Educate to avoid ignorance of science

By Jeremy Fejfar, February 5, 2009

On Feb. 12, 1809, Charles Darwin was born, and 50 years later he wrote the paradigm-changing Origin of Species

Darwin theorized that all life on our planet is descended from a common ancestor. In the century and a half since the publication of his book, this theory has been continually strengthened as new scientific disciplines, such as genetics, have been developed. However, a study released in 2006 showed that only 40 percent of U.S. adults accepted evolution.

This is a sign of how scientifically illiterate the public has become. The same study looked at 33 other countries, and only Turkey fared worse than us.

(On a related note, 10 years ago, 21 percent of American adults didn’t know that Earth revolves around the sun.)

Since Darwin published his book, evolution has become one of the most accomplished and useful scientific theories ever. It’s supported by many converging lines of evidence from disciplines such as paleontology, biogeography, molecular biology, embryology and comparative anatomy. Genetic evidence such as atavisms, the broken Vitamin C gene, Endogenous Retroviruses, fusion of human chromosome 2 from two ancestral ape chromosomes are just a few examples of evolution’s many “smoking guns.”

Brian Alters has stated that 99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution. Why is there such a disconnect between what the “man on the street” and the educated expert believe?

Scientists, educators, and the media need to step up and properly educate our populace if our country is to maintain any semblance of relevance in the field of science.

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