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Bill Nye: Denial of evolution is unique to the United States.  I mean, we’re the world’s most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens.  People still move to the United States.  And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science.  When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.  

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology.  It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates.  You’re just not going to get the right answer.  Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, “When you’re in love you want to tell the world.”  So, once in a while I get people that really—or that claim—they don’t believe in evolution.  And my response generally is “Well, why not? Really, why not?”  Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution.  I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their lifecycle.  The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us.  If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.  

And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them.  We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.  We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.  

It’s just really hard a thing, it’s really a hard thing.  You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist.  There’s no evidence for it.  

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

More from the Big Idea for Wednesday, January 30 2013

Burden of Proof

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science. In today's lesson, Lawrence Krauss explains why it matters so much that we teach it in our schools: If we allow nonsense to be promu... Read More…

 

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