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Pro-Science News

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
Categories: Pro-Science News

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
Categories: Pro-Science News

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
Categories: Pro-Science News

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
Categories: Pro-Science News

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
Categories: Pro-Science News

A major new survey on religion and human origins

A new survey suggests that public attitudes toward religion and human origins are more diverse and less confident than the Gallup findings indicate. "It's important to know that a large portion of the population is unsure about their beliefs, and there is a large portion of the population that doesn't care," Jonathan P. Hill told the Atlantic (November 23, 2014), prior to the December 2, 2014, release of the National Study of Religion & Human Origins.

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A preview of The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview (PDF) of Robert Henson's The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change (American Meteorological Society, 2014).

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Ham-handed attack on governor of Kentucky

Panda's Thumb - Fri, 2014-11-28 09:35
Joe Sonka reported the other day in Insider Louisville that Ken Ham has now attacked his old friend, Steve Beshear, the governor of Kentucky. As Mr. Sonka puts it, Mr. Ham “penned a fundraising letter last week claiming the governor is launching a ‘massive attack’ on their religious freedom and persecuting his organization ‘because of our Christian message.’” Mr. Ham blames atheists and “secularists” for putting pressure on state government officials and avers that “our... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Analyzing the Genome with Statistics

Panda's Thumb - Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
This is the third 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 the challenges of using statistics to analyze phylogenomic data. Suppose you were a door manufacturer trying to figure out the average height of a population living in a certain country. You might conduct an experiment where you ask a group of people... Emily Thompson
Categories: Pro-Science News

Gilbert, Arizona, school district to abort page from biology textbook ...

Panda's Thumb - Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
… because it (gasp!) uses the word, “abortion.” But wait – there is a glimmer of hope: The new superintendent, who was ordered to offer a plan for redacting the textbooks, says that the books comply with the law already and instead plans to hold a public discussion. Meanwhile, as a service to the affected high-school students, Rachel Maddow has posted the offending page on a blog, ArizonaHonorsBiology.com, which her show apparently owns. If you... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Lenticular clouds

Panda's Thumb - Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
Interesting cloud formation, Boulder, Colorado. The camera is facing south, and the wind is coming from the west, or right. One hour later, in Golden,... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Evolution in a new PRRI survey

Attitudes toward evolution and the compatibility of science and religion were addressed in a new survey (PDF) from the Public Religion Research Institute (which, as NCSE previously reported, was mainly focused on climate change).  Presented with "Evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth," 24% of respondents completely agreed, 29% mostly agreed, 14% mostly disagreed, and 27% completely disagreed, with 5% of respondents saying that they didn't know or refusing to answer.

Categories: Pro-Science News

Climate change in a new PRRI survey

A new survey (PDF) from the Public Religion Research Institute hopes to help to explain, in the words of its report's subtitle, "Why Americans are Conflicted about Climate Change, Environmental Policy, and Science." Included in the survey was a series of questions probing beliefs about climate change and its causes.

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