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Putting Anti-Evolution Candidates On the Spot

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the take-it-as-a-given dept.

The Internet 1583

hmccabe writes "YouTube is currently taking submissions for their next debate, in which the Republican candidates will answer questions. This seems like a good opportunity to challenge those candidates who say they do not believe in evolution. But since I am not an expert in the subject, I would be interested in how you all feel the question should be presented. For my own part, I think it is important to present the overwhelming body of evidence on the subject as incontrovertible fact, much the same way DNA evidence is presented during a criminal trial, and ask why the candidate feels they can pick and choose what facts they believe in. Moreover, I am wary of coming across like Christopher Hitchins, so vitriolic the candidate will defend themselves rather than answer the question. Perhaps the most important aspect of posing the question is to inform the viewers who watch the debate that this is really not a matter of opinion, but of science. So my question is: 'Hey geneticists, have you considered addressing evolution in the YouTube debates? Can you do it in 30 seconds?'"

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fact: God hates liberals (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20269835)


Re:fact: God hates liberals (1, Offtopic)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270121)

No food for the troll, but a candle against the darkness:

Ecclesiastes 3

  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Is YouTube really an appropriate platform? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20269837)

There's a lot of stuff on there that makes me question whether or not people are evolving.

Believe in evolution? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20269975)

I believe that the theory of Evolution is incomplete. Of course, this could be said of all scientific theories. I will go further and say that it has some significant gaps, and that it will under go many more modifications before it is very accurate.

Does that mean I believe in it, or I don't believe in it?

I believe that mythology is a very dumb way to approach scientific and historical questions such as "how did life begin on this planet" and "by what means do biological systems maximize their ability to survive in changing environments?" I very strongly dis-believe in the notion that the creation story in the book of Genesis should be interpreted as a concrete history of life on earth.

Does that mean I must disbelieve in the theory of Intelligent Design?

Bah, I hate oversimplification.

Re:Believe in evolution? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270139)

It means you do believe in it about as much as most other scientifically-minded persons do. You believe that it's "just a theory", but you probably know that it currently has a well-deserved position as a mainstream theory(the mainstream theory, one might say). You happen to know what "theory" means, but from the tone of your post, it seems you also know why there's no need to put that word on alarmist stickers on biology books.

Re:Is YouTube really an appropriate platform? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270243)

We'll know in 500 years.

We're gonna take you back, to the year 1939 when Charlie Chaplin and his nazi regime enslaved Europe and tried to take over the world...

Hitchens? (5, Insightful)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269839)

I am wary of coming across like Christopher Hitchins, so vitriolic the candidate will defend themselves rather than answer the question.
Just don't record your question drunk. That oughta do the trick.

waste of time (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269869)

Anyone stupid enough to believe a big man in the sky made the world in 7 days, that the world is only 6000 years old and dinosaurs were just some how left out of the bible by accident won't have any good reasons for believing it.

Re:waste of time (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269921)

Where I say it's a waste of time because modern believers in Intelligent Design already believe in every piece of concrete objective evidence that "evolution" has to offer. And there's no way to prove randomness to somebody who doesn't already believe in it.

Focus on the "science" portion. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270071)

The "Intelligent Design" people attempt to confuse the issue of whether something happened randomly or whether it happened because someone "designed" it to happen.

If you throw the dice and get a 7, was it because of luck or because the dice were weighted?

You cannot tell after the fact if you cannot examine the dice. And that's what they focus on. They accept everything that can be demonstrated, but they refuse to believe that it was random.

So don't argue that. Focus on whether it is "Science" or not.

Who cares what they want to believe in their churches? This is about what gets taught in the science classes of our country.

If it cannot be falsified it is not Science and does NOT belong in a science class. At all. Not even to "teach the controversy". Period. End of statement.

Now, do they accept that "Intelligent Design" does not belong in science class? Yes/No?

If "Yes", how would they falsify it do demonstrate that it IS scientific?

Re:Focus on the "science" portion. (0, Troll)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270289)

If it cannot be falsified it is not Science and does NOT belong in a science class. At all. Not even to "teach the controversy". Period. End of statement.

And since the concept of random mutation cannot be falsified, I guess it doesn't belong in a science class according to you? After all, it's just the same belief as a belief in God, it's just the belief that the universe doesn't have a purpose. Can't be falsified EITHER way.

As to your last sentence, I think you tripped on your own double negative.

Re:waste of time (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270087)

Nuclear decay is objective proof of randomness. So is quantum electrodynamics.

Re:waste of time (1)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270287)

While nuclear decay is indeed believed to be a random process, it's a bit misleading to say it is a "proof" of truly random processes - while it does appear to be statistically random, this does not strictly rule out the possibility of there being underlying factors which govern when a decay occurs (good old hidden variable theory, for example). Obviously, there are significantly more detailed explanations which address why this process is indeed random, but by itself it is not really a convincing argument.

This serves to illustrate a problem with attempting to put forward a scientific statement as part of a question in a debate - you're given only a tiny timeframe to specify the question, which almost certainly requires that there be some sort of ambiguity in your statement of any given scientific point. A candidate who wants to come off looking reasonably science-savvy can then pick on such a point to give the appearance of countering your argument, even if their argument is handily addressed by some other factor which you were simply unable to include in your question.

Re:waste of time (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269973)

Also, I met a Mormon in college who wrote a book "Dinosaurs in the Bible"- his theory was that the Giants in the land of Magog were dinosaurs.

