Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Evolution and the citizen: Your thoughts?

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

I'm preparing for my first trip to New Orleans. The occasion is the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. Steven Austad, a University of Texas biologist, asked me to come give a talk in a session he's organized next Monday. Austad studies the evolution of aging in the hopes of finding ways of slowing the aging process. (I wrote about him in 2007 in the sadly defunct Best Life magazine--read the article here or here.) In the face of an anti-evolution education bill passed by the Louisiana legislature, Austad decided to use his trip to the state next week to organize a session on the important of a good evolution education. My task is to discuss "how understanding evolution allows Americans citizens to formulate more informed decisions about societally important matters." I like this assignment, because it's an interesting twist on the standard question about the value of evolutionary biology. Typical answers to that question include the cosmic--how it helps us see our place in the history of the universe--and the practical--how it can help in our search for better health and happiness. (See here, for example.) The question I'm addressing is a bit different. How does a good understanding of evolution better prepare us to make decisions as citizens? I've got a few ideas of my own, but this seems like a good question to throw open for discussion. If I crib any of your suggestions for my talk, I will thank you profusely when I deliver it. You'll be able to check for yourself next week, when I'll post a recording with slides. So...thoughts? Update: The stars align! A couple hours after I posted this request, Ed Yong posted his excellent write-up of evolutionary trees in the courtrooms.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In