White Collar Science

Today at work, I caught part of a conversation being had by the two women in the next row of cubes. Given how loud and often one of them talks, I often catch parts (or wholes) of conversations coming from over there. Usually the topic is something banal: a television show, this or that pain in this or that body part, last night’s date at a crap restaurant that inexplicably left one of them very impressed by choice of dining establishment.

That sort of thing.

However, this morning was to be different. The topic? How one of them had a brother who was all into that science stuff.

I, sadly, did not catch everything, but a couple of key phrases told me all I needed to know:

Woman 1: “He’s more into the whole Darwinian idea of how the universe got here, and I’m more like ‘God created everything – bam!'”

Woman 2: “I’d like to ask him, if evolution is true, what happened to all the other monkeys and apes? Why didn’t they evolve too?”

…and from there it moved on, but the bit I did hear confirmed for me that one reason evolution is not more commonly accepted (in this country, and – say – Turkey) is that the populace is largely ignorant of what the science behind it actually says.

It’s easy to defiantly state you don’t believe in something when all you have in your head is a sad caricature of the actual concepts. I mean, if someone told me scientists think that one day a fish woke up and decided to be a monkey in some bizarre Kafka-esque self-experiment, I might laugh at such idiocy too.

(However, a man living inside of a whale? Speak the truth, sisters!)

I was tempted to pipe up over the wall and educate them, but I doubt it would have been well-received and I’d rather not have the HR folks on my back for creating a hostile work environment. What a nutty world where science education may be considered hostile!

In the end, I just went back to my work and waited to unwillingly overhear the next bit of conversation (which was about how a flu shot made them so sick they couldn’t even clean the house, yet again evidence of how evil science can be).

I’m not sure what we can do to resolve this problem (both loud coworkers and scientific ignorance). I’m pretty sure these women had access to educational systems that covered the sciences, just like I did. They seem intelligent enough and nice enough too.

So what’s the problem?

I can only guess that (a) we get religious belief beat into our brains from a very young age, (b) religious figures lie about science, and (b) science is, like, you know, hard and stuff.

How do we solve this problem? You got me.

(Also, PZ Myers is discussing something similar today).

3 Responses to “White Collar Science”

  1. Roger Fraley Says:

    I love the ‘theory’ of evolution and with just a little bit of reading, it’s not that hard. But the origin of species is not the origin of life. Big difference. Good to finally get a chance to talk to you. You missed not a thing with the Irish singalong.

  2. andy Says:

    Oh, I agree on the origin of life question, and I meant to touch on that with respect to woman #1’s comment. Her concept that the theory of evolution deals with the universe as a whole was also incorrect, as you point out. ‘

    Regarding the origin of life, though, I don’t think making up answers out of myth cloth exactly solves anything. :-)

  3. PatrickP Says:

    I think that origin of life question is more important than the evolution debate. THAT is what occupies my mind. And fascinates me. I have my own ides of things that are of course informed by my Catholic upbringing, my philosophy and theology studies in college and my own personal study as an adult. But there are maybe two people I have encountered in my life with whom I can share my thoughts and they actually get it.

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