Anti-Evolution (5, Interesting)

Pretendstocare (816218) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269879)

Which candidate's are Anti-Evolution exactly?

Re:Anti-Evolution (5, Informative)

SEMW (967629) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269919)

Tancredo, Brownback, and Huckabee.

(Grammar Nazi side-note: no apostrophe needed for the plural candidates).

Re:Anti-Evolution (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269933)

Brownback, Huckabee, Tancredo raised their hands when asked "I'm curious, is there anybody on the stage that does not agree, believe in evolution?"

Re:Anti-Evolution (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270265)

Hell, I disagree with certain specifics of evolution, and I also know that unless a record is kept for 10's of thousands of years that those specifics will never be answered. A better question would have been, "Do you think the theory of evolution is entirely false?" as such a question would have much better defined ones position on the subject.(Note, I don't actually endorse any of the candidates mentioned above.)

What's the point? (4, Insightful)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269885)

What's the point of bringing it up in an election debate? Aside from educational funding, stance on evolution really isn't even on my radar for politicians.

If I was going to ask a question, I'd ask "How will you calm the media down from distracting issues like evolution and focus on real issues for which governmental action is appropriate?"

Now that is a question I want to hear politicians answer!

Re:What's the point? (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269929)

no, it goes towards their core values, which is VERY influential on issues like which science research to fund. thank guys like this for bans on stem cell research.

Libertarian answer (2, Interesting)

thule (9041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270141)

Why is the government on the *federal* level funding science? At most you could argue that it could find science that is directly impacts military standards and equipment for the Navy.

Re:Libertarian answer (2, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270291)

I'm writing this as a beneficiary of Navy funds for my Doctorate thesis project; my roommate and many of my fellow students were beneficiaries of Air Force funding, etc.
      We did research which may have considerable military application in 10 - 20 years. That's probably why we were funded. But what we learned (particularly Xavier Perez-Moreno's project, which was mentioned here on Slashdot about 5 months ago, and which was touted as having impact on optical switches for computers, etc.) was pretty important from a _fundamental_ point of view. My project helped elicidate evanescent waves (what all the faster-than-light crap was about on Slashdot yesterday); the Navy is very interested in these for various reasons. Xavi's project cuts to the core of quantum limits on various processes in optical fibers, and how molecules might be used for switches in computers; others' projects helped grow cleaner crystals in space for circuit boards, make better inkjet printers, understand holography, etc. And that's just a few people from my year in school in one department. All of these were mainly federally funded.
      So, yeah, though federal funding is probably often about military projects, the funding agencies realize that there are a LOT of other things that good science can illuminate and discover. These projects may not have been funded otherwise. We, as the students benefiting from the funding, feel quite thankful that such monies exist.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270211)

Not sure where to even start. First of all, there is no ban on stem cell research. You are free to take your money and fund all the stem cell research that you would like. The ban is on federal funding of *embryonic* stem cell research.

And the reason for the ban has nothing to do with science, but with *morality*. Is it murder to kill a human being for scientific research? Oh, you say an embryo isn't a human being? Then what is a human being? Where do you draw the line?

I have yet to hear any reasonable justification, scientific or otherwise, for where that line should be drawn. For the abortion issue, the line has been drawn in quite a strange manner. If the unborn baby is wanted by its mother, it is a human being and is protected by the law. But if the mother doesn't want the unborn baby, then it's not a human being, and is not protected by the law.

Where's the scientific justification for that? There is none. This situation is not based upon any scientific principle, but upon the decision by our society that a woman has the right to choose the fate of a baby she is carrying. That decision is not based on science. There is no scientific experiment that can be setup to determine whether this was the correct moral decision. In fact, this is a moral decision that *many* people in our society are uncomfortable with. Do you have scientific data that shows they're wrong? There is no such data, and there never will be.

Science has its limits. If you can't recognize that, then you are just as guilty as those who don't recognize science for what it *can* do.

That's misinformation (2, Insightful)

lheal (86013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270253)

no, it goes towards their core values, which is VERY influential on issues like which science research to fund. thank guys like this for bans on stem cell research.
There is no ban on stem cell research. There is a moratorium on using Federal funds for the creation of new lines of embryonic stem cells.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Coffeesloth (669850) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269995)

I'd have to agree. Unless they start stuffing their religion down my throat I could care less how they defend it. Asking a question like this only distracts them from the real questions for today... Global warming for instance...or "How will you save Social Security now that the current government has spent most of that money?"

Correlation and all that (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270133)

Global warming for instance...
I'm bet a pretty penny that you'd find a strong correlation between not believing in evolution and not believing in global warming. How they defend not believing in evolution could be very instructive towards their opinions on science in general. If I had my druthers, I'd have Neil deGrasse Tyson asking the question. He would do it in a polite, non-offensive way (mostly [youtube.com]).

Re:What's the point? (1)

hmccabe (465882) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270281)

I believe that this issue is quite related to the global warming issue, in that it is an example of a politician claiming their uninformed opinion is of equal or greater value than the informed opinion. I think it is no coincidence that many of the evolution deniers are also global warming deniers. To a certain extent, this kind of arrogant anti-intellectualism is why we're in Iraq today, burning through that Social Security money.

The more biting version of my viewpoint would be: "If our government leaders are not moved by hard evidence, but rather the superstitions of religious extremists, what makes us any better than Iran?"

Re:What's the point? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270307)

Given that both SocSec and Medicare are inherently monetarily insoluble(as in, they require an exponential increase, albeit a low one, in the number of people paying in vs. taking out), your question is largely irrelevant. Hell, given that Bush was slapped down when he even attempted to partially address the easy(Relative to the Medicare mess) problem of SocSec, I fail to see what fucking right you have to bitch.

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

Suicyco (88284) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270003)

So, the fact that somebody may or may not be completely insane, and stupid on top of that, means nothing to you?

Anybody who believes in creationism is unfit to lead in any capacity, because it is a symptom of a mind gone bad. They refuse to listen to reason, lack the ability to think rationally and are incapable of formulating solid factual ideas. They are utter morons and the fact that they believe in creationism is just a sign post to their idiocy, much as if they believed (truly believed) in santa claus, the easter bunny or crop circles.

I don't want anybody in a leadership capacity who is capable of believing in something so provably false, whatever that may be. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans are just as stupid, so it probably doesn't really matter anyway.

A politicians stance on evolution is a huge indicator of their state of mind. They are either liars, stupid or both. Which bodes ill for all the decisions they would be making, and their reasoning (as it were) behind those decisions.

Would you vote for somebody, who was asked simply in a debate if they believed in the Sun, and they said "NO"? That doesn't seem to matter much, unless you look at it from a larger point of view. Obviously, somebody who doesn't believe in the sun is a supreme idiot or is totally insane.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270135)

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anyone who will swallow Creationism/ID, or religion in general, will believe literally anything. That's a problem when you're entrusted with 8,000 nuclear weapons.

too bad (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270303)

I don't want anybody in a leadership capacity who is capable of believing in something so provably false, whatever that may be.

Yeah. Too bad you elected the guy who does just that.

Re:What's the point? The religion of Evolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270017)

The evolution Priests demand total 100% dedication to their shifting view of history which they call science...

Real science makes prediction regarding data not in evidence, publishes those predictions and admits when those predictions fail that they were wrong.

Evolution takes a premise then forms already observed data to that premise and then makes a theory, when the theory is proven false or exceedingly unlikely via new data they merely form the now known data with the same premise into a new theory and try and argue that the premise hasn't changed but rather strengthened.

The premise of evolution is a religion.

Re:What's the point? The religion of Evolution... (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270099)

"...when the theory is proven false or exceedingly unlikely via new data they merely form the now known data with the same premise..."
So what major part of the theory of evolution has been proven false or exceedingly unlikely?

Re:What's the point? (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270021)

What's the point of bringing it up in an election debate? Aside from educational funding, stance on evolution really isn't even on my radar for politicians.

I assume the point is to weed out the Dubyas. You don't want someone who can't immidiately answer what ten squared is. You don't want a candidate that is to dumb to understand evolution. What politician is most likely to act appropriately on reports that details people dying because they can't afford health insurance, and who is most likely to dismiss it as liberal-communist kook propaganda? The one who denies evolution or the one who does not?

Re:What's the point? (1)

monk (1958) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270101)

ThosLives Said: What's the point of bringing it up in an election debate?

I would think the point might be a bit clearer for you if we state it this way. "Do you intend to make policy decisions based on superstition and arrogant ignorance?" And to answer another of the questions in this thread, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee raised their hands when asked "who does not believe in evolution" have stated that they do not "believe in" evolution. Their opinions on gravity and on antibiotics vs. exorcism are unestablished. For more on the candidates: http://thefishwars.blogspot.com/2007/05/republican -candidates-and-evolution.html [blogspot.com]

The point is that Bush distorts science (2, Interesting)

danceswithtrees (968154) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270197)

It isn't so much about the theory of evolution vs the belief in creation. The point is that people like Bush distort science to fit their own agenda. For starters see http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2004/02/6 2339 [wired.com]. Bush consistently distorts the science whether it is about
  • Global warming vs climate change
  • The adequacy of our current lines of embryonic stem cells
  • The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of abstinence only sex education
  • Mercury emissions
  • Baby Einstein
  • Reproductive health issues
  • the list goes on but these are off the top of my head...
My point is that Bush has a clear history of distorting science (the theory of evolution included) to fit his ideological views. That is the real problem.

Re:What's the point? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270279)

stance on evolution really isn't even on my radar for politicians

It's an indicator of their capacity for critical thinking. If a politician purports to be a creationist, he's either an idiot or wiling to pander to idiots. I'm not sure which is worse.


Quick question of my own... (4, Insightful)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269911)

Do you really care what the answer is or do you just want to know how best to ask a question to make the GOP candidates look bad? From the summary it sounds like the latter. Just curious ...

What? (2, Insightful)

ZachMG (1122511) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269927)

Since when are any candidates anti-evolution? And on top of this why exactly do we care whether they are or aren't? If this can influence any decision they make in office please let me know because I can't think of any.

Evolution is not fact (0)

Rohan427 (521859) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269947)

How about starting off by realizing that Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories and not scientific fact. The biggest problem I see in science today is failing to properly delineate between fact and theory.

Another problem I see specific to the theory of Evolution, is that of people calling it "Darwin's Theory of Evolution". At least here they get the "Theory" part right, but they get it wrong when they attribute it to Darwin. (His theory was that of Natural Selection, which there is a ton of evidence for, and which was used to derive Evolution.)


Re:Evolution is not fact (2, Informative)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269997)

Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories and not scientific fact

GUILTY: standard error of assuming that a scientific theory is a speculation, conjecture or guess.

