It can be tempting to oversimplify the problem of science denial and to vilify the groups we feel are responsible, but as a new report on Perceptions of Science in America from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences reminds us, this stuff is complicated.

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The violet filter on the Imaging Science System aboard Voyager 1 and 2Many years ago, I said to a colleague, “What a beautiful shirt! Royal blue is a good color on you.” She replied, “What do you mean blue? This shirt is purple!” After some experimenting, we discovered that we consistently differed on the line between blue and purple. In extending our experiments to co-workers, we found that I was the outlier—most people saw blue and purple more like my colleague. It turns out that such differences are real; the proteins that detect light in our eyes can be tuned to slightly different wavelengths, and we can each have slightly different ratios of the three proteins that allow us to distinguish colors. I really do see blue where most people see purple. (Do you? Here’s a Buzzfeed quiz.)

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Transylvania University logoTransylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, honored me with an honorary degree at its Academic Convocation on September 15, 2017. The following is the third (and final) installment of a lightly edited version of my talk on that occasion. In part 1, after introducing myself and NCSE, I described the issues in Kitzmiller v. Dover, and in part 2, I discussed the testimony offered by the expert witnesses for the plaintiffs and Judge John E. Jones III’s decision.

 

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Transylvania University logoTransylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, honored me with an honorary degree at its Academic Convocation on September 15, 2017. The following is the second installment of a lightly edited version of my talk on that occasion. In part 1, after introducing myself and NCSE, I described the issues in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the 2005 trial over the constitutionality of teaching “intelligent design” in the public schools, presided over by Judge John E. Jones III. 

 

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Transylvania University logoTransylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, honored me with an honorary degree at its Academic Convocation on September 15, 2017. The following is the first installment of a lightly edited version of my talk on that occasion.

 

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When I interviewed climate scientist Ben Santer in February 2017, so much news of the new administration’s assault on climate science had already been reported that I was feeling all kinds of break-glass desperation. By the end of our talk, I was feeling capable of uncurling from the fetal position.

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11.09.2016

Dear NCSE members and friends of science,

I’m writing in a profound state of shock, as I’m sure you’ll understand. You are no doubt in the same state. For the National Center for Science Education, of course, the election of someone who thinks climate change is a hoax and whose running mate once denounced evolution from the floor of the House of Representatives, is frightening and deeply depressing. It is more than possible that the sweeping Republican triumph at the national level may embolden local efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution and climate change. These are worrying signs for science education.

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08.05.2016

It’s pretty much all evolution, all the time, this week. Pokémon, humans, creationists, even our understanding of the past—everything evolves.

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