Last week, I wrote an article about the growing whooping cough epidemic in Australia, which, of course, brought the absolute nutjobbery out of the woodwork in the form of Meryl Dorey, who is the leading mouthpiece for the anti-vaccination lunacy in Australia. She is no different than any other pseudoscience propagandist, such as the ones found in the anti-evolution crowd, global warming and HIV/AIDS denialists, and sasquatch/alien abduction/Loch Ness Monster/crop circle idiots. That’s right, there is no difference between creationism, sasquatch and homeopathy–no science, and a lot of beliefs based on…nothing. Continue reading “Ken Ham is clueless about evolution–shocking news”
[pullquote]If you’re looking for a cure for your cancer, don’t look to evolution-deniers for hope. As for me, I give thanks to Darwin and the researchers who have stood on his shoulders.–Leslie Brunetta[/pullquote]
A quick update on Tennessee’s “Monkey Bill”, which is a Republican-led anti-evolution and global warming denying bill. The bill, HB 368, was sent to Governor Bill Haslam this week for consideration. Gov. Haslam has until April 9 2012 to either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it. The bill encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” in topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life (known as abiogenesis), global warming and human cloning.” The scientific weaknesses are nearly nonexistent, except in the mind of the science denialists that inhabit the Republican Party, particularly in the South.
While researching some points for my article on intelligent design, I stumbled onto a poignant and pointed article written by Leslie Brunetta, a New Hampshire science author who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wrote the interesting (and very readable) book entitled, “Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating.”
Her thesis is that these anti-evolution bills in various state legislatures are a danger to her health, and by inference, the health of all Americans.
Essentially, she states that in the 1960’s, breast cancer was basically a death sentence, whereas today, the 5 year survivability for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is over 80%. Partially, the rate has risen because of better and earlier diagnosis, but mainly it is a result of highly effective treatments.
What does evolution have to do with this? Plenty. At even the most basic level, the discovery of DNA, which is essential to understanding any of the 200 different cancers, was driven by the need to uncover the basis of genetics and heritability of genes. Would we have discovered the DNA molecule if we weren’t driven by the desire to understand the foundation of evolution? Probably not.
Furthermore, Ms. Brunetta posits that everything from understanding the differences between cancer and normal genes to family history all depends upon a scientific foundation of evolution. She states that now we have genetic tests (arising from our knowledge of evolution) that can help determine which treatments are best for certain types of breast cancer, allowing some patients to forego chemotherapy.
What if we didn’t understand evolution? We wouldn’t understand that viruses evolve quickly in a population, so we have to adjust vaccination antigens. We wouldn’t understand how bacteria evolve in response to antibiotics. We wouldn’t understand the range of genetic diseases that afflict individuals. I could write for hours on everything in medicine (and just medicine) that depends on an appreciation, and acceptance, of the theory of evolution. I wonder what the creationists would say if we were to refuse them all procedures and techniques that use evolution (well, I know what the answer would be, that a supernatural being guided the research or something similar). Of course, the Hippocratic Oath would prevent physicians from implementing this policy.
I’ve contended that the anti-science (anti-evolution) push on the right wing is bad for the security and economy of the country. Let me add in healthcare to the consequences of this desire to push religious teaching in public schools.
Addendum: Ms Brunetta points out something about Charles Darwin that is always forgotten but is critical. He theorized evolution and natural selection with no knowledge of genetics and DNA (the cause of genetic drift). Amazing leap of intuition on his part.