A scientific theory is a logically consistent framework for testable hypotheses. Evolutionary theory is a FACT, just like gravitational theory is a FACT, just like germ theory of disease is a FACT.

Re:Evolution is not fact (1)

tdent1138 (832732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270091)

Ok, I'll bite: If it's a FACT, why is it called a THEORY? It may be a FACT that there is a THEORY of evolution, but that's hardly what you are arguing.

Re:Evolution is not fact (1, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270131)

You don't understand what the word "theory" means. Many words have more than one meaning. "Present" has five or six distinct meanings. For example: at present, I present this present to you. Think 'theorem' instead. Maybe that will help you.

Re:Evolution is not fact (5, Insightful)

darkhitman (939662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270009)

Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories
Evolution is a scientific theory. Intelligent Design is an unfalsifiable assertion and thus cannot be a scientific theory.

If you're going to try and correct people, get your own terminology correct before doing so.

Re:Evolution is not fact (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270025)

*sigh* guys like you always come out of the wood work and attempt to muddy the waters with the "it's just a theory" line.

there's no such thing as scientific FACT. Darwin first started out with a HYPOTHESIS, which he then tested and provided a proof for which was then examined by his peers till it progressed to the stage of being an accepted theory. the theory itself is very sound, but as new evidence comes to light the theory can be adjusted to improve it's accuracy. this is a concept you people just aren't able to grasp it seems.

Re:Evolution is not fact (2, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270035)

How about starting off by realizing that Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories and not scientific fact. The biggest problem I see in science today is failing to properly delineate between fact and theory.

Uh, what?

Care to explain, exactly, how ID is a scientific theory? Nobody disputes that Evolution is a theory based on observable facts.

ID is a religious study or philosophy subject, but certainly not science.

Re:Evolution is not fact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270117)

You are a total idiot.
Please go a look up what a Scientific Theory is. As far as you, as a layman, are concerned it is a fact.

I could comment further but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270119)

How about starting off by realizing that Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories and not scientific fact

you are an idiot. 'nuff said.

Re:Evolution is not fact (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270151)

Can we mod parent "-1 doesn't understand science". Please!

A theory is a well supported scientific idea. A "fact" is a term for data. Yo use data to derive hypothesis/theories. A scientific fact is a non scientific or even technical term for "I hate science and wish it would go away."

The biggest problem is science is that we don't teach it well enough to ensure people like the parent realize their mistake.

Re:Evolution is fact (2, Insightful)

kihjin (866070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270153)

I would argue that you are incorrect. Intelligent design is not a scientific theory or fact.

Evolution is scientific fact. Here, a theory is scientific fact. I believe what you are thinking of is the term "hypothesis." Evolution is not a hypothesis anymore.

Our body's blue print is DNA. This blueprint is copied from generation to generation. This results in errors which can either assist us or degrade us depending on the environment we have chosen to live in.

Re:Evolution is not fact (4, Informative)

Suicyco (88284) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270187)

Umm, you are showing your own lack of knowledge by assuming a theory is not fact. You are using the common tv version of the term, as in "I have a theory..." this is incorrect. A theory is only a step behind a scientific law. It is supported by experiment, factual data and has not been disproven by experiment or factual data.

From wikipedia: "In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists "theory" and "fact" do not necessarily stand in opposition. For example, it is a fact that an apple dropped on earth has been observed to fall towards the center of the planet, and the theories commonly used to describe and explain this behaviour are Newton's theory of universal gravitation (see also gravitation), and general relativity."

Creationism is NOT a theory. If isn't even a conjecture or hypothesis. It is nonsense. There is no data whatsoever to back it up. There is no experiment that can show it to be true. There is nothing.

Evolution is a fact. It can be tested in a laboratory. Unless you don't believe in things like tuberculosis, drug resistant tuberculosis actually. We can evolve bacteria easily. There is solid evidence in the fossil record, in the linkage between DNA sets, in fucking DOG BREEDS.

It is not open for debate, it is not one of several competing theories, it is the ONLY theory there is for the existence of life and how it got to where we are today. There are no other theories. I am using the PROPER usage of the term here. Why this is something people have to argue about is beyond me. Why don't we argue about the existence of the moon while we're at it. It is just as stupid an argument.

Re:Evolution is not fact (1)

or-switch (1118153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270267)

The counter argument to the fundies can also be made here as well. Perhaps they have confused myth with fact. People who REALLY know religious history (not just religion) know that the bible stories are myths designed to get at other deeper truths (the same way that nobody actually believes that Superman exists but his stories teach us about the potential for choosing good).

I'd be happy to have an intelligent discussion about the gaps in the evolutionary records, evidence that should be there but hasn't been found (yet!), and subtle implications of the ubiquitous genetic code, etc., if they would have an honest discussion that the Garden of Eden story didn't actually happen as written, but is a myth designed to set the philosophical stage that somehow nature is inferior to man, and thus our job is to correct nature, not worship it. (I don't agree, but that's the precept that found its way into Western belief). Then you can have a discussion.

The original poster wants to have an intelligent discussion, in sound bites, about complex topics, with people ill-equipped to do so. I'm not concerned about a candidates nuanced understanding of mitochondrial DNA sequence conservation, but instead want to understand that they have an open mind, know how to pick scientific advisors that do understand nuanced issues of evolution (and other timely areas of science), and can say they don't know but are willing to listen and consider. That's a good leader.

