A friend asked me recently why I kept calling out scientists on their public comments. They’re scientists, my friend said, they’re on your side, so stop being so nitpicky and mean!

Am I being mean?

I certainly don’t intend to be mean, so perhaps it is worth a few lines to reiterate the point of these “Say What?” posts.

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Jehovah's Witnesses are an outlier for their views on evolution and climate change. Click image for more background. One of the first things I (and many others) noticed about the graph of various American religious groups’ views on evolution and the environment was how much of an outlier Jehovah’s Witnesses are. They are, on average, quite supportive of environmental policies, while vigorously anti-evolution. Most other denominations show a strong correlation between the two sets of attitudes.

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Were you lying all the time? Was it just a game to you?
But I’m in so deep. You know I’m such a fool for you.
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha.
Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

—The Cranberries, “Linger” from the album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

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We asked applicants for the NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship to explain, in 500 words, how they’ve addressed challenges to the teaching of evolution, climate change, and related issues. Here is part of scholarship winner Alyson Miller’s explanation of her fight to keep evolution in classrooms in her Nashua, New Hampshire, high school.

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While exploring Israeli politicians’ views on evolution, and the similar rate at which the US and Israeli public rejects evolution, I wondered how the Israeli public would compare with Jews in the US. It seems more apt to compare the 5.4 million US Jews to the 6.1 million Israeli Jews (or 8 million Israelis) than comparing the US at large to Israel at large, after all.

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While discussion of Israeli elections has largely (and reasonably) focused on the different parties’ views on the occupation of Palestine and the prospect of war with Iran, the ongoing effort to craft a coalition government may carry risks for science education, too.

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Great auks. John Gerrard Keulemans via Wikimedia Commons.

“Why Are There No Penguins at the North Pole?”—a February 6, 2015, article in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano by Carlo Maria Polvani, a biochemist-turned-priest working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State—raises a good question, although in the service of a bad agenda. The agenda isn’t creationism: Polvani correctly describes evolution as “shared by the majority of the scientific community” and moreover cites Pope John Paul II’s 1996 Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as sufficient to show that “few today doubt the evolution of life on Earth.” Rather, the agenda is opposition to “Darwinism,” which he defines as holding that there are “two, and only two, forces to explain the phenomenon of evolution,” namely chance, “which creates diversity at the genotypic level,” and selection, “which supports the emergence of the phenotypes most likely to guarantee survival.” 

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Headline: Bill Deny: Science GuyNow, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions, it’s a function of that. So, if there’s activity in the ball relative to the rubbing process[…] So the atmospheric conditions as well as the true equilibrium of the football is critical to the measurement. …

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