In which Stephanie returns to the MCZ and tries desperately to remember the names of things... plus, you know, a fossil for your Friday.
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!”
As you may have seen, NCSE posted a chapter from Stephen H. Jenkins’s fabulous new book Tools for Critical Thinking in Biology (PDF) (Oxford University Press, 2015) on our website. The excerpt has been wildly popular with visitors to our website—the chapter was downloaded over 9,000 times in the few weeks it was posted.
The National Center for Science Education was recently invited to endorse Innovation: An American Imperative (PDF)—a “call to action by American industry, higher education, science, and engineering leaders urging Congress to enact policies and make investments that ensure the United States remains the global innovation leader.”
The encyclical Laudato si’ lays out what I called Pope Francis’s land ethic, back in part 1. I use that term because, from its earliest pages, I felt strong parallels between the environmental ethic advanced on behalf of the Catholic Church and the writings of pioneering American conservation biologist Aldo Leopold. Compare this passage from Laudato si’:
Last week we looked at a fossil that seemed to be swimming through rock. This week we see it from a different perspective:
Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.
Last week I offered a long introduction to evolutionary trees, and I apologize that it was so long that we didn’t even get to the misconceptions. But as you realized, some common vocabulary is required if we’re going to make sense of evolutionary trees, and I felt that it was worth the time to get it all straight—even if we don’t all 100% agree on 100% of the terms (I’m looking at you, John Harshman!). This week, I again delay a bit to talk about the role of jargon in communication, but good news! I do manage to eek in our first tree misconception.