Last week I said that “What We’re Reading” was going to take a break for Black Friday. But have you seen how crowded the stores are? (You could shop on-line, of course, and—ahem—take a moment to benefit NCSE by shopping at AmazonSmile. Unlike these fellows, who are reading on a different South American river: the Orinoco.) Anyhow, NCSE found a lot of interesting articles this week. Here are a few of them. Feel free to share articles that crossed your screen in the comment section, or e-mail us directly during the week with things that caught your eye. We’ll add the best to our weekly posts.
Can you identify this handsome Cambrian fellow from his or her headshot?
In chapter 19 of Being as Communion (2014), the “intelligent design” promoter William A. Dembski returns to METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL, a string of letters that owes its fame to The Blind Watchmaker (1986), by Richard Dawkins with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare. In The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins illustrates the power of repeated bouts of variation and selection by showing how the famous phrase from Hamlet can be generated from a randomly generated sequence of twenty-eight letters and spaces by a simple algorithm. “If evolutionary progress had had to rely on single-step selection, it would never have got anywhere,” Dawkins concludes. “If, however, there was any way in which the necessary conditions for cumulative selection could have been set up by the blind forces of nature, strange and wonderful might have been the consequences” (emphasis in original)—including, as it happens, the whole splendid diversity of life.
Last week, I wrote about Congressman Lamar Smith’s (R-Tex and chairman of the House Science Committee) Congressional subpoena for all correspondence related to a paper from this June that yet again debunked the persistent false claim that global warming has been on “pause” since 1998. Congressman Smith rejects the scientific conclusions, preferring instead to believe that NOAA scientists and officials have colluded to change data to further what he calls President Obama’s “climate change agenda” but what is actually, um—how to put this diplomatically?—the scientific reality. There is simply no evidence to substantiate his conspiracy theories, and overwhelming evidence against them.
There are few holidays I love as much as Thanksgiving. If I go to someone else’s house and thus don’t have turkey and stuffing and pie leftovers, I’ll make my own the next day and keep the holiday going.
If you could send a message to yourself in the past, what would it say? Would you tell yourself not to miss that trip to Fire Island where you met your future husband? Would you say to take the risk and see what happens on that trip to Europe? Would you urge yourself to never, ever eat that many nachos again?
Science frequently challenges our intuitive understanding of the world. Even as an adult, I am constantly confronted with new scientific advancements and discoveries that don’t always line up with my preconceived notions. Such ideas are considered counterintuitive because they present themselves in ways that are counter to one's intuitive notions or “gut feelings.”
Here’s another look at our specimen from last Friday, this time with scale and all:
If you couldn’t identify it before, you probably can now, with those lower lobes in there. It’s a clam! A clam with the completely metal name of Retroceramus lucifer.
It’s almost Thanksgiving! Here are a few articles NCSE staff came across this week, for you to read while your turkey roasts. No “What We’re Reading” next week—you’re on your own. You should probably take a walk after that big dinner anyway...