going to be a bunch of chickens running around loose?
I don't have any clue besides the article I linked at roadsideamerica.com.

Here's the quote:
Outside, however, the mighty full-size biosphere is nearing completion. It's enclosed within a huge greenhouse, is the size of two busses parked end-to-end, and looks like it belongs in the engine room of the Starship Enterprise. This biosphere has to be big because, well, the CEM plans to grow big things in it, antediluvian beasts that haven't been seen since the Cretaceous Period -- which, according to Dr. Baugh, was only 3500 years ago.
Since the Cretaceous was so recent, chickens seem about right. I don't know if any Kentucky Colonels were around in those days though.
9.15.2009 1:46am
John Moore (www):

Why does John Moore hate the idea of personal responsibility? "State run educational establishment," "progressives," "popular media," "the courts," "the popular culture," "modern educational theories." Oh gee I guess it's all society's fault huh?

My idea of personal responsibility in this debate involves sending kids to schools the state doesn't control (which do far better than public schools) and home schooling (also does much better).

But yes, much of the problem is, of course, society's. Do you know of any other cause widespread enough to cause this failure? Something in the water, perhaps?

And specifically, within society, those I mentioned indeed have major responsiblity for theproblems.
9.15.2009 2:06am
John Moore (www):


The more we learn, the less easy it is to be dogmatically religious, and it is the dogmatically religious, mostly Christians, that are the stumbling block in this country.

All the examples you cite are, tellingly, pre-Darwin. Darwin is indeed the one who truly did in the comic book deity of yore, and serious Christians were/are right to fear and loath him. The motion of the planets is one thing, but the origin of the species, when the species is mankind, is for all the marbles, baby.


You always have to wonder about folks who things in such broad stereotypes.

The Catholic Church has been a major contributor to science (less so in these days when big government does most of the funding), and the Church recognizes evolution. It only represents about a billion Christians. That church is literally dogmatic, but it certainly isn't the stumbling block here.

Hence your broad sweep is either drawn from ignorance or sloppy thinking.
9.15.2009 2:09am
epeeist:
I think the posters who argue that the movie is simply not considered likely to be popular by distributors, have it right. I'm certainly not a cultural philistine, but I have no interest in seeing this movie either. Maybe when it's on TV I might if there's nothing better.

On the broader points, I think that Americans (and Canadians and Europeans and etc. but we're dealing here with the U.S.) no longer particularly value learning for its own sake. Learning what you need for your job, for some people learning about religion, but otherwise not much. Maybe learn about a few issues that are important to you, but that's it. That's neither a right nor left-wing problem, I think it's more universal. Even politically, most people don't spend a lot of time studying or learning about the issues or what legislation effects (unfortunately, many in Congress seem just as ignorant which just makes it worse...).

Everyone - EVERYONE - has some beliefs that some/many/all others consider irrational. I'm sure there are people who "believe" in evolution but think Israel was responsible for 9/11 or something similarly ridiculous. I don't think religious faith is irrational, but some people do. An atheist or agnostic might call me an idiot, while cheerily believing in something ridiculous like homeopathic medicine (e.g. Bill Maher); though most atheists and agnostics I know (in "real life" not website comments!) aren't critical of those who believe, so much as they are simply unbelievers/strong doubters themselves. I once worked with a fellow professional who was (I think, based on discussions) a YEC out of religious belief but was a good worker, kind, moral, ethical, very well-informed politically and scientifically, etc. Even on evolution she understood it, just didn't think it was accurate. So what?
9.15.2009 9:06am
LN (mail):
There are plenty of people who home-school their kids because they do not want them to be taught atheistic nonsense like evolution in school. Many homeschooling parents use Apologia to teach science.

So naturally if we had more home-schooling and less public education, the general population's understanding of evolution could only increase. Of course. Only ignorance or sloppy thinking could lead one to think otherwise. It's because of progressives, the popular media, the courts, the popular culture, and modern educational theories that creationism thrives. Without these problems, no one would have to pull their kid out of school to teach them creationism.
9.15.2009 9:09am
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

There are plenty of people who home-school their kids because they do not want them to be taught atheistic nonsense like evolution in school.


It should be abundantly clear that anyone who denies a theory on which ALL modern biology depends is unfit to teach biology to anyone.
9.15.2009 6:35pm
David Schwartz (mail):
It should be abundantly clear that anyone who denies a theory on which ALL modern biology depends is unfit to teach biology to anyone.
This is an under-appreciated point. Fundamental to every biological mechanism is that it is a contrivance that works "well enough" to pass evolutionary muster and that fits in a continuum of such mechanisms.
9.15.2009 8:20pm
_Drew_ (www):
"Jon Roland: In writing that Gould demonstrated that he did not understand the theory of science."

I think this is being a tad unfair to Gould. He meant that evolution was also a fact as in a _historical_ fact: i.e. something that we can demonstrate, using many different converging lines of evidence, happened, just like the Battle of Hastings.
9.17.2009 10:05am

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