PBS on evolution and a free book based on critical thinking skills
Are there examples of materials that help to review claims for evolution that provide constructive but critical insight?
The short answer comes in a response to the PBS mini-series on evolution (ca. 2000). We provide a link below to the free downloadable book (in PDF format, dated 2001) and a link to the web site that explains further why the response meets a vital need. [ Note the link leads to an update page and refers he viewer to updated sites and materials ] In short, the entire venture produced and aired by PBS declares a story as objective truth but then strays from the science and the potential added information that tells a more complete story. WindowView in part considers many facets of this added information. What we need to keep in mind is who potentially controls information presentation, potential agendas we don't always see up front, and what our further viewing of evidence tells us personally. Filling information gaps or seeing dogma in place of objective fact, is all the more reason for each of us having our own 'window view.'
The book (see info below on Viewer's Guide (370 K PDF) provides a responsible and in depth look at how your viewing experience during the PBS special is deficient and lacking in points provided in this supplemental publication. And while it may be years beyond the first airing of the show, the assessment of the content is still very relevant today. All this makes for an interesting source of counterpoint, which PBS anticipated would result from airing their program. They knew that they cut corners, but fail to tell the audience what those corners were! Our personal communications with the producers further confirmed that they started the broadcast at a point in the evolutionary review after skipping the toughest questions on origins. They hardly give a review to chemical origins, skip consideration of chance, and cast any form of religious viewpoint as weak and inept. So, what was this show? Read the viewer's guide and see some interesting details!
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For those of our visitors who watched the four part, 8 hour long, PBS series on evolution we recommend a review of the Discovery Institute's viewer's guide (see link below) specifically written to address this television series and the issues and topics presented by PBS.
This book is best used by reading along with or in advance of watching the televised episodes of the PBS series. But, if viewing the shows is not presently possible, then we ask that you read the viewer's guide to simply experience some of the critical questions and added views the Discovery Institute scholars bring to our attention.
The entire text begs you to make a critical review of the standard story, but to do so in light of valid evidence or concepts that are often times skipped simply by popular misconception or misrepresentation. Why not ask for a more accurate accounting of a story that is so important as to define whether you are unimportant and a fluke product of chance or ... or in a very big way ... the product of the will of an intelligent agency that intends for your existence to be based on purpose.
It's no small issue to define the how and why you are here. Why not ask questions especially when there is evidence to consider ... evidence in many cases that is simply under stated or left out of the process of forming the holistic answers. Even when the data are only partial, even still, why not address all the questions.
Critical thinking is just not a practice of many Westerners today ... perhaps humans at large—globally ... are weak in this regard—we all too often fail to press questions and fail to challenge what appear to be authoritative sources. But authority is not in the mouth that tells, but in the truth that underlies information. Any human voice may convey information and an anthropocentric agenda, yet truth stripped to its own brute existence—based on the best evidence of the day—has no agenda in this regard.
The Discovery Institute's viewer's guide reflects a voice from scholars who press the critical thinking exercise into the arena of the debate on evolution. They have a voice that may be first viewed with skepticism, but we see that the questions they ask are worthy of your consideration. We see the implications of the counter point they add to the discussion. We see that they serve to open eyes and ears to truths missed. We strongly encourage your study of both the PBS series and the Discovery Institute's companion guide to this television series on evolution. You'll be impressed by what you see and what you read.
References: Free document download: Viewer's Guide (370 K PDF; view in browser and save to your computer hard drive if you like) [Also, see related Discovery Institute web page on the Internet; this site offers the PDF file we supply here as an alternate source, plus a PDF of the book cover and an online HTML version of the book's text.]
This same document can be obtained in print form from most book shops and online Internet stores. But you can obtain this same resource from the Discovery Institute's web site or by clicking the link above. Simply ''Save'' this electronic document once the guide loads within the Acrobat Reader plugin for your browser.
An added resource to consider: Another book that is essentially a parallel study guide offering critical thinking and counter point to what is often taught in biology classes comes with the title Of Pandas and People. Because this book offers discussions that are not always in agreement with many standard texts, the authors ask that both texts—i.e., the ''Of Pandas ...'' text and the standard biology text a student is currently using—be read side-by-side. The benefit of this type of exercise is eye opening stuff! And it's all science—no smoke and mirrors involved. Again, the idea of learning while asking the why questions is important beyond measure. Those who exercise critical thinking skills go on to succeed in every endeavor conceivable.
Writer / Editor: Dr. T. Peterson, Director, WindowView.org