In Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, civilizations on two different planets—because of a fundamental miscommunication—fought for thousands of years, destroying their entire galaxy. When they finally realized that the whole thing had been a ghastly mistake resulting from linguistic error, the two opposing battle fleets settled their few remaining differences...and launched a joint attack on our own Milky Way Galaxy:
After all the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes last week, I'm a little out of sorts, not as polished as I normally am. The solution? Presenting the most polished fossil I could find!
Polished, indeed, but what organism—or organisms—left this pattern behind? What period did it come from?
First one to correctly identify this fossil (in the comments section below), wins my glossy awe for the week.
It’s never certain what the response to a blog post will look like, of course; I understand that. When I wrote “Falsifia-behe-lity,” I didn’t anticipate that commenters, especially those on NCSE’s Facebook page, would be particularly interested in making NSFW conjectures about the illustration that accompanied the post.
So I’m skimming through the latest issue of the Institute for Creation Research’s monthly publication, Acts & Facts, chuckling over the convoluted treatment of ice ages (short story: they’re real, only the advances and contractions of the four Northern Hemispheric glaciers were really zippy, taking only a few hundred years) and other scientific zaniness, when a commentary caught my eye.
And finally the last installment in what proved to be a rather longer essay on Epperson v. Arkansas than I had originally anticipated. In part 1, posted on the forty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, I related how the state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution was enacted in the first place. In part 2, I discussed how the Arkansas Education Association engineered a challenge to the law, recruiting the Arkansas native Susan Epperson, a biology teacher at Central High School in Little Rock, to challenge its constitutionality. In part 3, I traced the legal history of the case, from the Pulaski County Chancery Court through the Arkansas Supreme Court to the United States Supreme Court, which struck down the law in a decision issued on November 12, 1968. And now I want to examine the aftermath of the Epperson decision, comparing the situation in Arkansas with that in the other two states with Scopes-era antievolution laws.
"A what?" he said.
"And what's that?"
"Somebody Else's Problem."
H. L. Mencken once wrote, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” (William Dembski mangles the quotation in The Design Revolution , as Jeffrey Shallit observed.) When it comes to the problem of creationism, the solution that meets Mencken’s criterion might be falsifiability.
About eleven miles past the launch point to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, boats just beginning their voyage down the turbulent, vermillion river often pull over to the left bank to examine a bedroom-sized slab of pale sandstone. This block of the Coconino Sandstone long ago detached from vertiginous cliffs high above, skidding to an off-kilter stop on layers of maroon shale. Rafters unaccustomed to walking on a swaying boat gingerly find their sea legs as they wend their way around bulky, unfamiliar gear.
Those of us who live and breathe climate and energy issues know the answer to typical pop quiz questions like, "What's the nation most responsible for climate change?" Well, the largest emitter of carbon into the atmosphere is currently China, but historically the United States is responsible for the lion's share, with nearly 30% of the total emitted since the mid-1800s.
But if the question is "which corporate entity wins the dubious distinction of being the largest contributor of carbon emissions to the atmosphere?" we might struggle more.