For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a safe and fun night.

Eldest is off on a Zombie Walk at a local mall, so Youngest dressed up and went along - whether she'll join the Zombie Walk or trick or treat in the mall, we're leaving for her to decide. Normally, there's just one Zombie Walk a year, and that was last week, but the owners of the mall actually asked the group to invade the mall! There's a club that requested an invasion, too, but the girls are a bit young for clubbing. ;-)

Me, I'm working tonight, though I don't start until 7pm. So I'm missing out on their fun. It's my only shift of the week, so I wasn't about to cancel it. Ah, well. I'm sure my husband will take lots of photos! :-D

Have fun, folks!! :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The girls and I just finished watching the dvd, Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus. It's supposed to be neutral, in that it "...tweaks egos and pokes fun at both sides of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate."

No surprise that it wasn't all that neutral. Heck, it even devolved into a Democrat (read: intelligent and open minded) vs. Republican (read: backwards and ignorant) thing.

What we all came away with was some interesting observations that have little to do with the validity of either argument, but rather the attitude of those who hold them. There was a significant difference in the two sides.

On the one hand, there were those who supported ID. When interviewed, they responded intelligently, openly, and respectfully. Sometimes they messed up, but they never lost their cool, so to speak. More telling was their attitude towards their "opponents" and detractors. They spoke respectfully of those who disagreed with them, without denigrating them for holding opposing opinions. Most importantly, they seemed to speak on the assumption that the listener was capable of grasping what they were saying, regardless of what the listener's opinion on the subject was. (Granted, some refused to take part in the documentary, so I have no way of knowing if this applied to them as well.)

Then there were the evolutionists. In part of the movie, a group of 8 PhD's were gathered for a poker game (there's a history behind this). There were others interviewed separately, or in smaller groups. A few things quickly became noticeable. One was the mocking attitude towards those who dared question evolution. There was no acknowledgment that there are even other theories of evolution besides Darwinism (I only recently discovered there are a number of theories, of which Darwin's Natural Selection/gradualism is the least likely or provable). There was a strong disrespect for those who disagreed, with a lot of open, often hostile, emotions displayed. Above all, they came across as thinking that people were just too stupid to believe the truth - and the only truth was their own conclusions.

Near the end of the documentary, one of the poker playing PhD's hit the nail on the head, IMO. He spoke of the difference between Darwin and his contemporary, Agassiz, and how Agassiz was able to relate to ordinary people (well, white ones, anyways - he was pretty racist). Agassiz worked on the assumption that people were intelligent enough to understand what he was saying. The PhD who brought this up suggested that something similar is happening today, where the ID proponents are the Agassiz's to the evolutionist's Darwin.

I think this is the most telling difference between those who insist that only evolution be taught in schools, as if there were only one theory and only one possibility, and those who propose to "teach the controversy." The evolutionists seem to think that anyone who disagrees or questions them are idiots, and that the ordinary person (or student in school) isn't smart enough to come to their own conclusions, and must be told only the 'right' things. Alternative possibilities are simply unthinkable.

Whether or not these individuals truly believe that is debatable. It's how they're coming across.

Another problem I think a lot of scientists have is that, when faced with the gaps in their theories or knowledge, they don't know how to say, "I don't know." Nothing unusual about that. I think most people have a hard time admitting they don't have the answers. When it comes to science, though, there's a different level of expectation. Scientists are supposed to have all the answers. Scientists, like anyone else, like to be right, but they have more at stake than others. Most of us aren't at risk of loosing our reputations or careers if we turn out to be wrong about something. So when presented with a challenge to their theories and conclusions, scientists have the very natural human response of wanting to defend those theories and conclusions in ever more convoluted ways.

Some of my favorite scientific books were those that 1) treated the reader as being intelligent enough to understand what was being presented, without dumb-ing the information down, and 2) are able to say "this is what the evidence is right now, this is what I (the author) think the evidence is saying, but in the end, we just don't know."

I think the most powerful thing anyone can say, but especially a scientist, is "I don't know."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a moment away from today's preparations to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. (For those of you visiting from the US, our Thanksgiving is on the second Monday of October.)

We have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is that tomorrow is election day - which means all the disgusting antics shown by our campaigning party leaders will finally be at an end! I can't imagine going through two years of this, like in the US!! I feel for you guys. Really, I do!

So today, I hope my fellow Canadians get to enjoy a lot of good food with family and friends, then go out and vote tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!