Monday, March 26, 2012


I sometimes feel like I live in two parallel universes, the inhabitants of which don't really know about each other.

Last week saw me participating in the adventure of air travel, which gave me the chance to dig into some back issues of Science, and this evening I had a chat with brother M., who told me about his lesson plan for his environmental science class tomorrow. In this world, everyone knows that evolution happens and is well documented, and there are really neat studies being done right now that give insights into the detailed mechanisms and pace of evolutionary change. In this world, a driver of evolutionary change is a climate that is changing due to human activity. Everybody in this world knows about it, and sees the evidence in every nook and cranny of the environment. Heck, everybody in this world even calls the current geologic era the "Anthropocene." Everybody in this world knows why it's happening, and what ought to be done about it.

Traveling by air, one also gets treated to the journalistic stylings of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal and all manner of political opinion--when I looked up from my magazines, I felt like I had portaled into a parallel world where teaching evolution is highly questionable, and where the politicians preferred by about half of the populace denied the existence of climate change and vehemently denied that humans had any role in the problem. It causes a sort of psychic whiplash, this tunneling back and forth between universes. As I was saying to brother M., it must be really nice to live in that universe where the laws of physics don't obtain.


  1. Oh my, I know this feeling. It isn't until I leave the little "bubble" of Davis that I often realize just how different the rest of the world thinks, the strange "logic" that guides their thoughts and actions. I often wonder what everyone will think say, 50 years from now looking back on this moment in history. Will we look back and think, "how silly we were"? I very much hope so. The current "atmosphere" and the "logic" people are currently engaging reminds me of the red scare. The only comfort I take is in that this is only one very tiny moment in a very long history.


    Thanks for the post, very interesting :)

    Jenny K

    1. As Pogo/Walt Kelly said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." The problem is that the notion of two worlds--Science vs Fox News, Davis vs. the rest of the world--is an illusion, and we're all in it together.

      When I was an undergrad on the cusp of graduation, a friend of mine lamented leaving the wonderful co-op we inhabited and being forced out into "the real world." Another, wiser friend said, "damn it, this IS the real world. Go out there and make the rest of it like this!"

      So there's your job, and mine, and everybody's. Let's all get to work.