We are apes descended from other apes, and our closest cousin is the chimpanzee, whose ancestors diverged from our own several million years ago in Africa. These are indisputable facts. And rather than diminishing our humanity, they should produce satisfaction and wonder, for they connect us to all organisms, the living and the dead.
But not everyone sees it that way. Among those reluctant to accept Darwinism, human evolution forms the core of their resistance. It doesn’t seem so hard to accept that mammals evolved from reptiles, or land animals from fish. We just can’t bring ourselves to acknowledge that, just like every other species, we too evolved from an ancestor that was very different. We’ve always perceived ourselves as somehow standing apart from the rest of nature. Encouraged by the religious belief that humans were the special object of creation, as well as by a natural solipsism that accompanies a self-conscious brain, we resist the evolutionary lesson that, like other animals, we are contingent products of the blind and mindless process of natural selection.
↳ Jerry A. Coyne, ‘Why evolution is true’.
Human beings live in groups, are affected by the fortunes of their groups, and sometimes make sacrifices that benefit their groups. Does this mean that the human brain has been shaped by natural selection to promote the welfare of the group in competition with other groups, even when it damages the welfare of the person and his or her kin? If so, does the theory of natural selection have to be revamped to designate “groups” as units of selection, analogous to the role played in the theory by genes?
↳ Steven Pinker discusses the false allure of Group Selection
in this long but very interesting read, explaining why it is not a "reasonable extension of evolutionary theory and a plausible explanation of the social nature of humans".
[…] people are not blank slates, eager to assimilate the latest experiments into their world view. Rather, we come equipped with all sorts of naïve intuitions about the world, many of which are untrue […]
This means that science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin.
Why we don’t believe in science
46% of American adults believe that: “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years." and only 15% agree with the notion of evolution without divine guidance. Also, these percentages have remained almost unchanged at least for the last 30 years.
The article explores a couple of studies about how our brains store intuitions that contrast with scientific facts: for instance people pause before agreeing that air is composed of matter, or that the earth revolves around the sun. The delay shows that something in those statements push against our instincts.
That’s true, but let’s just not blame our brain, again. The problem here is education.
In The Beginning Was the Mudskipper?
[…] these fossils now offer an illuminating look at one of the most crucial transitions in the history of life. Without it, we’d still be fish in the sea.
“When trying to understand what others are thinking […] [nonhuman primates] expect other individuals to perform the most rational action that they can, given the environmental obstacles that they face.”
- Primates expect others to act rationally
Apparently, nonhuman primates (like rhesus macaque) are able to understand the difference between goal-oriented and accidental behaviors and between rational and non-rational behaviors and they have the expectation that others’ actions are rational.
In 2008, at a conference of American science educators in Atlanta, Georgia, one teacher reported that students “burst into tears” when told they would be studying evolution. Another teacher described how students repeatedly screamed, “No!” when he began talking about evolution in class.
Charles Darwin solved one of the greatest riddles that the human mind have ever solved which is how you get something from nothing in the sense of how you get the immense complexity and diversity and beauty and elegance of life and perhaps above all how do you get the powerful illusion of design that life shows starting not quite from nothing but starting from extreme simplicity.
15 Evolutionary Gems: A resource from Nature for those wishing to spread awareness of evidence for evolution by natural selection.