Utility pole detail.

I’m calling this one an oblique salute to Charles Darwin, whose 203rd birthday is commemorated today. The trapped seeds put me in mind of the classic “peppered moth” case for evolutionary selection.

It troubles me that, more than a decade into the 21st Century, this country still has a majority who are not persuaded of the scientific validity of evolutionary theory. On some level, this degree of ignorance is willful and therefore all the more shameful. I wish that people would understand that the technology that they use and love is science-in-action. (You can’t have an iPad without evolution. Their underpinnings and fundamentals are one and the same.)

As much as I bemoan various kinds of cultural know-nothingism, it may well be that scientific illiteracy and innumeracy are even more problematic for a democratic society. When you live in a land of magic, anything is possible—and probably for free. That’s not how the world actually works, and making policy decisions based on magical thinking is a terrible, terrible way to govern.

The way the natural world and our society do work is sufficiently complex, wondrous, and beautiful to command our admiration, enjoyment, and respect. The conflicts between and within them are mostly not susceptible of simple, obvious, “commonsense” solutions, but can be understood and shaped and accommodated.

We are in a dance with the universe, and need to learn how to follow, as well as if and when we can lead. We cannot be full partners if we see only mystery and the immutable Will of God.

[Thanks to Greg for pointing to the moth article.]

A Year Ago: Warming Trend

Melting snow.I can’t remember ever before longing for the end of winter quite as much as I have this season.
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4 Responses to Specimen
  1. Greg
    February 12, 2012 | 5:21 pm

    Brown seedy moths on a brown wooden background would be pretty cryptic!

    Love your description of the wonder of the natural world and how we have to follow nature’s lead.

  2. Dave Memphis Mojo
    February 12, 2012 | 5:59 pm

    A guy left a comment on my blog about a study that found that people who watched the news on a certain TV network knew less about the news than people who watched no news at all! Bottom line is that people believe what they want.

  3. NT
    February 13, 2012 | 1:42 am

    Mojo, I think people need an incentive to both learn and think clearly about hard things. It’s so much easier to just switch the channel or eat another bag of chips. (Or both!)

    Our culture doesn’t really do a good job of making it clear why acquiring the skills of critical thinking is a really good idea.

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