Way back last summer, I wrote a four-part Misconception Monday series on evolutionary trees (part 1, 2, 3, 4). What I couldn’t tell you back then was that the inspiration for the series was a new section of the incomparably fabulous Understanding Evolution (UE) site. At the time, the UCMP folks asked me to hold off on advertising the section until they got their evaluations back from external assessors. Grudgingly, I held off. Then, when the site went live in September, I was swamped and didn’t do what I should have done—loudly sing its praises on the blog. It’s true that some of my extra workload involved writing Evo in the News articles for the UE site, but I still feel pretty horrible that I haven’t championed its new triumph yet. My guilt ends today. Everyone, get ready for awesome and go explore The Tree Room!

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In part 1 of this post, I recounted how in the middle of a moment of domestic bliss (doing dishes) I was brought up short by an exchange on Science Friday.

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Do you see it, readers? The steam pouring out of my ears? Picture this. It’s last Sunday night. I’m doing dishes and listening to some podcasts, scrubbing away not exactly merrily, but efficiently and contentedly, when I heard this: “I happen to believe that we should teach ‛intelligent design’ in classrooms. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to teach.”

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The vertebrate paleontologist is a peculiar creature—half geologist, half biologist, half lunatic, it spends as much time as it can in the hottest desert or the coldest tundra, all in the passionate pursuit of the interesting inedible. As many of you know personally, and others of you have no doubt inferred, they’re even more peculiar en masse. One of the things I miss most since leaving academia is attending the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) meeting. Apart from the fact that it’s among the booziest meetings around, SVP-ers are just … goofy and delightful.

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If you’re reading this blog, there is a reasonably good chance that you’ve heard of the YouTube channel MinutePhysics and its sister-channel MinuteEarth. I haven’t done an exhaustive survey, but I have certainly heard from many educators that they enjoy these videos consisting of short, time-lapsed drawings. With well over three million subscribers, these videos have no-doubt made their way into many classrooms.

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When it comes to evolution, best to start the learning young. (Ilmicrofono Oggiono via via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution)

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Science frequently challenges our intuitive understanding of the world. Even as an adult, I am constantly confronted with new scientific advancements and discoveries that don’t always line up with my preconceived notions. Such ideas are considered counterintuitive because they present themselves in ways that are counter to one's intuitive notions or “gut feelings.”

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This past week my e-mail in-box has been filling up with messages about Utah.

“Have you seen what’s going on there?” people are asking me. “They are trying to write climate denial into the standards!”

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