Posted on August 17, 2015 * Comments
1945 poster by Youthbuilders. Shows a wounded soldier in the background with white and black arms reaching out holding vials of blood. Text reads: "It's All The Same To Them…and to science too. Science has proven in chemical physical and microscopic tests that white and negro blood is identical."Poster distributed by Youthbuilders, the student group from New York City's PS 43, to protest segregated blood banks. Produced in 1945, reproduced here from the YWCA of the U.S.A. Records, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College. The poster was distributed along with copies of YWCA’s play “Blood Doesn’t Tell."

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.

Posted on August 17, 2015 * Comments

Today we return to last Friday’s particularly colorful specimen.



Posted on August 14, 2015 * Comments

This week on Fossil Friday we have an unusually colorful specimen. Take a look!


Posted on August 13, 2015 * Comments

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.

Posted on August 12, 2015 * Comments

Cover of The Dante Club

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.

Posted on August 12, 2015 * Comments

When you think of climate change and animals, what do you think of? Birds? Butterflies? Maybe if you’re a biologist. But most people think of… yes, you guessed it, polar bears.

Posted on August 11, 2015 * Comments

Do me a favor. Go to your favorite search engine and enter “vaccines.” Then click on “images.”

Go ahead. I’ll wait.


Want to slap your forehead? Now search for images of “childhood vaccination.” I’ll wait again.

Posted on August 11, 2015 * Comments

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.

Posted on August 10, 2015 * Comments

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.

Posted on August 10, 2015 * Comments

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?