See if you can determine what these two examples have in common:
Global warming is to blame for a record hot day. Alternately, global warming isn’t happening because “we’ve” had a cool, wet summer / harsh winter in (wherever).
Evolution isn’t true because scientists find fossils that don’t fit in the standard straight timeline from one species to another. Evolution is in dispute because scientists always discover new things and argue about how it happens. Since they can’t agree, it must be controversial.
- The way the media tends to portray these topics and most other science stories – overly simplified, without proper explanation and drawing erroneous conclusions.
- Typical jump to conclusion views from those who never learned or don’t want to examine a complex topic thoroughly in order to make an informed opinion.
- A sad commentary on how the American public fails to grasp the importance of science education in the world around us.
For lots of people, science (as a process and a body of knowledge on a subject) is hard to understand. I have trouble with spatial calculations, playing chess, differential equations, physics, engineering, etc. so I can sympathize with how trying it can be to think about difficult things. Unfortunately, life is hard and if you chose to just ignore the uphill battles, you end up living in a lonely valley with no place to go.
These hot button issues are hard to understand, even for professionals. There are conflicts and arguments, bad explanations, big egos and elitist attitudes.
I’ve made an effort to understand both topics because no one ever taught them to me at university. Discussions on them can quickly escalate beyond my grasp. But, I feel secure that I understand there is definitely something to them. They are not conspiracies, but explanations in motion, as science should be.
Most everyone fails to understand that the strength of science is its ability to change with the time depending on the evidence. This is the downfall of other explanatory means – like myth and religion – whose explanations never change and end up looking mighty ridiculous in modern times. If you read an old science textbook, many of the conclusions DO sound mighty ridiculous. That’s why we have newer editions and continuing education.
So, if you aren’t going to try and understand and respect the changing conclusions, the refining of the pieces to support the whole idea – which is not in question, by the way – then don’t go printing headlines and commenting in the media. You just end up sounding mightily ridiculous.