What We’re Reading

Settle in for a long read this week.... Hope you don’t have too many weekend plans, because NCSE found a lot of interesting articles this week. Here are some of them. Feel free to share articles that crossed your screen in the comment section, or e-mail us directly during the week with things that caught your eye. We’ll add the best to our weekly posts.

  • An Evolutionary Basis for Allergies, The Scientist, October 29, 2015 — Understanding the evolution of the human immune system let researchers track down one reason we may get allergies (and why parasites may be good for us).
  • Alabama’s Hidden Role in Darwin's Theory of Evolution, AL.com, October 29, 2015 — The only state that requires science textbooks to have a disclaimer about evolution played a role in the development of Darwin's theory of evolution—via the geologist Charles Lyell. Says a modern paleontologist, “The fact that Lyell was here in Alabama, looking at what we are looking at today[,] is really cool.”
  • A Venomous Fight Among Reptile ScientistsThe Atlantic, November 2, 2015 — Ed Yong explores a scientific den of vipers, the fascinating and contentious battles over how venomous reptiles got their bite. Where did venom come from? As herpetologist Brian Fry explains: “They aren’t magically created by the toxin fairy. They evolve.” But did venom evolve once, or many times, and how do scientists address those sorts of questions?
  • Religious Rants in the Classroom, Slate, November 2, 2015 — Zack Kopplin, an NCSE Friend of Darwin award winner, displays his impressive reporting skills in a sobering story of Christian proselytizing ​run rampant at a Louisiana public high school. 
  • Exxon Mobil May Be Investigated for Willfully Funding Climate Change Denial, Gawker, November 2, 2015 — Exxon Mobil’s funding of anti-science groups to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change is finally catching up with it. Having been outed recently for knowing about the science of climate change for years while simultaneously funding groups that undermined and attacked scientists and the scientific consensus, politicians are now calling for an investigation into Exxon’s activities. Where will it lead? Only time will tell.
  • Can UN Climate Talks Catch Up With the Real World? Reuters, November 4, 2015 — A UN deal to curb global warming continues to be effectively structured around 1990’s national income levels and understandings of climate change. The article discusses the importance of involving developing nations as key players in reducing carbon emissions, rather than sticking with old models that focus more completely on utilizing financial resources from developed nations.
  • New Giant Raptor the Largest Ever with Wing Feathers, Discovery News, November 4, 2015 — Another exciting find out of the famous Hell Creek formation in South Dakota: not only a new raptor, but a new 17-foot-long raptor with evidence of feathers. The article comes complete with a great illustration that looks nothing like the popular depictions of dinosaurs even twenty years ago.
  • How to Explain Climate Change to Teens, Grist, November 6, 2015 — A reporter from Grist follows Wen Lee, an Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) presenter, to a high school assembly where Lee tells the students about the science and consequences of climate change, while giving them the tools to change the future.
  • Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline: The New York Times, November 7, 2015 — It turns out hell froze over. Brrr.

Photo credit: Photo by Ramchand Bruce Phagoo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons