I have so much to do, readers, with work up to my eyeballs. I need to stay on task and to keep focused! And I was attempting to do just that when an e-mail popped into my inbox with the subject “Worst example of evolution misconception.” It was sent by Ralph Bouquet, with whom I worked on the NOVA evolution lab and blogs about evolution misconceptions, so I figured I shouldn’t ignore it. I opened it. And in it was a link—a link to a virtual nightmare.
Last week I gave you nothing but a shadow (and an epoch) and asked you to identify the casting fossil. Not at all to my astonishment, many of you got it. What exactly was it? A brachiopod, of course! When my paleo-memory was failing me, I had to describe it to curator Jessica as “one of those things that looks like the Batman symbol.” Miraculously, she understood me.
David Bowie told Vanity Fair in 1998 that his idea of perfect happiness was reading, and he certainly looks happy in the iconic poster from the American Library Association. Go, and do thou likewise.
Who knows what evil lurks in the Upper Devonian?
In “A Ringer in the Contest” (part 1; part 2), I mentioned T. T. Martin (the initials are for Thomas Theodore), who enterprisingly entered a contest conducted by the original Science League of America. Addressing the topic “Why Evolution Should Be Taught in Our Schools Instead of the Book of Genesis,” Martin cleverly appealed to the precedent of Jesus’s rejection of tradition to argue for the rejection of the Genesis account, taken literally, in favor of evolution. But it was odd for him to enter the contest, even (as he did) under a pseudonym, because Martin was (as Ronald L. Numbers writes in The Creationists ) “among the earliest and most outspoken critics of evolution…an itinerant evangelist with a reputation for combining doctrinal fanaticism with compassionate Christianity,” and the author of the unforgettably titled Hell and the High Schools (1923), which complained, “Evolution and the teaching of Evolution in tax-supported schools is the greatest curse that ever fell upon this earth.”
Valerie First is a docent at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, in Sanford, Florida, and the Orlando Science Center. She earned her BA degree from the University of Florida and is a member of the Florida Fossil Hunters, Tampa Bay Fossil Hunters, the Florida Paleontological Society, and American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Over the years as a docent, she has had to battle misconceptions about evolution and been confronted by a public unsupportive of the science.
Scott Richard Shaw’s Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects uses the ascendance of insects as a lens through which to view the evolution of life on planet earth.
It's not a huge surprise to anyone who knows me that I spend way too much time on Facebook. And so, of course, I’m familiar with the page “I F*cking Love Science”. For those who don’t know, this popular page, followed by over twenty million people, posts science related photographs and interesting facts. In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a lot of criticism of this page amongst my friends on my feed. Some people think it’s too shallow, or that it doesn’t have much to do with “actual science”. This sentiment isn't exactly new.