A short while back the people at Mashable told me that they wanted to produce a short video on evolution—one dispelling some of the common myths about it. I talked to them in detail, and, using their ideas as well as input from me and others, they came up with this 3-minute video:
The video is also on a Mashable website with text that reprises and debunks the myths in more detail, “5 Common Evolution Myths, Debunked.”
I was particularly insistent on items #1 (“It’s just a theory”) and #4 (“Evolution isn’t science because it’s not observable or testable”) —especially the latter, which is Ray Comfort’s stupid trope that seems to have gained some traction. I asked for #3 (“Individual organisms can evolve in a single life span”) because research has shown that this is one of the most common misunderstandings of evolution. Evolution is a populational phenomenon: populations rather than individuals evolve, rather than an individual phenomenon like stellar evolution, in which single stars evolve over their lifetime. It’s important to let laypeople know that evolution is not “change of an individual.”
This is one of a series of Mashable videos in the Debunked series—the other two involve climate change and phone charging (?)—and there will be more.
I think they did a pretty good job for non-scientists, though I can already spot one ambiguity in the bit about timing of our common ancestor with other primates.
If you can think of other myths, put them below, and offer any criticisms or suggestions you may have. I don’t know if the folks at Mashable are amenable to changing the video or the five misconceptions they chose, but they could tweak the text, and I’ll refer them here. You can also leave comments at their website.