Idea Wars: Death by a thousand cuts

In Internet marketing, you need to evangelize your brand and your idea across a broad range of channels: on organic search engines like Google, pay per click advertising, in the blogosphere, in related portals and magazines, podcasts, and of course on your own website, which is your personal megaphone. A breadth of exposure accelerates the viral spread of an idea, although as Gladwell points out in The Tipping Point sometimes it only takes a few mavens.

Killing an idea is pretty much the same. You can't always go full frontal against an idea like evolution, because there is a whole lot of evidence supporting it. In fact, no one has ever tried to dispute it verbally to me - although I sure would enjoy the opportunity, especially after my trip to the Galapagos. Instead, you need to attack it subtley in the schools by changing the wording: "possible" or "alternative" theory. You need to nominate people of faith to the highest levels of the FDA even those who have "written books and articles encouraging women to turn to prayer and scripture to help heal ailments such as premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression and eating disorders.. " And you need to cut off the people who want to learn about evolution in college.

The NY Times reports today that "somehow" evolutionary biology got removed from the list of majors that is eligible for government grants for low income college students. It was an error, and one that should be corrected soon enough to deny this year's applicants. What's odd is that the list of majors is automated, there shouldn't have been any deliberation or human intervention. But somewhere someone intervened. and thus it seems there was a motive. What is ethically unconscionable for the Department of Education is going to be erased as a "clerical error."

It's unintuitive to campaign for something we take for granted such as evolution, when we share 96 percent of the DNA with a chimp. You may think it is a moot point. But here is the real, shocking truth - 64% of Americans believe in creationism, that God directly created humans. No ape ancestors at all, a complete contradiction of evolutionary theory. So it isn't quite a "tyranny of the minority" so much as a scientifically illiterate populace. Now seems like the time to increase investment in science education, the very point of the above grants.

For the creationists, it's a subtle campaign to bleed evolution to death: a death by a thousand cuts.