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Jason Rosenhouse is calling it a day. His EvolutionBlog is ceasing publication. Jason is one of the veterans in the evolution/creationism wars, dating back to his postdoc at Kansas State around 14 years ago, when he got involved with the Kansas Board of Education’s efforts to pollute the teaching of biology with creationism. While Jason blogged on other topics–chess, religion, math–for our purposes here let it be remarked that Jason is one of the most... Richard B. Hoppe
Dan Phelps, who visited the Ark Park on opening day, has published a longer account, Kentucky Gets an Ark-Shaped Second Creation “Museum” on the website of the National Center for Science Education. The article has lots of detail and many more interesting pictures than we ran on PT. One section that especially amused me was the Ark Park’s attack on what you might call cutesy children’s books that tell the Noah story – which Mr.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Joel Velasco of Texas Tech University will debate Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute on the topic, “Is Darwin’s theory flourishing or floundering?” according to an article by Victoria Cavazos in Hilltop Views, the student newspaper of St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas. We will not discuss whether it is floundering or foundering; it is doing neither, and 11 science faculty expressed their opposition to the debate, which they called a “debate.” The signatories to... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Interesting and important program, Science in the crosshairs, on Science Friday today. Host Ira Flatow interviewed Michael Mann of hockey-stick fame, virologist Carolyn Coyne, Lauren Kurtz of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, and surgery resident Eugene Gu, who is also the founder of a startup called Ganogen. The impetus for the program, or at least one of the impetuses, was a blizzard of subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Susan Gilman. Eggs of Chrysoperla sp. – green lacewing.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
I just received an e-mail (along with half a million of my best friends) from Shawn Otto, the founder of sciencedebate.org, touting his recent article, “A plan to defend against the war on science,” in Scientific American. I thought it was a good article, but a plan it is not; the “plan” shows up in the second-last paragraph and says only, There are solutions, however. Sciencedebates.org [sic] is certainly a start. Evidence shows the public... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Dan Phelps, President of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, invites us to watch a YouTube presentation of a paper he and his colleagues, Kent Ratajeski and Joel Duff, presented at the recent national meeting of the Geographical Society of America. Watch it and, as Professor Ratajeski says, you can save the $40 admission fee, plus the $10 parking fee. And you will also find certain creationist myths debunked by these scientists, two of whom, Professors... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Barbara Gilman. Notophthalmus viridescens – red eft, Monroe, New York. The red eft is a juvenile stage of the eastern newt. We used to see many of them in that area, but now they have become uncommon. While we are on the subject of evolution, eft and newt, the words, share a common ancestor. The middle English word for newt was ewte, depending whose spelling you like, and I assume the double-u was... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Of course, it never really disappeared, as Michael Zimmerman notes in an article in the Huffington Post this past week. I will not go into detail, but according to Professor Zimmerman, a committee of the Texas State Board of Education had voted 6-2 to remove four standards that had been added in 2009, more or less at the last minute. Suffice it to say that the standards had been supported by Don McLeroy when he... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
NCSE informs us that Cope vs. Kansas State Board of Education, which we reported on here and here, has been appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals had upheld the District Court’s earlier dismissal of the case, largely on the basis of standing. Here, with permission, is NCSE’s report on the appeal: COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al., the creationist lawsuit seeking to reverse Kansas’s 2013 decision... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
By Gaythia Weis. An uproar fanned by the right-wing media has left a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor and two instructors with quite a tightrope walk. The uproar involves an online humanities and environmental health class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, entitled “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age.” The three faculty members (and others) may have to walk softly when teaching courses that may be a subject of public controversy.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Science Debate questions and answers here. I have not read the responses yet. From a press release we received this morning from Science Debate: U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer ScienceDebate 2016 Questions WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2016 –Three of the four major candidates for United States president have responded to America’s Top 20 Presidential Science, Engineering, Technology, Health and Environmental Questions. The nonprofit advocacy group ScienceDebate.org has posted their responses online at http://sciencedebate.org/20answers. Hillary Clinton, Donald... