There’s a lot of hyperventilation in the science world lately about reproducibility. Oh, sorry, is my bias showing? If you read this in Scientific American, or this in The New York Times, or this in The Economist, you might think that the entire scientific enterprise is an exercise in futility, or perhaps, even, a world of utterly depraved carelessness, incompetence, and blind ambition.
Leafing through Robert Patterson’s The Errors of Evolution (third edition, 1893), I noticed a really silly argument in a footnote. To be fair, it isn’t Patterson’s argument; it occurs in the editorial preface to the second edition, due to H. L. Hastings (1831–1899), a Boston-based evangelist and publisher. But it isn’t Hastings’s argument, either; he credits it to J. B. Robinson’s Infidelity Answered. The full title of Robinson’s book turns out to be Infidelity Answered by the Father-God and His Family (1875), and Robinson himself is identified on its title page as the “Rev. John B. Robinson, A.M., President of New-Hampshire Conference Seminary and Female College,” a Methodist institution in Tilton, New Hampshire. Robinson was born in 1834 and died in 1912. Take a deep breath, because it’s about to get really silly.
Natural selection is part of every state’s high school science standards, but that doesn’t mean we teachers are always successful in connecting our students with the topic. If your students are like mine, I’m sure you get some disconcerting responses when you ask them to explain how a feature of a species, like the dark color of peppered moths, could have evolved by natural selection. For example, one student wrote, “The moth most likely changed color due to the fact that its environment did as well.
I am, as regular readers of the Science League of America know, a regular Science Friday listener. I don’t always listen on Friday, but I do always listen, eventually.
A class action lawsuit over an ounce of pepper? Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
It’s the ophiuroid Geocoma carinata! (Synonyms include Ophiocten kelheimense, Ophiopinna derecta, Ophiopsammus kelheimens, Sinosura derecta, Sinosura kelheimense, and Sinosura kelheimensis, so give yourself partial credit if you mentioned any of them, but not full credit, since these are all now defunct names.)
A philosophical question for you: Why do stories about dinosaur extinction bring out the punster in headline writers? In other news, we have a wealth of interesting stories for you this week plus a bonus adorable video. WAAAAY cuter than kittens.
It’s that time of year again. The time when the Earth starts to wake up. Flowers are popping, bees are buzzing, and everyone (humans and animals alike) is emerging from their homes, rubbing their eyes and thinking…yikes, where have I been all year?!