Show 219a: “Understanding and Defending Evolution” with Sam Datta and Massimo Pigliucci

This two-part conversation with Sam Datta and Massimo Pigliucci will dig into how evolution takes place, including by taking on popular misconceptions about evolution, and explore why understanding the science of evolution matters. We will touch on the escalating attacks on evolution and science in general, and explore more fully why these are happening now, and visit the intersection where science and morality meet.

Since its publication last fall, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism; Knowing What’s Real and Why it Matter, by Ardea Skybreak, has received increasing recognition from renowned scientists like Richard Leakey, Kevin Padian, Taner Edis and David Seaborg as well as educators… and from many people who are ordinarily denied access to science, including a large number of prisoners.

The book is unique in the way it popularizes the science of evolution and the scientific method and in the very non-defensive way it takes on religious superstition. It combines uncompromising scientific rigor with an accessible style which gives it the ability to connect with a broad and diverse audience.

Recently, Skybreak’s book was named as one of three finalists for the 2007 Benjamin Franklin award in the category of Science/Environment.

After reading this book a prisoner described the debate going on over evolution inside his prison, and remarked that, “A lot of these bible bangers who have been misled think this debate is about ‘winning or losing.’ I tell them this debate is about struggling for the truth.”

Skybreak was unavailable for this interview, but has connected us with one of her publicists, Sam Datta, whom we will be speaking with about her book.

Massimo Pigliucci, is a professor of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is known as an outspoken critic of creationism and advocate of science education. He received the Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, and has been awarded three times the Oak Ridge National Laboratories Science Alliance Faculty Research Award. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. His research in science focuses on genotype-environment interactions, on natural selection, and on the constraints imposed on the latter by the genetic and developmental makeup of organisms.

As a philosopher, he is interested in epistemological issues in the philosophy of science and in the conceptual examination of fundamental ideas underlying evolutionary theory.

His most recent book is co-authored with Jonathan Kaplan and is titled Making Sense of Evolution; The Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Biology. He is also the author of Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science.

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