Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Dose of Dr. Myers

"All those surveys of people's attitudes towards evolution experience major shifts if the questions are simply reworded: ask whether they believe humans evolved from apes, and half of Americans will say no. Ask them if animals evolved from simpler forms, and the yes answers surge upwards by tens of percentage points. It is not an objection to evolution in principle, but to evolution as an explanation of their personal history. I'm sure there's a marketing principle to be stated there.

The second objection is to chance and the lack of purpose. People really, desperately want there to be a personal agency to causality — they become utterly irrational about it all if you try to imply that no, fate, destiny, and ultimate cosmic purpose guided them to their mate, for instance. It couldn't have been just chance. I suspect this is a consequence of the first contention: people want to believe that they are important agents in the universe, and one of the implications of evolution is that they aren't."

--PZ Meyers, "Marketing Evolution" on Pharyngula, December 6, 2008 12:33 PM

Yes. Exactly. I can see myself in the second paragraph, with all my fears and mile-high angst. Though I was never bothered that I evolved from primordial ooze and apes. That's fine. The part that bothered me was that I evolved only for evolution's sake, as opposed to some grand purpose (though I'm realizing that's the grandest purpose there could ever be: to change, and avoid stagnation).

I think, speaking as someone who threw money down the shitter chasing the speckled-advertising degree, that Evolution is a wonderful product, especially since it's impossible to dispute, the more you know about it. But there does need to be better marketing. Teachers can only do so much. Civilian atheists have to get out there and support them, because they're ultimately supporting their children, and their community.

I can't stand people, but . . . if I had a head for science, I'd teach it. Physics, if I could wrap my brain around it, or biology, if I couldn't. I think, in the absence of an Objective Reason, dedicating a portion of, or one's entire life to eradicating ignorance wherever one finds it is quite a fine Subjective Reason.

I find myself hopeful, lately :)

Also? I didn't write the parts of the post you can click on, and mean no stealy-stealy. So please don't sue or otherwise prosecute me. Thanks.

"The Seether is neither big nor small. The Seether is the center of it all."--Veruca Salt

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