Science in our culture sits at a disadvantage because it is not understood well by many, and indeed is complex and not meant to be fully understood by the masses, at least not the really detailed stuff. Briniging it into debates designed for topics that can be summed up in 30second YouTube clips will always put it in a bad light. "I believe in evolution because there's a lot of data out there and smart people seem to agree on that," just doesn't come off as well as, "Middle class tax breaks are needed so the American family can prosper and protect our way of life from terrorists." Umm, there's really no arguing with the last statement, whereas the first statement seems somehow unfounded and nebulous (so is the last statement but you'd look evil for contradicting it). Just look at John Kerry. There was someone who actually could make a nuanced argument. "I voted for X in one case, and Y in another, and while that looks contractictory it's not because of some issues that aren't apparent to the public and here they are."

You want better politicians, raise the kids to step back and look at the bigger picture. "Are there riders on this gun control law that aren't good for America? Maybe we shouldn't vote for it until those are removed." Responding to situations with the 'obvious' answer is almost always wrong. --eor-- (end of rant)

Re:Evolution is not fact (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270301)

Evolution and Creation (or "Intelligent Design") are scientific theories

No. One is a scientific theory, one is wishful thinking.


But won't this just help the candidate? (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269949)

It seems to me that a great many American's don't believe that evolution occurred. Confronting a candidate on this issue is more likely to boost support among these people than it is to erode support among people who already know that the target candidate is a throw-back to the 14th century. This might do more to energize the religious right if they get a bee in the bonnet over a perceived attack on their beliefs.

The pro-evolution camp might win the debate, by lose the election.

Re:But won't this just help the candidate? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270245)

It seems to me that a great many American's don't believe that evolution occurred. Confronting a candidate on this issue is more likely to boost support among these people than it is to erode support among people who already know that the target candidate is a throw-back to the 14th century. This might do more to energize the religious right if they get a bee in the bonnet over a perceived attack on their beliefs.

The pro-evolution camp might win the debate, by lose the election.

There are far fewer "fundamentalists" then the various religious affiliated candidates would have you believe. The fundamentalists are a small but very vocal group who lobby far beyond their weight and pay scale. Why? because their so vocal. Of Christians Many sects are fine with evolution although they beleive it's ultimately God who did it regardless of the actual mechanism. You will never sway them from this. But the fundementalists are the mouth brethers who deny any evolution ever occurred and believe in a 6000-10000 year old earth.

Having a lack of belief versus its application (4, Insightful)

kihjin (866070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269953)

I honestly don't give two craps whether a person believes or doesn't believe that evolution is concrete fact. What matters to me is whether the belief or lack of belief results in a regressive, narrow minded, receptiveness to scientific research and inquiry.

Candidates which don't "believe in evolution" may be in the habit to reject other scientific evidence which conflicts with whatever goes on in their minds.

Re:Having a lack of belief versus its application (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270075)

What matters to me is whether the belief or lack of belief results in a regressive, narrow minded, receptiveness to scientific research and inquiry.

How, exactly, can you not be have a regressive, narrow minded view of scientific research and inquiry if you don't believe in evolution? This would seem to be just about the perfect litmus test.

Anti-evolution = anti-science. QED.

Re:Having a lack of belief versus its application (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270207)

That is precisely what I mean.

I just didn't intend to follow the typical pattern as the "other side" which shouts "EVOLUTION BAD! RUN!"

Pithy (0, Troll)

Atario (673917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269955)

Can you do it in 30 seconds?
"Why do you think you know better than all 13.5 cajillion scientists in the world?"

Also works for climate-change deniers.

It's a moot question (1)

DrLudicrous (607375) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269961)

In the current political environment, asking such a question accomplishes little, if anything at all. If such a question were to posed in a debate format, I don't think it's likely that any candidate would directly answer the question, but instead use it as a springboard for a tangent they are more comfortable discussing. At the end of the day, the worst that could happen is a candidate squirms for a few seconds, but even that is unlikely.

no. (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269965)

The fact is that people who believe in Creationism believe in it because it's an easy answer. Anything you say about it will be met with the response that "The Bible says creationism is true."

bad idea... (5, Insightful)

doctorzizmore (999192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269977)

I think it's actually a very bad idea to get into sound-byte debates with creationists, because that is exactly the kind of debate they want. You can't explain the science in 30 seconds, but they can certainly rattle off all their "evidence" in that amount of time. You also run the risk of legitimizing them by getting into a debate in the first place. You don't see geologists getting into debates with crazy people on the street who say the Earth is flat, because it's not something that sane people debate. This is a problem that needs to be attacked at the root (in schools while children are young) and in long-format discussions.

Anti-evolution?! Hardly the most important (4, Insightful)

Aeron65432 (805385) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269989)

The anti-evolutionist sentiment held by most of the Republican candidates is HARDLY the place to start the questioning. I'll give a sample of topics for candidates, so they can respond to questions that actually matter.

Romney- You once said you want to "double Guantanamo." Why do you condone, rather, endorse one of the darkest spots on America's record? Should we continue to deny them rights in the Geneva Convetnion?

Giuliani- Are you running as anything but the 9/11 candidate?

McCain- You've supported continuing the Iraq war voceriferously, when do we call it quits? After 1,000 troops are dead? 10,000? You joked about invading Iran, would you consider it?

Paul- You oppose abortion. Would you enact legislation to counteract (or severely restrict) Roe v. Wade?

