Huckabee and evolution

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At the Republican presidential debate, the candidates were asked whether they believed in evolution and apparently Tancredo, Brownback, and Huckabee raised their hands for no. Huckabee has since issued some kind of clarification:
"And the main thing ... I'm not sure what in the world that has to do with being president of the United States," said the former Arkansas governor.

Huckabee said he has no problem with teaching evolution as a theory in the public schools and he doesn't expect schools to teach creationism.

He said it was his responsibility to teach his children his beliefs though he could accept that others believe in evolution.

"I believe that there is a God and that he put the process in motion," Huckabee said.

Well, I supposed that not expecting schools to teach creationism is better than expecting them to (though I wonder about "intelligent design"). I'm not sure I really believe him, since Wikipedia quotes him as saying something rather different:

Huckabee has voiced his support of creationism. He was quoted in July 2004 on "Arkansans Ask," his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: "I think that students also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism." Huckabee also stated "I do not necessarily buy into the traditional Darwinian theory, personally.

Moreover, I can't agree that it doesn't have much to do with being president. Even if you ignore the fact that the president does have to decide on policy positions that require some knowledge of biology (and so it would be helpful to know something about it) what does it say about someone that they've managed to get to be 52 years old and be nearly completely ignorant of the foundations of biology (or at least being willing to pretend to be so to get elected)? Truth be told, I can't decide which is more depressing.

5 Comments

I know what's most depressing: to realize that there are people — lots of them — who will vote for Huckabee, and those like him, because he's nearly completely ignorant of the foundations of biology (or pretends to be).


That is truly depressing, and that is almost enough to prompt me to emigrate. (Hey, you already have an "in" to the north; maybe you should take advantage of it.)

I don't think the complaint about ignorance about biology is quite fair, though. I've somehow gotten to age 40 with a shocking ignorance of French grammar, the principles of carpentry, watershed management, and medevial history, and I don't *think* this is because I'm especially dumb. *Nobody* can know more than a smattering of what there is to know, at any depth at all.

It would be nice if more people drawn to politics had a technical background, but even if that happened, all possible presidents, supreme court justices, congressmen, etc., will be ignorant of vast areas of human knowledge, many of which are terribly important for the future of the nation.

The fact is the study of evolution is not a hard-science, anyone who thinks they are seeing evolution in progress in the laboratory are either:

a) Severely mentally ill
b) Have been ingulfed by philosophical motives
c) Have been drinking too much smirnoff lately

There is much confusion over biology which is a hard-scientific practice and evolution which is merely a soft-science philosophical position promoted and supported as a hard-science.

@Cheetos!

What have you been smoking (and can I have some of it?)

Microevolution is one of the most well documented biological process in existence. It's the basis for modern animal husbandry for example.

Macroevolution is a scientific theory which offers the currently best explanation for the development of life, unless you call "some magic guy in the sky did it" a theory. It has been tested to some extent and seems to cover all known facts.

Cheetos:

I believe gene-level evolution has been observed in the lab for fruit flies, and that this happened several decades ago. (I recall that they discovered all kinds of stuff like mutations arising, genes that were more or less likely to stick together through reproduction because of the mechanics of crossing over the different chromosomes of the parents during meiosis, etc.) Once you get mutation, selection, and drift, you've got the underlying processes for evolution at the gene level.

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