Evolution booster Matt Shipman sent me a video of a series of women talking about the importance of teaching evolution in schools(see below).
It wrote to Shipman to ask why there were no men. He explained that it was made in response to a much-publicized YouTube video in which Miss USA pageant contestants attempted to answer a question about the teaching of evolution in schools. You can see that video and my column on the pageant here.
I still think there should have been a couple of men in Shipman's video – just for diversity's sake and to make it more interesting for those who had the good sense not to pay attention to the Miss USA contest.
It would have been nice, for example, to have Judge Jones explain why public school science classes cannot teach religiously-based substitutes such as Intelligent Design. He could explain why teaching only genuine evolution is not just a good idea – it's the law.
The women in the video talked about the importance of evolution in various fields of science. It made me want to follow up with a column that would focus more directly on the teaching of evolution in schools. I want to know what people learned in school and how that influenced them later in life. Did a good teacher turn you on to science and change your life, or did you have to unlearn a bunch of misinformation? If you have a good story please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I didn't learn much of anything about evolution in school, but that wasn't noteworthy because I went to rotten public schools. The only subject I really learned was math. For some reason I had decent math teachers and took as much math as possible. I had awful teachers in all other subjects.
I was fortunate enough to go to a college where the professors knew a thing or two about science. But I still owe much of my evolution education to the Stephen Jay Gould and later to Richard Dawkins. Today I'm learning even more from Loren Eiseley, who wrote a wonderful book called Darwin's Century. A great book can make up for a lot of mediocre teaching.
Richard Dawkins recently published a book aimed at young people. It's called The Magic of Reality and I had a chance to look at a copy recently. It ranges from the physics of rainbows to the death of stars to the drifting of the continents. Dawkins takes questions big and small and contrasts mythological explanations with scientific ones. It's an intriguing concept and addresses a pressing need.
I'm sure if this book had been available when I was 13 or 14, I would have wanted it as a Christmas present, or a winter solstice gift.