Wednesday, March 11, 2020

What a Breadboard Revealed at the Minnsota State Fair 2019

Environmental & Science Education
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

Writing in the British science journal Nature, science communicator Maggie Ryan Sandford describes her experience and what she learned when she "went to the Minnesota State Fair (in 2019) wearing a sandwich board. It said, 'Ask me anything about evolution.' Proponents of evolution assumed I was a religious zealot. Creationists assumed I was there to mock their beliefs. The biggest challenge in fighting misinformation? Just getting a conversation started.
"This public-engagement stunt taught me a crucial lesson: the key to effective science communication isn’t the science. It’s communication."

Sandford describes the three lessons she learned: don't argue, listen, take time to find out what the person's sense of order is. Her essay states that Darwin said he wasn't an atheist but doesn't add he was one step removed, an agnostic. His views on religion changed--evolved one might say. They were nuanced, too. See the Wiki entry on Darwin's religious views. Sandford's essay includes a short video (1 m 12 s).
Sandford is the author of a non-technical book on evolution--Consider the Platypus. I've not read it but some of the customer reviews make me wary. They comment about the book's sloppiness and one reader noted that there are no references. Ms. Sandford responds very weakly to the lack of citations and says nothing about the sloppiness other than to commend the writer for noting them. This troubles me. My rule of thumb is not to read a book on science that lacks citations. I couldn't find any reviews other than those on the Amazon site.

By the way, what she did at our Great Get-Together takes some guts. She put herself out there and took on all comers with grace and decency.


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