There's a bunch more candidates, but why pick evolution? It is a fairly unimportant topic (considering the others at hand) and it is unlikely that a President will seriously impact what is taught in the tens of thousands of school districts across the nation (who pick their own cirriculum generally).

Re:Anti-evolution?! Hardly the most important (1)

tdent1138 (832732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270239)

If I were Romney I'd say that illegal enemy combatants are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. Look it up. If I were Guiliani I'd say my record of cutting taxes and crime are not related to 9/11. If I were McCain, I'd say that once Iraq can be safely turned over to the Iraqis, we're gone (for the most part). As far as invading Iran, I'd say sure: if need be, but hopefully lesser means will be necessary. If I were Ron Paul, well... I'd drop out of the race (and I like Libertarianism for the most part, just not Ron Paul's 'defend our shores only' idea of National Security. 9/11 showed that no longer works.)

Stereotypes (1)

ee_moss (635165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20269999)

"... ask why the candidate feels they can pick and choose what facts they believe in."

It sounds like you're stereotyping all Republican candidates, that all of them pick and choose what they believe in; however, don't all candidates, Democrat or Republican, generally pick and choose what they believe in? Not all Republicans think evolution does not exist - in fact, I think the majority of Republicans believe that evolution played some part in developing species. Similarly, not all Democrats believe global warming is an immediate threat. It's stereotypical to think everyone of a certain group believes the same things, and it must be respectfully avoided.

Who and Why (1)

Phy6 (871750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270007)

Who does your argument benefit? Who benefits from them believing in something else? Is your motive altruism, or is really from the same vein as the arguments the those that would hit you on the head with a Bible, saying "Thou Shalt Believe!!"?

Is your motive to watch the tv debates and stand up when the question comes on, saying "That's what I'm talking about! Take that! You unbeliever!"

Or is your motive to persuade them to look at what you are bringing to the table? Are you trying to change their [potential leaders-however unlikely] hearts and minds, or are you grandstanding?

Re:Who and Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270257)

Science: adapts admits when it's wrong, moves us forward as a society, contributes to a greater understanding of ourselves and our universe, and is primarily concerned with what is true. Religion is none of these things.

"Please answer with numbers." (5, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270019)

"How old is the Universe? How old is the Earth? Please answer with numbers."

Because (believe it or not) there are people who don't know the difference between "the universe", "the Galaxy", and "the Solar System", and there are fundies that actively exploit that ignorance.

It's easy to screen out the radical fundamentalists. They answer "6000 years" and are at least honest about their base.

But the dangerous ones are the ones who "teach the controversy", because "Them crazy scientists can't seem to agree on anything! Some of 'em say everything's 14 billion years old, and some of 'em the world's just 4.6! They can't both be right!"

Vote only for a politician who is smarter than a fifth-grader; that is, one who knows that "The Universe", is approximately 14 billion years old (I'll take any number between 10B and 15B) is much bigger and older than "The Solar System", which is 4.6 billion years old (hell, I'll take anything between 5 and 4.5).

Re:"Please answer with numbers." (2, Funny)

Phy6 (871750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270085)

What if they reply, "time doesn't really exist, it's really just an illusion"?

Re:"Please answer with numbers." (1)

monk (1958) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270237)

That is a Brilliant question. I'd love to see them commit to an answer.

30 seconds?? (1)

Captain Redundant (1086453) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270031)

How could you possibly make a cogent point about a scientific issue in thirty seconds?

I guess you could talk quickly. "Thereisalargebodyofevidencefrommanysourcessupport ingtheexistenceofevolutiontherealquestionishowtoex plainthatevidencedontyouagreethatDarwinsmodelprovi desa..."

Sure (5, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270037)

Can you do it in 30 seconds?

Mr. Candidate, sir, given the overwhelming body of evidence from hundreds of different scientific fields ranging from archeology to physics to zoology, can you explain to us how you can seriously believe that the world was created 2,000 years after the Babylonians invented beer?

Stop focusing politics on stupid issues (2, Insightful)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270061)

Stop diverting attention on topics that are really trite and have little bearing to reality. So what, they don't believe in evolution. They're dumb, and I can accept that there are a lot of dumb people in this world. I really don't hold politicians to be the most intelligent people in this world anyway.

But really, does it really matter? Do you really expect them to push their agenda? That's like thinking a gay person automatically has an agenda of pushing gay issues, even when maybe they don't. Maybe they happen to be gay, but they wanted to be treated like a regular politican, just like everyone else, without the gay stigma. Just because someone believes something doesn't mean they will use their opportunity to push their agenda all the time.

Yes, Slashdot has publicized some instances where anti-evolution agenda was pushed, but really how many was that like, maybe 3 or 4 cases across the entire US? Come on, it's like accusing all of India of being guilty of "honor killings" when really it's only done in the most rural, primitive parts of India. In the same vein, yes, some politicians probably don't believe in evolution, but do you really think they care enough to push their agenda across all the school boards? My bet is that probably only an infinitesimal percentage would.

And plus, how much really is someone who doesn't believe in evolution more guilty that someone who is religious? Can you really stand their and feel contempt for someone who doesn't believe in evolution, yet thinks its okay if they are religious? It's probably equally as unscientific.

The real crime is focussing the talk about politics onto stupid, stupid issues like evolution, or flag burning. HOW ABOUT TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING CONCRETE? What about federal regulation into hedge funds?? What about making sure we have enough social security? What about things that actually AFFECT our lives?

