The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Winning on Evolution

For not the first time of late, Matt Yglesias has pointed out that the liberal view on teaching evolution is staggeringly unpopular:
Teaching evolution only 12
Teaching creation only 23
Teaching intelligent design only 4
Teaching all three 55
None of these 3
Unsure 3
He no longer argues that we should simply cave on evolution, but he insists that we need to "persuade some people -- or, rather, a lot of people -- that we're right."

The problem, of course, is how to do it. He points out that the rational solution - teach evolution only - is less popular than gay marriage, less popular than death penalty abolition. It's certainly less popular than single payer health care. Yet it's the only one of these that is simply, literally inarguable - there is no rational, Enlightenment-based argument against it. All arguments are based on ignorance, dishonesty, or both. It seems to me that the only way to meet such a situation is through emotional appeal or demagoguery (if there's even a real difference between the two). But what's the emotional appeal for scientific fact? "Teach evolution or Baby australopithecus will cry?" Lately some have taken to pointing out that the Republican attack on science in general is a godsend to China and India - their best chance to catch up on true innovation, rather than imitation. But that argument, while reason-based, is only persuasive as demagoguery, and rather nasty nationalist demagoguery at that.

So what are we left with?


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