Padian featured in SVP video


A video project from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology devotes a segment to discussing paleontology, evolution, and creationism. The thirty-three-minute video, entitled "We Are SVP," debuted on the society's website on October 29, 2008. According to a press release, "This video celebrates the extraordinary world of vertebrate paleontology and provides a unique glimpse into the diversity of its scientists and pursuits." Blaire Van Valkenburgh, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and current president of SVP, commented, "This video gives the public the inside story on our membership — why they became paleontologists, what inspires their research and what they do on a day-to-day basis."

Featured in the segment on evolution and creationism is Kevin Padian, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, curator of paleontology at the University of California Museum of Paleontology, and president of NCSE's board of directors. Padian commented, "Antievolutionists have no problem with change within a species; they just think it's noise in the system. They don't like it when they see new species, when we talk about a new species evolving. And they sure don't like it when we talk about natural processes making birds and dinosaurs and mammals and things like that. But the evidence is there. And we have terrific methods and approaches, all kinds of things that work together to give us really good complex information on these questions."

In the video, Padian also discussed his testimony in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in which he "spent a whole day showing the judge what we know about evolution that's not at the population level." (His testimony, together with the slides he showed to the court, is available on the NCSE website.) "If we can put this [the paleontological evidence for evolution] in front of the public, we'll win. We'll have a much better public understanding of evolution and of science in general," Padian said. Also appearing are the paleontologists Richard K. Stucky (a Supporter of NCSE), Guillermo W. Rougier, Tyler R. Lyson, Claudia A. Marsicano, Anthony R. Fiorillo, Robert T. Bakker, and Donald R. Prothero — as well as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a paleontology fan.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is the leading North American scientific and educational organization concerned with vertebrate paleontology. According to its position statement on evolution education, "Evolution is fundamental to the teaching of good biology and geology ... Any attempt to compromise the patterns and processes of evolution in science education, to treat them as less than robust explanations, or to admit 'alternative' explanations not relying upon sound evolutionary observations and theory, misrepresents the state of our science and does a disservice to the public." The SVP also recently urged the state of Louisiana to repeal its recently enacted antievolution law.