Probably futile (3, Insightful)

Paul Johnson (33553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270089)

Much as I'd like to see them put on the spot on this, I don't think you'll succeed:
  • If you say "How do you reconcile with your belief that the earth is only 6,000 years old?" they may say that they are not scientists so they're not qualified to comment on such a detailed question, or they may say that it could be more than 6,000 but God certainly created it, or they may just say "maybe the scientists are wrong about that".
  • If you say "How can you seriously claim the earth is only 6,000 years old when every real scientist disagrees with you?" they will say that not all scientists agree with evolution, and often today's heresy turns into tomorrow's orthodoxy.
Either way they will then add that science works by the free and open exchange of ideas, and so they support the right of both sides in the debate to put forwards their views. They may also add something about the bible being right about so many other things, it seems odd that it should be wrong just about this.

These debates may have been the place where ideas were put forwards once, but these days they are more like a boxing match in which each candidate tries to land knockout punches on the others, and a panel of pundits awards them points for style. Fact and logic don't stand a chance.


Has this site become Daily Kos? (2, Insightful)

Dr Kool, PhD (173800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270093)

Creationism is not anti-evolution, the theories are not mutually exclusive!! Evolution says that complex life such as humans evolved from simpler forms, yet it does not say what created those simpler forms of life to begin with. One can believe that God created life on Earth and still believe in evolution.

What is the need to post yet another hit piece on the Republican Party? I must have missed the "Putting Pro-Socialism Democrat Candidates On the Spot" article just before the DNC debate...

It's a matter of science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270125)

> Perhaps the most important aspect of posing the question is
> to inform the viewers who watch the debate that this is really
> not a matter of opinion, but of science.

You're exactly right. It is a matter of science. And science is a
collection of hypotheses, theories, and... opinions!

Nice one.

Call me apathetic (1)

crumplez (1050548) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270145)

...but I just can't see the point of asking a question like this. If there is one thing I've learned from experiencing years of online and real life creation/ID vs. evolution debate, it is that people are rarely swayed even by facts. Even if someone thinks of a great gotcha question for evolution, it doesn't escape the fact that some ridiculous percentage of Americans are evanglical christian and, thus, will immediately cast the question off as blasphemous and praise any response that includes the words "Jesus" or "The Lord" regardless of their scientific irrelevance. We have already seen the Democratic meritocratic debate hosted by YouTube, and all we had to show for it afterwards was even more elegant political prancing around questions to give as neutral and ineffectual answers as possible. All I expect even from the best evolutionary question is more rhetoric. It would be better to save effort and breath and pose a question regarding the simulated and practical failures of a pluralist voting model, and if there will ever be action taken.

Animal Testing (3, Interesting)

david_bonn (259998) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270147)

I'll bite.

Primate Testing [wikipedia.org] in the United States involved the "use" of 60,000 animals in 2004. Such testing is used to help ensure the safety of new drugs and vaccines. If you don't believe evolution is scientifically valid, how can one justify this? Why wouldn't we use flatworms? The FDA, in fact, requires primate testing for many new medical treatments. Should the FDA remove this requirement?

Seriously, this matters much, much more than what teenagers do or don't learn in hi skool biology class. If the Creationist and ID people are right, then we can save quite a bit of money and quite possibly quite a few human lives by forgoing such testing. Plus thousands of furry animals.

Not a matter of belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270155)

Since I grew up in a predominantly hard-core creationist environment that wouldn't teach evolution or even dinasaurs for that matter, I have an understanding WHY they believe this. From what I observed, its a point of faith. If you can't trust one part of the bible, then how can you trust the rest? Must have faith. Must have faith. Must have faith. (Repeat until you believe it.)

Trying to debate something like that is futile at best, since everything rests, in the end, on faith. You can't prove or disprove "faith", and will just end up frustrated if you try to. Even more worrisome to me is why you would want to debate something like that in a GOP debate. Personal beliefs, however stupid _I_ think they are, are each man's rights. As is the case, if enough people in the community feel strongly about it, I don't have a problem with it taught in school either. (There is an issue of separation of the Church, but school not being a purely governmental institute, I hesitate on removing any and all reference of religion from it.) What I DON'T like is teaching Creationism as "fact", or removing evolution from the curriculum all together. Teach 'em both! I have a hunch that the not-so-religiously-inclined will say "ah... wha?" And that's fine with me. Remember, Evolution is not a "fact" either, it just makes more scientific sense than Creationism, and the idea of fossils of dinasaurs "alway being just fossils, nothing more, nothing less, the earth was _designed_ to look old" argument.

So if you're gonna challenge anything, why not just challenge the way Creationism is being taught in some schools, and not a personal belief, eh? That said, WHY you would want to challenge something that, at least from what I can gather, is a local community or at most a State issue, at a debate like this? Don't get me wrong, I'm an atheist and libertarian, so I don't necessarily like the way its being taught, but personal beliefs are personal beliefs. Like it or not, people actually have the natural born right to be an absolute, helpless idiot. If I were to play the devil's advocate, the counter question I would as would be "if evolution is survival of the fittest, then why have so many right wing religious nuts that don't appear to be playing with a full deck, survived all this time?"

