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“Made Easy” Video Series July 10, 2008

Posted by Ian in Religion, Science.
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Another excellent video series on YouTube is the “Made Easy” series by YouTube user Potholer54.  There are 12 videos in the series covering the science behind the origins of the universe, life, people and so forth.  As well as explaining the concepts behind how we came to know what we do know about the world around us, it also directly addresses a bunch of creationist claims. 

Each video is linked below along with the description from the video itself:

 

1:  History of the Universe Made Easy (Part 1)

Forget gods and goblins, here is the real story of how we know the extent of our universe in time and space. Throw away all those religious books and look at some hard evidence.

2: History of the Universe Made Easy (Part 2)

This concludes the two parts on the history of the universe, showing how our universe, solar system and planet Earth formed through natural and predictable processes.

3: The Origin of Life made easy

This video answers two commonly held fundamentalist misconceptions: That scientists believe life popped out of nowhere, and that life cannot come from non-living chemicals. It explains the most commonly accepted hypothesis about the origin of life on Earth. As with all hypotheses, there are things we have yet to understand about the steps that took us from organic chemicals to replicating chemicals — from non-life to life. If we had all the answers this wouldn’t be a hypothesis, it would be a theory. So don’t expect a Nobel prize for spotting problems, because solving problems is what research is all about. The video simply shows the various steps to forming primitive cells and challenges fundamentalists to show which one is impossible, and why.  

4:  The Story of the Earth Made Easy

Is the Earth really 6,500 years old? And was there a global flood 4,000 years ago? The only way to find out is to look at the clues from the past. This video explains the evidence geologists use that shows slow uplift, erosion and sedimentation over hundreds of millions of years.

5:  The Age of Our World Made Easy

Methods of dating easily explained, that clearly prove the age of the Earth and our universe. Part of the “Made Easy” series that explains science in clear and simple terms. A must for people who think the world is just 6,000 years old.

6:  Natural Selection Made Easy

Explains natural selection in simple terms. A must for anyone who is confused by the Theory of Evolution, and wonders why it’s taught in classrooms.

7:  The Theory of Evolution Made Easy 

Explains the Theory of Evolution in simple terms. A must for anyone who is confused by what the Theory is, what it means, and why it’s taught in classrooms.

 8:  Human Evolution Made Easy

The evidence for human evolution. Part of the “Made Easy” series which traces our origins from the Big Bang to the human migration out of Africa.

9:  Human Ancestry Made Easy

Traces our migration out of Africa and explains, through DNA evidence, how humans colonized the world.  

10:  The Scientific Method Made Easy

This video explains how we acquire this knowledge, and how ideas go from a hunch in a laboratory to accepted theories taught in school.

11:  Creation ‘Science’ Made Easy

Creation Science is fairly simple to understand. The conclusion is laid out for you — just read Genesis — so there’s nothing to investigate. The question is whether this really is science. Even if it isn’t, should it be taught in school as a way of ‘opening’ young minds?

12:  About the Made Easy Series

A wrap-up of the Made Easy series that explains our origins, from the Big Bang to the human migration out of Africa.

 


Overall the content of this series is very well explained, in simple clear non-technical language.  The author was a scientific journalist and his skills from that profession show clearly.  Each one is just under 10 minutes long and if you only have time to watch a couple, I personally found videos 8 and 9 absolutely fascinating.  Also video 10, about the scientific method, is probably the best description I have seen on that topic.

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Comments»

1. Dale - July 10, 2008

“Forget gods and goblins”
“here is the real story”
“Throw away all those religious books and look at some hard evidence.”

