Women Scientists, FTW! Passionate, intelligent, articulate, confident and amazing women tell us why nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.
Thank you, Shah Auckburaully , for the share.
Originally shared by Tom Mulcahy
Why teaching evolution is important!
Agreed!! Further yet, nothing in life makes sense except in light of evolution!
Seriously, it is the foundation for everything I develop.
I know there is an active lobby in the States that argues for equal status for Intelligent Design in science teaching, and that they have some leverage at school-board level, but please tell me this video wasn’t prompted by a need to argue the legitimacy of evolutionary theory?
FWIW, I base my grammar analysis on evolutionary thinking.
Hi Paul Melrose , according to the YouTube tag, this video has simple goals “to convey the fact that evolution is an amazing, uplifting discovery that has served as the genesis of countless advances in many fields of science. We also wanted to highlight female role models in the science community.” If I were asked, I would say that I see the beauty and simplicity of evolution in every molecular machine that I study. Our latest breakthrough in the world of ion transport, for example, was because of evolutionary clues that led us to uncover the mechanism of a new human gene, that is more closely related to it’s microbial cousins than to other human proteins.
Martha E Fay , For The Win 🙂
Sad that gender still means anything at all in this context.
Phew. I was worried it meant For The Wedge, a big hit among some of my kids’ friends.
Martha E Fay , LOL, thanks for the warning!
Not that I don’t care about evolution … but it’s a well-supported paradigm which I have taken for granted for years. Even back in my philosophy days when people debated whether it was a scientific theory or world-view (ie not falsifiable). Since then, have seen it evolve little by little – that is, not only is it a theory of the development within the biological world, but also a very good paradigm for how science works (ie evolves)
Rajini Rao thanks. I’ve seen evolutionary psychology exert more of an influence on mainstream psychology recently with some very fruitful and provokative hypothesis emerging. My work is a million miles from yours (language teaching and teacher training), but evolution is the base context for how I think about all the meta-stuff.
Paul Melrose , can you explain your comment on grammar analysis and evolutionary thinking? Is it as Martha E Fay said, that science evolves with survival of the more robust discoveries, perhaps?
Read TS Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1968, I think). He articulates the idea of “paradigms”, the way in which we see the world. But as scientists move on (by generation – evolution?), they find anomalies in the paradigm. Sooner or later, a new paradigm is born, because those who could only see the world from the old paradigm have died.
Kind of stark. But I have always thought that he is right. And in the 40+ years since I read his book, nothing has taught me otherwise. The details? Yes, the details of how we understand scientific paradigms and the shift (as in gestalt switch) from the old to the new have changed immensely. But the general idea is a valuable heuristic for science in the 21st century.
Rajini Rao – I wrote a long answer on this and then G+ ate it 😦
In short, aspects of language thrive it they are useful within temporal and functional contexts. Example; ought to was more useful and more common thirty years ago, but we no longer need to speak formally in the way we did, and even formal writing is a minor feature of most peoples writing needs. We know from lexical databases that ought to is waning, just like body hair.
In some places, essentially those isolated from the outside, such as the Appalachians, forms remain that are very similar to early Modern English and even late Middle English. Living fossils, if you will.
The big difference between evolutionary forces in language and biology is that adaptability is a key determinant in biology, but not so much in language. In language it is functionality.
That functionality is often obtuse. Every generation insists on jettisoning the hip and cool teen language of the previous generation, in favour of a new lexis whose function is more to do with identity formation that any literal meaning value.
Traditional grammar was proscriptive. It has since become descriptive, but it has yet to become truly explanatory. This has begun to change with people like Chomsky who argued for an innate language acquisition facility, thus rooting language in biology. Language is a manifestation of the biological.
If a feature of grammar such as the present perfect has persisted, it is because it serves a function that is consistant and robust enough to see it battle through to today. Other features have not done so well.
We use to have a plural for you (Oh Ye of little faith). All gone. We used to have case endings and gendered nouns. All gone. My argument is that language evolves and is subject to many of the same forces that biological entities are.
Mmmm. A bit long. Sorry about that.
Fascinating parallels, much food for thought, thanks Paul Melrose . Although, to a biologist, adaptability is another term for function..if the genetic variant functions better under a new environmental challenge, the variation survives as an adaptation. In other words, adaptations have to fit function to the current time. That said, I think we ought to be using more elegant speech in our dialogues!
Rajini Rao – I so agree with you on language use.
Thanks for the comment on adaptability and function. I’ll mull over that for a while.