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  Topic: Evolution publicity, Seizing the moment< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2006,04:28   

Recently I've been noticing a lot of comments about how evolutionary biology should try to boost its public profile and play to the crowd a little more. I've yet to see any organised discussion of this though. What techniques do people think that evolutionary biology could legitimately use to increase public awareness?

The problem as I see it is that mostly defenses of evolutionary theory are reactions to creationists (for example in the case of Ken Miller's excellent talk the other day). We need to find ways to encourage people to take an interest in their origins and to learn about the scientific approach that's being used to determine the facts. As an additional problem, we have to do this without making non-Fundie religious folk feel excluded.

Sorry if this is already being discussed in another thread, I did check the fifty or so most recent but I might have missed one.


Posts: 11
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 05 2006,06:37   

Here's one approach:

Explore Evolution


Posts: 16
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2006,09:07   

It's not an easily tractible issue.

The problem is the more you study evolution, the more it makes sense.

Conversely, the less you know about evolution or ID, the more plausible ID sounds.

Unfortunately most people *just don't care*.  Therefore, they're never likely to study either unless it's something that's required.

IMO, it's also not really necessary for the vast majority of people to understand either, at all!

So our best weapon against ID (education) is a non-starter in this battle.

So in my uncreative mind, that basically leaves PR.  Unfortunately scientists (and I) find raw PR to be ... distasteful.

Besides if we do run a PR compaign, how does that work?  Do we just tell them what a dispicable lot the IDC camp is?  Do we include information about their funding sources?  Do we include information about their goals?

You see, 90%+ of the population just doesn't care about science.


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Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2006,13:09   

Unfortunately most people *just don't care*.  

hmm, I'm not sure i would equate apathy with actually not caring.

in cases where the issues come to a head, like Dover, it seems a great MANY people care.

Americans in general seem to have become quite apathetic when it comes to defending our constitution, until the issue ends up in their backyard.

How's that old saying go about how they came for the Jews, and I didn't care because i wasn't one... etc.

If asked directly, a lot of folks are willing to express clear views on this issue, they just seem unwilling to do anything about them.

so, i guess what I'm saying is that education still has tremendous value in this culture war.

ask Bill Dembski :)


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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 06 2006,18:12   


I used to be apathetic but now I just don't care anymore.



Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 07 2006,12:55   

One thing that I did think seemed quite interesting is this guy over on the ARN boards who's attempting to put together a set of DIY home experiments to demonstrate various parts of how life may have come about, to show that they are in fact probable. Starting with a variant of the Urey-Miller experiment, going via collection of proteins on seashores and ending up with the formation of protocells from basic molecules.

This seems like the sort of thing that could hypothetically help snap people out of thinking of origin-of-life related sciences as not just a scientific ivory tower. Plus, any experiment that includes meat tenderiser can only be cool.

Discuss :)


Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 10 2006,06:27   

First of all hello to the folks whose names I recognize from PT.  Second of all this topic has been bugging me for some time now.

I think everyone knows what a lousy PR job is being done by legitimate science/science organizations and I have a few specific area of distress.

Media and news communication:  If you look at the NCSE 2005 News Room page you'll note none of the press relases are dated.  You have to click on each press release and scroll to the bottom of that page to see when it was released.  Very ameature.

Also, Google News has an news alert feature where you can add identifying words so when Google picks up a news story that has those words you get an email notification and a link to the story(ies).  I have a news alert for "intelligent design".  I get Google news alerts daily, from ordinary news agencies as well as online magazines and many blogs.  I get notified by Google about all the cr@p spewed by thre Discovery Institute but I have never gotten one from the NCSE, Pandas Thumb, or any other science related news/opinion organization with one exception - The Skeptical Inquirer.

Why is this?

Also, the recent Ken Miller Case University talk is pure gold, it explains evolution, intelligent design creationism, the culture war (brought on by the intelligent design creationists), the Dover case, etc. and everyone but PT seems to be ignoring it and the PT thread will soon disapear into the archives...

Every science organization in the world should have a copy of that video on their website and be promoting it.  I do not see a word about it on the NCSE site or any other science related site, the ACLU makes no mention of it either.  