Gee whiz – this kind of language is both annoying and hilarious at the same time. Keep on beating down the creationist straw man, I guess – it’s easy enough…

(btw, are these your words or are they from the videos? – If they’re from you, I’m quite disappointed… You’re generally fairly considerate… That insanely polemical language shows a very shallow and reactionary understanding of the issues at hand 🙂 )

2. Ian - July 10, 2008

It is only a straw man if you think that I am posting these to say “look at this argument, by disproving it I disprove everything about religion”. I think you know that I know better than that 🙂

That aside, these videos are quite different to the last series I posted about (Why Do People Laugh at Creationists) – they are positive statements of the scientific position with the reasons for them explained. Counters to common YEC claims are thrown in almost an afterthought in some of the videos but are not the main purpose. Their main purpose is explaining what science thinks, and they do it very well.

And no, they’re not my words, they are taken directly from the youtube video pages themselves as indicated in the post (and the fact they’re in blockquotes lol).

3. Dale - July 11, 2008

Cheers Ian,
Good to hear they weren’t your words (though agreement with them is implicit in your use of them?). 🙂

-d-

4. Ian - July 11, 2008

Let’s examine them shall we 🙂

Forget gods and goblins, here is the real story of how we know the extent of our universe in time and space.

All he is saying here is to forget the supernatural, come see the real story of how we know what we know about the world. It is certainly true that gods and goblins are not used in science to explain anything so setting those concepts aside makes sense when learning what science knows…

Throw away all those religious books and look at some hard evidence.

No matter which way you look at it, the bible and similar books are not hard evidence. At absolute best they are anecdotes, and the only way to confirm the accuracy of these anecdotes is to look somewhere else for confirmation. Therefore in order to understand the origins of the world the best thing we can do is to throw away those religious books (not to the trash, but away from the discourse) and actually look at the world around us. If after doing so we conclude that some super-mind was responsible, that there was a supernatural flood, that kinds can’t change into other kinds without supernatural intervention, or whatever, then we have hard evidence that matches the biblical account. But if we don’t, we are left with hard evidence vs anecdote and that is a rather one sided contest.

So yes, I agree with them. I probably wouldn’t phrase them that way myself but I don’t disagree with them.

5. Dale - July 11, 2008

Thanks Ian,
And what I’m saying is that because you know how silly such polemical language is, I would have thought you would have avoided such sponsorship of it.

If the documentary is truly about science (instead of being some mis-use of science against theism), then why comment at all about gods, or religious books?

If the documentary is wanting to provide scientific, empirically based, descriptions what we know about things – then it need not waste time bashing the spiritual, traditional and/or philosophical descriptions about things.

6. Ian - July 11, 2008

This seems like a rather pedantic discussion lol but I’ll go with it 🙂

You can argue against the use of such polemical language on the grounds that it is a poor tactic for effective communication (and I’d be inclined to agree in many cases), but you seem to be suggesting it is something more than that, perhaps that it is even offensive? Seems to me, given the material that is floating around on all sides, that these videos (and particularly those phrases) are pretty tame lol.

However whether these videos use entirely PC language or not is really something I couldn’t care less about – I am interested in the substantive content. And IMO the substantive content of these videos is of very high quality, hence why I am suggesting people might like to check them out.

7. Dale - July 11, 2008

the only reason I commented at all, was because I was surprised you would give sponsorship to such polemic language.

(I’m tempted to point out that such language reflects an opposite kind of ‘fundamentalism’, but I’m absolutely terrified of Damian invoking “Blake’s Law” on me…)

I noticed that the producer of these videos is keen for schools to use them. I presume he means in the science class? In this case, I think it’s fair to compare these videos (which contains good science, and [more than] hints against ‘gods’ and ‘religious books’) with the Privileged Planet (which also contains much good science, yet does hint at a philosophical idea of a designer).

My point: because these videos are spotted through with such comments, I think they’re fairly inappropriate for a science classroom.

8. Ian - July 11, 2008

IMO their substantive content is excellent and to be perfectly honest I think most of the videos would be perfectly fine in a classroom. The main thing that would be missing in a classroom would be the context to understand some of the banter aimed at YECists so this material should probably be removed for classroom purposes.

