Science. Let´s embrace doubt.

Teaching elephants how to fly. The principles of evolution and why it is almost impossible for strong believers to accept scientific premises.
An hour ago I read the commentary thread that resulted from a post by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science that quoted from Neil deGrasse Tyson´s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, in which deGrasse Tyson talks about evolution as a scientific theory. Some of the comments made me jump. They are so completely nuts that I can hardly believe it. It appears to me that evolution is among the most misunderstood things in the world. Mostly these nutters´ brains seem to have been poisened by religious indoctrination AND a lack of education.
I wouldn´t talk to a creationist about morality, ethics, beliefs, science, evolution and the like. Talking about these things to a creationist is like trying to teach an elephant how to fly. Just as much as an elephant doesn’t possess the needed structures for flight, wings, a creationist doesn’t possess the nerval structures needed for understanding scientific evidence that has to do with, say evolution of life forms on earth.
I mean this in a purely neurobiological way. If certain patterns of thought have never arisen, if indoctrination from an early age has taken place, the brain has been shaped in a way that makes it difficult to process new ideas.
Whatever ideas and thoughts we come across, will always be treated by our brain on the matrix of our often-used thought patterns.
A good metaphor for these patterns is an old motorway, very much in use, with few entries and exits, and virtually no junctions.
Only if we keep up mental flexibility, we will force our brain to form SEVERAL thought motorways.
Religious, or self-declared spiritual people often call scientists narrow-minded, a reproach which is at best ridiculous, at worst an insult and a massive self-delusion.
Scientists must, by definition be broad-minded and open to new ideas.
They need to command a whole network of thought-motorways to process, intellectually digest and integrate new ideas.
Spend an afternoon on wiki-fucking-pedia (thanks go to Tim Minchin in “Storm”), read articles such as
or to enlighten your brains and build new thought motorways.
I ask my pupils to remember that there are billions of questions out there that we either cannot answer today (but maybe another day) or that we haven’t asked yet.
I ask them to consider that it’s often quite impossible to find a simple answer to a complex question.
I ask them to keep in mind that our lives today are different from the lives of our ancestors and thus require a few new questions to be asked.
I ask them to keep their chins up in the face of doubt.
To embrace doubt.
To enjoy figuring out.
To clap their own shoulders for searching for (not necessarily finding!) answers.
I beg them to look around and be curious.
To enjoy difference.
To NOT be afraid of things and people strange to them.
I applaud them for being able to change their minds if enough evidence has
been presented to them to modify their point of view.
I challenge them to understand that they are responsible for their words and for their
I remind them that they cannot hide behind other people’s standards.
That ethics and morality cannot be shopped online.
That these things don’t come tailor-fitted.
I offer them place and time to talk and to think.
This, among other things, is what makes life good, maybe even meaningful.
Yours, philosophically,
Maid Manu.

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