Here’s an idea for Focus on the Family’s next project to encourage discussion of science in New Zealand’s schools. Why not send a copy of the DVD Allan Wilson: Evolutionary to the 400 schools they sent their last project to for inclusion in science classes? Well, I know why not. Their previous project (The Privileged Planet DVD and accompanying workbook) was aimed at promoting creationism, not science (see Culture wars come to New Zealand).
However, Allan Wilson: Evolutionary would not only encourage New Zealand kids to become familiar with and discuss a fascinating area of evolutionary science. It would also encourage national pride because Wilson was a New Zealander (see About Allan Wilson). Who knows – it might even encourage kids to seriously contemplate a future in science. This would do a lot to improve the attitude of, and prospects for, our children – something Focus on the Family claims to be concerned about.
Neglecting our science heroes
Seriously though, we should do a lot more to inform our children, and adults, about the New Zealanders who have made such fantastic contributions to science. We seem to promote our sporting heroes, and even great adventurers like Sir Ed Hillary. But most New Zealanders are painfully unaware of the many great scientists our country has produced.
I was shocked to hear back in 1970 that the NZ Post Office had no plans to produce a commemorative stamp for the 1971 centenary of Earnest Rutherford’s birth. Many other countries produced stamps, including the USSR which, I think, produced four. In the end the Post Office was shamed into producing a stamp.
While Rutherford is possibly the most well known New Zealand scientist there are many more we should celebrate. That’s why this documentary is so welcome. It describes the contribution of a scientist most New Zealanders are completely unaware of. Yet his contribution to the science of molecular evolution is responsible for so many amazing discoveries. Damian briefly describes some in his post Allan Wilson – Evolutionary.
Ideal TV documentary
Typical of this national blindness to our science heroes, Television New Zealand turned down a request to help produce the documentary. The producer, George Andrews, turned to UC Berkely who provided the necessary finance.
The film is being released to theatres in New Zealand but, with this national blindness, may get only limited showings. It should be screened on national television – but unfortunately our TV programmers can’t seem to see past ‘reality TV’ programmes.
Allan Wilson: Innovator of Science 10 min teaser for documentary