Chapman’s evolution and climate change panel drew a large crowd Friday afternoon despite the cancellation of Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who was sick and unable to participate as a panelist.
Teachers, students and local residents filled the seats in Argyros Forum 202, lined the aisles and even watched from an overflow room opened across the hall with a television monitor showing the discussion.
“We heard he [Nye] wasn’t going to be here and we still came,” Chapman graduate Natali Zogheib said. “It’s a good opportunity to learn something new.”
A large group of students shared the same view. “I’m disappointed,” said graduate student Adam Albek. “But in all honesty, I came to hear the climate change debate.”
The original panelists, Eugenie Scott, Ben Santer and Chapman’s Brian Alters spoke on the importance of climate change and evolution education with Ann Reid serving as moderator.
Alters, who currently serves as president of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), made the decision to bring the panel to campus.
“Chapman should be on the cutting edge of two of the most important scientific questions on the planet,” Alters said.
Scott, the outgoing executive director of the NCSE, discussed both topics of climate change and evolution heavily throughout the hour-long event.
“Popularity should not be the reason something is or isn’t taught in schools,” Scott said.
While Santer, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and NCSE board member, focused solely on climate change, Alters strictly examined evolution.
“We either want to be leaders or followers. We’re in the United States, I hope we want to be leaders,” Santer said. “You should care about the world that you are leaving behind for the next generations.”
The speakers presented their ideas with PowerPoints including evidence and defense to their topics.
“We don’t know who, what, when, where or why but we want to call it science,” Alters said about creationism.
Reid, the incoming NCSE executive director, concluded the discussion with some final words on the importance of science.
“I think there are three reasons why you should care,” Reid said. “Science is useful, science is correctable and science makes predictions.”
Reid also said that science was applicable in more ways than one.
“Even if you don’t go into science, you need to understand how scientists think and prove what they are saying,” Reid said. “Our students need to know how to know.”
Clayton Heard, sophomore environmental science major, said that attending the event was beneficial and offered a fresh perspective.
“I thought it would be interesting to hear professionals speak about these topics,” Heard said. “It really opened up some new viewpoints I hadn’t thought of before.”