In Miller’s Crossing (1990), one of my favorite movies of all time, the corrupt chief of police O’Doole speculates that the boss of the town, Leo O’Bannon, is losing his grip, whereupon O’Bannon’s right-hand man Tom Reagan reproaches him, ending, “there are plenty of coppers I know who wouldn’t mind bein’ chief and could swallow it clean.” Hastily backpedaling, O’Doole protests, “Jesus, Tom, I was just speculatin’ about a hypothesis.” Here, however, I’m going to speculate not about a hypothesis but about the concept of a hypothesis.
I love desktop sticky notes. I use them for everything, including keeping track of ideas for Misconception Monday posts. At the top of the stack is this: “Things that people think are controversial but aren’t (peppered moth, horse evolution, embryos, etc.).” I realize, however, that these topics aren’t exactly misconceptions as much as they are examples of what happens when a little bad journalism or sloppy science runs amok. But they’re still worth talking about, so I’ve opted to go ahead anyway.
This week on Fossil Friday, I went out on a limb and gave you what I thought would be an easy paw of an answer. But no—people actually found this one tricky! We got a vote for a Dimetrodon and a vote for a Eusuchia, but a mystery guest was the first to get the closest with “cave bear.” And it turns out it is a bear—a short-faced bear (Arctodus sp.).
Worried that K-12 students aren't learning about climate change? Guess what—neither are college grads. Grads with BS and MS and PhD degrees in biology, ecology, and related subjects. At least, it seems that way.
At a recent Ecological Society of America conference, I interviewed scores of upper division students, recent college grads, and ecology professors who dropped by NCSE's booth.
This week on the Fossil Friday, I give you one more item from our fossil friend, Gerald. This one I love—long, thin phalanges with nails that are deeply in need of a manicure. Can you tell from this photo what it was? Any guesses what it ate? How it moved? Where it lived?
In my last post, “The Curious Incident of the Fly in the Night,” I told a story about Mimi Shirasu-Hiza as an example of how scientists sometimes find that—in Shirasu-Hiza’s words—“what might look like ‘noise’ is potentially ‘signal’.’” Noting that her fruit flies were more likely to get sick and die if they were infected at nighttime led her to important discoveries about the effects of circadian rhythm on immune response.
I’m continuing to discuss a strange misquotation of Charles Darwin by William Jennings Bryan: “I deserved to be called an atheist.”