Posted on July 01, 2015 * Comments

john stossel

Recently, libertarian television journalist John Stossel vented about the phrase “war on science,”  declaring:

“This year is the 10th anniversary of a book called “The Republican War on Science.” I could just as easily write a book called “The Democratic War on Science.”


Posted on July 01, 2015 * Comments

Philip Loeb in The Garrick Gaieties, via NYPL Digital Collections

I’m in the middle of discussing “And Thereby Hangs a Tail”—a sketch based on the Scopes trial that appeared in The Garrick Gaieties, a revue that originally ran in 1925. The lyrics in the sketch are by Lorenz Hart (1895–1943), and can be found in The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart (expanded edition, 1995), while the libretto is by Morris Ryskind (1895–1985) and the revue’s director Philip Loeb (1891–1955), and can be found only in the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre at Goodspeed Musicals, the staff of which courteously and efficiently provided me with a photocopy. The sketch takes place in a courtroom in the jungle, where “[t]he defendant, Abbadaba Darwin, is charged with spreading the pernicious doctrine of evolution, which teaches that that stupid animal, man, is our grandchild.” The characters are wearing monkey masks. When part 1 concluded, the prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan, was waiting for the psychological moment to make his entrance to the courtroom.

Posted on June 30, 2015 * Comments

Kate Heffernan is interning this summer at NCSE, where she is working with Minda Berbeco on teacher outreach activities. A recent graduate of the University of Florida, her undergraduate studies focused on environmental policy and education.

Posted on June 29, 2015 * Comments

This week I am cutting to the chase! No long jargon-laden intros, no musings about jargon—now it’s all about the trees, baby! In fact, it’s all misconceptions about trees, and we’re going to tackle three of them.

Posted on June 29, 2015 * Comments

I used my first Fossil Friday post to bring you back…way back to the so-called Cambrian Explosion more than 525 million years ago. Many of you got the locality of this critter right away: The Burgess Shale in Canada. The Burgess Shale is famous for its exceptional preservation of early soft-bodied animals. The one preserved here is Anomalocaris, specifically, its mouthparts.

Posted on June 26, 2015 * Comments

The half-finished cupWhen we got married, my wife and I set aside part of the cup of wine traditional in a Jewish service, to be finished when marriage was available to everyone. Days before our wedding, Judge Vaughn Walker had struck down marriage segregation in California, but that decision was on hold until last year, when the Supreme Court sustained his ruling.

Posted on June 26, 2015 * Comments

In which Stephanie returns to the MCZ and tries desperately to remember the names of things... plus, you know, a fossil for your Friday.

Posted on June 25, 2015 * Comments

In his recent encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis argued the necessity of taking the long view in thinking about environmental ethics. I discussed the encyclical’s argument in part 1, and compared it to Aldo Leopold’s famous “The Land Ethic” in part 2.

Posted on June 24, 2015 * Comments

Cover of Garrick Gaieties souvenir program, via NYPL Digital Collections

In part 1 of “Inherit the Wind Avant la Lettre?” I raised a question. Noting that Inherit the Wind—Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s 1955 Broadway play; Stanley Kramer’s 1960 film; and the three television adaptations (1975, 1988, and 1999)—was such a hit, I asked, “[I]f the Scopes trial was so dramatic … why did it take thirty years for someone to write a play based on it?” The remainder of the post and the two following posts (part 2; part 3) were devoted to investigating the claim, to be found in The New York Times for January 2, 1927, that Majomszínház, a 1925 play by the Hungarian novelist Ferenc Herczeg (1863–1954), was the first play to be based on the trial. (The Times was interested because a translation of the play, Monkey Business, was about to begin rehearsals in New York City. In the event, it seems never to have been produced.) I concluded, “Majomszínház was not based on the Scopes trial. … But I suppose that a theatrical publicist can’t be expected to worry about the accuracy of details when a headline is in the offing!”