Don't be a Dodo: Olson on Dawkins & Framing

Over at Chris Mooney's Intersection, there is a lively discussion going-on of our Washington Post article.

I thought this comment was especially interesting, from scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson, director of Flock of Dodos, (airing next month on Showtime).

I'm a big fan of Randy. He's a scientist who is using his USC film school training to engage wider audiences on topics ranging from the teaching of evolution to ocean conservation. In the process, he's also raising important questions about how scientists can better communicate with the public. Randy, along with places like San Francisco's The Exploratorium, are examples of what I call "Science Communication 2.0," people and institutions who are figuring out innovative ways to tell the story of science to diverse publics.

Here's what he has to say in reaction to the Post op-ed:



Richard Dawkins is symptomatic of the lack of leadership in the world of science. If there was strong and effective leadership, there would be a strong voice reprimanding him for what he has been doing, and the backlash against him would be as strong and loud as it has been against intelligent design. They are both examples of scientists speaking forcefully, stridently and dogmatically about ideas that are no more than intuition.

The NY Times Book Review of Dawkins book said that on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is clear proof of God, and 7 is clear proof of no God, Dawkins openly admits he's only at 6. That means he has no science to offer, only his gut feelings -- his intuition. Which is the same deal as intelligent design. The world of science should do a little better housekeeping in making clear that Dawkins writes only as a citizen, not a scientist, when it comes to atheism. Or even better, everyone should watch the South Park episodes that really show the similarities in these two ends of the spectrum.

Posted by: Randy Olson, Head Dodo | April 15, 2007 11:39 AM

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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

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  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
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Credit: EAST Team
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