A Darwinian Perspective

"A Venerable Orang-outang," a carciature of Charles Darwin as an ape, as publiched in the March 22, 1871 edition of the satirical magazine "The Hornet." (Unknown Artist of The Hornet / Wikimedia, courtesy of  University College London Digital Collections (18886))

“A Venerable Orang-outang,” a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape, as published in the March 22, 1871 edition of the satirical magazine The Hornet. (Unknown Artist of The Hornet / Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of University College London Digital Collections (18886))

This semester, I have undertaken an independent study under the supervision of Dr. Ehab Abouheif and Dr. Anila Asghar investigating the tremendous amount of public resistance to the Theory of Evolution – especially in the United States – and what the scientific community can do to increase the acceptance of evolution. In other words, I have sought to study what we can do to resolve the so-called “Evolution vs. Creationism Debate.”

In a study published in 2006 (Public Acceptance of Evolution) only 40% of Americans agreed with the sentence: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” Canada was not on the list of countries surveyed, but out of the 34 countries, the United States had the second-to-lowest acceptance rate. For a country so entrenched in technology and which views itself as a leader on the scientific frontier, that is a startling finding.

Throughout my research, it has come to my attention that many in the public have a number of misconceptions about what evolution does and does not mean. These misconceptions include: If monkeys evolved into humans, why are there still monkeys? Evolution is wrong because random chance alone cannot produce the sort of biological complexity we observe in humans, right? There is no use for half an eye or half a wing, so how can they evolve if they are only useful after all the parts are intact? And isn’t evolution just a theory, anyway?

My main contribution to the Abstract team will consist of a blog series that will (hopefully) clear up these and other common misunderstandings concerning Darwinian Evolution. But while my current research is on evolution, I am interested in all things Bio. Therefore, I will also occasionally present current breakthroughs in other fields of Biology that I believe would be worthwhile sharing.

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