Thursday, February 12, 2009

This rule goes into effect once I'm done violating it

Coach Dale passes along an essay from the NY Times earlier this week. General gist:
Science has marched on. But evolution can seem uniquely stuck on its founder. We don’t call astronomy Copernicism, nor gravity Newtonism. “Darwinism” implies an ideology adhering to one man’s dictates, like Marxism. And “isms” (capitalism, Catholicism, racism) are not science. “Darwinism” implies that biological scientists “believe in” Darwin’s “theory.” It’s as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.

This would be an astute observation... were it true. The problem arises earlier in the essay, when the author writes:
By propounding “Darwinism,” even scientists and science writers perpetuate an impression that evolution is about one man, one book, one “theory.”

I can't remember the last time I heard a scientist use the phrase "Darwinism." Science writers, however, use it all the time. In the same way that one wouldn't confuse "baseball players" with "baseball writers" we really shouldn't lump these two professions into one group. Whether a journalist, a writer, or a radio talk-show host, the folks who communicate about what other folks are actually doing generally have their own agenda, and for popular media, that agenda is generally conflict.

Further, it is not like the American public's resistance to full acceptance of evolution is a branding issue. Does this guy really think that were we to all just be more careful and use evolution instead of Darwinism that the unwashed masses would suddenly start believing that they are descended from monkeys?