Posted on March 04, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!Again with the enigmatic fossils from the Ediacaran! Well, I guess that it’s true what they say: you can take the boy out of the Ediacaran, but you can’t take the Ediacaran out of the boy. (Isn’t that what they say?) In any case, fame and fortune—for suitably small values of fame and fortune—will certainly be yours if you are the first to correctly identify today’s fossil in the comments below.

Posted on March 02, 2016 * Comments

If you’re a member of NCSE (and if you’re not, why not? You can join our mission here), you recently found in your mailbox the entirely redesigned Reports of the National Center for Science Education (affectionately known as RNCSE). I thought you might like to know the history of this major revamp.

Posted on March 02, 2016 * Comments

Ambrose Bierce, painting by J. H. E. Partington via Wikimedia Commons

Over a recent weekend I was reading Paul Fatout’s Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Lexicographer (1951), a rather dated but still readable biography of the American journalist remembered for his macabre short stories and the compilation of satirical definitions acknowledged in Fatout’s subtitle: The Devil’s Dictionary (1911, originally published under the far inferior title The Cynic’s Word Book [1906]). I was familiar with the broad outlines of Bierce’s life—growing up in the Midwest; serving in the Union Army during the Civil War; moving to San Francisco and taking up journalism, punctuated by a stint in England; engaging in all sorts of literary feuds; compiling a much-too-long and indiscriminate edition of his collected works; and disappearing under mysterious circumstances in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution—already.

Posted on March 01, 2016 * Comments
Have you ever heard about ocean acidification? I first learned about this problem a few years ago from a marine biologist friend of mine, who told me she was starting to see damage to the shells of some of the smaller organisms she surveys. Since then, of course, I feel like I hear about it all the time. So I was surprised to find out that outside of scientific circles, no one seems to have heard about this dramatic and tangible consequence of rising carbon emissions.
Posted on February 29, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!

Posted on February 26, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!

From the Ediacaran it came! Identify it in the comments below, and win undying glory!

Posted on February 24, 2016 * Comments

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bonaparte Before the Sphinx

I wouldn’t say that Evolution—A Menace (1922) struck me, in general, as a tremendously innovative book. Written by John William Porter (1863–1937), the Baptist minister who spearheaded the effort to ban the teaching of evolution in Kentucky in the early 1920s, the titles of its eight chapters adequately indicate its contents: Evolution Defined by Evolutionists, Evolution Contradicts and Subverts Revelation, Evolution Falsely Explains Origin of Life, Evolutionary Origin of Species Untrue and Unscientific, Evolution Advocates the Law of the Jungle, Evolution Fails to Explain Facts of History, Evolution Resurrects Bogus “Missing Links,” and Evolution—The Tree and Its Fruits. And the usual crowd of scientists, scholars, and whackadoodles is assembled to testify to the scientific bankruptcy of evolution, including (to name only cases of misleading quotations that I’ve discussed before) John Tyndall, Charles Lyell, Ernst Haeckel, and “Mr. Ethridge [sic] of the British Museum.”

Posted on February 22, 2016 * Comments

Friday’s fossil featured fabulous fancy flanges—weird processes at the rib-ends that look like overlapping rubber spatulas. What the heck are they for, and to whom do they belong? The latter is easier to answer: Eryops megacephalus.

Joshua Sherurcij via Wikimedia Commons

Posted on February 19, 2016 * Comments

Sweet Solitude, Edmund Blair Leighton, via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you won’t be reading in the idyllic surroundings pictured by Edmund Leighton—even in the temperate San Francisco Bay Area, despite the data reflected in the last link below, it’s not nearly so balmy here right now—but the variety and depth of this week’s suggested reading will engross you just as much. Or so I hope!