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.”
If—like Dan Coleman and Dan Phelps—you thought that these tiny fossils were foraminifera, you’re a better paleontologist than I am.
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.
State Senator Dan Claitor (R–District 16) is leading an effort in Louisiana to repeal various outdated laws on its books.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.
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.
My ecology unit started in an unusually urgent manner—with a call to the doctor.
"911, this is an emergency! Let's get some vitals on the patient, stat!" Now we weren't in an emergency room, nor had any student collapsed. Instead, we were in my classroom, my students were the doctors, and the patient was planet Earth. For the next few weeks, my students set out on a journey to take the Earth’s vitals and diagnose our planet’s condition.