How to Kill Creationism

In this Splice Today essay, Noah Berlatsky concocts a multiple-choice test:

Adam was married to

(A) Eve
(B) Steve
(C) a dinosaur
(D) a platypus

He proposes — somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I think — that the best way to finish off creationism “as a viable public ideology” would be to “make it a nationwide curricular requirement.”

He professes confidence that “given just a little time and the usual level of resource allocation, our educational system can insure that less than 46 percent of students will pick A.”

Berlatsky writes as a former teacher and a firm believer in evolution. Yet the thrust of his essay is, creationism: really not the end of the world.

He points out that, according to polls and such, plenty of people “believe lots of things that have no particular scientific basis.” To wit: They believe in ghosts. They believe vaccines cause autism. They believe in JFK assassination conspiracy theories. They assign great weight to dicey economic forecasting.

“All of these beliefs,” he writes, “have more practical negative consequences than a belief in creationism.”

In fact, Berlatsky argues, many critics of creationism are really huge snobs. He singles out Katha Pollitt for an essay in The Nation, and calls the piece “basically dishonest.”

Pollitt, he writes, claims “she’s talking about creationism to alert us all to the harm it does. But really it seems like she’s saying creationism causes harm in order to give her an excuse to talk about it. The poll isn’t a wake-up call. It’s just another way to sneer at people she doesn’t like for the horrible sin of being different — more religious, less educated — than she is.”

Blockbusters Assemble!

Avengers is going to beat Dark Knight, making it the third highest grossing movie, for domestic box office, of all time. That isn’t even much of a question at this point — unless aliens invade or something. (Even then, I’m not sure I’d bet against it.) It beat the number four film, Phantom Menace, Thursday and was up to an estimated $500 million plus in domestic box office yesterday. Box Office Mojo projects it will be over $513 million by the end of the day and that still leaves Memorial Day. The number to beat is $533 million. I’m predicting it does that Wednesday. The question at that point is, can it beat Titanic?

I warned you it would come down to this in an article for Splice Today. In fact I closed that article with this bit of predictive bravado, “My best guess is, the iceberg doesn’t stand a chance.” I still think that’s going to happen, but James Cameron had made it extra tough for the Marvel heroes by re-releasing Titanic in 3-D. Before he did that, Titanic had rung up just over $600 million in domestic box office, a figure that Avengers can beat. Problem is, the re-release added an additional $57 million or so in box office, which could put it just out of reach in this ultra-competitive summer. Avengers will start rapidly losing theaters after Men in Black 3 managed to beat it this weekend. The best thing it has going for it at this point is probably word of mouth. I’ve talked to maybe a dozen people in the last week who’ve said they haven’t seen Avengers yet, maybe they’ll get around to it. If they and other late adopters do that, Titanic‘s sunk.