Posted on December 22, 2015 * Comments

Thomas Henry Huxley

I have just weighed my copy of William A. Williams’s The Evolution of Man Scientifically Disproved (1925) on the postal scale in the NCSE office, and it weighs 6.7 ounces. For such a slight volume, it is awfully ambitious. According to the title page, it is designed “(1) As an up-to-date text book, and a companion to all other text books on evolution; and (2) As an antidote to books in libraries teaching evolution, infidelity[,] and atheism; and (3) As an aid to all students, parents, teachers, ministers, lawyers, doctors, and all other lovers of the truth.” The book packs a lot of quotations and misquotations from various scientific authorities into chapter 28, “Scientists Condemn Evolution.” As it happens, I have already blogged here at the Science League of America about a number of them: Lionel S. BealeAlbert Fleischmann (misspelled “Fleishman” by Williams), St. George Mivart (misspelled “Mivert” by Williams), Ernst Haeckel, Nathaniel S. Shaler (although Williams didn’t misattribute his words to Darwin), and Oscar Fraas (misspelled “Traas” by Williams). And now it’s time for the quotation from, as the slipshod Williams might have called him, “Homas Tenry Tuxley” (above).

Posted on December 21, 2015 * Comments

Do you see it, readers? The steam pouring out of my ears? Picture this. It’s last Sunday night. I’m doing dishes and listening to some podcasts, scrubbing away not exactly merrily, but efficiently and contentedly, when I heard this: “I happen to believe that we should teach ‛intelligent design’ in classrooms. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to teach.”

Posted on December 21, 2015 * Comments

Parahippus cognatus!

Those were the teeth, by gum, of Parahippus cognatus, a Miocene ancestor of the modern horse. And they’re especially interesting because Parahippus and its descendants were grazers, rather than browsers, specializing in eating grasses. Do you see that in the teeth with their high crowns and their fancy surfaces?

Posted on December 20, 2015 * Comments
It’s a fairy tale. But it’s true!
Posted on December 18, 2015 * Comments
How 'bout dem mites? A genuinely eclectic collection of articles this week, including mites and pumpkins, historical context from two centuries ago and news from last week, and yet more ways that scientists are studying how humans are affecting our planet and how warming is affecting every ecosystem. You will be prepared to be scintillating company at all your holiday parties. Personally, I think the mites are the way to go if you’re having a hard time getting a conversation started…
Posted on December 18, 2015 * Comments

Whose teeth are these?

Whose teeth are these? If you think you know the answer, write it on a postcard or on a cast of a giant anteater skull, and mail it to NCSE, PO Box 9477, Berkeley CA 94709-0477. Or just leave a comment below.

Posted on December 17, 2015 * Comments

In parts 1 and 2, I looked at Randy Olson’s new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story, and saw a number of positive examples of how science storytelling can be done well to communicate science.

Posted on December 17, 2015 * Comments

Since December 2005, when Judge John E. Jones III ruled that “intelligent design” is not science and cannot be forced into public school science classes, we’ve celebrated December 20 as Kitzmas. We write carols (and haikus). But we’ve never really had a Kitzmas tree before.

That all changes this year, for the tenth Kitzmas. Today, Science released a prepublication version of “The evolution of antievolution policies since Kitzmiller v. Dover” by former NCSE staffer Nick Matzke, in which he analyzed NCSE’s database of “academic freedom” legislation—the successor strategy to “intelligent design.”

Posted on December 16, 2015 * Comments

Randy Olson, as you may know, is the scientist-turned-filmmaker whose movies include Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.