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Vivian Dullien. Photography contest, finalist. Selasphorus platycerus – broad-tailed hummingbird, male.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Paul Burnett. Photography contest, finalist. Charadrius vociferus – killdeer standing her ground, protecting her eggs from a vicious photographer three feet away.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Advocates for canonizing Marguerite d’Youville hired a hematologist to decide why a woman had recovered from incurable leukemia after praying to the aforementioned d’Youville. The hematologist, Jacalyn Duffin, warned the investigators that she was an atheist. The investigators reasoned that if an atheist could not figure out why the woman had recovered, then obviously the recovery must have been a miracle. The hematologist went further and investigated hundreds of “miracles” in the archives of the... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Richard Meiss. Photography contest, finalist. Scudderia sp. – Scudder’s bush katydid nymph, bedded down for the night in the flower of a lily (Lilium maculatum [?]). Not shown in this view are the several species of ants that have also found this refuge to be congenial. For (temporarily) flightless insects, such cover must have some survival value.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Dan Moore. Photography contest, finalist. Macaca fuscata – snow monkey, or Japanese macaque, mountains of Nagano, Japan, due west of Tokyo, March, 2016. These monkeys have adapted to the cold more than any other subspecies, and they have adapted to almost totally ignoring humans (which is good for photography).... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
I just saw my colleague Paul Strode, with whom I wrote a book a few years ago. Knowing my interest in pseudoscience, Mr. Dr. Science Teacher (the name of his blog) directed me to his article Acupuncture Study as a Cure for Pseudoscientific Thinking. The article is, I think, really two articles. The first describes an experiment that his students perform, but he sets it up so that they generally overlook one important variable. The... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Neil Taylor. Photography contest, finalist. A group of (shortly to be long distance running*) Homo sapiens enjoying the sunset at Chapman’s Peak, Capetown. Chapman’s Peak is an offshoot to Table Mountain and hence has the same geology. There is a famous and very beautiful road between Noordhoek and Hout Bay which has been cut right into the vertical cliff which makes up the southern side of the peak. The photo is at one... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Photograph by Al Denelsbeck. Photography contest, runner-up. Lyssomanes viridis – magnolia green jumping spider, juvenile female. All jumping spiders have excellent binocular vision for use in obtaining food, but since the cornea is a fixed part of the exoskeleton, the eyes must move internally. With the magnolia green jumpers, the exoskeleton is translucent enough to allow the internal movement of the eyes to be seen, and they can move independently. I had captured this one... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Antievolutionists Say the Darndest Things
Antievolutionists often express outrage over alleged incivility from those who oppose their efforts to evade the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But they have no difficulty in dishing out the abuse themselves. Here is a sample from the Invidious Comparisons thread that documents egregious behavior on the part of the religious antievolution advocates.
One thing that Jack Krebs and I agree with is that Pratt can be likened to an outpost under siege in a cultural war.
My wife and I just returned from a trip to Belgium. We visited Bastogne where a few brave Americans of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the German Army during the battle of the bulge. The German attack was led by a crack SS unit that took no prisoners.
What were we fighting against in Bastogne? We were fighting against a Nazi regime that used the philosophy of Naturalism to justify a eugenics program of terrifying proportions. Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena result only from the laws of chemistry and physics and that teleological or design explanations are not valid. Naturalism is not science. It is a belief system.
In the same manner, the defenders in Pratt are fighting against Naturalism, although they may not realize it. Rather than fighting against science, they are actually fighting for science. They are fighting for science that is driven by logic and critical thinking rather than by a philosophy that teaches to the exclusion of all other teachings that we are the products of only chance and necessity. They are fighting for science that is driven by the scientific method rather than science that is driven by a philosophy of Naturalism.
Rather than using logic and good science to support its assault on the brave contingent in Pratt, the KCFS is using tactics one would expect from those that besieged Bastogne: scare tactics, misinformation and no substantive discussion of the real issues.
So, we are back looking at Pratt as the bombs fall. The question is whether the Board and the Community will be supported by the rest of us as they have had the guts that General McAullife and the other brave Americans had that cold winter day in Bastogne 54 years ago. McAullife's reply was very simple when asked to surrender: "Nuts!" McAullife and the 101st were subsequently relieved by elements of Patton's Third Army. In the same way we all need to rise up and put our hands together for the Pratt Board and Pratt Citizens that have just characterized the outrageous censorship by the science establishment as "Nuts!"