Unscientific America on KPBS San Diego

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | August 13, 2009 8:22 am

these-days.pngTuesday morning I was delighted to chat with Maureen Cavanaugh on KPBS San Diego’s These Days. We covered a lot of the central themes in Unscientific America and I especially enjoyed hearing from callers!

The full interview is now available online here.


Comments (5)

  1. Austin L
  2. Evan

    What a great show! You were such an interesting guest. Thanks to Maureen for introducing me to your work!

  3. In the article we read:
    “But anyone out there can put their opinion on the internet and is easily – and because of that, we’ve seen the rise of the anti-vaccination movement and a whole bunch of other – climate change denial. The anti-evolution folks have gotten really, really organized.”

    The problem is that pro-evolution neodarwinian movement is organized much better and occupies all Uni departments around the globe – from USA, England to Czech Republic (UNI Prague – but I must admit that darwinism is taken there in more relaxed way. Professor Zdenek Neubauer openly criticised neodarwinism in Dawkins’ edition).

    One has not to confuse evolution with neodarwinian explanation of it as often happens in the discussions under the Intersection UA entries here. There are many evolutionary theories – be it Orthogenesis, Nomogenesis, Saltationism by Richard Goldschmidt or Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    Evolution is a fact, but neodarwinian explanation of it is no way “science”. It can’t be experimentally proved, and assuming that random mutation and natural selection created mankind from an ancient fish is only far-fetched hypothesis no one can support by any experimental evidence.

    Evolution – no one reject evolution! – is in fact like history. It happened but why it happened this way and not the other way depends on opinion and taste. Why Napoleon attacked Europe? Because of spreading freedom – or his ego? Is there any “scientific” explanation of it?
    The same for origin of wings in birds. No one saw evolution of it, but there are competing theories – arboreal, cursorial etc. I hope no one claim all of them are “scientific”. So what is “scientific” on those explanation? It seems that everyting in neodarwinism – every far-fetched hypothesis and fantasy – is believed to be “scientific” until it rejects supranatural. You have to mentioned that “natural selection” or “sexual selection” is behind of this or those phenomenon and you are at the same moment “scientist”.

    No wonder that Dawkins thinks that “natural selection” operates on genes level, the late Gould thought on organismal level and recently E.O.Wilson has brushed up “group selection”.

    They believe in natural selection as the major principle of evolution. They only do not know how and on which level it operates. But somehow they perform “science”. Those who dismiss “natural selection” – and there were many scholars like von Bertalanffy, Franz Heikertinger, Adolf Portmann, Richard Goldschmidt etc… – opinions of those scholars are labeled as “unscientific”.

    The same for Lynn Margulis who dismissed neodarwinsm – but not evolution itself!

    So the main problem is that neodarwinism and evolution should not be confused and – neodarwinism should not be confused with “science”.e Dawkins, Myers etc… are consequently not “scientists” in the sense we use the word “scientist” for Einstein, Feynman, Hawking etc…


  4. murci3lag0


    natural selection si hardly a “neodarwinian” idea….. it was Darwin himself who introduced it!! Saying that “evolution is a fact” but natural selection is an unprouven new idea is just ignorant of what the theory of evolution says. Your interpretation of science and scientist does not fall into the definition of the dictionnary… stop trying to re define words. “neodarwinism” is a non existent straw man invented by the creationists to attack the science behind biology.

    Please, if you don’t know a thing about the definition of science and evolution, stop making absurd comments on internet… it is embarrasing for yourself.

  5. Hamilton Jacobi

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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