Posted on January 13, 2014 * Comments


Posted on January 10, 2014 * Comments

Most people who have heard of Genie Scott know her as the public face, or perhaps the embodiment, of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). I can’t remember how many times over the years I’ve toldgenie someone, including teachers, scientists, or others one might expect to have heard of us, that I work “at NCSE,” only to receive a blank expression until I add the magic words “with Genie Scott.” Then they make the connection.

Posted on January 10, 2014 * Comments

With the polar vortex sweeping the nation, I thought I'd bring you a little greenery to brighten your day. Well, it was green a million years ago...or five million? Ten?

You tell me!  What was this festive plant, what epoch does it hail from, and if you are feeling particularly bold, where was this fossil found? First person to identify it gets bragging rights for the week!

Posted on January 09, 2014 * Comments

Call me a sybarite if you must, a crazed party animal, but I spent the evening of New Year’s Eve 2013 watching Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln (2012), which I missed when it was in the theaters. I enjoyed it quite a lot, especially because a large portion of my leisure reading over the last couple of years has been devoted to the American Civil War, and consequently I was in a better position to know who the various characters were and what their backgrounds were than the rest of the people watching the film with me. Did you know that Fernando Wood (played by Lee Place), the Democratic member of Congress who so memorably sparred with Thaddeus Stevens (played by Tommy Lee Jones), floated the idea that New York City should secede from the Union earlier in the war, when he was the city’s mayor? My knowledge of the Civil War era is not prodigious, though, and I didn’t see a lot to nitpick. Until Darwin made his indirect cameo appearance, that is.

Posted on January 08, 2014 * Comments

In my job as a programs and policy director here at NCSE, I hear a lot from educators who are interested in teaching about climate change, but don’t know where to start. This is particularly challenging for K–6 educators, who feel that the material may be too challenging for their students, or even too frightening. This is why I was delighted to hear from Kottie Christie-Blick, a 5th grade teacher from Blauvelt, New York.

Posted on January 07, 2014 * Comments

All mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language, and every chapter must be so translated…God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.  (John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation 17)

Posted on January 07, 2014 * Comments

Back in 2007 Oregon science teacher Greg Craven posted a video on YouTube called "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" weighing the pros and cons of taking climate change seriously by asking "what's the worst that could happen?"

His conclusion: it we don't take the possibility seriously and prepare, it could be catastrophic, and thus worth our attention.

Posted on January 07, 2014 * Comments

Physical model of a bacterial flagellum

As a dog returneth to his vomit, I seem to be returning to, if not my folly, then Michael Behe’s folly. (I was going to try a pun here with “folly” and “falsifiability”—possibly involving “follysifiability”—but it was too much of a strain.) Previously, I was examining Behe’s arguments about the falsifiability of “intelligent design” and what he calls “Darwinism” in a 2001 paper entitled “The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis.” I argued (in “Falsifia-behe-lity”) that his attempt to turn the tables, by contending that “intelligent design” is but “Darwinism” is not falsifiable, fails. And then I argued (in “Falsifia-behe-lity Revisited”) that his accusation that his critics are trying to have their cake and eat it too, by arguing that “intelligent design” is both falsified and unfalsifiable, also fails. But those discussions concentrated just on that 2001 paper, so I decided to take a look at Behe’s two books to see what, if anything, he says about falsifiability there.

Posted on January 06, 2014 * Comments

Last time we examined what creationists think about how the rocks of Grand Canyon were formed. Now we’re going to look at the fatal flaws in this creationist model, and why it doesn’t fit with what we see in Grand Canyon.

Posted on January 06, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I asked you to identify a little swimming reptile. What was it? Where was it from? When was it from?  So many questions!  And there were so many answers!  Mesosaurus? Plesiosaurus? Sloth?

Nope. It was the tiny Keichousaurus!  (No, I didn't just sneeze.) Keichousaurus was the genus of an aquatic reptile. This specimen was found in China and dates back to the Triassic.