Monday, February 12, 2007

don't be a dodo

So, Dr. Tron and I went with a few other astro geeks to go see a showing of Flock of Dodos. Apparently, Caroline was there too, but we didn't run into each other.

It was a good documentary, in that it treated the "debate" fairly even-handedly. I say fairly because the director was, before becoming a film-maker, an evolutionary biologist. He does give the ID'ers their fair due, and goes so far as to concede that most of them are not complete nut-jobs, and do believe that the earth is indeed 4 billion years old.

The main message of the movie is that the Scientific Community has done a crappy job of communicating with the public, while the ID movement has appealed more to the layperson. Because of this disconnect between scientists and the public, people are more prone to accept explainations aimed at their level.

The film is sprinkled throughout with various evolutionary scientists, and while they do make some very coherent arguments, they also come across as pompus and asinine. A perfect example is way some scientists have categorically refused to debate ID. While this gut-reaction feels rather satisfying for most scientists, to someone on the fence, it comes across as quite condescending. We scientists should never be afraid to discuss our science. In fact, if we never communicate our results with the general public, our pursuits become pointless and meaningless. By sharing our results with the world, in some small way, we hopefully will help contribuite to a more educated populace. There's no way in the world that can be a bad thing.

Outreach is quasi-important here in the Astronomy department. I say quasi-important, because we have quite a large outreach program (Stardate, for one), but it's almost an afterthought. People are so focused on the cutting edge, the general consensus is to look down upon people who spend part of their time doing outreach. Sort of a "those who can't do, teach" mentality. It shouldn't be that way.

1 comment:

ihearttheastros said...

You're right. Because liberal arts majors like me don't want some condescending natural sciences major to tell us we just won't understand.
I want to understand. I just don't want to go to school for a decade to be able to. Try talking to me.