It’s Not Big Bird They Hate, It’s Darwin’s Finch

Robert Haston, a professional pilot and amateur evolutionary psychologist (the website for his book is here)wrote me this e-mail about PBS and the fundamentalist right, which I am happy to share with everyone:

Religious Conservatives Like Big Bird. It’s Darwin’s Finch They Hate

Google Darwin’s Finch. Among the top entries you will find PBS’s Evolution Library. Virtually any video that confronts religious dogma, such as “Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens” is a PBS production. Now consider that 46% of Americans (and 58% of Republicans) believe the earth was created in its present form less than 10,000 years ago. Virtually every branch of science, from Astrophysics to Zoology is an affront to literal scripture. PBS has far more science programming than any other network.

There is a very clear reason for this. Commercial media competes for tiny margins. Selling information isn’t like selling food or cars. You greatest fear isn’t that fans of a show will leave, but that ideological enemies will boycott your whole network, and all your sponsor’s products. Bill Maher discovered that the titular warning label “Politically Incorrect” wouldn’t protect his popular show after his politically incorrect remarks about 9-11 hijackers resulted in ad revenue drying up.

So it goes with religion as well as politics. Those who don’t believe in evolution will fight to keep others from learning about it. It is written in both human nature and holy scripture. As a nation, we knew this. We believed that scientific knowledge should not be suppressed by religious, political, or mercantile agendas, regardless of how popular the alternative may be at the time. This is what divided dark ages from eras of enlightenment and increasing freedom. That is one of the main reasons for public broadcasting.

But to the young earth creationists who want us to be like them, PBS stands for Public Blasphemy Channel. My advice is that before you write to congress to keep that $1.50 per American coming; write a check for fifteen bucks (at least) for all the birds; from the 150 million year old Archaeopteryx, to Darwin’s Finch to Big Bird.

5 thoughts on “It’s Not Big Bird They Hate, It’s Darwin’s Finch

  1. “Commercial media competes for tiny margins.”

    Tangential: I don’t have cable, but when I’m at work my coworkers like to watch the faux educational channels like History or Discovery. The other day the “History” channel was showing something about a possible ancient Star Wars style light saber, which the show treated credulously.

    It makes me want to scream …

  2. Well, this inspires me to make a contribution to PBS today! I have been delaying because I am so tired of English comedies and murder mysteries. This definitely changes my thinking. What a sad state our education system must be in!

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