Here are some of the stories that caught NCSE’s eye this week. Feel free to share articles that crossed your screen in the comment section, or e-mail us directly during the week with things that caught your eye. We’ll add the best to our weekly posts.
This week on Fossil Friday, another lovely specimen from Dan Phelps, who has again thoughtfully provided us with a sense of scale.
Rather an interesting sight, right? Somewhat reminiscent of vertebrae. A couple of clues: it’s from the Late Devonian and was found in Kentucky. The first person to identify it wins bragging rights for the week!
Last week, on National Fossil Day, our Stephanie Keep organized a twitter conversation where folks could ask paleontologists their pressing questions. It rocked, and you can find the whole thing on the #askapaleo Storify.
Stephanie’s icebreaker question about the disappointingly featherless dinosaurs in Jurassic World got this reply from paleontology reporter Brian Switek:
Do you know those questionnaires where you are presented with a statement and asked whether you (1) strongly agree, (2) agree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (4) disagree, or (5) strongly disagree? The responses themselves are supposed to be symmetrical and balanced around the neutral position (whether or not it is included). In the trade, these statements together with the ranges are called Likert items, and the sum of the responses is called a Likert scale, after the psychologist Rensis Likert (1903–1946)—which is pronounced LICK-ert, not LIKE-ert, making a mockery of the Shakespearian title here. (I also considered “Some Likert Hot.”) Likert is credited with developing the apparatus on the strength of his paper “A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes,” published in Archives of Psychology in 1932. And yet, as I recently discovered to my surprise, a couple of sociologists were using such a questionnaire in 1923—and doing so in order to give a hard time to a leading creationist.
Do you live near the ocean? Maybe you will. New research on different factors relating to sea level rise, from better understanding of the behavior of Antarctic ice sheets to revised global temperature predictions, are coming together to create an increasingly dystopian (and damp) picture for 2100. It’s increasingly plausible that as early as 2060, let alone 2100, we may see a one meter increase in sea levels.
This past week my e-mail in-box has been filling up with messages about Utah.
“Have you seen what’s going on there?” people are asking me. “They are trying to write climate denial into the standards!”
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” —Sherlock Holmes
By the time I finished reading Grandmother Fish, I knew it was a book I wanted on my daughters’ bookshelf. It’s heads and shoulders above any evolution book for children that I have ever seen. I had a chance to ask the book’s author, Jonathan Tweet, a few questions to get the lowdown on how this marvelous book came to be.
If you follow NCSE, you know that we are big supporters of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Unlike many state science standards that are simply a list of scientific topics, the NGSS challenges students to seek out and evaluate evidence, build scientific arguments, and engineer solutions. It is straightforward about the science and unabashed about the scientific consensus.
Let’s continue the game of Twenty Questions I started on Friday regarding this strange fossil.
Is it a plant? No.
Is it an animal? Yes.
Is it bigger than a breadbox? This one, no. Some others? You bet.
Hat size? No true head. The answer is moot.
Is it still alive today? This one, no. Some others? Yes.