I am getting a chance to talk about my work with BioLogos and AAAS at an upcoming scientific conference (in early January). I’m looking forward to sharing about this with my scientific colleagues, and many of them have been very supportive of my efforts.
Title: Open Data and Evolution Education
Abstract: Darwin’s theory of common descent, published nearly 160 years ago, is one of the most important discoveries in all of science. Nothing in biology makes sense outside of evolution. Now, in the genomic age, the genetic evidence for evolution increases exponentially. The public, however, remains skeptical, with more than 44% of the United States rejecting evolution on religious grounds. Several national efforts, including both the AAAS Science for Seminaries Program and Dr. Francis Collin’s organization BioLogos, are devoted to better engaging skeptical religious audiences with the evidence for evolution. Even with these efforts, the public is often left weighing arguments about data instead engaging the data itself. The rise of open data, reproducible science, and constantly growing genomic databases presents an opportunity. Rather than asking a skeptical public to “trust us,” we might instead enable them to directly engage the genetic for evidence for evolution themselves. In the genomic age, anyone can download and analyze genomes. Bioinformatics requires only a personal computer, open data and software, and clear scientific thinking. Here, I will share my experiences working with AAAS and BioLogos to educate religious audiences about evolution, and explain a role that open data might play in the public debate. In particular, we will examine specific cases where open data and tools have substantially altered the debate, and even convinced skeptical critics of evolution. Perhaps, in the near future, this could be be the way forward. Open data could open minds.
I’m curious what people on the forum think of this notion. Do you think open data could open minds about evolution? I think back to how @vjtorley’s shifts were influenced by open data and tools, and also how the debate about egg-yolk genes played out.
I’m also very curious to hear how my colleagues respond to this idea. It should be fun =). Let me know what you think.