Posted on April 08, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!

What in the whorled could it be? Here’s a hint: the genus is named after a nineteenth-century expert on Jurassic ammonites.

If you’re the first to correctly identify it in the comments section below, flights of angels are guaranteed to sing thee to thy rest. 

Posted on April 07, 2016 * Comments

Wyoming state welcome sign, along Interstate 80, entering from Utah. Photograph by ErgoSum88 via Wikimedia Commons.Unless you are middle school embryology? Currently under public review in Wyoming is a new proposed draft of state science standards. Wyoming, of course, achieved a degree of ignominy with regard to state science standards in early 2014, when a footnote in the state’s budget for 2014–2016 precluded the use of state funds “for any review or adoption” of the Next Generation Science Standards. Why? The author of the footnote, Matt Teeters, complained that the NGSS “handle global warming as settled science,” adding, “There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.” There was a swift outcry, with educators, scientists, clergy, and the general public all over the Equality State protesting the decision, and the legislature—sans Teeters—reversed its decision in early 2015. The Wyoming state board of education, however, decided not to adopt the NGSS outright, instead asking a committee of Wyoming science educators to devise a new set of science standards for the state.

Posted on April 06, 2016 * Comments

From Bill Nye's History of the United States (1894)

I encountered a familiar name in a surprising context recently. I was leafing through The War on Modern Science (1927), Maynard Shipley’s review of the recent fights over the teaching of evolution in the United States. In the chapter on “Mississippi’s Humiliation,” recounting the passage of Mississippi’s antievolution bill, there was a quotation attributed to E. K. Windham—apparently Esker Kearley Windham (1896–1970)—speaking against the bill in the House of Representatives. Here’s what it said: “As Bill Nye would say, the advocates of this bill want a law that will permit them to preach and practise [sic] any doctrine they desire, and one that will guarantee to them that no one else can do the same.”

Posted on April 05, 2016 * Comments

This lobster is a safe lobster. (Capes Treasures via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Posted on April 04, 2016 * Comments


A lot of fossils!


If—like Dan Coleman and Dan Phelps—you thought that these tiny fossils were foraminifera, you’re a better paleontologist than I am.

Posted on April 01, 2016 * Comments


A lot of fossils!


From the Devonian limestone of Belgium they came! What tiny fossils are collected here?

A hint to reward you for reading my non-Fossil Friday posts: the person who originally described the species was once called “Roredick” by a Scopes-era creationist.

Posted on April 01, 2016 * Comments

A scan of the Baton Rouge Advocate article showing the text subsequently revisedState Senator Dan Claitor (R–District 16) is leading an effort in Louisiana to repeal various outdated laws on its books. In a recent report on these efforts, there’s an interesting comment from radical cleric Gene Mills.

Posted on March 31, 2016 * Comments

Science Debate logoSay what you will about the 2016 elections (and as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we at NCSE can’t say much), in the end, one of the participants in the unceasing debates will presumably be our next president.

Posted on March 30, 2016 * Comments

Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality? cover

In search of inspiration for a blog post, I turned to the TalkOrigins Archive Quote Mine Project. From about 2003 to 2006, a band of volunteers took on the chore of investigating the source material from which creationists quarried misleading quotations from scientists. There I found a promising cul-de-sac to investigate for myself. Quote #22 in the project is given as follows: “‘All through the fossil record, groups—both large and small—abruptly appear and disappear. ... The earliest phase of rapid change usually is undiscovered, and must be inferred by comparison with its probable relatives.’ (Newell, N. D., Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality, 1984, p. 10).” That’s the paleontologist Norman D. Newell (1909–2005), of course. Jon (Augray) Barber commented, “This isn’t on page 10. And the book doesn’t have an index. I guess it’s time to plow through the whole thing. ... And after reading the entire book, I can’t find it anywhere.” It turns out that it was premature of Barber to abandon hope of finding such a quote in Newell’s work, though. For in 1984, Newell wrote a pamphlet for the American Geological Institute, entitled “Why Scientists Believe in Evolution,” and quote #22 appears in it.