06/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Honey, The View Shrank My Brain

"What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points. And may God have mercy on your soul."
- Billy Madison

The View always hurts my ears, but this segment hurt my brain. In case you couldn't make it through the whole two minutes, it consists of inane jabbering and of the hosts flinging around the non-word "Darwinism", as if evolution were an exotic opinion or a cult and not the foundation of biology. (For why the term "Darwinism" is wrong see Olivia Judson's excellent piece in the Times For why it's stupid, re-watch the video.)

Everything in science is open to challenge -- yes, that's critical -- but evolution is not "just a theory," as its opponents are so fond of proclaiming. It's a paradigm -- as accepted among serious scientists as the "theory" of gravity. As our professor told us in college: Nothing in biology makes sense without evolution. Its ideas guide us when we think about and practice science. In the century and a half since Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his ideas too have evolved -- into a way of thinking about the natural world that we can thank for a large share of the discoveries and breakthroughs, medicines and vaccines of the last 150 years.

But to hear Sherri and Elisabeth quack on and on about "Darwinism", you'd think it was just the latest fad -- like skinny jeans or the Atkins diet - something to be amused by but skeptical of -- something that might be nice and all but just isn't for everyone.

The biggest failing of our ratings-driven media is that it treats everything as a matter of opinion -- equating emotional arguments with fact-based ones. In truth, Sherri and Elisabeth's religious beliefs are neither here nor there. Some things are matters of opinion or belief, but other things are demonstrable, testable -- provable.

We have a name for those things and for the process of finding them.

It's science.