25 October 2007

Darwin Day 2008

Prof Bob Stephens of Darwin Day sends an email reminding us that while 2009 may be the Big One, 2008 is not to be forgotten. It is the 150th anniversary of Darwin and Wallace's joint paper announcing natural selection to an underwhelmed Linnean Society, and a chance for us to organize a slew of science communication events to celebrate Darwin and wind up the effort to spread scientific literacy.

If you organize a Darwin Day event, be sure to register it with the Darwin Day website.

Here's what Bob Stephens says:

The name “Charles Darwin” uniquely focuses the attention of both the press and the citizens of the world and by declaring February 12th the common date on which to celebrate science, scientists can establish a new tradition – one that honors our most valuable knowledge system, and is based on empirical data. According to Darwin scholar, Janet Browne, it was the ‘Great Debate at Oxford University’ in 1860 between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and scientist Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s defender) that settled the long-standing question of whether theologians or scientists had the right to explain the origin of living things, and science won! Henceforth, all scientists have been able to interpret their empirical data in accordance with the laws of nature instead of through the lens of theology.

In 1893 Huxley pointed out that “we are all scientists” when we solve our practical problems on a daily basis and, while modern scientists must use powerful instruments to extend the sensitivity of their five senses to study the very small building blocks of living matter and the very large components of the universe, we all can appreciate the value of knowledge gained by empirical evidence. Thus an ANNUAL CELEBRATION provides an opportunity for scientists to informally share the excitement of their new discoveries with the general public. The public, in turn, will gain a greater appreciation of modern science.

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