Visitors to Grand Canyon gaze awestruck at vermillion rock layers stacked like plates, one after another from rim to gorge, an endless parade of Earth’s history basking in the fierce Arizona sun. Beholding Grand Canyon can really make you stop and think. You think of how the expanse of time represented by those layers dwarfs the pitiful few score years we are privileged to meander the surface.
In various posts here, I’ve mentioned Luther Tracy Townsend’s Collapse of Evolution (1905), which, as Ronald L. Numbers notes in The Creationists (1992), “assembled one of the earliest—and most frequently cribbed—lists in order to prove that ‘the most thorough scholars, the world’s ablest philosophers and scientists, with few exceptions, are not supporters, but assailants of evolution.’” It wasn’t until I was eating lunch yesterday, though, that I actually read the book—as reprinted in Antievolutionism Before World War I (1995), edited by Numbers—cover to cover. There weren’t a lot of surprises in it, but I was interested to note, toward the conclusion, the claim that “every leading naturalist is echoing the words of … St. George Mivart: ‘I cannot call it [Darwin’s theory] anything but a puerile hypothesis” (brackets substituted for parentheses).
Just a quick note to say goodbye and thank you to Tom Magliozzi, one half of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and co-host, with his brother Ray, of the popular NPR call-in show "Car Talk". Tom’s death from complications of Alzheimer’s disease was announced yesterday.
Last week on Fossil Friday, I suggested that the fossil in question might come from a grazer that once pranced across what is now Nevada. What was it? Well, it came from the antilocapridae family.
From the University of Texas:
Don’t you just hate it when people reject settled science and mountains of evidence? Oh, wait, I know you do.You once decked a moon landing denialist who was pestering you to swear on a Bible that you really did go to the moon.
This week on the fossil Friday, I bring you a bone from the Hemphillian North American Stage (about 5-10 million years ago) found in what is now Nevada. If I was a gambling lady, I’d say that this animal was a lightweight runner, possibly even an herbivore prancing across the plains. But who am I to gamble on fossils?
As Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Jo Handelsman “helps to advise President Obama on the implications of science for the Nation, ways in which science can inform U.S. policy, and on Federal efforts in support of scientific research.”
In 1995, the governor of Alabama, Fob James, spoke before the state board of education, which was then considering a proposal to insert a disclaimer about evolution in all biology textbooks used in the state. In The Creationists (2006), Ronald L. Numbers primly writes, “The Republican governor, Fob James, who presided over the board, strongly backed the disclaimer, saying that he personally believed the biblical account of the origin of life to be true.” Randy Moore, Mark Decker, and Sehoya H. Cotner’s Chronology of the Evolution–Creationism Controversy (2009) is a little more vivid, writing, “During an appearance before the Alabama State Board of Education, Forrest Hood ‘Fob’ James ... ridicules evolution by slowly crossing the stage, beginning in a crouch and then ending erect.” By these accounts, it seems that historians have taken the speech in stride.
The issue of whether Sherlock Holmes is science literate led to some fascinating discussion in the comments section, though not, I fear, to a consensus. But let’s turn to a matter closer to my own heart and examine what we can learn about someone’s science literacy based on whether they reject evolution.