Does it matter? (1)

SMacD (1140995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270157)

Seriously, does it matter what a politician believes about a scientific theory? While I've personally yet to see the smoking gun case for the Theory of Evolution, what the politicians believe on a rather unimportant issue like evolution is a moot point. I'm much more concerned about how they understand important things like: technology and the internet, willingness to support important programs like NASA and DARPA, etc. When it comes down to it, what does a politicians belief on the theory of evolution affect? The only thing I can think of is what they believe should be taught to high schoolers. and lets face it, there is a hell of a lot more problems with the public school system than whether or not they are taught that we're all monkeys with oversized brains, or some sort of "intelligence" created us, or are taught nothing at all about where we come from (since, lets face it, no one knows for absolute sure)

(Note: for me, the smoking gun case would be something like the fossilized remains of a fish with legs, or something along those lines. Near as I have seen, they have yet to find any of the necessary missing links that will show that one species can literally turn into another over time. Personally, I believe in micro-evolution, aka adaptation, but macro-evolution, the changing of one species into another, is still up for serious critical debate, and I've yet to see any sort of proof)

Roy Zimmerman... (1)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270165)

I think Roy Zimmerman [royzimmerman.com] said it well [youtube.com] (at 3:07):

All the candidates who don't believe in evolution (Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo) do not need the Bird Flu vaccine and should abstain from using it. After all, if there's no such thing as evolution, then the Bird Flu has been around for as long as we have and no human has ever caught it. And without evolution, it certainly couldn't mutate into something that would endanger us.

Just giving them fuel (1)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270173)

Sorry, but there will be no successful public argument made with logic on this topic in the next 20 years at least. By asking the question you set up the perfect opportunity for them to rally the troops behind the Word Of God. The candidates' ability to reject facts in favor of the bible will only boost the confidence of the fundamentalists. It will remind them how persecuted their beliefs are, and how they desperately need to keep someone in office who understands their point of view. Which is this: the bible trumps everything, end of story.

I'm not saying it's impossible to change people's minds -- it is. I used to be a fundamentalist anti-evolution person myself up until about age 18 or so. But it's not going to happen quickly with a pointed question in a debate.


I'd ask a different question (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270181)

I wouldn't ask whether creationism is "better" than evolution. I would go ahead and accept their idea of creationism. And then I'll ask why it should be the Christian god and not the Flying Spaghetti Monster that created life, the universe and all.

The achilles heel of creationism is, imo, the diversity of religions. If they really want to be serious about it, they would have to teach all the various stories of creation in the various religions. REad the constitution, it says right there that no religion should be prefered to any others, so if you teach one creation story, you have to teach all of them.

And if they go for that option, I predict that every kid in the US will know every creation story there is. But nothing else, because there's no time left for any other subject.

The Whole Argument is a Waste of Time (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270185)

Fact 1. Science can't disprove that there is a God.
Fact 2. Religion can't prove there is a God.

Fact 3. A Supreme Being who can create an entire Universe can create it any way it wants. Including evidence of evolution.

Common sense: When you are the one that makes the rules, you don't have to follow them. See under Congress.

Evolutionist should leave religion alone and religions should leave the evolutions alone.

What is this, Digg? (1)

Fongboy (712864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270203)

Seriously, I thought the evolution / bush hating / global warming / etc. stuff belongs on Digg. But anyway, when it comes to evolution vs. creation, people already believe what they believe, and there's nothing you can do that will change their minds... so let's not waste time during the debate with this.

Not Sure You Want To Go There (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20270213)

I'm all for using YouTube as a source of questions for presidential debates. This, however, is one question that I'm not sure you really want asked in that setting.

When you get down to it, debates are a serious of candidate sound bites strung together. On any expected question — and evolution is likely to be expected — they'll have their pat answer. In this case, I'd expect at least one to say something like this:

The science of the present is not always looked upon as correct in the future. We once thought the universe revolved around the Earth. Science improved over the centuries to our current perspective that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Knowledge of the existence of DNA is barely a half-century old, and our understanding of biology and genetics has itself been, well, evolving rapidly for the past century. It is foolish for us to claim that science presently has the final answer for the origin of man. All we ask is that you give science more time, and those of us with faith are sure that, in the end, our perspective is the correct one.

This is a nice sound bite. Given time — say, an hour-long one-on-one or two-on-two debate on the topic — this sound bite can probably be ripped to shreds. In the format of the classic presidential debate, though, this is all you'll get.

Now, candidates have different skill levels and comfort with this sort of thing. So, I can easily see a few candidates coming across as complete firebrands, scoring points with some evangelical Christians and (I'm guessing) losing points with the general populace. But there's going to be one or two who can nail a debate question on evolution, and it's exactly this sort of "policy by sound bite" that has us in our current evolution vs. intelligent design morass.

If you want to use YouTube to skewer a viewpoint, you need to phrase your question as a fait accompli, where there is no good answer, only bad and less-bad. For example, on a different topic, you could ask "how can you justify US-led and US-backed forces killing, torturing, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people, from guerrilla actions in Central America in the 1980's to today's Iraq, in the name of 'enhancing democracy'?". Here, they either admit the US is killing, torturing, and displacing people (while trying to defend 'enhancing democracy') or they try to deny that anything of the sort is happening (which I don't think the public would believe). I'm not sure how you would craft a YouTube question on evolution that gives you that same certainty of embarrassment.

deny medical care ? :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20270271)

They'd soon support evolutionary science once they realise that all modern medicine/biology is based upon it.

The religious (based on anti-science) have no trouble using Health care (based upon science); they are hypocrites.

Religious: "Doctor, I undermine your way of life and don't believe in your science, but please can you use your science to help me."

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