When there’s something strange in your neighborhood school, who you gonna call? If there’s something weird in your kid’s homework and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? If you’re seeing creationist bills running through your legislature, who you gonna call?

Hopefully, my modest changes to those classic lyrics have you shouting “NCSE!” rather than “Ghostbusters!”

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The history of the “intelligent design” creationist textbook Of Pandas and People is probably known in greater detail than the history of just about any other textbook. Pandas was central to 2005’s Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, and was the first publication to lay out the major themes of the “intelligent design” movement.The chart from Barbara Forrest's Kitzmiller testimony showing that references to creation were switched to design in 1987 In the course of the Kitzmiller trial, material from NCSE’s archives led to a subpoena for the early drafts of Pandas, which demonstrated that the textbook started out as an overtly creationist project, and that references to “creationism,” “creationist,” “creator,” and related terms were swapped for “intelligent design,” “design advocates,” “designer,” and so forth. The infamous chart from Barbara Forrest’s testimony in Kitzmiller showed that switcheroo, and featured prominently in Judge Jones’s conclusion that intelligent design is a form of creationism.

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Humpty Dumpty illustration from a 1917 edition of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

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Climate change denier Mark Steyn is upset. Being upset is, I suppose, an occupational requirement for his brand of punditry, even in Canada. In this case, though, he’s upset that climate scientist Michael Mann is pursuing, so far successfully, a libel suit against Steyn and Steyn’s colleagues.

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Those with an interest in the history of anti-evolutionism should check out this recent article by Adam Shapiro in Nebraska History. It discusses a 1924 slander trial in Nebraska where a teacher sued, successfully, after being denied a college English position.

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In “It Came from Outer Space,” I hinted that it would be fun to track Chandra Wickramasighe’s claims about extraterrestrial life in earth’s upper atmosphere back to the early days, when he was a witness for the creationists in the McLean v. Arkansas trial.

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A paper in the less-than-credible Journal of Cosmology claims to present evidence of life entering earth’s atmosphere from space. Phil Plait examines and nicely debunks the details, but there’s a creationist angle here, and even a link to climate science, and that’s as good an excuse as any to look at the paper.

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While taking the day off for Labor Day, I couldn’t help thinking about all that the science education community owes labor unions.

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