I’ve been thinking about confrontational activist strategies lately, and when they do and don’t work. In a previous post, I discussed some ways that confrontation doesn’t work. Here I want to explore the ways that confrontation can succeed.
Last month when I ended "Fossil Friday", I promised I would create a new regular feature where we could dish on some issues close to NCSE's heart, such as evolution, climate change, education and, surprise, surprise science denial!
I’ve been thinking about the ethics and benefits of confrontational activist strategies lately. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday remembrance, amid the ongoing protests over police abuses in Ferguson and elsewhere, shaped those thoughts, as does NCSE’s success using non-confrontational approaches, as well as some confrontations that have backfired.
When I was writing not so long ago about the enigmatic figure of the Gentleman with a Duster—whose animadversions on Darwinism in the preface to the American edition of The Glass of Fashion (1921) were invoked by Arthur I. Brown and William Jennings Bryan—I quoted the Gentleman as complaining that Darwinism “justifies Prussianism at the cannon, and Bolshevism at the prison-door.”
Herman Mays is a member of NCSE and a biology professor at Marshall University. He testified at the West Virginia Board of Education meeting last week, speaking against climate change-denying revisions to the state’s science standards. Thanks to outcry from concerned scientists and parents like Mays, the board voted to remove the climate change denial. We asked him to describe what happened at the hearing, and what motivated him to speak out. A longer account of his visit with the state board will appear in a future issue of Reports of the NCSE.
What’s it going to take for science writers to understand that there is no need in evolution? Think I could get Tom Hanks to do a PSA for me? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M8szlSa-8o
“How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!” was Thomas Henry Huxley’s reflection on reading Darwin’s Origin of Species. What might elicit such a reaction from a contemporary biologist? Today the question is answered by Douglas J. Futuyma, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University.
The New York Times recently ran an interesting article by Adam Frank titled “Is Climate Disaster Inevitable?” This piece posed an intriguing answer to this puzzling question: Where are all the extraterrestrials?
When Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell took the gavel as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, he swore that the first bill to reach the floor would be aimed at forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Climate activists have waged a pitched battle to block the pipeline, which would carry an abrasive sludge, mostly highly-polluting bitumen (and perhaps a soupçon of leftover sand) from fields in Canada to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico.
“How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!” was Thomas Henry Huxley’s reflection on reading Darwin’s Origin of Species. What might elicit such a reaction from a contemporary biologist? Today the question is answered by Randolph M. Nesse, Foundation Professor of Life Sciences and Founding Director of the Center for Evolution & Medicine at Arizona State University.