Posted on May 22, 2015 * Comments

Jehovah's Witnesses are an outlier for their views on evolution and climate change. Click image for more background. One of the first things I (and many others) noticed about the graph of various American religious groups’ views on evolution and the environment was how much of an outlier Jehovah’s Witnesses are. They are, on average, quite supportive of environmental policies, while vigorously anti-evolution. Most other denominations show a strong correlation between the two sets of attitudes.

Posted on May 21, 2015 * Comments

H. H. Newman, Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives

“Reluctant as he may be to admit it, honesty compels the evolutionist to admit that there is no absolute proof of organic evolution” (emphasis in original). That’s a passage from H. H. Newman’s essay “Is Organic Evolution an Established Principle?” published as chapter 4 in his 1921 collection Readings in Evolution, Genetics, and Eugenics.

Posted on May 20, 2015 * Comments

Eight years ago, the Pew Research Center released a massive survey of American religion. Pew’s researchers surveyed over 35,000 people, a massive sample that was necessary to give representative subsamples of even the smallest of religious denominations. By contrast, most public opinion surveys sample 600-1000 people. This week, they did it again, publishing initial findings from their survey of 35,071 Americans.

Posted on May 19, 2015 * Comments

I am excited to finally be able to share this resource with you! I’ve been working as an advisor on the project for several months and have seen it evolve from rough scripts to its gorgeous finished project. What is it, you ask? It’s the latest online lab from the brains at NOVA—the topic? Evolution, of course!

Posted on May 18, 2015 * Comments

you  have died of dysenteryA pair of fierce, angry eyes followed me as I moved toward the exit of the conference room.

Posted on May 15, 2015 * Comments

Let it be known that I love, love, love Tobin Grant’s work at Religion News Service. The political scientist at Southern Illinois University examines the role of religion in politics (and vice versa) using beautiful and informative data visualizations. I’m particularly enamored of this graphic, showing how members of different denominations fall out in terms of belief that the government should provide more services, compared to the degree to which they believe the government should promote morality.

I love it so much, in fact, that I decided to make my own version, exploring church memberships’ views on evolution and other scientific topics.

So I downloaded the 2007 version of Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey (a new version of this survey was just published, but the raw data aren’t available, nor have results from any questions on evolution been published), and broke it down the same way Grant did.

Plot of religious groups’ attitudes on the environment vs. evolution

Posted on May 14, 2015 * Comments

In previous installments, my friend Corwin Sullivan of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing, China and I covered the basics about everybody’s new favorite batwinged dino-pigeon Yi qi. In Part 1, we discussed what’s so special about it, and in Part 2, what we know about how it might have flown and why we don’t know more.

Posted on May 13, 2015 * Comments

In Part 1, I introduced you to my friend Corwin Sullivan of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing, China, co-describer of the enigmatic Yi qi fossil that hit the media last week. Yi qi—the name means, roughly, “strange wing”—is a close bird relative with wings sort of like those of a bat. So naturally, everyone wants to know if and how this critter flew.

Posted on May 12, 2015 * Comments

Frederick Bridge, via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t want to be morbid, so blame Dan Coleman, who, commenting on part 1 of “Darwin’s Pallbearers,” asked, “Will you also include the anthem that was specially commissioned and written for his funeral?” Well, okay.