Why are people creationists? Like most of my colleagues at NCSE, I get that question a lot. Chris Mooney recently summarized some of the psychological research relevant to that question in a recent post at Mother Jones. “Our brains,” he writes, “are a stunning product of evolution; and yet ironically, they may naturally pre-dispose us against its acceptance.” Why? Because evolution contradicts many of our intuitions and cognitive biases.
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.
I learned about some new research on meteorologists’ views about climate change when Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society, posted a rebuttal to denialist misrepresentations of the research.
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.