And it was a few regulars at PT who took the time to make video files from the stream and put it up on a temporary site so we could down load copies.  

So you have a handful of folks downloading that video and the general public and media still has no idea it exists.

Meanwhile I get Google news alerts from the Discovery Institute on a daily basis.  

Intelligent design creationism is not going away and to sit back and think the courts are going to protect us from this dishonest charade is short sighted.  Unless science groups and organizations figure out how to communicate with the rest of the world we will continue to be playing catch up.

Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

Dean Morrison

Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 10 2006,07:35   

I've posted a link to the PT for Ken's talk on UK websites - and will help seed it until no-one is interested anymore.

Actions speak louder than words! insead of chatting here - let's do what we can as individuals to spread the word.

(Bugger - I went all evangelical there for a bit).


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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 10 2006,09:26   

I for one, plan to download the Ken Miller video and have my kids watch it.  They enjoy the PBS show Nova so I'm hoping this is at least as interesting as that.

If I like it a lot I'll also try to get some friends to watch it with me.

Although my wife agrees with my position (I don't know if this is for marital tranquility or true feelings  :0 ), she does not get her boxers in a bunch.  Perhaps she feels I have enough vehemence for both of us  :D .


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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 10 2006,17:39   

Here is a case and point.  By now you probably know a lawsuit is (or has been ) being filed in California to stop intelligent design creationism from being taught in a public classroom.

On this site Ken Hurst dissects the propoed intelligent design course outlined proving it is full of creationist garbage.  The link to that page is from Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Plenty of scientists and science organizations read and follow Dispatches yet I bet you a quarter not one of them publishes or advertises the work Ken Hurst has done reegarding the course outline.  I bet not a single scientific organization such as NCSE spends one minute actually explaining the details of what it being proposed in this class other than to say "id is religion" and "we already settled this in Dover". Alot of good that is going to do.

Here is a pro tip from me - John Q Public is not going to read a 139 page legal ruling, it just aint gonna happen.  And John Q Public is what drives this democracy, not the minority of scientists.  It is  scientific ignorance that allows this nutty intelligent design creationism to get a foot hold in the first place.  

And as far as I can tell most scientific organizations continue to ignore John Q Public, continue to not realize John Q Public does not have a PhD in molecular biology, they write things only for themselves and their peers (and probably absurdly think everyone reads their science blog)

Ken Miller knows the science PR/communication machine is terrible but unless you read PT you don't even know a video of his recent most excellent and very John Q Public friendly and educational presentation even exists.  

What the f***?

Because hardly no one in the science world seems to understand the general public does not seek out scientific opinions or science blogs, and the scientific community therefore tends to ignore fundamental communication with the general public, the public will continue to see the ACLU and AU as bullies who stifle free speech.  Soon we will see the public confuse the dreaded ACLU with evolution.  Their distaste for the ACLU will translate to a bitterness for evolution and science.

If we don't get better about *educating* and communicating with the public we're likely to one day see a back lash where the public gets fed up with hearing about intelligent design, darwin and ACLU lawsuits and they take that frustration out on the evolutionists and science.

After all,  in John Q Public's eye it is the evolutionist camp and the ACLU that keeps spawing these law suits and stifling free speech in school.  Why do they mistakenly think that?  Because science is too busy or too ignorant to try and educate and inform them.

Do any of you know anyone at the NCSE or any other science organizations or magazines that you could influence?

Anyhow, that's my story...I'll get off my soap box now...

Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

Tim Hague

Posts: 32
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 10 2006,22:07   

The problem is that doing PR properly takes money.  And time.  And effort.  

Is there anyone out there who will be willing to sponser a PR initiative for 'real' science?  

Are there any scientists who be willing to give up their day jobs in order to do science PR full time?


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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 11 2006,06:00   

It doesn't take much time to format a news release properly (NCSE I am talking to you) or get your articles on Google News.  

It doesn't take much time to put Ken Miller's speech at Case University on a web page and promote it.

Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  11 replies since Jan. 05 2006,04:28 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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