Posted on October 31, 2014 * Comments

This week on the fossil Friday, I bring you a bone from the Hemphillian North American Stage (about 5-10 million years ago) found in what is now Nevada. If I was a gambling lady, I’d say that this animal was a lightweight runner, possibly even an herbivore prancing across the plains. But who am I to gamble on fossils?

Posted on October 30, 2014 * Comments

As Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Jo Handelsman, PhD Technology Policy, Dr. Jo Handelsman  “helps to advise President Obama on the implications of science for the Nation, ways in which science can inform U.S. policy, and on Federal efforts in support of scientific research.”

Posted on October 30, 2014 * Comments

Alabama state coat of arms, 1876

In 1995, the governor of Alabama, Fob James, spoke before the state board of education, which was then considering a proposal to insert a disclaimer about evolution in all biology textbooks used in the state. In The Creationists (2006), Ronald L. Numbers primly writes, “The Republican governor, Fob James, who presided over the board, strongly backed the disclaimer, saying that he personally believed the biblical account of the origin of life to be true.” Randy Moore, Mark Decker, and Sehoya H. Cotner’s Chronology of the Evolution–Creationism Controversy (2009) is a little more vivid, writing, “During an appearance before the Alabama State Board of Education, Forrest Hood ‘Fob’ James ... ridicules evolution by slowly crossing the stage, beginning in a crouch and then ending erect.” By these accounts, it seems that historians have taken the speech in stride.

Posted on October 29, 2014 * Comments

The issue of whether Sherlock Holmes is science literate led to some fascinating discussion in the comments section, though not, I fear, to a consensus. But let’s turn to a matter closer to my own heart and examine what we can learn about someone’s science literacy based on whether they reject evolution.

Posted on October 28, 2014 * Comments

Ernst HaeckelErnst Haeckel

I’ve been meaning to write about William Bell Riley (1861–1947), a Baptist preacher who was as responsible for the flourishing of the antievolution crusade of the 1920s as anyone.

Posted on October 28, 2014 * Comments

Does epigenetics mean natural selection requires a makeover? In part 2 of this (at least) 3-parter, we'll get into the mechanics of "normal" epigenetic mechanisms and what exactly happened with Michael Skinner's accidentally bred mice.

Posted on October 27, 2014 * Comments

Visualization of ozone hole, based on NASA data

Posted on October 27, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I presented you with a fossil—and very little information about said fossil. I told you it was found in modern day Nevada, and hails from the Miocene. But beyond that, you were on your own. Was it a piece of dino-poo? A strange and warty blowfish? An early gambling chip?

 No, it was a stromatolite! From the UCMP:

Posted on October 24, 2014 * Comments

A creationist group is organizing an event at a major university (unnamed, since I certainly don’t want to promote the event), and some scientists there wanted advice on how to respond. One approach we discussed was using humor to push back. I love the idea, but it's not as simple as you'd think. How can satire and humor work? And how can they backfire? Read on.