Episode 2 – Biologist Sean B. Carroll

Dr. Sean B. Carroll

Dr. Sean B. Carroll


Dr. Sean B. Carroll (Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin) talks to us about evolution, his new project, and science literacy.

Preview from the show:

What I am very convinced of, from all sorts of experiences of trying to communicate science, is that storytelling is a really valuable ingredient of that. And I don’t mean storytelling in sort of a simplistic way, but just engaging the audience, whether they are students or teachers or laypersons, with the drama of scientific exploration, scientific discovery, even scientific debate. Because it’s pretty darn common that when scientists find something new, something unexpected, there’s a wrestling match for a while, figuring out whether a new view is emerging, or whether someone else is off base. And all of this is a very human enterprise – there’s a whole lot of human nature in the game of science.

-Sean B. Carroll, discussing a textbook adjunct from Benjamin Cummings that will be available next year

I really wish that teachers had fossil collections…I think that when kids put their hands on fossils – something happens.

-Sean B. Carroll, on a wish he has for teachers

Scientific Literacy is broader than just evolution. Evolution is perhaps the poster child for the acute problem that we have. But I think that it’s really hard for a student to grasp, and I think it’s really hard, I think for a citizen to grasp, when they are just getting the moving banner at the bottom of CNN – [like] “scientists say”, “this fossil means that” or “this gene discovery means that.” Those are just punchlines and don’t really understand the size of the entire enterprise or the cumulative knowledge that’s built up and how that’s tested and things. Now you could say – how do you convey all that? Practically speaking, I think part of the way you convey all that is that those who are communicating to the public, and I would say especially the media – have to have a better grasp of it.

-Sean B. Carroll, on scientific literacy

I think getting the scientific method, and knowledge of the scientific method across in the classroom is really more important than any particular science content.

-Sean B. Carroll, on teaching science

I can’t encourage anyone more strongly to read what the judge said about the intelligent design case in Dover… It’s a masterful opinion.

-Sean B. Carroll, on intelligent design in schools


Direct download: nstalol2.mp3