Having said that, I didn’t present these videos for kids to watch in a classroom, I presented them for people like ourselves to watch – people that know the context and who could learn from the videos.

Have you watched many of the videos? And if so what is your opinion of their substantive content?

9. Dale - July 11, 2008

No, I haven’t watched them, and I doubt I’ll bother. I don’t mean to utterly rubbish them – I’m sure they have value; it’s just that a) I prefer to use my time toward getting various books read (for personal interest and for study), and b) there are plenty of such things all over the place (heck, just on YouTube there are heaps!)…

And yes, I understand you didn’t present them for classroom use; I was just noting that ‘Potholer54’ was keen to see them used in that way…

10. Dale - July 11, 2008

Update: I watched the first one out of sheer curiosity.

It does present current scientific understanding of cosmology fairly well – or average; however, the philosophical biases against any kind of creator whatsoever (period, case-closed, if-you-think-this-you’re-nuts…) was not only annoying, but a mis-use of science and therefore not fit at all for the science classroom. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, either. For example, the ‘box-guessing’ taunting at the outset and conclusion pushed the level of philosophical bias from implicit to explicit…

My first impression (from merely reading your post) was confirmed – it is grossly over-polemical and completely un-fit for educational use.

11. Ian - July 12, 2008

I can accept that they are not ideal for the classroom, but then as I said before I’m not advocating them for that. Having said that I do not think you will find a better amateur production that explains these topics than this series of videos, and I would have thought (perhaps I am wrong) that most people would see beyond the polemic to the content.

12. Dale - July 12, 2008

Yeah, that’s sorta my point.
Their angsty, over-polemic nature is what marks them out as amateur.

13. Ian - July 12, 2008

No, the fact that they are not produced in a slick production facility for sale and distribution makes them amateur. However I’d argue science value of these videos is considerably higher than something like Privileged Planet which is why I posted them.

14. Dale - July 12, 2008

‘privileged planet’ and ‘made easy’ comparison:

1. Production quality (unfair comparison given budgets)
P.P. great – M.E. not

2. Appropriateness for a science classroom
P.P. somewhat – M.E. not at all
(P.P. does hint at designer, but the anti jabs of M.E. are immature)

3. Presentation of Scientific Information
Both OK – hard to compare because of different topics.

15. Ian - July 13, 2008

Except what science does PP cover? Very little when you boil it down, most of it is philosophy and generalisations. We are talking about explaining science here. ME does just that, it explains how it works and shows examples. PP works via assertion with very little explanation, and it gets several facts dead wrong along the way. In terms of science content it is an easy win to the ME series.

And by some strange coincidence it seems that I offered these videos because of their science content, not their production value or suitability for children 🙂

16. Dale - July 13, 2008

Cheers Ian,
-the reason I critiqued your use of the videos was because your thoughts normally are not immature jabs like that of the video(s)…

-the reason I critiqued the idea of classroom use was because ‘Potholer 54’ (not you) suggested it…

17. Ian - July 13, 2008

So I take it the “immature jabs” outweigh the significant science content of these videos for you? I personally learnt a lot for them so I will stand by my recommendation to check them out – take that how you will 🙂

18. Dale - July 14, 2008

nah, they’re just immature and amateur and they actually take away from the usefulness of the videos.
You (or anyone) could have learned a lot from many, many other science docos. Looking at your original post, however, one could deduce that it may well have been the ‘direct’ addressal of “a bunch of creationist claims” that sparked your interest?

19. Damian - July 18, 2008

For what it’s worth, I’ve watched all of these and think they’re excellent.

Dale, I can understand how you might rankle at the barbs against creationism included in these videos but I think that the science is well explained and that if it weren’t for the current atmosphere of anti-science being propagated by many of your fellow Christians those barbs wouldn’t have been included.

It’s education mixed with refutation and, like it or not, when the barbs are aimed at people who share similar beliefs to you it’ll hurt a little.

Thanks for the links Ian!

20. Dale - July 19, 2008

OK then! 😀


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