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Congratulations to Patricia Kelley

NCSE is pleased to congratulate Patricia Kelley — a professor of geology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and a member of NCSE's Advisory Council — on her selection as one of four Outstanding Professors of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

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Groundless Annual Ritual of ID Self-Congratulation

Panda's Thumb - Fri, 2014-12-19 20:46
(Reprinted from Recursivity.) As each year draws to a close, we can expect being treated to the annual ritual of self-congratulation by intelligent design advocates. Why, they have accomplished so much in the last year! The movement is simply overflowing with ideas! And honest, god-fearing people! And real scientists! And publishing successes! Not at all like those dogmatic, liberal, communistic, intolerant, censoring, Nazi-like evolutionists! 2014 is no different. Here we have the DI's official clown,... Jeffrey Shallit http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit
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Anti-NGSS bill dies in Michigan

Michigan's House Bill 4972, which would, if enacted, have required that Michigan's "model core academic curriculum standards shall not be based on the Next Generation Science Standards," died in the House Committee on Education when the legislature adjourned on December 19, 2014.

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A voice for evolution from Leeds

The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with a position statement on evolution from Leeds Museums and Galleries.

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Disappointing news from Scotland

The Scottish government rejected the proposal to ban the teaching of creationism in publicly funded schools in Scotland, according to the Glasgow Herald (December 16, 2014). The head of Curriculum Unit at the Learning Directorate told the newspaper, "I can ... confirm that there are no plans to issue guidance to schools or education authorities to prevent the presentation of creationism, intelligent design or similar doctrines by teachers or school visitors. The evidence available suggests that guidance on these matters is unnecessary."

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Ohio House Bill 597 dead, for now

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
The authors of House Bill 597, the anti-common core science distorting bill introduced in the Ohio legislature, is dead for now. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via NCSE), the bill won’t be debated or voted on this term. However, according to the bill’s author, Republican State Representative Andy Thompson, the issue will be revived in the next term of the Legislature. I’ll note that the Bill’s co-author, Republican Speaker Pro Tem Max Huffman, will... Richard B. Hoppe
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Phylogenomic Fallacies

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
This is the fourth in a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. Today, we talk about some common fallacies in phylogenomics. Where do humans fit on the evolutionary tree of life? This is an important topic in evolutionary biology. A lot of people believe humans are the most important and highly-evolved organisms, but in reality, all modern species are... Emily Thompson
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Libellula pulchella forensis

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
Libellula pulchella – eight twelve-spotted skimmer, Elmer’s Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado. See here for eight-spotted skimmer, L. forensis.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Ark Encounter threatens to sue state

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
Update, 12/11/2014, 12:30-ish MST: A Lexington Herald-Leader editorial has a [f]ew questions for Answers in Genesis, not least, Why does God need so much taxpayer help? Really, has God been so lame spreading the good news that AIG must “counter the myths floating around about the Bible-upholding Ark Encounter,” on a digital video board in New York’s Times Square? Does God need to be defended with the demagogic language AIG and its founder Ken Ham... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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High-power laser hints at origin of RNA

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
The Hebrew Bible says that God made humans from dust,* but maybe it was a slurry of clay and water. That is a tentative conclusion you might draw from an experiment that used a (very) high-powered laser beam to zap a suspension of clay in an aqueous solution of formamide, a very simple organic compound. The result has been reported in the press, but there is a somewhat more-precise article in Science magazine. (You may... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Meditation on The Mind's Eye

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
I am a physicist, with a specialty in optics, so I was especially interested in The Mind’s Eye, by Oliver Sacks (not to mention the less well known The Island of the Colorblind). The Mind’s Eye is a fascinating book about the visual system, many of the things that can go wrong with it, and what we learn from them. It is also the book in which Dr. Sacks reveals that he suffers from prosopagnosia,... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Antiscience bill dies in Ohio

Ohio's House Bill 597 — which if enacted would require students in the state's public schools to "review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories in the [state science] standards" — died in the legislature, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (December 15, 2014).

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Wyoming to unblock NGSS?

A bill to allow the Wyoming state board of education to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards will be introduced in the legislature, according to the Billings Gazette (December 15, 2014).

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No tax incentives for ark park

"Kentucky's Tourism Arts & Heritage Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart informed representatives of the proposed Ark Encounter tourist attraction today that their project will not be eligible for up to $18 million in tax incentives from the state, due to their refusal to pledge not to discriminate in hiring based on religion," Insider Louisville (December 10, 2014) reports.

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Kudos for Climate Smart & Energy Wise

NCSE's Mark McCaffrey's Climate Smart & Energy Wise: Advancing Science Literacy, Knowledge, and Know-How (Corwin Press, 2014) received a positive review from the National Science Teachers Association's NSTA Recommends.

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Opinion on evolution in Latin America

"Overall, Latin Americans embrace the idea that humans and other living things have evolved over time." That was the upshot of a Pew Research Center survey on "Religion in Latin America" (PDF) which included a question about evolution: "Thinking about evolution, which comes closer to your view? Human beings and other living things have evolved over time, or humans at other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

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The new Climate Education and Literacy Initiative

"[T]he White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) is launching a new Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change," according (PDF) to a December 3, 2014, press release from the White House. And NCSE is involved.

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Lawsuit over NGSS dismissed

A federal court dismissed a creationist lawsuit seeking to prevent Kansas from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards on the grounds that doing so would "establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview." In a December 2, 2014, order (PDF) in COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al., Judge Daniel D. Crabtree of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the case.

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Coyote Buttes

Panda's Thumb - Wed, 2014-12-03 05:18
Photograph by Vivian Dullien. Coyote Buttes, Arizona.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Was that Jesus (or Elvis) in that piece of toast?

Panda's Thumb - Wed, 2014-12-03 05:18
Credit: Abnormal Interests. Creative Commons copyright CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US. Kang Lee, a 2014 Ig Nobel Prize* winner, asks, “Have you ever seen the face of Jesus on toast? No? … Your brain is completely normal if you see nonexistent faces in everyday objects. In fact, if you don’t, your brain may actually lack the essential ingredients for a vivid imagination.” The research was actually mildly interesting, if unsurprising. I could not read the original... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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