In recent weeks I’ve been simultaneously accused of “whitewashing scientific racism” (by a creationist) and “social-justice breast-beating” for blaming “black religionists’ rejection of evolution on the racism of scientists” (by an evolutionary biologist, though I actually had written “racism in science”). Both can’t be right, and indeed neither is, but that’s not the point. Understanding why both are wrong will illuminate some common creationist misconceptions, and hopefully reveal some pathways that science communicators might find useful in outreach to African American audiences.
Today we return to last Friday’s particularly colorful specimen.
This week on Fossil Friday we have an unusually colorful specimen. Take a look!
I love biology in general, and evolutionary science in particular. As a biology major in college, I came to understand how evolution truly ties together all branches of the biological sciences. I find great comfort and peace in the concept that we are connected to all of nature, and by extension, to the entire universe.
The evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s simply not the case that I select my leisure reading with a keen eye to the possibility of developing a theme for a blog post from it. And yet here I am again, with a copy of Matthew Pearl’s historical novel The Dante Club (2003) at hand. Set in Boston, Massachusetts, and its environs after the close of the Civil War, The Dante Club takes a historical episode of which I was ignorant—the controversial translation of Dante’s Divina Commedia by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with the aid of a circle of friends, including James Russell Lowell (later one of Darwin’s pallbearers)—and interweaves it with a fictional mystery involving the gruesome murders of a number of prominent Bostonians in ways reminiscent of the punishments accorded to the sinners in the Inferno. Honestly, I had no idea when I removed the book from the shelf at the library that it would afford any fodder for the Science League of America.
Do me a favor. Go to your favorite search engine and enter “vaccines.” Then click on “images.”
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
OMG HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SO MANY NEEDLES IN YOUR WHOLE LIFE!!!??!?!?!?
Want to slap your forehead? Now search for images of “childhood vaccination.” I’ll wait again.
Josh Rosenau sent this to Glenn Branch who sent it to me. What is “this”? It’s The Cartoon Guide to Vertebrate Evolution by artist Albertonykus (real name Albert Chen), an undergraduate student in geology at the University of Maryland. About this amazing creation, he writes on his Deviant Art Gallery page:
In which I discover the pain of drawing non-avemetarsalian archosauriforms (so many osteoderms!) and ungulates.
NCSE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so we can’t endorse candidates. Exactly what that entails is tricky, but it means we generally don’t jump in on campaign events. What happened at last week’s first Republican primary debate is so important as to make that moot.
Because they simply didn’t talk about science.
Spent the last two hours watching GOP debate to factcheck on science, climate & environment issues. Nothing said, nothing to do.
This week’s fossil comes from the Ediacara Hills in southern Australia. The so-called Ediacaran fauna are a strange set of multicellular organisms that date back, way back, to before the Cambrian “explosion” made famous by the Burgess Shale. The Ediacaran critters are about 560 million years old, which places them in the Ediacaran (also called Vendian) period of the Proterozoic Eon of the Pre-Cambrian Era. (Got that?