Page 94 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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the climate is not changing. So there’s a real problem nationwide, and on top of that there’s
also a real problem with science funding. America has just cut $50 billion from our science
funding over the next five years, and this in a decade in which it has remained largely
stagnant. We’re not doing anything new with science, so we’ve just cut the funding, and
that’s a really scary thought if we’re going to confront climate change, if we’re going to do
something about those superbugs, if we want to develop more antibiotics.
Rather than getting into all the specific policy debates on that, because I know it’s a
lot more complex than I’ve indicated, we have to have students who do understand evolution
and who are given the funding to do research on it in the future. It’s a much larger problem
than just Louisiana, and that’s why we’re fighting for this, because we need to make it a real
issue across the country and around the world.
It isn’t only America that’s involved. US creationists have been to Turkey to
undermine evolution there and have even attacked biology books teaching evolution in South
Korea. So this is really an issue worldwide, and it needs to change. We need to be teaching
good science. We need to be funding science, and that’s where the new movement I’m
working on right now comes in. At the university I attend, US President John F. Kennedy
stated that we would go to the moon within a decade not because it was easy, but because it
was hard, and it was a fight we had to undertake. He set up a specific challenge, and we made
a change. In honor of those famous words, I want to see a second giant leap and I want to see
that happen now. That’s what I’m fighting for now, so more science funding and teaching our
kids science, because supernatural explanations don’t actually fit in science classes.
I’d love to have a dialog with all of you right now about what you’re doing with
creationism.
Man 1:
I’d like to applaud your advocacy work. Obviously your parents and your mentors
have been very instrumental. I’d like to broaden it a little in terms of thinking of what this is
emblematic about, because clearly here’s an example of competing modes of explanation,
which is very coercive, non-rational, superstitious, and about how that takes hold and root.
This isn’t just in the States, it’s elsewhere, too. How do you deal with competing explanatory
models in a political way, which you’re obviously doing? Because an element of this is how
you begin to deal with the issue of people’s – to be blunt – ignorance.
Zack Kopplin:
This gets down to the core of the struggle we have, where creationism in
America is taken on in the courts, because the simplest way to overcome the ignorance is just
to provide the evidence, to explain it. In a court case you can bring in the best scientists in the
world and have them teach the judge if he or she doesn’t understand evolution. And so that’s
the easiest way, if you have the time, you have the ability, and you’re given the freedom to
really teach. The problem is with people like the legislator who doesn’t understand that
evolution doesn’t say that
E. coli
turned into humans in 20 years. We can try to teach him,
but he actually specifically told us that he went on Wikipedia and Googled “creationism” and
“intelligent design,” and that’s where his resources are coming from. He also told us he
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