I gave my third speech for Toastmasters today, and the title was “Why Evolution Matters.” My objective was to inform the audience of about the lack of acceptance of evolution in the United States when compared to the rest of the world, and why they should support the teaching of evolution in the public schools. I opened with a discussion of this study showing how the acceptance of evolution in the US lags behind the rest of the western world, other than Turkey. Then I discussed why evolution is not controversial in scientific circles, the attacks on evolution education from promoters of Intelligent Design (mentioned Dover), and a discussion of public policy issues that illustrate why it is important for the public to be educated about science (H1N1, GMO’s and antibiotic resistance). I concluded with a challenge to the audience to be aware of challenges to the teaching of evolution in schools, and of what their local schools board members attitudes are about science education.
Overall I think I did a good job, though I was very nervous and didn’t really have the time to go as far in depth as I would have liked. This speech is supposed to last from 5-7 minutes, and mine went 6 minutes and 52 seconds. Right on time!
Many people told me that they liked my speech, though no one mentioned what their own view on the subject were or whether I’d convinced them of anything. The most interesting comment I got was from a lady in the group who is also a preacher (who also gave a very good speech today). She said that I had done well at discussing the issue without dragging too much of the religious controversy into it. I had focused primarily on the scientific issues. I think this is a good thing, as one of my goals in Toastmasters is to be able to present a controversial, sometimes polarizing issue, without, well, polarizing the audience.