"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.
It's a joy to be able to report on a sweeping victory for science education in Texas, and to be able to give an eyewitness report of the fight over the textbooks that will be used in that massive textbook market for years to come. The 2009 battle over Texas science standards made it quite possible that the textbooks adopted last week would be riddled with creationist claims, or would give creationist board members a toehold to demand that publishers rewrite their books or be left off of the state's approved list.
The saga continues! In part 1, posted on the forty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Epperson v. Arkansas, 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. The trial, before Morris O. Reed of the Pulaski County Chancery Court, began on April 1, 1966. The date was significant, according to Edward J. Larson’s Trial and Error (third edition, 2003): “The trial judge made no secret of his contempt for the old statute—he even scheduled the trial for April Fools’ Day, allowing the case only one day rather than the two weeks requested by the state for presenting scientific arguments against evolution.”
Bravely bold Sir Robin
Rode forth from Camelot
He was not afraid to die, oh brave Sir Robin
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin
Gobble gobble! Happy almost-Thanksgiving, everyone! In celebration of one of my favorite turkey-related holidays, I've decided to give you a turkey of a fossil. Well, no, it's not a fossilized turkey, but it is about the size of a turkey. In fact, UCMP describes this guy as "extremely bird-like"!
So who was this fellow? What period is he from? How would he have tasted with a little cranberry sauce?
When there’s something strange in your neighborhood school, who you gonna call? If there’s something weird in your kid’s homework and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? If you’re seeing creationist bills running through your legislature, who you gonna call?
Hopefully, my modest changes to those classic lyrics have you shouting “NCSE!” rather than “Ghostbusters!”