In which the common wood frog launches us into a discussion about complexity: what is it, has it been increasing over evolutionary time, and if so... why?
The recent death of Eugenie Clark, the famous ichthyologist, was sad news, though not unexpected. After a very full and productive life, she died at 92. Her passing reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2011 that I thought I might share with you on the Science League of America. Read on.
“Why Are There No Penguins at the North Pole?”—a February 6, 2015, article in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano by Carlo Maria Polvani, a biochemist-turned-priest working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State—raises a good question, although in the service of a bad agenda. The agenda isn’t creationism: Polvani correctly describes evolution as “shared by the majority of the scientific community” and moreover cites Pope John Paul II’s 1996 Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as sufficient to show that “few today doubt the evolution of life on Earth.” Rather, the agenda is opposition to “Darwinism,” which he defines as holding that there are “two, and only two, forces to explain the phenomenon of evolution,” namely chance, “which creates diversity at the genotypic level,” and selection, “which supports the emergence of the phenotypes most likely to guarantee survival.”
Full disclosure: I ran the four-part (newly renamed!) natural selection misconception diagnostic because my idea well had run dry. I was hoping that by retreading some old misconception tropes, I would get inspired. Imagine my delight, then, when Larry Moran gave me an idea for this post in the comments.
“I has told you five or six times,” he said, “and the third will be the last.”
The BFG, from Roald Dahl’s book of the same name
The Discovery Institute is usually a reliable source of humorous “breathtaking inanity,” and this Darwin Day I wasn’t disappointed by its seasonal contribution to the festivities.
It wasn’t that long ago that I took to this blog to nominate the Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Wade for having “the worst idea ever” about evolution education, namely to somehow appease creationists with the ol’ “don’t worry, evolution is just a theory” trick. To be honest, I was still scratching my head over that one, when I was forced to redirect my incredulity to another humdinger in the pages of the WSJ.